Frontman Scott Schmadeke (vocals, piano, Mellotron, guitar) formed the band in 2013 in Bloomington, IN with fellow former Indiana University students. Bloomington’s rotating tight-knit community of musicians, artists, and writers gave Harpooner a freedom of expression and fertile ground to form a network of basement-show locations close to the IU campus.
Recorded at Blockhouse Studios in Bloomington by Schmadeke and Andy Beargie, Rose Park digs into strange voicing and textures as an homage to the work of artists like Leon Russell’s Carny, Harry Nilsson’s Nilsson Schmilsson, and Wings’ Speed of Sound. Andrija Tokic (Alabama Shakes, Benjamin Booker, Natural Child) was enlisted for mastering duties at The Bomb Shelter in East Nashville.
Seated and singing close-up on the microphone, sometimes underneath a brimmed hat, Schmadeke delivers his cosmic awareness with a tenderness toward sensitive issues and big questions like a Jeff Lynne that grew up in the suburbs of Indianapolis in the 90s. On All I Get Back and Bigger Thoughts he weaves the band in and out of sophisticated movements that shimmer and punch right on time the kind of arrangements traded-in long ago by popular music for high-gain marketing strategies. He grapples with racial inequality on songs like Carolines and Immigration but not so that the songs become fodder for corporate social campaigns. Many of the songs on the album spring from a small fictitious midwestern town that Schmadeke imagines as a canvas for the ideas he and the band have picked-up along the way.
Schmadeke has quickly built a good reputation in the music scene having toured as pianist for national acts Houndmouth, Diane Coffee, and Andrew Combs.