2005 - 2005
By may 2005, the band reclinerland, at the time consisting of Joe Ballman, Bob Ham, Michael Johnson, Anthony Georgis, and guitarist Jason Hughes were listening to poppy, summery bands like the Zombies and the Polyphonic Spree. They got inspired to make a more wide-ranging, jaunty, melodic, post-modern kind of music than they had been making previously, back when everyone associated the name Reclinerland with slow, sad, introspective singer/songwriter music. So they took as their theme the American suburbs, declared themselves members of a genre-less genre called "postmodern pop" and stared a new group. After agonizing over a billion band names, including the Tigers, How to Save the World, and the Summer Lawns, they settled on Parks & Recreation.
The Sasquatch festival in eastern washington was the boys' first show. The Pixies were the headliners that year. In 95 degree heat our boys shared a billing with the likes of Smoosh and Math & Physics Club, Modest Mouse, the Arcade Fire, and Wilco to name a few.
Their second gesture as a new pop band was to record the song All My Love for Jealous Butcher Records as part of a Led Zeppelin tribute, spearheaded by Rob Jones. The compilation was released in 2006, and featured other portland groups like Beltline, the Decemberists, Wow & Flutter, and others.
In addition to making music that summer, the fellows collaborated on an independent film for Grammar School Pictures. Joe composed the soundtrack, Reclinerland songs were used in the film, and the band was featured in a club scene. Joe and Mike acted in the film, as well.
Later that year, Jason Hughes left the band. Shortly after, Parks & Recreation were picked up by HUSH Records, Chad Crouch's inimitable Portland label. The result of their gentleman's agreement is the February, 2006 release of Parks & Recreation's first record: What Was She Doing on the Shore That Night?
In autumn, Parks & Recreation joined Skinny Productions, a booking agency out of Seattle, Washington. Among the many fruits of that partnership was a spot in the first annual Twee Pop Festival in Seattle. There, P&R shared the stage with Tullycraft, the Dutch Elms, Central Services and Speaker Speaker among others. Thanks to Skinny Productions, P&R went on a lengthy tour of the west coast, which included a date in Canada with They Shoot Horses, Don't They?
2006 - 2007
Following the release of What Was She Doing on the Shore That Night?, the group embarked on a lengthy tour up and down the west coast, performing at the Cafe du Nord in San Francisco for the Noise Pop festival and playing in clubs like the Lava Lounge in Los Angeles.
After a summer break, the band opened the fall of 2006 with a string of shows in Portland, including shows at the Doug Fir, Dante's, and an appearance at the Towne Lounge supporting Maritime (ex-promise ring). Highlights of this tour also included a show at Dante's with The Trash Can Sinatras.
During the first few days of the new year, Parks & Recreation went into Magic Closet studios in Portland, OR to work on their second record: How to Save the World. Ron guensche, the group's long time friend, engineered the recordings, and Chris Streng played guitar. Soon, the months zoomed by as Mike composed the string and horn arrangements for the album while Joe recorded additional guitars and Anthony worked out his keyboard textures and noise effects.
During the summer, Mike, Joe and Anthony were involved in another film. The TV pilot Icebreaker, again produced by Grammar School Pictures, was written by Mike, Joe and Matt Knapp, who also directed and edited the film. Anthony did the cinematography. Icebreaker co-stars HUSH records headmaster Chad Crouch.
Finally, as summer melted away, autumn came, and the group overdubbed strings and horns for the album. On a bleak gray weekend Anthony, Joe, Bob, Mike, and four string players-- Amanda Lawrence (Loch Lamond), Jody Morrissette, Erin Feree, and Doug Jenkins (Portland Cello Project)-- all huddled together in a little Montessori school in Southwest Portland and knocked out the first round of string and horn overdubs. The horns featured were Gus Slayton on tenor and bari sax, Steve O'Niel on alto, Sebastian Bibb-Barrett on trumpet, and Joe on tenor sax.
2008 - 2011
In 2008 P&R stopped touring, but throughout 2008 and 2009, they continued to intermittently edit and overdub strings, vocals, guitars, and noise effects onto the new album. Ultimately, however by 2009, life had taken the boys in separate directions. Anthony went on to a career as a professional photographer, Bob moved to seattle to start a family and become a writer, and Joe and Mike embarked on teaching careers. When, in 2009, NBC launched a new television comedy show called Parks and Recreation, the boys felt the band’s fate was sealed.
In late 2010, however, the people who make the Rock Band series of video games contacted Mike to request a new recording of the song La La La La La to be included in the upcoming Rock Band 3. The renewed interest in the band inspired the boys to finish the second album.
In spring 2011, Mike met Jarkko Heinio of the Finnish band Tigerbombs at a dinner party in northern Germany. After Mike and Anthony recorded the next Reclinerland album at Jarkko’s Bughouse Studios in Toijala, Finland, Jarkko agreed to mix the Parks & Recreation record. Mixing commenced in late October and was wrapped up by early November. Ron Guensche mastered the album, and on December 23rd, 2011, How to Save the World was released digitally on Michael’s George Recordings label.
In September 2014, Bob, Joe, and Michael began work on new songs for another Parks & Recreation album. The as yet unnamed album will feature Parks & Recreation's usual bright, summery, pop songs featuring orchestral arrangements and electronic sounds. The album will be released digitally on the George Recordings label. See the blog for the latest developments.