We're proud to premiere "Invitation to an Autopsy" from Americana husband-and-wife duo Grace And Tony. The song is from their album out Friday, Phantasmagoric.
Quote about the song from Grace of Grace & Tony:
One day I was watching the History Channel and was fascinated by the story. And I don't really remember dwelling on it a lot, but one day I sat down to write when the house was empty (and that doesn't happen a lot... either of those things: writing or an empty house) and I started writing the chorus and sent it to Tony. And it just went from there. I wouldn't even let Tony help me except with the guitar parts, but I actually wrote the chorus guitar part and that never happens either. I don't know... it was just something that added up of things that never happen and became something I'm very proud of and want everyone to hear.
What the song is about:
It's based on a true story about two gentlemen named Burke and Hare, a pair of pre-Victorian-era gents who sold corpses for use in anatomy classes — corpses they created from living humans.
About Grace & Tony:
When husband-and-wife duo Grace & Tony began writing songs for their new album, Phantasmagoric, they didn’t plan on crafting 10 tracks that sound as if they belong in a macabre Broadway musical. But these dramatic tales of plagues, serial killers, mass suicide, Frankenstein’s nameless creation and similar subjects are so inherently theatrical, they’d be right at home in a Sondheim or Brecht-Weill classic.
Embracing literary influences from Edgar Allan Poe and H.P. Lovecraft to Stephen King, the duo blend history and fiction into songs that share equally vivid plot and musical twists. They call their style “Southern gothic” — a fitting term for music made by a pair raised in Loretto, TN, “the last town before you get to Alabama,” according to Tony White. The couple still lives there — 90 miles from Nashville, but less than 30 from Sheffield, AL, aka Muscle Shoals, where they recorded the album at Jimmy Nutt’s Nutthouse Recording Studio. Nutt was recommended by Tony’s brother, John Paul, who lives in “the Shoals” (Florence, actually).
There is some leavening, however. They tell their love story in “072713,” their wedding date. It’s
a follow-up of sorts to their 2013 album, November, which was released on the anniversary of their first date — which came about when Tony, after meeting her and becoming infatuated, invited her via Facebook to jam with him. They took songs he performed with his previous punk band and rendered them as acoustic versions.
That started their merger of punk and bluegrass, which evolved into the classically based, yet rootsy sound they’ve created for Phantasmagoric (a favorite word of Poe’s to mean “out of this world”). They describe it as “theatrical, dark and epic.” Their friend Andy Baxter, of Penny and Sparrow, quipped, “It’s like if Tim Burton had a folk band.” Except Phantasmagoric is far more orchestral than folk, even though it owes its storytelling sensibilities to folk and bluegrass traditions.
“I think a lot of that comes from Grace being such a fan of English murder mysteries and getting in that mindset, that regal sound,” says Tony. “When you’re writing a dark story, pairing it with something classical and proper makes it even darker.
“We wanted to make something that was truly different,” he adds. “Something memorable. We really wanted to blaze trails — and make music that we would enjoy, with lots of layers, that would be as pleasing to the mind as it is to the ear.”
They attribute their success at realizing that vision in part to Nutt, who co-produced with Tony.
“He really pushed our limits and got the most out of us,” says Tony; that included putting the whole band together in the studio to give the album its very-much-live feel.