By KAYLA PONGRAC
Our Town Correspondent
As soon as Adam Milkovich and Adam Mundok finished recording the first song for inclusion on their first collaborative EP, they were convinced that they had hit a musical gold mine.
“We knew we were on to something when we recorded our first song, ‘Drink This Town Dry,’” Milkovich said. “The moment we finished that track, it sounded so rich and full and we just knew we had something special on our hands.”
“Drink This Town Dry” is one of seven songs on “E=AM²,” which was released Jan. 31.
Their recording name, AM², is a play on their matching initials, and “E=AM²” is a nod to Albert Einstein (the cover of their EP features a Photoshopped image of Einstein sticking out his tongue).
“Einstein is definitely one of our heroes,” Mundok said.
Just as their hero was a hard worker, so too are Mundok and Milkovich. They started work on the EP in late June of 2013 and wrapped up the project in late January of 2015.
“We stand on the shoulders of the greats who came before us, and we aspire to make our music sound as great as possibly can with the tools and the experience we have,” Mundok said.
The EP gave both musicians an opportunity to play a variety of instruments. For Milkovich, that included the acoustic six- and 12-string guitars, electric and bass guitars, dobro, harmonica, mandolin, violin and synthesizer, while Mundok played the drums, acoustic guitar, harmonica and didgeridoo. Both men supplied lead and background vocals, and Mundok mixed and mastered the entire album.
The result of their efforts is a solid lineup of songs that, as a whole, could best be described as Appalachian roots/folk-based indie rock.
“All of the songs are so varied and so unique that they cannot be placed in any one genre or musical style,” Milkovich said.
He’s right: take the Mundok-penned “The Light,” which boasts a hard-to-miss country Western vibe, while Milkovich’s songwriting efforts shine in “Hell to Pay,” an upbeat, clap-along anthem that’s one of the EP’s standout tracks.
Milkovich and Mundok (who refer to each other as Milk and Dok, respectively) seemed especially thrilled to discuss “Fair Warning,” a song they co-wrote to honor John C. Hess.
“He is an unspoken hero of the Great Flood of 1889,” Mundok said. “Hess was a train engineer who tied his whistle down and drove his train backward to warn residents that the dam had broken. He saved a lot of lives.”
The track and its 30-second predecessor, “Train Leaving the Party (Intro to Fair Warning)” are the EP’s highlights. In fact, “Fair Warning” can be categorized as an “earworm” — a song that gets stuck in one’s head.
Milkovich credited Mundok for being able to recreate Hess’s train whistle the way he aspired for it to sound.
“On that last track, I was trying to emulate the sound of a freight train roaring down the tracks at a high rate of speed, but I didn’t want to do it with a synthesizer,” Milkovich said. “I wanted to recreate that sound using an electric guitar, so I asked Adam if he could possibly add some kind of reverb on the electric guitar to make it sound like a freight train going down a long, dark tunnel. He made that happen. That’s just one of many amazing things that happened while we were making this album, and I can’t thank him enough.”
Mundok also praised Milkovich, who, when he’s not writing and recording songs with Mundok, is busy playing in local Americana band Striped Maple Hollow.
“I feel very fortunate to be working with Mr. Milkovich because our sensibilities are very similar,” Mundok said. “He has such a wide, broad taste in music. He’s one of the best music aficionados I know.”
Since the men work so well together, they already have plans to re-enter the studio to record a second album. That album is scheduled for release in 2016. For now, they are sitting back and enjoying the accolades that “E=AM²” is receiving.
“People seem to like our songs and like what we’re doing,” Mundok said. “We’ve received really high praise from some musician friends. Now that this EP is finished, we’ll do a number of gigs to support it throughout the year. We want this CD in people’s hands so they can enjoy it.”
Anyone who is interested in purchasing “E=AM²” can do so online through CDBaby and ReverbNation. Otherwise, the EP will be available at the band’s local performances, one of which is scheduled to take place Feb. 20 at 8 p.m. at PRESS Bistro in Johnstown’s Central Park. Additional performance dates and information about E=AM² can be found by visiting the band’s Facebook page at Facebook.com/AM2band.