The New Constitution (2000-2005, 2017) was Dan Brown (bass, vocals), Mike Marsden (guitar), Dan Marsden (drums), Mike Downey (guitar, vocals).
I don’t quite understand why this band took so long to fall into place, but that’s how it happened. Friends since high school, former bandmates, drinking buddies for life, our paths eventually crossed again after I had moved back to Chicago after college. The Marsdens and Dan Brown had already been plugging away on demos under the moniker The Symphony Destroyer before I came waltzing in. I remember their 4 track propped up on an old card table in the garage next to an ashtray of cigarette butts. Somebody pressed play and I wanted in. This was pretty much Dan Brown’s first band but he had a treasure-trove of pop nuggets just waiting to be sifted through. So we got to work and didn’t stop until 5 years later.
We produced one album but wrote enough songs for at least a few. We started in the suburbs and snaked our way through the city, playing every dirty Chicago bar that had a stage, and we usually woke up in Texas. There were highlights and lowlights and just about everything in between I feel a band should be thrown into. Then they put us on a plane and flew us far away to towns we’d never heard of. And so the story goes…
I wrote this bit in 2010 and it still makes plenty of sense…
I’ve been very good about pointing to specific phases of my musical past for the most part. However, there’s an important part that I have neglected. Looking back on it I think it’s because walking away from The New Constitution was probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.
And after I had walked away I tried to not remind myself of it too much. I knew I was a part of something really cool but my life had taken me in a direction that didn’t include continuing playing with them. And it hurt to think about it.
There was a lot of time spent sitting in a circle on folding chairs in a smokey garage. Beer-soaked reverb. I can’t begin to write about what was said in there, but the music on the stereo was always classic. We thrived on taking it in and digesting. We somehow woke up the next day and stumbled into a rectangled space and made our own music, inspired. In fact, we ended up rearranging our lives to do it. It became more than friends hanging out; it became a full fledged band on a mission. The mission was to recreate and somehow package that excitement and play it forward to anyone who was willing to accept a good time.
We did what most bands did: we started out playing local and our friends thought it was a blast. We succeeded in releasing an album and did a bit of touring around the eastern half of the US. We gained some fans and went through all of those ups and downs that bands go through. It was all very well worth while.
Once, we got on a plane and played shows in Sweden for 2 weeks. That tour ended up changing my life. I am writing this from Stockholm if that tells you anything.
There was so much more. I just can’t get to it all here, now. I got to thinking about all of this and I wanted to share a quick glimpse of what we were all about.
We returned from Sweden and tried to get back into our daily lives. I was never able to, maybe the rest of the band succeed a bit better. December turned into January (2004) and we were officially back to the daily grind. We were in the midst of putting together our 2nd album, which was a long process of demoing songs, and from what I remember trying to solidify a new label and all of that fun stuff.
Before we got back into the groove of playing out locally and finishing our next album (we never did) we made a stop at Loyola University’s WLUW for an in-studio appearance. The result turned out, in my opinion, to be a great-sounding recording of a band at the top of their game. Our gears were so greased at this point, it wasn’t even funny.