PETRA was written, produced, and performed by acclaimed multi-instrumentalist/ songwriter Anthony LaMarca, also known for his role as guitarist in The War On Drugs. Like so many Midwestern musicians before him, LaMarca left his beloved hometown of Youngstown, OH for Brooklyn but returned in 2014 and began work as The Building, often joined by his brother Angelo (guitar) and wife Megan (cello) on a series of EPs and albums – including 2018’s acclaimed RECONCILIATION – released via Peppermint Records.
PETRA – which shares its name with the LaMarcas’ beloved German Shepherd – is a bare-boned, often brutally blunt, new work from a gifted musician-songwriter forced by fate to confront life’s hardest truths and consequences. LaMarca had just begun recording at Youngstown’s Peppermint Productions – a vintage studio facility best known for producing everything from polka superstar Frank Yankovic to the Judge Judy theme song – when a spell of intense back pain led to his being diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma. Originally, LaMarca was diagnosed in the middle of making Reconciliation. He immediately started treatment, which brought the disease into complete remission. His disease relapsed last year while in the middle of making PETRA.” The experience inspired a second meaning to the album’s title, the acronym P-E-T-R-A, or “Peace’s Eternal Truth Renews All.” Moreover, LaMarca’s physical struggle has resulted in the most powerful work of The Building’s still-growing canon, a vivid series of deeply personal songs such as “Purifer” and the LP-opening “Transformed,” made even more impactful through strikingly simple arrangements and raw, heartfelt performance.
He spent his time at the treatment center with headphones on editing and mixing the recordings. “Imagine me listening to these recordings,” LaMarca says. “IV needle in the top of my hand. Headphones blaring. I always sit by the window. It’s beautiful out. Just a window away. Outside. Free. Not in there. Not with the needle. But out in the woods with my dog, with the tree that I like, that makes such a calming sound when the wind blows, and its leaves sort of sparkle too. That’s part of how this album was made. It seems dramatic or maybe tragic, but it’s not. Or more importantly, I don’t see it that way and I don’t intend for the music to be heard that way. It’s just the truth of what was happening in my life while I was recording these songs.”