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Altameda grew from solo project to full band while making Dirty Rain

// Shirley Tse
// Shirley Tse

Though its now flourished into a full-blooded alt-country band, Altameda’s original trajectory was that of a solo project. Stepmothers’ Troy Snaterse had been sitting on a handful of songs that wouldn’t quite fit into that band’s more-bombastic punk approach. “They just wouldn’t work,” he quips, over the phone.

They found their place though, after Stepmothers’ did a recording session with Jeff Kynoch at Sound Extractor studios. Snaterse figured it’d be an ideal place to demo, so he came back to the studio with those songs. And as he fleshed them out, the album’s personnel list grew.

“I was still writing songs throughout the recording process, and then decided to bring in a backing band,” Snaterse recalls. “I’ve known those guys for a long time—they’re just really competent musicians, so it seemed like an obvious choice to get them to play on it.

“It just went so well,” he continues, “I felt it would be more fun to give everybody ownership over the project, and not have it be a solo project anymore.”

Those guys were Todd Andrews, Matt Kraus, Erik Grice, with pedigrees in the local scene. Together, they reworked and collaborated on Snaterse’s songs—a few were left as is—to emerge with Dirty Rain. Its 10 songs scour the canyons of country and open-air sentiments of Americana with joyful abandon: pedal steel and keys share space across its runtime, and the album makes room for both quieter sweeps of folk and more rollicking dust-ups like “Blackmarket Blues”—though removed from Snaterse’s other band, the songs still possess a certain amount of punk sentiment.

“I wouldn’t want to deny that influence either,” Snaterse says. “It was about trying to find a balance between the two.”

Working through those songs in a full-band format drew out the process: the recording ended up taking about a year, all done. But the reception to Dirty Rain has been great, Snaterse notes, from both the punk community and beyond.

“It felt really natural,” he says. “It didn’t necessarily feel that different. With the Stepmothers stuff, and other bands that I’ve been in, I’ve pretty much always written on acoustic guitar, and sort of in a singer-songwriter way, and then transferred it to a more raw, rock n’ roll style. So it was basically just keeping it to its initial form.”

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