Mark Eitzel and Columbus go way back. At one time Eitzel wrote for Tim Anstaett’s The Offence, and his early, Joy Division-esque band Naked Skinnies began here. They were the “hero band” of Ron House, who played lots of shows with Naked Skinnies and helped put out the band’s first 7-inch, “All My Life,” on “Naked House Records” in 1981. Eitzel formed the Skinnies, his precursor to American Music Club, with Greg Bonnell (AMC, Moviola), John Hricko and Nancy Kangas before heading out to San Francisco. Though Eitzel doesn’t recall the period with particular fondness and has yet to permit digital dissemination of the aforementioned 7-inch, it’s better than he remembers it to be and a fascinating look into how Eitzel started out.
Fast-forward to 2012. American Music Club is dissolved (at least for the time being), and Eitzel is about to release a solo album called Don’t Be a Stranger. Eitzel has said of the new record, “I wanted to make an album more reminiscent of records like Harvest by Neil Young or Five Leaves Left by Nick Drake than anything I’ve previously done.” The Young/Drake touchstones make perfect sense on this first preview, which recounts the tale of Eitzel watching a band fronted by a woman who wrote “I love you but you’re dead” on his poster.
Don’t Be a Stranger is out Oct. 2 on Merge Records.