How many malnourished art majors does it take to screw in a lightbulb? It takes two to make a baby, about four to cart a coffin, six to build a human pyramid, twelve to hang a jury, and apparently thirteen to make Paleo‘s latest, Fruit of the Spirit. After doing everything himself for years, it seems David Strackany finally learned how to work well with others.
Holing up in Davenport, Iowa, the twenty-something got taught the ropes of analogue recording from the original Daytrotter engineer, Patrick Stolley. Stolley’s place is a minefield of old analogue gear, a phalanx of synths and amps insulate the walls, piles of grease-thirsty old tape machines, bells, whistles, six-strings, four strings, twelve-strings, no strings. With this wonderland at his disposal, the young magi decided to try something which’d never occurred to him before: collaboration. Friends strode in from around the region – Chicago, Minneapolis, Iowa City, Rock Island, and Lawrence – and with next to no rehearsal and no lead sheets, they huddled for a three-day creative blitzkrieg. Electrofolk artist Cloud Dog lends samples and howls in the background, the bastard folkies from Minnesota add their sad, quirk-pop sensibility, and a revolving door of drummers and percussionists take turns on the kit. Strackany just let the tape role, and together they bottled a mischievous mercurial record sparking with imperfection: the bruised, sweet and colorful Fruit of the Spirit.
David Strackany was raised in Elgin, Illinois. As a kid he crossed the busy street to a retirement home to chase stray angels down long linoleum halls, away from the souls they were hunting. He attended university, earned a Bachelors in Art and English, and did every drug under the sun along the way. With diploma in hand, the house in Elgin sold off, and a family strewn across the country, he started touring. For six years he lived out of his car and couch to couch, playing more than 700 shows at last count. 30 years old now, he newly lives in Iowa City, a town famous for keeping writers for short periods of time, in a house full of other struggling artists, the Blue House.
While his self-released first record, Misery, Missouri (2005) earned him high marks from a number of online sources, Paleo garnered most of his notoriety through his 2006 songwriting mecca, The Song Diary. In a single year, he wrote and recorded 365 songs consecutively. Paste called it “a streetfight of freakish prolificacy,” and Daytrotter’s Sean Moeller playfully crowned him their “Poet Laureate.” His other credits include soundtrack work alongside Okkervil River for the feature film In Search Of A Midnight Kiss (2007), winner of the John Cassavetes Award at the 2009 Independent Spirit Awards, and producing These United States’ psychotropic debut record, A Picture of The Three Of Us At The Gate To The Garden Of Eden (2008), on which he played the majority of the instruments. And most recently, last year’s stripped-down, folk-pop archipelago, A View Of The Sky drew loud applause from the blogosphere and saw Paleo tour eight months straight in 2010 to support it.