Thrill of Living is the new album by The Human Fly, an alt folk project run by singer/songwriter Robert Mathis for more than ten years, “powered by friendship” over long distance between Philadelphia and New York City. Released on the local label Dead Definition (Noera, Ther, Sadurn), Thrill of Living captures a modest, endearing, and tightly bound quintet whose enthusiasm peaks when they hit record.
The crew includes Mathis at the front, Jenny Carlson on keyboards and voice, Pru Carmichael (of Noera) on drums, Jack Knetemann on guitar and Alex Tregaskis on bass. While they all contributed parts to past Human Fly records, Mathis assures that this record is their first as a band, not a solo project under his direction. Originally, they had all planned to record beloved new material together in 2020 before the pandemic brought them all new circumstances. In the next year they stayed in touch, eager to reassemble, even as so much life passed: Mathis lost family members, moved his wedding, departed New York, took a cross-country trip, settled in Texas for a month before getting driven out by a blizzard. All along he wrote and re-wrote, (the road trip became “A New Perspective,” the album opener) funneling demos to the group and dissecting them “endlessly,” plowing ahead far past any plans they once had pre-pandemic, like many of us.
In 2021, the band narrowed 30 new tracks down to 10, re-wrote together, Google-Doc’d it all, and booked studio time at last. They recorded these 10 tracks at Headroom Studios with Heather Jones (of Ther), who Mathis calls “one of my dearest friends since we were 17/18,” and engineer Johanna Baumann (of Janna). Their stellar week was a burst, full of vigor, rigor and spontaneity that all made the cut, so the final product plays like a variety show hosted with candor by all your silliest friends.