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Unwed Sailor is an American, mostly instrumental band, formed in 1998 by Johnathon Ford, with recordings that range from instrumental rock to ambient drones. The band's touring and recording lineups have largely been in rotation over the years, with the core member being bassist Ford. Unwed Sailor has consistently toured throughout the United States and Europe since its inception in 1998. The band's last album Little Wars was released on Burnt Toast Vinyl on March 18, 2008.
Ford was initially a band member of Roadside Monument and Pedro the Lion, prior to the formation of Unwed Sailor, which he founded in Seattle, U.S. In a band biography on their SoundCloud profile, the origin of the band is explained: "Pulling towards a bass guitar-oriented sound, the songs he had begun to craft did not fully feel right for Roadside Monument, thus the unbeknownst predestined forming of Unwed Sailor."
The band's first release was the Firecracker EP, recorded in Seattle after Ford left Pedro the Lion--performing on their debut album--and before he relocated to Chicago, U.S. Ford invited friends David Bazan (Pedro the Lion), K.C. Wescott (The Vogue) and Melissa Palladino (Danielson Famile) to assist with the recording of the inaugural Unwed Sailor EP. Recorded by Blake Wescott in September 1998 at Casa Recording Co., Firecracker was released on the Made In Mexico record label.
Ford then worked with Nic Tse, Dan Burton (Early Day Miners), Joe Brumley (Early Day Miners) and Matthew Johnson (Roadside Monument) to record Unwed Sailor's debut full-length studio album, The Faithful Anchor. The album was recorded and mixed in Bloomington, Indiana, U.S. during October and December 2000, and was released in the U.S. on September 10, 2001 on the Lovesick Recordings label.
Unwed Sailor released a joint project with Early Day Miners and photographer Chris Bennett in March 2002. Entitled Stateless, the recording is a score by the two bands to accompany Bennett's Super 8 footage, filmed on trips across the U.S. and Europe.
The Unwed Sailor The Marionette and the Music Box concept album was then released on Burnt Toast Vinyl in August 2003 as a companion piece to the Jamie Hunt illustrated children's book of the same name. Ford explained in 2010 that the album was their most experimental recording at the time:
We literally created our own sounds and instruments for that record. It was very much like creating a movie soundtrack--just being in a room with a couple of random objects and using them to create the sound another object would make. Like spinning quarters on a table to get the sound a clock would make if it was being wound, or rolling an old toy car across a picnic table to simulate the sound of an old windmill. I am fascinated with that kind of thing.
Writing for Pitchfork, Bill Morris concluded his review of the album with the statement: "Ultimately, I see the album as a moving away from one strength in favor of developing another."
Since inception, the band has toured with musical acts such as Pedro the Lion, Low, Sufjan Stevens, Minus the Bear, Battles, The Appleseed Cast and Beach House. The band's tours in the U.S. are booked by the Nicodemus Agency.
The following artists have played with Unwed Sailor:
David Bazaan (Pedro the Lion),
K.C. Wescott (The Vogue),
Melissa Palladino (Danielson Famile),
Nic Tse co-wrote and played guitar on The Faithful Anchor, and was responsible for the concept, story and majority of songs of "The Marionette & The Music Box",
Dan Burton (Early Day Miners) recorded and mixed The Faithful Anchor.,
Matt Johnson performed on The Faithful Anchor.,
Matthew Putman performed on The Marionette & The Music Box and Little Wars,
Nicholas Tse Jo-Yum (born September 18, 1977, not to be confused with singer and actor Nicholas Tse) is an indie rock guitarist and songwriter from Hong Kong, and was a key player in Unwed Sailor between 1999 and 2003.
In 2001 Ford collaborated on the Circle of Birds project with Ester Drang and members of Oklahoma country band Lasso.
Ford was born in the U.S. state of Oklahoma and in 2014 is a resident of the state's second-largest city Tulsa.