Philadelphia songsmith to figure out new songs in Valpo

2012-09-07T00:00:00Z Philadelphia songsmith to figure out new songs in ValpoTim Shellberg Times Correspondent
September 07, 2012 12:00 am  • 

For many a recording and touring entity, performing new material live is an end result of sorts after laboring over the song in the studio and releasing it to the masses.

Tom Hamilton, founder of the Philadelphia–based rock outfit American Babies, sees performing fresh works on tour as an essential component in his creative process.

"I get a little trapped in my head being stuck in the studio all the time, so it's nice getting out," he said. "The road brings its own inspirations as well as playing live, and seeing the possibilities of live settings and seeing the reactions of crowds to the new songs and how we feel playing it on stage. If the songs don't feel right playing them, then something's not right."

Slated to perform at Valparaiso's Figure 8 Brewing on Sept. 14, the Philadelphia–reared and based songwriter and performer first rose to prominence as a member of the techno–minded outfit Brothers Past, which put out a handful of live albums from 2004 until Hamilton parted ways with the band three years later.

A longtime fan of roots–based music, from Willie Nelson to Buddy Guy to the Grateful Dead, Hamilton traded computer pops and buzzes when he was off the clock for a more organic musical approach.

"It got to the point where I thought, 'Why don't I just do this?'" he recalled. "I wanted to get more focused on songwriting and get less involved in the bleeps and boops. The Brothers guys weren't into the idea, so I started a new band."

In 2008, American Babies — which is currently made up of frontman and guitarist Hamilton, keyboardist Adam Flicker, bassist Mark Karwan and drummer Dave Butler — released their eponymous debut effort, and followed it up with an EP, "Weight of the World," in 2010 and the full–length "Flawed Logic" a year later. Over the years, Hamilton and his Babies have shared stages with the likes of Gov't Mule, Bruce Hornsby and the National, to name just a few.

The Babies are currently working on what will be their follow–up to "Logic." Eyeing an early 2013 release, Hamilton expects to pursue a lyrical path started on "Weight" and continued on "Flawed" which finds him addressing political and social topics. Selections from the new material are expected to be premiered regionally at his Figure 8 show.

"What I started to do with my last record was to open my scope and be able to sing about more than women, and I definitely feel like I'm continuing it more on this record," he said. "There's definitely things going on in the world that I don't mind bringing up."

American Babies are also scheduled to perform 8 p.m. Sept. 13 at Chicago's Subterranean.

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