If you go
What: Kevin Andrew Prchal performance and album release
When: 7 p.m. today
Where: The Union, 129 W. Benton, Naperville
Info: (630) 637-5417 or nccunion.com
"Eat Shirt and Tie" is more than the title of Kevin Andrew Prchal's new album, it's a statement about his life.
The 25-year-old debuts his first solo compilation today with a special concert at The Union in Naperville, and he says the title is the defining moment between giving up music for a 9-to-5 job or committing himself to his passion.
"It's funny. Now that I'm on my own, I don't have a band that could potentially break up and I'll never stop writing music, so really the only thing that could happen is people stop listening," said Prchal, pronounced "per-kull." "It's OK. I'm all right with becoming the weird old guy who sings at the annual neighborhood block parties."
The album, released independently, features nine songs that are the culmination of three recording sessions and months of dedication.
Prchal, who lives in Lisle, grew up in Naperville and attended Jefferson Junior High and graduated from Naperville North in 2002.
Since high school, Prchal has gained notoriety while playing in two local bands, Triptii and The Young Sea, before deciding to strike out on his solo adventure.
"You could tell that he's definitely found his sound compared to his work that he's done in the past," said friend Matt Sobotka, who helped record the album. "He definitely put his heart and soul into it."
If anybody wonders where Prchal's feet have taken him in recent years, they need only to turn to this album for a refresher.
"All these songs really speak for my life over the past two years and even beyond that," Prchal said. "These songs are very telling of where my head was at throughout all these things that were happening to me, for all the good or bad or whatever was going on in my life."
Some are heartbreakers like "Heavy Clothes," in which Prchal sings: "But I wake and I reach for a hand to hold, All I feel is the pillow that she once believed, Was made for her. Now my hands will never know, The warm of her summer, under this sheet of snow. So, I dress in heavy clothes, And wait out the weather 'til I am not alone."
Others are about love, questions of faith and even about Prchal's recent trip to Uganda.
His song "Peace not war" was inspired by those simple words stenciled on a small school building.
"I remember immediately being very moved by that phrase," he said. "So bold and simple. I've spent years watching various musicians and poets try and disguise the simple subject of war into some tricky metaphor, that I forgot how powerful protest can be when spoken straightforward and to the point."
There's no single style of music that inspires "Eat Shirt and Tie," he says.
"I draw influence from a lot of different things; I grew up listening to a lot of punk rock, that transformed into political and socially conscious music like Bob Dylan and then it transformed to soul music like Sam Cooke," he said. "The easiest way to describe my music would be folk-based acoustic songs with a little bit of soul to it and a little bit of pop and a little bit of blues. People have compared me to Ray LaMontagne."
Prchal's friend Sobotka put the finishing touches on the album, and of the nine tracks, Sobotka said "Castle" spoke to him most.
"I liked 'Castle' because of its dark, yet uplifting sound. It's obviously about being there for someone you care about greatly," he said. "Kevin gets brownie points for whoever he wrote this about."
Prchal credits his time and experience playing and writing music as a member of a band to the sound that results as "Eat Shirt and Tie."
"I ask everyone to support independent music and to give me a chance," Prchal said. "If you listen to my music and you like it, I ask you to share it with everyone else; if you hear my music and believe in it, share it with as many people as you can."
The album soon will be available on iTunes, as well as amazon.com.
For a sample of Prchal's music, visit myspace.com/kevinandrewprchal or follow him on twitter at twitter.com/kevinprchal.