Having founded indie rock band Walcot in his hometown of Chicago in 2016, Asher George has since relocated to Charlotte, and is introducing a reimagined lineup of the band to the local scene with a debut single, “Dreamin’ Away,” premiering today on Queen City Nerve.
In the song, George brings listeners into a Wonderland-esque garden behind a rusty door, an escape from the stresses and anxieties of today’s world. According to George, a similar theme of dissociation runs throughout the three-track EP on which “Dreamin’ Away” will appear, titled Songs for the Disenfranchised.
According to George, the light-hearted songs are meant to provide catharsis for those who feel isolated and alienated by modern popular culture, politics, the pandemic, or any of the million other things in today’s chaotic world by telling them: “Hey, you are not alone.” The real surprise, however, is that George wrote the tracks years before anyone had even heard the word “COVID.”
We had a quick chat with Asher George about his move to Charlotte, the reformation of Walcot as a band, and how “Dreamin’ Away” and other upcoming tracks have only become more relevant since they were written.
Queen City Nerve: You moved to Charlotte from Chicago in 2019. What brought you here?
Asher George: I had some family move out here and saw that as an opportunity to get a change of scenery after having lived in the Chicago area my whole life. I have been here since the spring of 2019.
Have you been able to get familiar with the city and its music scene in that time, despite the restrictions?
I am definitely getting familiar with the scene! Because of the pandemic, it really only feels like I’ve been able to branch out into what the city has to offer in the past few months as things have started to open up again. The music scene feels very intimate compared to Chicago. Though I haven’t played a full show, I enjoy the comfortable familiarity that you get from the regular musicians at the open mic nights at The Evening Muse, The Broken Spoke, and Tommy’s Pub, which are the places I frequent. Because it’s not so saturated here, it actually feels like the bar of talent is higher than in bigger cities.
Are the other band members in Chicago or Charlotte? Where did you record this EP?
The other guys are in Chicago, and what’s strange is that I only began to play with them and realize that they were “the band” I was always looking for after the EP was recorded. Mario Gonzalez, who I met in college and talked about starting a serious band with for years before the record was actually made, was the only guy other than me that was a part of the “band” at the time the EP was recorded.
He played some rhythm guitar and did the backing vocals across the three tracks on the upcoming Songs for the Disenfranchised EP that “Dreamin’ Away” is the first song from. The rest of the guys are known Chicago session musicians — Chuck Lacy on the drums, Chris Mahieu on keys, and Matthew Thompson on upright bass. It was recorded at I.V. Lab Studios in Chicago where Kanye West, Fall Out Boy, and Plain White T’s have recorded.
How did you decide to focus on dissociation while writing the songs for this project? Were there personal experiences you’ve had recently that you’ve found dissociation to be helpful — or harmful — as a response to?
Dissociation is really only the underlying theme for “Dreamin’ Away” as part of an assortment of related themes for the other songs on the EP and the eventual Songs for the Disenfranchised full-length, which is, as of now, close to a triple-length album’s worth of songs that will be far grander than what will be heard on this “preview” EP of sorts.
These songs were written a few years before the pandemic at a time when I realized that who I was and what I wanted out of life didn’t fit into any preset mold or path in American adult life. “Dreamin’ Away” is literally the second song that I ever wrote. It’s about dissociating by hiding away in your head and accepting that the world and your life may not be the way you want it to be, and coping by finding comfort within yourself regardless of whether you fit in with people’s expectations of you. What I could’ve never predicted at the time was that a coming pandemic, polarized cultural climate, and civil unrest would eventually make almost everybody feel the same as me.
“Dreamin’ Away” was produced by Daniel Steinman and mixed and mastered by Gregatron. Look for more upcoming music from Walcot by following the band on Soundcloud.