IMAGES: To download, click above. Photo one by Sarah Rose Janko. Photos two and three by Alicia Vanden Heuvel.


Speakeasy Studios SF

The Lost Days

Speakeasy Studios SF

After meeting at a memorial for a mutual friend, Tony Molina (Ovens) and Sarah Rose Janko (Dawn Riding) started spending nights into mornings playing guitar and singing their hearts out to an audience of empty wine bottles in the East Oakland warehouse where Sarah lived. Both fans of each other’s respective musical projects, they bonded over a shared love of The Byrds and Bill Fox and leaned into their friendship as a much needed support in a time of dizzying grief.  The days were marked in trips to Jackson’s Liquor store, the same spot Tony frequented while recording with his band Ovens a decade earlier, at a studio in the same neighborhood. The nights drifted by. The songs kept coming. They decided they wanted to record all they’d been pouring their hearts into and The Lost Days was born. 

 The Lost Days recorded their first release, Lost Demos, with Kit Center at his home studio and mixed it at another friend Nick Bassett’s house in West Oakland. In April 2021, the demo, containing songs written by both artists, was released on cassette by Oakland label The Long Road Society, eventually making its way into the hands of Spanish label Mapache, who pressed the release on vinyl.

Over the course of 2021, Molina began penning the songs that would make up their first full length album.  As Sarah Rose had moved to New Orleans, and the pandemic had kept the two songwriters apart, Molina would send song demos long distance to Janko, penned with her voice in mind. Inspired by the solo work of Bill Fox, The Byrds, Dear Nora and Guided by Voices, The Lost Days started recording what was to be their first full-length LP,  In The Store,  at friend Nick Bassett’s basement studio on his Yamaha MT8X 8 track.  Tony would venture on BART from Concord to Nick’s house in Oakland to lay down basic tracks, and Sarah Rose would add the vocals and tambourine when she was in town.  The album is an exercise in true DIY lo-fi analog home recorded tradition, with songs that are a unique blend of folk and pop, crafted with a love of Beatles melody and ‘65 era Rolling Stones instrumentation. 

The comfort and familiarity of friendship and the intimacy of home recording allowed the two to craft traditional and yet deeply personal pop and folk songs.  Molina’s writing on the album addresses alcoholism, depression and complex relationships are lovingly brought to life on the ten tracks (in thirteen minutes) that make up the album.  Characterized by 60’s folk rock arrangements, with jangly 12 string guitars, bright tambourine, swells of Hammond organ, and Byrd’s style harmonies, the songs are a groovier take on Molina’s signature pop-gem writing style, pulled together with Vampire On Titus era GBV recording methods. 

“It was really about an obsession with the first three Bill Fox LPs, and finding a newfound freedom in home recording with Sarah that set the concept in motion.  The Lost Days was a collaboration in which we were tapping into our love of traditional songwriting.  We felt that recording to cassette at our friend’s house was the best way to capture the songs,” Tony says.

The first single, In The Store is a brutally honest dive into the physical dependency and obsession of the next drink.  Anchored by a groovy bass line, overlaid with jangly guitars and hammond organ (tracked by friend Jasper Leach), the track harkens back to the Beatles “Don’t Let Me Down.”  For Today is a fuzzed out GBV style song which touches on struggling with recovery, as “the hardest part of stayin’ sober, is anytime that you come over.”  The songs that make up “In The Store ” represent a unique collaboration between two songwriters that express true-to-life realities over pop hooks, Byrds-style harmonies, and the songs leave one feeling hopeful or at least able to commiserate in the company of friends.  

In The Store comes on March 17, 2023 on Speakeasy Studios SF, a new label run by friend Alicia Vanden Heuvel of the Aislers Set, which is fitting for an album recorded with friends and by friends, as Alicia and Tony’s were long term Slumberland labelmates and as Alicia produced & recorded the new Dawn Riding album “You’re Still Here” with Sarah Rose in her analog home studio.