Ford Corl
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Ford Corl

Reno, Nevada, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2005 | SELF

Reno, Nevada, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2005
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"Dumb Fun"

Way back in October of ye olde 2009, I met up with a local guy named Ford Corl to talk about Acoustic Face, his then new album. Here's part of what I wrote back then:

“Acoustic Face is a tribute to Corl's love of two crafts: songwriting and recording. The album's title is a reference to the acoustic guitar patterns at the heart of most of the songs, but every song is colored with tasteful electronic keyboard sounds, minimal percussion and other sounds.”

That article was headlined “Solitary man,” a reference to the fact that he recorded the album on his own, and that it was, more or less, a breakup album.

Corl's forthcoming album, The Dumb Album, is the work of a confident singer, songwriter and bandleader. In the 11 years since Acoustic Face, Corl has released three other albums and an EP—a steadily improving catalog of songs.

He also left his job at a local TV station to make soothing ambient videos at Healing HealthCare Systems (see “Moving pictures of health,” A&C, January 16). He played bass briefly in a Radiohead-influenced band called Kadence, and helped spearhead The Reno Sessions, a video series, first online and then on PBS, documenting the Reno music scene. (Full disclosure: he made some videos of my band, although nobody made any money from the project.)

And perhaps most importantly, he managed to assemble one of the best live groups in the valley. The handful of shows they've played over the last couple of years have been fantastic multimedia events, with strange, spectacular sounds and videos, and top-notch musicianship from bassist Adam Carpenter (better known for his work with Moondog Matinee), guitarist Shawn Sariti (who also played in Kadence), and drummer Troy Elizares (who's been around the scene for while, in projects like Hate Recorder).

“I always enjoyed being alone in a room and coming up with something from scratch … to create something from nothing,” Corl said. This new record is the first record he's made with his live band, and it sounds like a record by a band—not just a guy alone in his bedroom.

“I have to be really open to the idea that these songs are going somewhere that I could have never taken it before,” Corl said. “It was finally me letting control go a little bit, which was a new experience for me because I'm not actually the best collaborator in the world.”

The overall effect is a bit reminiscent of a New Wave band, like Devo, the Cars or Gary Numan, but it doesn't really sound like a total throwback. And despite the full band sound, the songs still sound like the imaginings of a genuine eccentric.

“The more extreme parts of my personality can just get embedded into those songs,” Corl said. He's a mild-mannered guy in person and a weirdo in song. “I enjoy getting all those things out my brain. It's therapeutic, in a sense.”

He decided to really lean into his strangest impulses for this record.

“I'm going to write the weirdest lyrics I've ever heard, and I don't really care if anyone understands them,” he said. “And I was like, what's the stupidest, dumbest name of an album I can think of, and that just came to mind. … I think seeing something called The Dumb Album requires further investigation. What the hell is this?”

A lot of the songs, he said, are about “abstract concepts.”

“There are songs about the ebb and flow of emotion,” he said. “There's an end to everything. If you're feeling really good, there's always going to be an end to that. If you're feeling really bad, there's always going to be an end to that.”

But, despite exploring themes of alienation, aging and miscommunication, the overall effect of the album is uplifting.

“It feels like a fun one” Corl said. “Like, when I hear it, I can hear the fun that we had. … Can you hear the fun? The fun album.” - Reno News and Review


"Reno’s Ford Corl lights up Holland Project"

I walked into Reno’s all-ages venue/artist-showcase Holland Project a little late while the Friday night openers People With Bodies were in the middle of some weird séance. The band set up in the middle of the crowd equipped with a rug and lamp. Members were begging the audience to join them in singing a repetitive chorus about Dave Grohl calling their home phone or something. They continued singing as they walked out the door with the crowd following them.

I brushed that off my shoulder and began setting up for Ford Corl, a Reno project featuring the song writing of Corl, the bassist Adam Carpenter of Moondog Matinee, drummer Troy Elizares of Hate Recorder and the digital multimedia production department of the Knowledge Center at UNR (Shawn Sariti on guitar).

They produce bold and droning power pop. Corl has a gift for melody. At shows, I usually get most enjoyment when I already know the song. With Corl, most hooks and melodies are instantly enthralling. They produce captivating and entrancing music with full-bodied production.

Corl’s band has been together for about a year. The musicians’ sets are multimedia experiences. Words, shapes and art are synced to their music and projected on the wall behind them after dancing on their faces and instruments. A common theme features clips of Dick Van Dyke, except his head is engulfed in digital flames. Even this show’s flier paraded a living-color Van Dyke in Bert from Mary Poppins attire.

“I started working on the animations at the end of 2016,” Corl said in a super formal Facebook messenger interview. “I just make them at home.”

He threatened to wrap-up the set with a cover song, and someone in the crowd guessed Red Hot Chili Peppers in jest. Corl laughed it off and played a medley of Beach House’s “Wishes” and Pixies’ “Where Is My Mind?” The former was just as ethereally monotonous as its creators, the latter was a triumph and staple at their performances.

“I’m currently working on a new album,” Corl said. “I plan on releasing it at the end of the year at the earliest or summer of next year at the latest.”

Despite wearing a shirt that read “Barf,” Ford Corl puts on one of the most polished shows you can see in Reno. The band fills a niche of loose creativeness and bold investigational pop. - Tahoe On Stage


"Ford Corl Exposé"

Ford has really gone off the goddamn deep end now! What was he thinking?” reads the description on the Bandcamp page of local Reno musician Ford Corl’s latest release, ‘Mr. Acid Head’. Over the past decade, Corl has released five solo records—all of which deviate from each other in both musical sound and concept.

With a catalog as dense and spanning as Corl’s, it’d be easy to become immersed past the point of distinction. Yet Corl’s fluidity between genres finds his catalog shifting from fuzzy indie rock, to ambient soundscapes, to feel-good indie pop, with some of his releases combining all of the above.

On his fifth record, ‘Mr. Acid Head’, Corl breaks ground on territories he’s not yet explored— a feat for a songwriter with four eclectic solo records. ‘Mr. Acid Head’ departs from his psychedelic and alternative rock leanings, incorporating interludes between every track. The record is a concept album; one that tells a story of a ghost named ‘Mr. Acid Head’—a name he came up with one morning while enjoying his morning coffee. His aspiration for the record was to create one that was more enjoyable as a cohesive whole rather than picked apart by releasing singles. “I’ve always been more fascinated with full albums that would flow so seamlessly from the first track to the last,” states Corl.

Corl has been making his own music since age 11, but it wasn’t until college that Corl began taking recording his music seriously.

After a move to Reno from Tucson and an upgrade in studio equipment, he put out his first solo record ‘The Robot Detective’ in 2007. Corl says “as the years passed I continued to upgrade my equipment and microphones, all the while continuing to experiment with writing and recording more complex music.”

His ambition pushed him to constantly reach for better and hone his craft. What further refines Corl’s music is the incorporation of cinematographic elements into his music. On top of recording and releasing solo albums, Corl’s passion also lies within cinematography. Along with making his own feature films, he is the co-creator of the Reno Sessions, a live performance video series hosted on www.therenosessions.com

“The Reno Sessions was something I came up with along with my friend David Ware. We, along with audio master Shawn Sariti, create live performance videos for local bands”, he says. “In many ways, it’s the perfect combination of my passions; filmmaking and music production.”

His work with the Reno Sessions landed him and his co-creators a ‘Best Arts and Entertainment Program’ award at the 2014 Emmys. Since then, the Reno Sessions continues to grow and progress as a springboard for local musicians.

His fascination with the symbiotic relationship between music and film is most evident on ‘Mr. Acid Head’. As the title might suggest, it’s his most experimental work to date.

He cites Stanley Kubrick and P.T. Anderson as inspiration on the filmmaking front; “Surreal, psychedelic, and just plain weird. That's how I like my films.”

For the conceivable future, Corl has his stake planted in the Biggest Little City. Corl mentions putting together a full band for live performances as a goal for 2017.

“I like Reno because it’s constantly changing. When I first moved here I was certain I wasn't going to stay. As the years passed, Reno kept changing and I kept falling in love with it. Eventually I just said, ‘Alright I'm staying and seeing what direction this crazy town takes. I still love it.’ This town has a scene that I root for. I'm constantly thinking about ways to be a bigger part of it.”

Later on in the description for Mr. Acid Head on his Bandcamp, it reads “He's made a lot of albums over the past 10 years and he has a tendency to experiment and skip around to different genres. Perhaps this is just a weird phase he's in.”

Perhaps, but the Reno music scene can only hope it’s just more than a phase. - Cameron Beck


"Solitary Man"

For many music fans, the phrase “recording an album” probably conjures the mental image of a musical group—maybe even dozens of musicians—in a professional studio, and, on the other side of a glass partition, an engineer at a mixing board. But there’s an alternative to the big studio production: recording at home.

The homemade album is not a new thing. Musicians have been building home recording studios since at least the 1950s (in this, as in so many things, Bo Diddley was a pioneer). By the late 1980s, analog recording equipment was so inexpensive that home recording was in vogue, especially in indie rock circles. Sebadoh and Guided By Voices were two prominent “lo-fi” bands. Their music had a fuzzy, amateurish quality that some fans found thrilling but just as many listeners found off-putting. Then there were the difficulties of manufacturing the album in a vinyl, cassette tape or CD form, and then distributing it.

But with digital recording technology readily available, the homemade, entirely self-produced album is a trend of the 21st century. Renoite Ford Corl’s new album, Acoustic Face, is just such an album. Corl wrote all the songs on the album, performed all the vocals and instruments, recorded it all in his home, designed the CD cover and package, and posted it to the music distribution website CDbaby.com, which distributes independent music to downloading websites and music retailers.

Straight from the songwriter’s brain to iTunes without him ever needing to leave his bedroom. But what’s really striking about Corl’s album is how great it sounds.

Corl, 26, is a Tucson native who moved to Reno four years ago. He’s a newscast director and motion graphic artist at local TV station KRNV, and he plays bass in the local band Red Car Slow. In high school, he played in punk bands and studied classical and jazz bass. He then attended the University of Arizona, where he studied media.

Acoustic Face is a tribute to Corl’s love of two crafts: songwriting and recording. The album’s title is a reference to the acoustic guitar patterns at the heart of most of the songs, but every song is colored with tasteful electronic keyboard sounds, minimal percussion and other sounds.

“I love going, ‘whoa!’ at some random noise—how did they make that sound?” says Corl.

The overall effect is weird but poppy. Corl himself offers the concise but accurate description “Neutral Milk Hotel meets the Shins.” (The blank-meets-blank description is all any music review really needs, right?) There’s more to it than that, but that description sends you in the right direction.

Corl’s mellow, pleasant singing voice is often doubled or tripled up a la Elliott Smith. “Doubling vocals is a way to add a lot without doing a lot,” he says.

There’s an undercurrent of anxiety that runs through the seemingly cheerful lyrics. “I don’t want to say that this is a break-up album,” says Corl, “but there’s a lot of frustration with relationships on there. … There’s just something about a dramatic change that inspires you to be creative.”

That frustrated loneliness dovetails nicely with the homemade, do-it-yourself approach Corl took to recording the album.

Corl took an unusual approach for recording the drum track for his song, “Be Mine.”

“For that whole song I was hitting my walls and my desk with my fists,” he says. “My neighbors must’ve been so pissed. … I hurt myself with that song.”

Self-recorded albums, like Acoustic Face, allow listeners new glimpses into the weird kinds of introverted personal pain that come from a solitary labor akin to writing a novel. - Brad Bynum


Discography

2020 - The Dumb Album LP (Coming Soon)
2016 - Mr. Acid Head LP
2014 - Nocturne à l'Orange EP
2014 - Welcome to the Blue Light Morning LP
2010 - Green Eyes LP
2009 - Acoustic Face LP
2006 - The Robot Detective 

Photos

Bio

A former film student, Ford Corl has been writing and recording solo albums for over 15 years. It wasn't until 2016 that he finally decided to put together a live band, but if he was going to do it, he was going to do it differently. He wanted to combine his love of creating graphic animations and cinematography with his love of music. So before the band was ever formed he began making psychedelic animations that synced with his songs and purchased 3 projectors to use as "Lighting". When the band was formed and played their first show, it came loaded with intense lighting and visual screen animations, making it a fully immersive and visceral experience for audience members. Booking Ford Corl is booking a stadium style show that can fit even the smallest venues.  

Band Members