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Paper Valleys (2009)



It's been a long road for Los Angeles acoustic rock band Huntingfield, but they finally have an end in sight. Despite a somewhat tumultuous beginning, marked by long bus rides and several different recording sessions, they have come to the point of wrapping up their full-length debut record. Produced by LA local, Teppei Teranishi (Thrice), the album will be independently released on June 9th.

"This record has been three years in the making," says bass player Michael MacGregor. "We finally feel like we have a product we're proud of."

The band initially formed three years ago, under the name of Northern, and consisted of Jeff Perez, Michael MacGregor and three other members. Now, Huntingfield is made up of Perez as lead vocals, MacGregor on bass, and Jon Carter on piano and lead guitar.

Though this record has been a long time coming, the arduous road to Huntingfield can be traced back to Perez's decision to fully pursue his passion for music. Despite the wishes of his parents, Perez dropped out of college in 2006 and devoted all of his time to playing and creating music. His career set foot slowly, though, with shows at local coffee shops and other small venues in Perez's hometown of Bakersfield, California. He remembers haunting his favorite venue, The Boiler Room, for groups he could open for.

“I saw an out of town band was coming through called Vela, so I listened to their songs on Myspace and thought they were great," recalls Perez. "I called the promoter and asked if I could play a few songs that night.”

At the time, Vela, an experimental rock band, consisted of MacGregor, guitar player Jonathan Garcia, and pianist Phil Nisco. At the Boiler Room that night, Perez opened with two or three songs and really impressed the guys. A few weeks later Perez received a call from Garcia who talked about producing him.

“[Jon] seemed like a nice guy - full of energy. He seemed to know what he was talking about and wanted me to come and jam with them," said Perez. "They were going to bring in a drummer, Aaron Flora, who was a friend of MacGregor's. He was a good looking kid who played in a band I had never heard of called Hellogoodbye.”

Walking in with dyed black hair, and red-streaked bangs in his face, Perez was sure he must've made "quite the first impression." Apparently it was a good one as they all started jamming together every weekend.

Those early days were tough on the band, though, as Perez, who couldn't afford the gas, resorted to the cheaper 6 to 8 hour bus trip from Bakersfield to Long Beach. As if the bus ride wasn't uncomfortable enough, he remembers feeling awkward at being passed from house to house.

"I felt like the bastard step-child nobody wanted -- at times they’d fight about who was taking me that night. I was surviving off of Subway’s Veggie Delight. Occasionally, I’d buy a can of soup.”

After two months of this, the band, now under the name Northern, decided to record an EP at a place called Love Juice, a previous recording spot for Vela. The band finished the EP in August 2006 and played one of it’s first shows in to a crowd of 2700, opening for a group called Mae; remembering being in front of so many screaming fans as a "surreal" experience.

Shortly after this, the band re-entered the studio with Brad Smith and Christopher Thorn of Blind Melon to record their first full-length album.

"Working with Brad and Chris was great," Perez recalls. "The album just wasn't what we had hoped it would be -- it wasn't reflective of Us."

After sitting on this record for a year and playing locally, the make-up of Northern underwent it's first major change when Phil made the decision to leave the band to focus on his newly-opened bar in Santa Ana. Ironically, it was only a few weeks after that the band landed a spot on CBS's "The Unit" with their song "We Illuminate."

It was at this pivotal juncture that Huntingfield decided to take matters more into their own hands -- what started out as a production project eventually evolved into a collective creative project.

Jon Carter, a friend of Flora's, joined the band as Phil's replacement, and the band began recording their own music in Garcia's bedroom with pro-tools and a single microphone. Again, the band was frustrated with the outcome - after six months recording they had about three songs done.

"We were just being too picky, and, at the same time, Jon wasn't feeling too comfortable recording either," said Perez.

In Jan of 2008 the band hired as their manager, Jared Gibo, from Transparent Artists. It was Gibo that introduced them to Teranishi of Thrice. Gibo thought they'd record a fantastic album with his help.

For Perez, the recording process felt much more hands on, compared to their previous endeavor. Teppei was instrumental in focusing the band, keeping them on track with helping them record the sound they had in their heads.

"Gibo was right, he did give us a fantastic album," stat