It’s been quite an eventful summer for local psych-rock mastermind Landon Caldwell. After moving back from Los Angeles to Indianapolis after three years away, the former frontman of celebrated Fountain Square group Learner Dancer joined the staff of Jimmy Peoni’s State Street Pub, where he now is in charge of booking shows. More notably though, the self-described “tape glam” artist has also dropped three new releases under his solo Creeping Pink moniker in the past four months, with July’s Mirror Woods full-length undoubtedly marking his biggest yet.
Having already received props from places like NME and AllMusic, Caldwell’s latest Creeping Pink offering was officially released on July 13 via John Dwyer’s (of Thee Oh Sees fame) much-loved Castle Face Records. Referred to by Dwyer as “a beautiful album indeed,” Mirror Woods features 14 tracks of floating, Syd Barret-esque enchantment, with “many glittering gems” woven throughout. And this past Friday, the album received a proper hometown unveiling at Caldwell’s aforementioned pub of employment, with a special live lineup of Creeping Pink that also featured Mark Tester and Brian Allen of California’s Burnt Ones and Mitchell Duncan of Vacation Club.
“I spent my days house hopping on Morris Street [in Fountain Square],” he recalls. “Then, I fell in love. So Creeping Pink is a sort of love story. I fell in love and life started to fall together.”
Related: Read Seth Johnson's interview with Tester and Allen when Burnt Ones returned to Indy last year.
After moving into his girlfriend’s house, Caldwell began recording on a 4-track that he got for $25. The two eventually decided to move out to San Francisco, where Caldwell continued his solo music explorations.
“I spent the next two years embracing the hermetic life I had kind of romanticized," he says. "I spent that time experimenting, recording, cataloging, collecting sound.” While out west, Caldwell also linked up with Burnt Ones, joining the Indy-born/California-based band on guitar, much to Tester’s delight.
“Landon's old band, Learner Dancer, toured the U.S. with Crys a few years ago, and we booked them a nice show with Burnt Ones at this amazing art space in San Francisco called Engine Works,” Tester remembers. “Landon moved to San Francisco shortly afterward, and I started trying to poach him to play in Burnt Ones as soon as I found out he was wanting to do that.”
After migrating from San Fran to L.A. with Burnt Ones, Caldwell began recording some of the material for Mirror Woods, while also editing down other home recordings he’d made in prior years. He remembers, “Through that process I got a good portion of the source samples and found sounds for Mirror Woods and was also able to sculpt Future Acid Family, which was just released on tape by Holy Infinite Freedom Revival.” And like his preceding Creeping Pink work, Mirror Woods was also crafted with a very personal vision in mind.
“All of my creative output ties into a singular universe, built on its own accord,” he says. “Mirror Woods is one place I've always dreamed to live, so I made it and put myself there. Concepts and storylines unfolded everyday in the album and began to carry themselves over into my life. They manifest themselves.”
With this being said, Caldwell seems to feel most comfortable creating when he’s living in Indianapolis. In an interview conducted for a separate story on State Street Pub, the Indy native elaborated on his choice to move back home saying, “I have found an enormous love for my roots, and it has helped me realize that being a Hoosier is a large part of my identity.” In the same light, he also referenced a Kurt Vonnegut quote that states, “I myself find that I trust my own writing most, and others seem to trust it most, too, when I sound most like a person from Indianapolis, which is what I am.”
Now back home, Caldwell will approach Creeping Pink’s live shows in the same way he did with Learner Dancer by embracing an ever-changing lineup. He explains, “I can't honestly say who will play with me. It's always been a project focused around change, never being something finite. I do have a tendency to collaborate with people with whom I have already worked, but I'm just as likely to draw names from a hat.” And when it comes to recordings, Allen expects Caldwell to continue his highly productive pace.
“Landon is hyper-prolific, constantly evolving, and always getting better,” he says. “Seriously, it blows my mind how much music he makes. He’s very curious and constantly absorbing new things into his process.”
This November, Caldwell will tour Europe with Creeping Pink in support of Mirror Woods, joining Burnt Ones as they also tour in support of an upcoming split 12" of their own. But until then, his only other plan is to move forward with his next music quest.
“I don't like to keep my head in the past,” he concludes. “I'm on to the next thing, whatever that is.”