By Alexa Solis
Brad McClellan has been teaching English at Reno High School for the past 11 years. While he values forming close bonds with his students, there is something that they may not know about him —⎯ he’s coming out with a new album. McClellan’s band, A Year From Monday, is nothing new for the much-loved teacher, but the educator and musician feels that they are finally hitting their stride.
McClellan was many things in his early life — an athlete, student and musician. While playing basketball at a junior college in Utah, McClellan found his voice in music classes. According to McClellan, it was a time in which he wanted to get back into music after pushing it to the side in high school in favor of becoming an athlete. Always deeply involved in music and its calming qualities, music became an outlet for the collegiate athlete.
“I just loved the way I felt after singing, and that was sort of the impetus [to start pursuing music] right there,” McClellan said.
McClellan then made his way to the University of Nevada, Reno. After graduating from the university with a degree in broadcast journalism in 1988, McClellan moved to San Diego where he began writing songs for jazzercise and workout videos. Four years of jazzercise videos later, McClellan decided that it was time for a change. He packed up his things, and made his way back to Reno.
McClellan’s highest ambition was to start a band, and after resettling in Reno he did just that in 1991. A Year From Monday’s upcoming release, “Yggdrasil,” is the fifth release for the band. Since its inception, the band has existed in many forms. From Austin, Texas to San Francisco, California the band has gone through many changes in both location and membership.
Needless to say, McClellan’s life has been devoted to his music. According to McClellan, music is
the primary way in which he interacts with the world. Though the upcoming album is different from any work A Year From Monday has previously produced, McClellan feels that they have finally created something that is representative of the group.
The band approached recording the record systematically, rehearsing the recording at Stevens’s home studio in San Francisco, California. While there are only two members, the group incorporated a variety of different musical styles that required them to turn to outside help. Friends and local artists such as Chris Williams and Georgia Mowers were hired to bring tracks to life with trumpets and other sounds that the duo couldn’t produce alone. While there are only two members, the album incorporates a variety of musical styles with the contribution of outside artists.
Both Stevens and McClellan find working with each other to be incredibly productive. The two have been working together since 1991, when Stevens responded to an ad McClellan had placed in an Austin, Texas newspaper.
“It’s a really interesting dynamic for me because we come from two different kind of places in terms of musical influences, but our ideas work really well together,” Stevens said. “And we’ve known each other for so long now that we don’t have to beat around the bush. When an idea is bad, we can just call it out as bad and move on, and that’s really refreshing.”
According to Stevens, the recording of the album was relatively seamless, even though it was also challenging for him personally. Because this was the first time that Stevens was fully responsible for guitar on any album, he was worried about the process at first.
“I wasn’t quite sure that I was up to the standards,” Stevens said. “Tom Gordon, the recording engineer is very demanding. He only accepts excellence in terms of performance. But coming out of it, I think it was really rewarding because I think I really played some stuff that sounds OK. I was happy with the work I did.”
Stevens and McClellan also come from two very different points of musical inspiration, but they have managed to meld their differing musical influences and create a pop and alternative rock amalgamate, while also incorporating elements of funk in “Yggdrasil.” The album title references the Norse legend of the tree that bound together heaven, earth, the underworld and the nine other worlds, according to McClellan.
“A tree is just a [really solid] thing,” McClellan said. “I’ve always tried to find a balance of being spiritual and being in this Earth. And I feel like a tree is a really good example, of having your roots down in the earth, but also reaching upwards. Choosing love instead of hate and all those things. I just think a tree is such a great symbol for that.”
Alexa Solis can be reached at alexasolis@sagebrush. unr.edu and on Twitter @thealexasolis.