"I would've thought that when the doomsday came, it would at least make pretty shapes across the sky."
So begins "From Inside," one of many songs featured on the new album "Self-Quarantine - a Collection of Recordings for the Greater Good," which was released this past Friday. "From Inside" is the second track on the album and was written by Jordan Capizzi of Nielsen Family Band, one of a handful of songs written by Lancaster artists on the 23-track compilation.
"Self-Quarantine" is the brain child of Kyle Ziegler and Dan Riddle, two Lancaster musicians in their own right. The two initially met as part of a band, Selah Selah, nearly a decade ago and have remained friends. When COVID-19 first became less of a talking point and more of a new way of life, the pair started hatching a way to help.
"We both play music and know a lot of musicians, so we thought it would be really easy to get everything together," says Ziegler.
Reaching out to the wide range of musicians was probably the easiest part. Lancastrians featured on the compilation include Joe Lacomb of the Beatles tribute band Cavern Club, songwriter Rachel Sender and Stereoma, which features another former Selah Selah member, Nick Curran.
While friends filled in a number of slots, some bands are from as far away as New Orleans, San Francisco and even England.
"Jetstream Pony is from the UK, and Dan was joking that he was starstruck after reaching out," Ziegler says with a laugh.
"They were really down to Earth," adds Riddle, "With independent musicians, it's really easy to just reach out and ask about things like these."
Across the 23 tracks, there is a range of thoughts, feelings and song styles. Just as not every song is a fully produced full band single, neither is each one a solo singer/songwriter recording acoustically in their bedrooms. Some, such as Arory's "Dancing With Yourself" and Clint Niosis "Automaton," are trippy pieces of electronic music, perhaps meant to mirror some of the stir craziness a quarantine can instill.
Others, like musician and Black Comb barber Pat Charlie Hatt's "On the Mend," are wistful acoustic odes to being reunited with someone beloved. According to Ziegler, Hatt wrote the song eight years ago, but found the lyrics matching the current times better than the past.
Riddle and Ziegler both have tracks on the compilation as well - the former, credited as "The Lunar Haircuts" with the appropriately titled "Home is a Ghost Town," and the latter under his own name with "Pizza," a song originally written about Ziegler's agoraphobic friend who didn't leave his house for two years.
To bring all these disparate tracks together, Riddle called in a favor from friend Chris Pollack, who would usually be jetsetting around the world as August Burns Red's sound engineer, to master the compilation.
"It's a wide range of recordings, but if you heard the differences before mastering to now, it's night and day how cohesive it all sounds," says Riddle.
Digital and analog
Along with a now-traditional digital release on the music sharing website Bandcamp, the duo is releasing the compilation in a small batch of cassettes. Ziegler reached out to Ohio's A to Z Audio with an order of 100 cassettes, slated to arrive any day.
"Even if people don't have anything to play [the cassette] on, it's still nice to have a physical version of the artwork [by Daniel McGarvey]," says Ziegler. "If it was just downloads, I don't know if people would have been as excited about it."
Digital downloads and cassettes are $10, and are available for sale at this link. All proceeds from the sales are going towards Feeding America's Coronavirus Response Fund. Ziegler and Riddle initially settled upon the organization after seeing how high it ranked in terms of how much money actually goes towards the causes it supports. Just two days after the compilation went online, it had already earned $500.
"You also see in the news the incredible lines at food banks," says Riddle. "So that's a major need in the United States right now."
Between the two of them, there are ideas for further ways to pair music and fundraising - during the conversation, the possibility of a "Live Aid" style benefit concert was quickly proposed, and then dashed. During the interview, a music fan from Germany bout three copies of the tape, showing that even the small act of buying independent music online can help towards the greater good, from Lancaster and beyond.
"I think it's neat to see the urgency of the songs written in the midst of the pandemic," says Riddle. "It'll be like a time capsule for a kid in forty years who's looking through a thrift store and finds this cassette from the pandemic era. Not that you necessarily want a souvenir from a pandemic, but it is interesting."