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Are you ready for the Sky Funeral?

The New Year is here, and to go along with everything fresh and new in your life, Water Spaniel has a surprise for you.

After two summer tours in 2015, the psych/space rock band from Cleveland, Miss., is ready to give listeners more. Their new album Sky Funeral will be released for your listening pleasure by next month.

The four 20-somethings who form Water Spaniel — Forrest Philpot, Jesse Mansfield, Jonathan Hernandez and Dylan Crouch — love the art of making music. The band members met while studying audio engineering at the Delta Music Institute (DMI) program at Delta State University, with the exception of Forrest and Jesse who were high school friends.

“We all have a soft spot for loud, heavy music and psychedelic rock, so we constructed our sound from that with lots of layers and volume,” said Forrest, vocalist.

They played their first show for about 50 people in January 2014 with Light Beam Rider, an alternative rock band from Corinth. Since then, they’ve graced The Thirsty Hippo in Hattiesburg, Oxford’s Proud Larry’s, Hi-Tone and Murphy’s in Memphis, Birmingham’s The Nick, Big Sleepy’s in Jackson and countless places in their hometown.

One of their most memorable shows was opening for Destruction Unit, one of Water Spaniel’s big influences, at Murphy’s in Memphis.

“We were all giddy,” Forrest confessed.

Water Spaniel traveled the Magnolia State and surrounding areas on two tours last summer. The first tour was Oxford’s Captain Magma in all the Mississippi college towns plus Memphis and Birmingham, and for the second tour, they traveled the same route, adding Nashville and New Orleans to the list, with Fides from Jackson.

“Every band in the Miss. scene right now is doing work, really. Playing with the bands we have for two years, plus all the new ones sprouting up, is like a statewide front row seat for seeing each other grow,” Forrest divulged,

“Our second tour I feel like really gave all of us that dose of reality, what comes after just a little more of your friends and your friends’ friends hearing about your rock band.”

Due to the miles between them, their creative process is like putting a puzzle together. With Jonathan moving to Hattiesburg, Dylan and Forrest in Cleveland and Jesse in Memphis, meeting up to record a song isn’t always feasible. But thanks to WS bassist/producer Jesse, the band never misses a beat.

“When we get the songs figured out, I usually have an idea of the track order and that provides me with some more ideas on how to record it and how to put the whole thing together,” explained Jesse.

“Being spread out is kind of weird when two or three of us can practice, record, or make a possible show but one or two others can’t because of time and work. But for making music, specifically, I think we have a good system,” Forrest said.

Dylan, guitarist, and Forrest practice the “skeleton” of a song (chords, breaks, end jam, etc.) and record a demo of it to send to Jesse and Jonathan. After that, the band meets up in someone’s living room for a few hours to iron out the kinks.

“The whole entire new record was done that way for sure,” Forrest revealed.

Water Spaniel has released three heavy psych/post rock style albums so far: WSEP (May 2014), WSII (Nov. 2014), WSIII (April 2015) and soon they’ll have another to add to the list. Their new 8-song album, Sky Funeral, is expected to be out before February. The band cites New Years as a magical time.

“New Years is always freezing cold, and people’s spirits are fresh and new and usually you wind up seeing an old friend or two or relative. I love that,” Forrest admitted.

After several name changes, the guys settled on Sky Funeral (sky funerals are natural burials where the body is put on top of a mountain and eaten by eagles) because it fit the album’s naturalist theme.

Forrest said, “The lyrics are focused on being aware of your place, literally & figuratively. Being aware that you and your “places” are constantly changing… If the lyrics had one big underlying phrase, it’d probably be something like, ‘This fucking sucks but keep going. For real, I promise there is more.’”

But they still manage to put in a few silly songs like “Ghost Cop” and “Gravegrass” that are about an “evil stalker policeman and evil magic weed that makes skeletons come back from the ground.”

“The new record is our most pre-practiced at this point I’d say and, therefore, is probably going to sound our best. It’s our big baby,” Forrest said.

While you’re planning your weekends this month, keep Water Spaniel in mind. These guys have come a long way and they have even more road ahead. They’re kicking out new songs, getting new dance moves ready for their fans and playing shows with some of the best Mississippi bands.

Written by

If you’re looking for Courtney Creel, try looking down. Standing at only 4-feet-11-inches, Courtney is tiny yet twisted. You’ll typically find her listening to Modest Mouse or The Weeks while drinking a Starbucks Doubleshot. Courtney graduated Salutatorian of South Jones High School’s Class of 2013. She was previously employed with the Laurel Leader-Call where she was an intern, proofreader, accounting assistant, reporter and page designer. After work, Courtney returns to Ellisville where she resides with her fiancé, Justin and their daughter, Owyn Caroline. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, napping and watching True Blood on repeat. Two words: Joe Manganiello…. Wait, where were we again?

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