By Joe Hadsall
Globe Features Editor
JOPLIN, Mo. —
The festival bookings are getting better for Another Lost Year.
On the way up to Wisconsin, lead singer Clinton Cunanan talked excitedly about performing at World's Largest Bratfest in Madison, alongside Charm School Rejects and Stikyfut. The huge, four-day event is held every Memorial Day weekend.
"Last year we were a new band, so we started off touring at some of the smaller festivals," Cunanan said. "They weren't bad, but we're getting booked for bigger ones now."
With more than 18 months of touring behind it, the band will return to Joplin on Thursday. Presented by KJML-FM (Rock 107.1), Another Lost Year and 3 Years Hollow will perform at Guitars.
The band started off as Cunanan's solo project. While recording an album based around three "out of control" years in which Cunanan lost his mother, the album quickly became more of a band effort, as Adam Hall, David Whitaker, Lee Norris and Jason Lovelace, all of Charlotte, N.C., joined up.
The resulting collaboration led to a name change and the band's current direction.
"It just happened so naturally and so fast that nothing really had to change," Cunanan said. "We just changed the name and said, 'Let's do this.'" Since then, the band has signed with Thermal Entertainment and scored a distribution deal through Megaforce Records/RED. It has performed with Nonpoint, Candlebox, Dope, Taproot, Flyleaf, 30 Seconds to Mars, Days of the New, 10 Years, Pop Evil and others.
The band's debut album, "Better Days," produced by Justin Rimer (12 Stones), was released in September. The single "War on the Inside" is in rotation locally on KJML and other rock stations nationally, as well as satellite radio services such as Sirius XM.
As for that 18-month tour: Cunanan said it won't stop anytime soon. He said the band has played about 340 shows since December 2011. "Our hardest problem is getting time off," he said. "And that's a great problem to have."
The band plays metal and alt-rock with a slight country accent. Before being blown away by Nirvana's "In Utero," Cunanan said he was a country music fanatic when he was growing up.
The result is a discovery of how the emotion of country music fits perfectly in a rock setting, he said. The mix blends for a more musical metal that Cunanan said wasn't exactly planned.
"We set up a mic in a room; me, the original drummer and the bass player," Cunanan said. "This is literally what came out that day on the basement recording. It's what you hear. We didn't force it, and we didn't run with it if it wasn't there."
The lyrics, arguably darker than the sound, came from Cunanan's rough years after losing his mother. He said he dug deep, and even after more than 300 shows, still struggles to get through the lyrics of a couple of key songs.
While serving in the Army from 2002 to 2006, he received a piece of songwriting advice that stuck with him.
"He came in the Army at 34, and I thought I was a late start," Cunanan said. "He told me the art of songwriting is to tell a personal story and make it big enough that anyone can relate. So we took that approach."
The band is planning its follow-up album, which will involve even more collaboration between band members. The process worked well with "Better Days," he said -- the group effort is what brought that debut to life.
"We've gone through a lot of experiences, and it's hard to not let the music evolve," he said. "When you're with someone, you never see how much they grow until you don't see them for a couple of months. Then it's like, 'Whoa, you got tall.'"
Want to go?
Another Lost Year and 3 Years Hollow will perform Thursday at Guitars, located at 1800 W. Seventh St. The concert is presented by KJML-FM. Tickets: $5. Details: 417-782-6444.