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Family tree finally gets its soundtrack

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After 16 years of making music, Project 86 has built a loyal fan base. And this year, the fans helped the band out.

After leaving its record label, the Orange County rock band turned to Kickstarter to fund its new album.

“We wanted to make an album for the fans,” says Andrew Schwab, the lead singer. “This time around the fans came out in droves and made it happen.”

After starting the Kickstarter campaign online, Project 86 met its goal within eight hours.

“When you sign up for a campaign, the deal is that you get an email every time someone donates,” Schwab explains. “It was like Christmas morning because I kept getting updates about every 30 seconds or so. It was an amazing feeling to see our fans helping us out.”

The result of the campaign is “Wait for the Siren.” The album was released Aug. 21 and is No. 3 on the iTunes rock chart.

Schwab says going into the campaign, there was nervousness from the band.

“We didn’t know what to expect,” he says. “But as the campaign went on, we grew more comfortable with everything and were able to start concentrating on writing for the album.”

Schwab says the band always gives 110 percent to its music, and this time was no different.

“Just because we had the money donated to us didn’t mean we were going to let the music suffer,” he says. “We got into the studio and worked very hard in getting the best collection of songs together.”

Schwab says the band’s direction on this record is shocking, but in the best possible way.

“We captured the spirit that attracted people to our band long ago, with a whole new approach to the sonics,” he says.

As the primary songwriter and co-producer, Schwab enlisted producer Steve Wilson to take the helm of the sound of the album, while Andrew Welch, Blake Martin, Rocky Gray, Cody Driggers, Bruce Fitzhugh and Brian “Head” Welch make guest appearances.

“I wanted to get back to my roots as a rock artist,” he says. “Part of the ‘getting back to roots’ theme on this record is the journey of self-discovery I embarked on while writing this record. I had to do some detective work, but I unearthed some secrets about my past. One of these secrets is that I have Irish ancestors who fought and died in the Civil War as a part of the Irish Brigade. This inspired some of the military themes and Celtic instrumentation on the record, which added a new level of epic emotion on some of the songs.”

Schwab says he was inspired to delve into his family’s genealogy because he recently became a father.

“I never had thought about where I came from until my daughter came along,” he says. “I felt it was important to learn my history and be able to pass it along to her. It also made for some great songs.”

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