The duo spent the rest of the year exploring options with regards to releasing the record, and in 2018, decided to put out the album in a series of singles: the first volume, “The New West,” gained regional radio airplay and was featured as one of Austin Chronicle music writer Kevin Curtin’s “Top 10 Local Singles of 2018.” A leaked copy of the record resulted in their invitation to play Luck Reunion during SXSW 2018, an exclusive event featuring Willie Nelson, Kurt Vile, Nathaniel Rateliffe and many others held annually at Willie Nelson’s Luck Ranch in Spicewood, Texas.
“It’s been inspiring to collaborate with Evan on this project and come together to chase a vision,” said Sean Faires. “Taking on the challenge of creating the thematic landscape of ‘Idol Frontier’ really pushed us to hunt down the right pieces and elements that best served the narrative of each song. It allowed for a lot of unbound creative approaches and I think the proof is in the moods and tones of every tune on the album. Even if you miss the lyrics I feel like the intent and nature of the songs are evident within the arrangements.”
“Idol Frontier” was recorded in 2016 at the Skeleton Farm Studio in Leander, owned by Aaron Behrens from Ghostland Observatory and The Midnight Stroll, and was mastered at Terra Nova Studios in 2017. The record was co-produced by Sean Faires and Jonas Wilson and features Evan Charles (vocals, guitars), Sean Faires (guitars, backing vocals), Billy Potts of The Black and White Years and Nic Armstrong and the Thieves (drums), Chris Ritchie of Shivery Shakes (bass), Bill Stevenson of Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears (bass), Z Lynch of Jonathan Tyler, The Tender Things (bass and backing vocals), Jonas Wilson of The Midnight Stroll (keys/synths, percussion), Ricky Ray Jackson of Steve Earle and the Dukes and Phosphorescent (pedal steel) and Kullen Fuchs of Charley Crockett (trumpet).
“It’s interesting to us, after the past year of working on this thing to see how a project like this will play out,” said Faires. “We did everything we could to avoid thinking about selling the product until we were certain it was right. We wanted to make good art about something specific, something like our heroes made, something that really speaks to a mood or a place in time. I mean, we grew up digging on dudes like Townes and Guy Clark who saw no real monetary success, but also Petty, a guy who saw massive success and still managed to create that authentic connection with people. The not knowing if something like this project will matter today is invigorating.”