A Russell native, now living in Nashville, has gone back to the drawing and mixing board to give new life to an album he released in 2001 while a senior at St. Lawrence University, Canton.
“Neon Apocalypse” was Ender Bowen’s first album, which was the result of 2½ years of work. It was mainly recorded in the music lab at SLU, and made up of songs he wrote between the ages of 16 and 19.
Ender Bowen, the stage name of Joel D. VanBrocklin, graduated in 1998 from Edwards-Knox Central School, where he was a member of the concert, jazz and marching bands. He graduated in 2002 from SLU with a bachelor of arts degree in music. He is the son of Vickie Strate of Russell and Larry VanBrocklin of Hendersonville, Tenn.
Mr. Bowen works freelance in the video production industry in the Nashville area. He recently finished editing a feature documentary on Kentucky bourbon which he said should be featured in some film festivals next year.
He’s no stranger to releasing old work as new and improved. Last year, Mr. Bowen, 36, reissued his third album, “Lemonymous” following a crowd-sourcing funding campaign. It contained the iTunes “instant gratification” track, “So Can’t I.”
Mr. Bowen, who started out as a drummer, performs solo on his albums. He plays several instruments. On “Neon Apocalypse,” his guitar, bass and keyboard work are prominent.
He describes his music as similar to the soaring, big sounds of U2 mixed with the heavier eclecticism of such groups as the Smashing Pumpkins. His music, which ranges from party music to introspective songs, also has elements of electronica. Some of his themes are drawn from literary elements, such as the works of author C.S. Lewis.
Songs on “Neon Apocalypse” were created as Mr. Bowen attempted to put bands together.
“Those bands never really worked out, so at a certain point I realized that if this was going to happen, I’d have to do it myself,” Mr. Bowen wrote in an email in response to questions.
But as the years passed, his experienced ear didn’t like what he heard on “Neon Apocalypse,” especially when compared to today’s standards of even home-recorded productions. Guitars were wildly out of tune. Vocals needed polishing. The mixing and mastering “wasn’t up to the task of being listenable.”
“If I’m going to have these things available for people to get their hands on and experience I want to make them the best I can within the limitations that came from the original work,” Mr. Bowen wrote.
He added the reissues of the past two years act to further his training, “not just the art of music engineering but also in the art of marketing and promotion” and to get his name out there when he releases new music.
These days, he’s also able to better distribute his original work.
“When these records first came out, the means didn’t really exist to do what you can do with them now, which is to release them on multiple platforms across the globe at a very, very affordable cost,” Mr. Bowen wrote. “Now that I can do that, I want the songs to be worthy of that kind of distribution.”
Funding for his “Lemonymous” album was crowd-sourced. Besides the digital release, there was a CD. “Neon Apocalypse” is a digital release only and wasn’t crowd-sourced.
“I do plan to get it physically released in the near future but for now, in order to ensure it still came out during its 15th anniversary, the digital release was really the only way to go,” Mr. Bowen wrote.
The album is available on iTunes and will be available on all streaming media, such as Amazon, GooglePlay and Spotify on Friday, Nov. 18.