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STANDOUT TRACK: No. 4, “Bastogne,” an urgent hard-rock track that’s thick with jagged rhythms and dissonant guitars. Bassist Nick Barkley grounds the din with a harmonic minor scale, while vocalist Phil Williams wails a description of the World War II battle that gives the song its title: “We let the wounded howl/They pass the stretchers down/And we just throw them out.”
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MUSICAL MOTIVATION: In 2005 Williams bought the DVD box set of the HBO miniseries Band of Brothers. He was mesmerized by one episode in which American forces survive a Nazi siege in Bastogne, France, despite being outnumbered and ill-equipped. “I am kind of a little bit of a history buff,” says the 26-year-old Richmond resident (the other three band members live in D.C.). “I wanted to capture that intensity, that desperation and feeling of not knowing what is going to happen next.” Barkley collaborated with guitarist and fellow history buff Peter Tsouras to write the song.
LIFE DURING DRIVE TIME: The song’s bridge doesn’t have a bass line, so Barkley switches to maracas when the band plays “Bastogne” onstage. (They headline Jammin’ Java on March 29, at a release party for the album.) Barkley’s change-up baffles some of Olympia’s hard-rock fans. “Younger kids, 15-year-olds, will be there, and Nick will pull out the maracas, and they will be completely confused,” says Williams. Fans might also be surprised by what the band listens to on the tour bus. “Peter’s iPod has this Civil War history book on it, and we have been rocking that for late-night drives,” says Williams. “We’re not total nerds or anything, but it keeps us awake.”