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Opiate Eyes bandmate drops dreamy solo EP

Stemming from four-man band Opiate Eyes, Drew Bond delivers Sept. 25 his first solo album, “Looking Forward to You.”

Bond has been playing in bands since he was 16 years old and became part of Opiate Eyes nearly one year ago. Opiate Eyes is one of six main bands produced under Skinny Records, a recording label owned by Tom Essex, a UNF deaf education senior. He started the label in the beginning of 2008 to produce quality musicians and artists in Jacksonville.

“It’s just exciting being able to record and produce my music and my friend’s music, as well,” Essex said. “That’s what Skinny Records is all about.”

Bond and Essex were able to mesh their musical skills together to pump out the EP in record time, due to their previous friendship and knowledge of each other’s likes and dislikes.

“I loved recording with Tom; he listens,” Bond said. “He knows what I like, and we work really well together.”

A passion for his personal musical works led Bond to branch off from Opiate Eyes to write and produce his solo five-song concept album.

“For me, writing songs is a constant thing. I am always writing and working, whether it’s for Opiate Eyes or for myself,” Bond said. “I love playing with Opiate Eyes, but I wanted to make something that’s completely mine.”

Bond has it all covered, from peppy percussion beats and sweeter-than-honey guitar strums, to dark-but-gentle vocals and fun keyboard blasts.

“It is entirely my own. It’s my brainchild,” Bond said. “We went to the [Skinny Records] studio for one very long weekend and cranked it out. It was a freak-fest for sure.”

Spending two days at Skinny Records, located in Warehouse Studios off Emerson Street, Bond and Essex put in 18 straight hours of recording and bounced ideas back and forth.

“The reason the process went so quickly is because Drew was inspired and determined,” Essex said. “It’s also a lot easier working with just one person, as opposed to an entire band. I can honestly say it’s the best album I’ve produced thus far.”

In contrast to the speedy delivery, this album was not a last minute idea. Bond has had his heart set on creating his own album since he started playing music at age 13.

“There’s a certain creative freedom you can have when you decide you are going to do a record on your own,” Bond said. “I just wanted to try my hand at recording everything, including percussion, bass, guitar and vocals. It’s always been a dream of mine.”

Bond’s EP starts out with “Balcony,” a song about the feeling of a new relationship sprouting.  Soft beats and crisp guitar picks lead into slow, deep vocals, creating a hypnotic, dream-like world. It’s beautiful and romantic, as if Bond himself is gazing into your eyes and crooning, “I love you so/ I just don’t know, yet.”

Bond has a deep but sweetly angelic voice that easily connects you to every word he sings.

When the second track, titled “VII Weeks,” chimes in, you begin to see the transition into a concept album. The song describes what the relationship has become, seven weeks in. This clap along, dance-style jingle is the most fun to listen to. At a tight 1:46, upbeat guitar riffs and quirky percussion from tambourine shaking and hand clapping keep the tempo quick for an anthem-like tune. “Do you want me, are you comfortable with this routine?/ There you are and you got me there you are.” The boys that hoot and holler while clapping at the finale assure the song’s feeling of true happiness.

“Ghost I” and “Ghost II,” the third and fourth songs, are where you can really see this musical story unfold. The dream of a new relationship turns from pure joy, to anger, then sadness and finally, hopeful. The mood begins to shift during “Ghost I,” starting off with subtle guitar tunes and chika-chika shakers set the stage for drowsy vocals. “All that she has put you through, if she doesn’t want you, then let me have you/ Take these lies.” One minute into the song, things get darker. Low, echoing keyboard notes combined with alien electronic sounds and repeated lyrical chants create a spooky march. It’s almost as if you can feel the hurt in Bond’s voice.

“Ghost II” continues with Bond’s haunting vocals, hitting high notes with a slightly shaky perfection, creating an ominous feel. His sorrowful lyrical style fits nicely after the lonely and chilling vibe of this fourth tune. “Will I haunt you?/ I doubt it/ I think I’ll be a ghost/ With nowhere to go.” “Ghost II” incorporates relaxed clapping and fun beats but with slow and smooth delivery.

The conclusion to this EP and story is “Bedroom.” The gloom is lifted and hope fills the air from the very start. At 4:35 the track takes a leisurely approach at explaining the beauty in the mundane activities of two people who are in love, and how even though it seems routine, it is how they survive together. “The bedroom is warm/ Turn on the fan/ The door is ajar/ It won’t slow us down/ The shower is on/ Let’s have a talk/ The dinner, the drinks/ The Fourth of July/ I look back in fondness/ I look forward to you.” Bond cries out into the distance half-way through the song, and as the beat rises and falls, you feel the ending coming but wish it wouldn’t.

Let the clock keep running, and you’ll be treated to a personal message from Bond himself.

DigDog and Chris Estes will join Bond Sept. 25 at his EP release party at The Sinclair on 521 W. Forsyth St. To stream the album online, visit drewbond.bandcamp.com.

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