Track Premiere: Dowsing – “It Was Easy”
Posted: by The Editor
I first heard Dowsing like many people did: I clicked play on “Gengar! Gengar! Gengar!” on Tumblr Dot Com. In an era where Spotify was still in its infancy and algorithmic streaming was limited to the likes of Pandora and Grooveshark, the vast amount of my music discovery took place on blogs and Tumblr. That song, as well as all of Dowsing’s music from their first few years as a band, remains an iconic touchstone in the world of emo and indie. Lead singer Erik “Rik” Czaja’s emotive, confessional songwriting has an earnestness and immediacy that finds new fans all the time.
In 2019, Dowsing returned with the very good album Sky Coffin which continued their arc of improving production while retaining the sincerity and charm that has always been the hallmark of Czaja’s songwriting. I’m thrilled to announce that Dowsing is back with another new album–their fifth–entitled No One Said This Would Be Easy.
In June of 2022, Dowsing met in Chicago to write, record, and play a show. The results were 10 new songs to be released 12/1/23 on Storm Chasers LTD (the Patreon-meets-record-label spearheaded by Into It. Over It.’s Evan Weiss) and Asian Man Records.
In advance of streamers this Tuesday, here’s a sneak peek of the first single and lead song off the album, “It Was Easy.” The title is a misnomer–as Czaja says about the song’s subject matter, as well as the creation of the album: “Nothing ever is.”
Dowsing’s members are now spread out across four states, so writing and recording is a matter of maximizing valuable time. However, as Czaja told me in a recent email conversation, “Nothing is ever easy with recording a Dowsing record.”
The day everyone arrived in Chicago to begin work on the record, Czaja contracted COVID-19. Once a socially-distanced quarantine recording situation was arranged, the album proceeded until Czaja sadly received a phone call that his grandfather had died, forcing him to leave the session and return in a whirlwind less than 48 hours later to wrap recording and play a show.
“Personally, this might be the closest Dowsing release to bridge the gap between ‘early’ dowsing and ‘current’ Dowsing,” Czaja says. “I think that particularly rings true in the song ‘It Was Easy’ and that’s why it’s the first single.”
He’s right. “It Was Easy” has the classic Dowsing song recipe–warm and catchy and sad as all hell–and the improved production of recent Dowsing releases. The album was recorded and mixed by Mikey Crotty, the band’s guitarist, at Type One Studio in Chicago, IL, except for drums which were recorded at the Lettering practice space at Superior Street. Simon Small mastered the album.
The song builds to a rousing chorus that crystalizes around a decision to leave: “I stepped out off that ledge / I took blame on my end / I’m the one who ended it / I gotta take what I, take what I, take what I can and run.” Near the end of the song, Czaja belts out, “No more dancing around the issues / You can’t keep me / You don’t own me.”
Czaja says, “The new record is about moving on from a relationship, about the pandemic, about death and all that piles up when they all happen at the same time. I am a happy and eccentric person and more so now than ever. I still only write about the sad things. It’s easier.”
He pulls influences from new places these days. He’s not listening to much emo music, and he does his best to stay off apps, including Spotify, which limits how much new independent music he’s taking in. He still rattles off a list of his favorite 2023 releases for me: “Ratboys The Window, Free Throw Lessons That We Swear to Keep, Taking Meds Dial M for Meds, Sincere Engineer Cheap Grills, Diners Domino. Many more friends releasing awesome music.” But a lot of the music he’s listening to is the car radio: classic rock and 80s and 90s pop.
He writes new Dowsing songs the same way he always has: on an acoustic guitar or unplugged electric, banging out a song structure before bringing it to the band for their approval. If everyone is on board, they then flesh out the song together. The mission for these new songs was to stick as closely as possible to the original core structure from when the song was written: “Sometimes what you do first is the right choice, and we only had so much time together,” Czaja says.
No One Said This Would Be Easy is animated by this energy. It’s their best collection of songs in some time, and it feels both urgent and whimsical, sad and funny. In short, it’s classic Dowsing.
There’s still more on the horizon for Dowsing. “We have some songs we didn’t finish from the last 2 records and we plan to button those up and release a split or ep in the future,” says Czaja. “Most of our ideas see the light of day one day. I always wonder if I can write another Dowsing record. I proved I could write at least this one.”
You can see Dowsing at one of their upcoming shows:
10/27 – New Orleans, LA at Courtyard Brewery
10/29 – Gainesville, FL at The FEST playing the Heartwood Stage at 1:40PM
Keegan Bradford | @franziamom