Guardian started in 1982 with bassist David Bach and vocalist Paul Cawley. They called themselves "Fusion" and added David Caro on guitars and Rick Hart on drums. They were signed to Enigma records in 1985, but soon after replaced Caro with Tony Palacios on guitar. Their first album "First Watch" was released in 1989 under the name "Guardian", but shortly after Cawley and Hart left the band due to the rigors of non-stop touring. In 1990, Cawley was replaced by Jamie Rowe as the new vocalist and Hart was replaced by Karl Ney on drums. This lineup remained consistant throughout their last English studio album "Bottle Rocket" in 1997. However, in 2002 Guardian released "Dime", their 3rd Spanish effort, yet with all new material. David Bach could not be a part of this album due to time constraints.
It’s July 2014…and Guardian is finally to releasing their first full length album in over a decade. The album, entitled “Almost Home” is a Kickstarter-funded effort that was inspired by yet another of the band’s successful Latin America tours in 2011.
“Our Latin American experience remains the sweet mystery of our careers,” says bassist and founding member, David Bach. “Our Latin American following has probably been a key factor in us still even playing together as a band. Every time we get a chance to play there, we’re greeted by large enthusiastic crowds who sing along with every word. It blows us away every time, and after our last tour, we realized that we needed to finally make a new album.”
“It was not an easy enterprise to make this album,” adds vocalist Jamie Rowe. We all have crazy busy lives these days—both in and out of the music business—and our schedules…coupled with 18 kids between all of us made it a bit more tricky to pull off a full album as quickly as we used to in our more youthful days”.
“We talk about our Latin fans a lot…and they are amazing! In truth, it was our longtime US and European fan base that heeded the Kickstarter call and helped us fund this record,” says drummer Karl Ney.
The recording process was not without its problems. After the Latin American tour, the band members were all very excited and to go in the studio. However, there were definitely challenges in regrouping as a band after such a long hiatus.
“Over the years, our musical tastes have expanded beyond the core Guardian sound—which was always quite broad anyway—and it became a bit less easy to agree stylistically on the tone of certain ideas that we’re being thrown about,” adds guitarist Tony Palacios. “It just took longer to write the songs.”
These stylistic differences were compounded by the fact that Tony Palacios and guitarist-producer Jamey Perrenot had never really worked in a two-guitar tandem before. Palacios had been the only guitarist for the majority of the bands 30-year career.
“Tony and I get along great personally”, says Perrenot, “But we have different approaches to guitar sounds and recording and it took us much longer than we thought to find our creative balance in the studio.”
With production being driven by Perrenot in his home studio in Nashville TN, he soon found himself tasked with rejuvenating a veteran band.
“To be honest, I think I brought a fresh set of ears to the process…and some new things both stylistically and sonically. I was familiar with Guardian’s prior records before I joined but I believed that we could take the sound of the band to new places where they’d never been…and I think we accomplished that on this record.”
“Jamey Perrenot is one of the best acoustic guitar players I have ever worked with,” adds Palacios. There are some textures that he brought to the album that are unlike anything we’ve done together prior as Guardian.”
“We never thought it would take us two years to make a record,” adds Bach.”There were lots of stops and starts. Life kinda gets in the way sometimes. I know we really tested our Kickstarter-backers patience. Many of them thought that we would never finish this record. We hope they will think it was worth it.”
In true Guardian style, the new album is somewhat of a stylistic and conceptual departure from prior Guardian releases—with completely acoustic pieces coupled along side some metallic jaunts—with a few pop nuggets thrown in for good measure.
“Schizophrenic rock…just like we’ve always done” laughs Palacios.
“Many interesting themes emerged as we wrote the lyrics for Almost Home—some of them quite dark”, says Rowe. “As you get older, your perspective changes. We’ve all lived life to the fullest in our own individual ways…both good and bad. As you get older, I think you become more reflective on life. I think we made a deeply spiritual record but its a different perspective lyrically from much of the current form of commercial Christian music as it exists today.”
“We really just wanted to make an honest record,” says Bach. “Warts and all. We learned a long time ago that trying to pander to a fixed genre, or music industry trends, or even a certain perceived fan base gets you nowhere. It all comes back to attempting to make honest music from the heart and hopefully some people will like it. It’s really always been our viewpoint as a band.”
“It’s a diverse record…for a rock & roll band,” chuckles Ney. There were so many more songs that we had written and wanted to finish, but we knew we had stopped and started this chapter of Guardian long enough. It would still be great to finish some of those songs. Hopefully, the story’s not over yet.”
The band is currently in negotiations for the international release and distribution of Almost Home on their own G-Man Records imprint. It will also be available direct from the band’s website.