In 2012, James Truslow was nearly two years into recording a still-unreleased album of worship songs when he hit a wall.
“I had maybe 30 songs written, but I started to realize I didn’t see a future with them,” said the 24-year-old singer/keyboardist, seated in a Downtown coffee shop in early July. “In that genre, you have to write songs that … don’t push people so far that they can’t grasp what you’re trying to say, and you don’t really have complete creative freedom. I hadn’t investigated who I was as an artist yet, so for me it was like, ‘Man, I have to figure out what I can do.’ I still had to write the craziest songs I could.”
Setting aside these religious recordings, the musician started to pen eclectic tunes that reflected the full breadth of his interests and personality, emerging early in 2013 with the self-titled debut EP from his namesake band, Truslow, a pop-rock quartet currently rounded out by Sean Mackowski (guitar/vocals), Matt Myers (drums/vocals) and Andrew Lee (bass/vocals).
“There are some artists that focus on the darker aspects of life, like the depression and turmoil people go through,” said the singer, who grew up in Bellville, a small town situated near Mansfield, and penned his first song, the country-leaning “Work Boots,” when he was 12 years old. “Then there are bands that focus on lighthearted topics where they’re almost afraid to dive into some of the more intense stuff because they might lose their grip on the market.
“I feel like the best thing we can do is embrace the spectrum. I go through different stages on a daily basis, so why not write about it?”
Truslow does just that on the band’s new EP, Hurricane, which it will support with a record release show at Skully’s Music-Diner on Saturday, July 12. As on past efforts, the album finds the musicians bounding between playful tunes and numbers that delve into comparatively weighty issues (“ADHD,” for one, explores topics like overmedication and questions of personal freedom), never alighting in a single spot for long.
“We’ve talked to a couple labels, and they’ve been like, ‘Are you going to be this super poppy band or are you going to be a depressing band?’” Truslow said. “And my answer is just kind of like … yes.”