Through the course of writing, refining and recording their debut full-length album, Another One Gained, Katy Guillen & The Drive delved into the catharsis of a bittersweet moment in time.
After six years of persistent touring, performing and writing with her previous project, Katy Guillen & The Girls, singer, songwriter and guitarist Guillen found herself at the painful end of two long-term relationships. Katy Guillen & The Girls reached an extensive audience through performances at Montreal International Jazz Festival and the International Blues Challenge, a tour of Sweden via Kultur i Vast, and support for artists including The Revivalists, Robin Trower and The Doobie Brothers. With their burgeoning career put on hold, Guillen and long-time drummer Stephanie Williams set off for uncharted territory as Katy Guillen & The Drive. While distinguishing themselves as a new group with a fresh sound, the two continued crafting their musical and personal identities together.
Katy Guillen & The Drive dropped their first EP, Dream Girl, right before the 2020 lockdown, leaving them without opportunities to perform live. In their basement rehearsal space, they spent the year learning home recording and pre-production techniques, gradually crafting a collection of songs from the ground up.
The following April, they took the demos to producer/engineer Kevin Ratterman (My Morning Jacket, Heartless Bastards, Ray LaMontagne) at Invisible Creature Studio in Los Angeles. That journey from their hometown of Kansas City to LA was a freeing experience for Guillen and Williams. Not only had they begun honing in on compositions that harnessed their individual strengths as players, they were introducing new possibilities to their sonic palette.
From their work with Ratterman emerged a batch of 15 songs. At the end of 2021, the band released the four-track Battles EP, offering listeners a darker, more simmering edge to their impelling indie-rock sound. Ten more would comprise “Another One Gained,” a memoir of growth and reawakening by way of heart-wrenching transition and change. Guillen expresses a dichotomy of feelings through earnest ruminations on self-doubt, grief, reckoning and rebirth. Accompanied by Williams’ melodically exacting rhythms, her emotive guitar playing aligns with the lyrics to meet at the crossroads of suffering and silver linings.
“Through the recording process and working with Kevin, we were able to capture an atmosphere that embodies the emotion of the entire album,” Guillen recalls. “We couldn’t be happier with how the album turned out, and feel like it’s our most complete and honest release to date – both musically and thematically.”
Ratterman laid in vibrant textures tailored to each song, expanding on their gravitas with fuzzy electric and chiming 12-string acoustic guitars, oscillating tempos, warm vocal stacks, soul-stirring Wurlitzers, booming timpanis and more. As they add definition and tension to the album’s themes of duality, this sonic landscape also announces a dauntless new direction for Katy Guillen & The Drive.
Bookended by admonitions of hope, Another One Gained reminds us that renewal and resolution can arrive amidst chaos and calamity. The album is a harrowing musical journey from a band on the rise, cultivated by two artists who celebrate self-expression, surrender, dedication to their personal identities, and the abiding embrace of change. Its atmospheric conclusion gives listeners a chance to exhale, emboldening them to unearth their own inner strengths and hold out for brighter days.
“As much as the record is about saying goodbye, it’s also about embracing the opportunity to re-identify, try new things, conquer fears and love ourselves,” Guillen said. “Making this album was a therapeutic and necessary task for both of us, so we could enter a new, happier and healthier place together. I hope listeners experience some form of release from it as well.”
Another One Gained will be released in Fall 2022, taking Katy Guillen & The Drive on a coast-to-coast tour. They’ll hit the road this summer with a number of regional Midwest dates, including Summerfest in Milwaukee.