“Ghost Trains from Fermilab” Songs from 2003-2004

The latest Facing Winter compilation is called “Ghost Trains from Fermilab” and contains 10 songs recorded between 2003-2004. We’ve put a lot of time and thought into this track list, and all the songs have been remastered for 2023. You can hear it here:

You may be wondering- What’s with the name?

Liam, Jeff, and I brainstormed and collaborated for over a month before we settled on it. Here’s why we chose “Ghost Trains from Fermilab” as the title:

During 2003-2004 Jeff, Liam, Matt Potts, Dan Horyn, and I would frequently sneak into Fermilab late at night. The property is MASSIVE. Literally the size of a city:

There was a particular area we liked to hang out. At this spot, there were tracks, and trains would rumble through slowly as we mused about life, love, music, and supernatural things. In the end, some of us came to accept the possibility that if there are ghosts, there may also be “Ghost Trains”.

The lore doesn’t end there.

For many years Liam and I worked for a print shop that produced “Engineering Notepads” for Fermilab. One side of the sheet was presumably for writing notes and equations. The other side was graph paper for math and physics. We called them “Fermipads”. Each pad contained 50 sheets and a cardboard backer. Liam would print them, then I’d collate and glue them. I’d usually keep a few for myself because I love graph paper and blank books. The next day I’d drive to Fermilab and deliver them. I loved getting stopped at the security checkpoint and being able to say “Yep, I belong here, important delivery!”

I frequently daydreamed about what the scientists were doing there. There was (and is) a palpable amount of mystery and magic about that place. Was it true that the Soviets once (and maybe still do) have nukes pointed at it? Whatever they were doing there, it seemed likely to change the world.

I have STACKS of journals, poems, and lyrics written on Fermipads. Many of the songs from this compilation were written on them. Here’s a song I started writing in 2004, some of you may recognize it:

In a strange twist of fate, I’m back in the neighborhood of Fermilab after being away for many years.

I met some cool new friends not too long after I moved back here. Turns out they are physicists, and they work at Fermilab. I am not a superstitious person. But also, I love it when life makes me stop and think “Wait… this feels like more than just a coincidence. Something else could be going on here”.

It’s easy to forget how strange and magical the world can be. That’s why this compilation is called “Ghost Trains from Fermilab”.

And by the way, this album was partially recorded at the print shop where we produced the Fermipads:

Oh. You’re still here? Well then I’m going to tell you even more about this compilation.

Everything was up in the air in 2003, and it was one of the most tumultuous years of my life. But the one thing I knew for sure: I needed to keep writing, recording, and playing shows.

Most of the songs on this compilation were never officially released, instead they were passed around on CD-Rs among friends and at shows. (Anyone still remember what a CD-R is?)

20 years after these songs were written, I find myself in similar life circumstances and back in the same neighborhood. Many of the lyrics feel just as relevant to me now as they did back then. I still know with certainty: music will help me understand the world around me, it will help me understand myself, and it will help me heal.

At the time, music didn’t feel like a choice, it felt like something I had to do in order to survive. My soul needed it. I played as many open mics and shows as I could in and around Chicago.

Towards the end of 2003 I helped Liam Doyle learn to play bass. I had previously been having trouble keeping people in the band. So I figured, why not just be patient and wait for my best friend to learn an instrument? I didn’t care about current skill. I cared about dedication and chemistry.

By 2004 Liam was a legitimate bassist. The first two songs Liam ever recorded were “For Real” and “Scientists“.

The next thing that needed to happen was to secure a drummer. Just like with Liam, chemistry and dedication were the two most important things to me.

Jordan Hill had previously recorded drums on several songs and had performed many live shows with me. Some of his best work can be heard on this compilation: “Prepared” and “The Test“. But Jordan was planning to move to California, and I knew he wasn’t a long term solution.

Turns out, Jeff Goluszka was the solution (as he often is). He didn’t have as much experience as Jordan, but he was (and is) one of the hardest working, most passionate, and dedicated people I have ever met.

Jeff didn’t play drumset on this compilation, but you can hear his hand percussion on “For Real” and “Scientists“.

Edward Bembinster also had a significant role on these songs. He did not play any instruments, but he helped record and mix many of the songs including “For Real“, “Scientists“, “Prepared“, and “The Test” .

Jason Sipe had major contributions on this compilation too. But our lives were taking different paths. The other bands he played in were having a lot of success and he was touring frequently. In spite of this, he managed to record some AMAZING basslines on “Summerset“, “Prepared“, and “The Test” .

This compilation represents the end of an era and the beginning of a new one. I would no longer be playing solo. There would no longer be an uncertain roster. Because now my two best friends were in the band! We were teammates in the truest sense of the word. We were focused and passionate, and we were ready to take on the world.

There would be many more songs to come.

Thanks for reading/listening/caring! If you’ve got something to say please feel to reach out to us: