Old Factory was actually conceived, written, and partially recorded a few years ago (2012, to be exact), and the final release of the EP on February 5th, 2016 marks a return from a self-imposed exile for Chris Bathgate. After more than a decade of constant recording, touring, and picking up odd-jobs while off the road, Bathgate had had enough. It was time to make a big change, and extricating himself from the life of a performing and recording musician was necessary. It became hard to write, hard to focus, hard to put on the kind of performance Bathgate wanted to, and knew he could.
So, that is just what he did. Tucking away a finished EP while turning down performances and other opportunities, Bathgate chose to re-focus and re-kindle his love of nature by investing time in the outdoors as an avid hiker and naturist. And, while the songs on Old Factory have ties backward, they represent, just as well, a bridge forward. From the time away came a well-spring of creative muse, and songs for future albums are coming easily again. He’s embarked on a string of tour dates to welcome back his fans and allow new folks to be able to experience his songs live – and with a good bit of luck, hear some new albums forged in the foreseeable future.
As for the songs themselves: Calvary, the lead single from Old Factory, feels akin to putting on that well worn plaid coat that’s kept you warm for so many years, lovingly frayed a bit at the seams, but as inviting as a glass of bourbon on a cold Michigan winter night. Songs like Wait, Red Arrow Highway, and Acorns are near classic Bathgate, weaving an atmosphere of gossamer around icy structures, while Big Ghost’s “static in my throat” could possibly be Bathgate talking about the swirl of what things were like and the possible finality of deciding to take leave of the industry for a bit, at once exciting and frightening.