Early last year, the bend rock band Brave New World was in the studio, laying out basic tracks for a cover of “Last Kiss” for their self-titled debut album. The song, originally recorded by Wayne Cochran in 1961 and later popularized by artists such as Frank Wilson and the Cavaliers and Pearl Jam, is about a teenage girl who dies in a car accident on a date and is sung from her boyfriend’s perspective .
A week later, band leaders and singers Andy Fecteau and Kathy O’Hara were driving to Bend from one of their children’s soccer games in Medford when a red pickup truck pulled into their lane.
“I saw him coming; I said, “Oh, Jesus,” said Fecteau. By the time I said, ‘Oh, Jesus,’ I started steering to the right ditch and I looked up and he was walking in the same direction. I put the car back in the middle; he came back in the middle. “
Just before impact, Fecteau steered hard to the left and the truck hit the front right side of the car where O’Hara was sitting. The couple’s sons, ages 16 and 18, had minor injuries; one broke his ankle.
“My wife was – after about, we don’t know if it was 30 seconds or a minute, she started breathing again,” said Fecteau. “We were all huddled around her; we thought she died. … She was put in the car and the other man was 100 meters away on his head, we think. “
Fecteau and O’Hara spent the next year in and out of hospitals for surgeries and infections, and are still undergoing physical therapy. To top it off, COVID-19 hit Oregon two weeks after the accident, making ongoing treatment for the couple difficult after the accident.
But the music went on. A few months after the accident, O’Hara – her arm broken in 200 pieces – set the lead vocals for “Last Kiss”.
“We were traumatized and shocked,” said Fecteau. “In a way, however, it was part of the healing process. We could sing. Sometimes we couldn’t walk, we couldn’t do a lot of things; We couldn’t just do the housework. But we could stand in front of a microphone and sing. If we could do that, we would have done it. “
“A Brave New World,” released earlier this month, contains 12 original songs and four covers, including “Last Kiss”, “Breathe (2:00 am),” originally written by Anna Nalick; Jason Isbell’s “Speed Trap Town” and Bob Seger’s “Fire Lake”.
The album was recorded at Central Oregon Recording with producer and engineer Matthew Fletcher, who is also the band’s lead guitarist. The rest of the group consists of drummers / percussionists Lindsey Elias and Kyle Pickard, keyboardist Patrick Ondrozeck and bassist Mike Beaulieu. The band formed about eight years ago, but the current line-up has solidified over the past three or four years, Fecteau said. Mark Ransom played guitar on two songs and wrote “Mexico” with Fecteau.
Fecteau, founder of Redbird Physio’s physiotherapy bureau and known for his work with Redbird the Band and the Church of Neil concerts, co-wrote the original songs on the album with David Zandonatti. The sounds of these earlier projects infiltrate “A Brave New World”, from the crunching guitars of “Man Gone Bad” and “Constantly Asking” to blues rockers like “Circle of Love” and even improvised punk (Hidden Track) ”Kastrierte Chihuahua “).
Many of these songs have taken on new meanings since the accident.
“Everyone writes with a certain amount of self-reflection, but it kind of comes from the airwaves to you,” said Fecteau. “The antenna is high and a song hits you. But then after going through all of this and singing it … it’s funny, you didn’t even really know what you were singing about because you are really there now. Now you have arrived. You got knocked down. When you sing this song, that blues song ‘Circle of Love’, then that’s a whole different place to sing when things are good than when you really need the blues. “
Coincidentally, Fecteau and O’Hara were both physical therapists prior to the accident and were treated at Redbird Physio with Aaron Lenard and Chris Stanley, respectively. But nobody will be able to practice again, they said.
“We have permanent damage, permanent deficits,” said Fecteau. “But there is one advantage that we both felt at – after going through the first tough six months, this gives you a different side that makes you feel very lucky to be alive. And most of all, we just looked after our kids, and our kids pretty much went through scratches compared to what happened. “
O’Hara not only shattered her right arm, but also had a concussion and three broken ribs. She underwent emergency surgery (she was operated three times in total) and now has four metal plates and 21 screws in her arm.
“I was kind of hopeful, like, ‘Oh, will I ever be pain free, or will I always be in pain?'” Said O’Hara. “Part of me says when your arm is broken into 200 pieces, can you really expect to be pain free? I do not believe that. … I am probably 60 to 70% what I was before the accident. I can run I am an avid runner, but I still have pain when running. “
Fecteau’s thumb was broken and it damaged his right ankle, knee and back. He had an operation on his thumb a few days after the accident, and a few months later on his ankle and knee, but developed a staph infection in his right knee.
“Because of my athletic activities, I’ve had some other major surgeries in my history,” said Fecteau, “but that process was a whole other level of submitting myself to the process with some humility, patience, and acceptance of the day-to-day condition.” .
“… We have been treating patients for 30 years. We saw people like us, but we never expected to be people like us. It gives you a whole different level of understanding of how fragile life can be. “