PORTLAND, Maine — It’s a lovely fall scene. Flannel-clad friends sit around a campfire, under a golden canopy of year-end leaves. There are plenty of liquid refreshments and smiles.
Suddenly, a shady space alien steps out from behind a tree with a raygun and malicious intent. The party is about to be ruined — or worse. Without giving the whole thing away, Bigfoot then appears, saves the day and possibly adds his weed stash to the festivities.
That’s basically how Maine musician Toby McAllister’s new music video, for the first song off his debut solo ep, plays out. The track is called “Face the Days” and the EP is titled “Daydreamin’.” The video and song will premiere to the public at 7 p.m. Wednesday night. The rest of the tracks will come out a week later.
The video was co-produced and directed by brothers Jed and Eli Allen, who also play in the band Skosh.
McAllister is best known as the guitarist for the almost-nationally-famous local band Sparks the Rescue. The group had a record deal and toured the country in the early 2000s. Sparks reunited over the Thanksgiving weekend for two capacity shows at Aura in Portland.
Even so, these days, McAllister makes his living as a solo act. He’s also a daytime stay-at-home dad with a year-old daughter. He wrote the songs for his first solo collection during the pandemic, when he was housebound, without any gigs at all.
We reached McAllister on the phone after his daughter went down for her morning nap.
Q: You just played two capacity shows with your old band Sparks the Rescue. Will you guys be playing more together?
A: Yeah. I think we all got bit by the bug, playing these shows. The chat is active and I’m pretty excited to see what comes out of it. I’m so happy the shows happened.
Q: But, in the meantime, your first solo recording project is coming out?
A: It was written entirely during last year’s dark, pandemic winter. My baby used to nap a lot, so I’d get a lot of time to jam and write. It was a fun, no-pressure project. I have no expectations for this.
Q: Your first song, “Face the Days,” is musically upbeat but I’m not so sure about the lyrics: “I see the storm that’s rolling in. I’m losing track of when days end or they begin. Too busy watching the snow fall. Turned off my cell phone since nobody’s gonna call.”
A: It’s pretty dark. It’s heavy on the internal struggling, being stuck home, experiencing anxiety — along with seasonal, or pandemic, depression.
Q: There’s other lines in there about living long enough to see the other side of 35, which sound a lot like ruminations on aging.
A: Yeah, a lot of contemplating being alive. I just turned 35 on Saturday.
Q: This first song has a skipping beat I associate with pop punk but you’ve also got fiddle and acoustic guitars in there.
A: I think the cheerfulness of the music is by accident. I’ve always written pop punk songs but I also like country and bluegrass.
Q: Then there’s the video — which is completely hilarious.
A: We filmed it last month around Streaked Mountain in Buckfield — during one 14-hour day.
Q: I’m not really surprised that Bigfoot and the alien are in it, since you’re the guy who founded the Unexplained Maine Facebook page, which now has over 11,000 members.
A: Some would say this is all very “on brand” for me. We wanted Bigfoot and the alien — two beings from different worlds — to meet and become friends. If these guys can get along, anyone can — and who wouldn’t want to get stoned with Bigfoot?
Toby McAllister’s “Face the Days” video premieres Wednesday night at 7 p.m. on Facebook. This interview was edited for length and clarity.