Ivan & Alyosha | Six Years on the Road

IvanAlyoshaAllTheTimesWeHad“We couldn’t get over the fact that we just enjoyed the sounds of the songs when we played them live. They just seemed to open up and come alive a bit more.”

 

 

It pays to spend time trolling the Spotify playlists of your friends. I somehow missed out on Ivan & Alyosha, but thanks to a friend with very good taste I am now in the know and eternally grateful. Their 2013 release, All The Times We Had, has a dreamy, gilded-with-sunshine kind of sound and is filled to the brim with stunning harmonies. FYI, no one in the band is named Ivan or Alyosha. The name is taken from Dostoyevsky’s Brothers Karamazov. This quartet is composed of Tim Wilson, Ryan Carbary, Pete Wilson and Tim Kim (who answered the questions for this interview). They’ve spent most of the past 6 years on the road. Lucky for St. Louis they’ll be making a stop at the Firebird on Sunday, April 7 with Fort Atlantic (Doors open at 7:30).

Was music a big part of all of your childhood/teen years? When did you start playing instruments/singing?

Absolutely. I would say with confidence that music has had a big influence on all of us since we were very young. Often times we’ll find ourselves discussing what each of us grew up listening to or what our parents listened to…it can be very entertaining. For me specifically, I started playing instruments when my parents enrolled me in piano lessons. I couldn’t have been much older than 7 years old. Ever since then, I’ve been involved with music in some way or another. Pete, Tim W., and I went to the same high school and all of us were pretty deep into the music program there at one point. Also, I know Ryan has played in various bands since he was a high schooler. It’s always amusing to revisit our musical pasts for some laughs.

How did the band come together?

The band originally formed when Tim Wilson and Ryan Carbary met through mutual friends in a band that Tim had been involved with several years ago. Ryan had expressed interest in songs that Tim W. had recorded as himself as well as demos he’d been working on. They started to collaborate musically and recorded Ivan & Alyosha’s first EP down in LA with a longtime friend and producer Eli Thompson. At the time, Pete Wilson and I had also been involved with a different musical project that was just about coming to a close as Tim W. and Ryan were starting to get a live band together. The transition was natural and Pete and I joined the band shortly after we tidied things up with the old band.

Can you tell me a little bit about the recording of your debut album? I know you wanted it to have the same feel as playing live. I imagine it can be hard to summon that feeling in the studio.

Capturing the energy and the magic of live performances can be very difficult in the studio. Simply put, in previous recording endeavors, we would pretty much record everything individually to a click and mash it all together. While that method certainly works and sometimes is preferred, we couldn’t get over the fact that we just enjoyed the sounds of the songs when we played them live. They just seemed to open up and come alive a bit more. With that in mind, we approached the recording of All The Times We Had hoping to harness that live element a little more by tracking multiple instruments at the same time. That’s not to say we didn’t overdub anything because we certainly did, but we essentially tried to capture the chemistry of our band in the meat of every song on the album.

I am always curious why a band chooses their first single as their first single. What gave “Running for Cover” the edge over other songs on the LP?

I think we chose “Running for Cover” because we love every element to that song. It seemed like it would give a good first impression for the band. It has a great melody, lyrics are solid, instrumentation and energy is there; It has every element that we love about a good song.

I love the video for that song, in which you basically become part of a watercolor painting. Where did the idea for that come from?

The video is the brainchild of Seattle native, Christian Sorensen Hansen. After reading through several treatments and trying to figure out the best way to accomplish a video with the budget and time frame we were dealing with, we felt that Christian did incredible work and that we could trust him. I think the colors and water droplets signify the gradual rise of emotion. I think by the end, the strength of the colors and the heightened energy of the band illustrates the conviction that is emphasized at the end of the song.

You’ve spent most of the last two years on the road touring, often with wives and children along for the ride. What’s family life like on the road? Any advice you’d give to musicians who are traveling with their family?

Family life is probably exactly like one might imagine what it’s like on the road. I think for the most part, we’re all very family oriented and love the idea of a caravan of families traveling and playing music together. Wives can pretty much save us in dire situations when we need that outside perspective to set us straight. Kids, on the other hand, they can be a little difficult to manage in such close quarters, but I imagine we’ll all be experiencing this sooner or later. For now, we don’t really do too much traveling with the kids since we’ve transitioned into a smaller vehicle. Previously, we’d been traveling in an RV and now we’re in a 15 passenger van. However, we’re still hoping that at some point a tour bus will make touring with a family more feasible.

As far as advice goes, if you’re planning on touring with multiple families, prepare to live communally, sacrificially, and stop caring about privacy for the most part. You’ll probably have a really good time if you do.

Where are some of your favorite places you’ve been on tour? Most memorable show?

NYC. San Francisco. Chicago. Richmond. Probably our most memorable show was actually a show in a dive bar in Oak Cliff, Texas. Let’s just say there was no stage and a lot of dancing….and a pile of everyone’s shoes in the middle of the room.

Who or what are some of the biggest influences on your songwriting and music? Who are you listening to these days?

Oh…the Beatles. Paul. John and George mostly. Dylan. Rufus Wainwright. The Killers. U2. These are bands we’re always listening to and influenced by but these days; A.A. Bondy, Lord Huron, M. Ward, Leagues, Spoon, M83 etc…

Aimee Mann has been a huge supporter of your music. You’ve toured with her quite a bit and she provided backing vocals to the title track on the LP. Can you talk a little bit about that experience? I just have to tell you, she’s like the “Goddess of Song” as far as I’m concerned. I absolutely adore her.

Aimee Mann is wonderful. At first we were a bit star struck because I would agree with you, “Goddess of Song” seems like a very appropriate title for her. We learned quite a bit from touring with Aimee and her bandmates. Not only was she and her bassist/producer Paul Bryan full of wisdom about touring and the music industry, they were the nicest/funniest people to hang out with. It was an absolute privilege to tour with them and we hope we can do that again.

What are your plans for this summer after the tour? Will you be participating in any festivals this year?

Plans for touring this summer are yet to be finalized but we definitely plan on being on the road for a better part of this year. We definitely want to play festivals yet but we haven’t heard word on that yet. | Janet Rhoads

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