John Boles aka Align in Time
"My Music Is Biographical"
Align in Time is a one-person post-rock project from Providence, Rhode Island. The founder is multi-instrumentalist John Boles. On 7 May, he re-released some of his songs as acoustic versions on his EP "Men Without Chests & I Go Too". Time to ask him a few questions.
Anne: Hi John! First of all: Thanks for getting in touch and sending me your music! Your previous record, "On A Spiral", is pretty excellent! How are you doing today?
John: Thank you! I'm feeling good. The warm weather's back here in Providence, and being outside again feels incredible.
Anne: What inspired you when you recorded "On A Spiral"?
"So many things have changed"
Align in Time – "Men Without Chests & I Go Too" (Acoustic)John: Both of my albums are biographical, though not literally. When they look at their lives, I think many people have certain moments that stand out, and interpreting those moments as part of a story with themes helps you process and make sense of what led you to become who you are today. That's the basis for my music and why musical motifs reappear across both albums. It's that process of remembering and reinterpreting and reimagining what could come next.
Anne: It's your first record since your debut album "Me & My Arrow" in 2011. What has changed since then?
John: A lot! I got married, moved across the country and back, I had my first kid. The world is in a more precarious state than ever before, and the older I get, the more I lose my optimism about where things are going. And so much has changed music-wise. Streaming was barely starting up when "Me & My Arrow" came out!
Anne: Is Align In Time a one-person project? Or are there musicians you are teaming up with? Are there any that you would like to mention in particular?
"I worked with Bryan Russel and Mike Kalajian"
John: I write all the music alone, but I wouldn't get very far without all the people who help record it. Bryan Russell (Volbeat, Twin Forks, Envy on the Coast) produced and Mike Kalajian (Circa Survive, A Day to Remember, Saves the Day) mastered both albums. Tyler Mahurin recorded the drum parts for "On a Spiral" and Jesse Hangen for "Me & My Arrow". For my new acoustic EP, a couple of additional people were involved. My cousin Russell Gutterson recorded mandolin, Danyal Ince recorded drums, and Michael Grant recorded clarinet.
Anne: You are from Providence, RI. How is the music scene there?
John: Honestly, I'm not sure yet. I moved here about a year before the pandemic started, so I haven't really had a chance to attend or play shows, meet people, you know? That's one of many things I'm looking forward to later this year.
Anne: Do you have any idols or role models in music? I've read you like Caspian?
John: I do! They were one of the first post-rock bands I discovered. Johnny Rzeznik of the Goo Goo Dolls was one of my first and most significant influences, particularly his style of chord voicing and that epic way of expressing something very intimate. I think you can still hear that influence in my music, even more obviously in these new acoustic versions. I listen to tons of film scores, and that's really shaped my approach to musical storytelling. More recently, I've been enamoured with The 1975, These New Puritans, and MUNA. I love the way they draw from different genres and are so meticulous with their music production.
Anne: What is so special about post-rock. Why are we so fascinated about it?
"The periphery of the post-rock scene is exciting"
John: I think the most exciting post-rock is on the periphery of the scene, sort of deconstructing other genres into a form of instrumental storytelling rather than fitting the traditional definition or sound of post-rock. Artists like These New Puritans or Plini don't get labelled "post-rock," but I think they're playing in the same space, reassembling the components of rock into something new —which I guess is where the genre came from in the first place. It also excites me to hear bands take what's best about post-rock and re-contextualize it, like Caracara's "Better" or The Wildlife's "I Lost You."
Anne: You are combining post-rock and storytelling with your music. Do you enjoy creating stories?
John: Absolutely, it's what I love most about doing this. I took to writing music this way not because I had a specific genre in mind but because it was freeing not to have vocals and to be able to pull in whatever sounds and styles I needed to tell the story I wanted to tell.
Anne: If you would be writing the story of the world and everyone who lives on our planet. How would it start, and where would it end?
"The story of the world should be written by all of us together"
John: Wow, that's a tough one. I have neither the skill nor hubris to assume I could write that story. So I guess I'd want it to be a story written collaboratively, with every person contributing. It'd start with the collapsing world we have today and point us to an end that's equitable, comfortable, and fulfilling for all, while we're here.
Anne: What's up next for Align In Time? Are you working on new songs?
John: While I've been recording the acoustic EP, I've also started working on a few new song ideas. I have two or three so far that I'm really psyched about. My goal is to not take eight years again before putting something new out. I'll try and hold myself to that!
As an introduction to his latest album, "On A Spiral", John recommends the songs "I Go Too" and "Finish It" to his listeners.
But you should definitely also give a listen to his first work called "Me & My Arrow". John recommends the songs "Run Home" and "The Many Faces" from the album.
The acoustic versions of the Align in Time songs "A Men Without Chests" and "I Go Too" sound completely different from those on "Me & My Arrow" and "On A Spiral" - in a fascinating way. I recommend you to listen to both versions of the songs. Please enjoy this delightful experience – It takes me back in time and reminds me of the Goo Goo Dolls pretty much.