"We borrowed the name from a Josh Ritter album," Animal Years singer-songwriter-guitarist Mike McFadden says of his band's moniker. "Originally, we just liked the way the phrase sounded. But the more we thought about it, the more it meant to us, and we started saying things like 'Live your life in animal years.' If you knew that you'd only be around for a few years, you'd do things differently. That's how we try to operate as a band; we try to go for it every day, like we're gonna die tomorrow."
That level of urgency resonates throughout Far From Home, Animal Years' first eOne release. The five-song EP —produced by Ryan Hadlock, renowned for his work with the Lumineers, Brandi Carlile and Vance Joy—offers a consistently compelling distillation of the Brooklyn-by-way-of-Baltimore trio's irresistibly anthemic, unfailingly uplifting songcraft, which ranges from the fist-pumping infectiousness of "Caroline" to the introspective warmth of "Friends" to the bittersweet buoyancy of "Home (I Was Born)." McFadden's catchy, emotionally direct songwriting is matched by the band's exuberant performances, which combine McFadden's openhearted vocals and surging acoustic guitars with the punchy rhythmic kick of bassist Anthony Saladino and drummer Anthony Spinnato.
"Someone once described us in a review as 'singer-songwriter music with the amps turned up,' McFadden notes. "The emphasis is on the songs and the songwriting, but we're definitely a rock band. Even if I'm playing an acoustic guitar, I'm playing it through an amp with the distortion on. We're always gonna be louder than the other bands on the bill."
Far From Home's memorable compositions and high-energy performances make it clear why Animal Years has already earned a fiercely loyal grass-roots fan base. Without the benefit of a mainstream record label, the band has built its audience the old-fashioned way: through dogged roadwork, winning over one fan at a time.
"When we moved to New York, we hit the city really hard, and things just grew organically," McFadden explains. "We naturally evolved from small clubs to bigger ones, and from small tours to bigger tours, with more people coming out each time. Everything has happened really organically, through us just being ourselves and trying to be as honest as we can."
The thee bandmates and producer Hadlock recorded Far From Home in the remote environs of Applehead Studios in Woodstock, NY, far from the band's normal urban surroundings.