This year marks the 50th anniversary of the successful 1969 Apollo 11 mission. But what if the spaceship’s crew of Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins hadn’t made it back from the moon? Well, there was a contingency plan for that.
Sean Russell and Cut Throat Finches
Released August 9, Cut Throat Finches’ third album, “In Event of Moon Disaster,” is the artistic storytelling of a morbid scenario. The Fort Worth band based their latest release on the speech President Richard Nixon would have given if Apollo 11’s trio of space explorers had been stranded.
Sean Russell is the lead vocalist and guitarist of the dynamic five-piece band. Presenting the seven-track album in story form meant it is “to be listened to in order from start to finish,” said Russell, prior to the album’s debut at the infamous Double Wide live music venue in Dallas’ Deep Ellum neighborhood.
“Music is about connecting to the audience and my first experience truly connecting to music was through vinyl records,” explained Russell. Although the album is streaming on all platforms, Cut Throat Finches wanted their fans to be able to listen to the music from start to finish in its truest form. Hence the limited edition vinyls they brought to the launch.
Why did they create an album based on a speech that wasn’t released until 30 years after the successful Apollo 11 mission? “This album was about expressing a focused effort on the creative process and letting an idea [Nixon’s speech in the event of a moon disaster] create the album and not the other way around,” said Russell. “Writing around an idea gave us more creative range.”
Everyone contributed to the creative process on the album the five agreed, and it was the first time the band had real creative tension. As Russell said, “It’s not really a band if it’s just my idea.” Cut Throat Finches drummer Draya Ruse originally presented the idea, but that was just going to be one song for the band. The idea grew, turning into a “space story,” that now resembles a late ‘60s rock opera with a modern Kinks vibe throughout.
Tension in Creation
The band struggled to finalize the songs and story on the album during development. As Russell explained “At one time we pulled two songs to re-write one and re-record another. In that process we completely scrapped the eighth track that was on the album.” The band all agreed this was their most challenging album because the story and creative process became so vast for each member. This grand scale creative process created conflict and disagreement.
But, “What else could you expect when you are trying to create something you truly care about?” asked Russell, echoing his fellow band members. “If the Beatles couldn’t get it perfect the first time, why would any other musician on earth believe that they can?” he asked. “It changed my entire perspective on the art of recording and I gained even more appreciation for those in the pre-digital era.”
Cover: Cut Throat Finches. From left, Robert Paine, Taylor Tatsch, Sean Russell, Draya Ruse, Eric Webb. Photo Sage Howell
Sage Howell is a photojournalist based in the DFW-area.