Big Hassle Media
James Smith, Heather Robb, and James Cleare make up the folk trio The Spring Standards.
If you're looking for more than just the ordinary concert or music show, you should be at the Hotel Utah Saloon tomorrow night.
The Spring Standards will give you more. Much more. "We got together and we were a folk trio with two guitars and three voices," says Heather Robb of The Spring Standards.
Playing music together when they were teenagers and reconnecting in New York as young adults, James Cleare, Heather Robb, and James Smith came to the realization that "there's no reason to limit it to one instrument and singing."
The three-piece trio took a dive into exploring their musical identity and it resulted in each member becoming multi-instrumentalist vocalists. "It was a really organic development," says Robb. "It's so integrated at this point that it's a natural thing."
Robb continues to discuss the band's evolution. "We started as a folk trio and that was reflected in our first album which came very early on - 6 months of being a band. We started doing some of the drum stuff we're doing now and just finding that sound.
We were relying on things we've been doing since we were teenagers. It was more of an extension of that energy we had always shared."
"In the time since that, four and half year since that [first] record, we've found sound that has way more levels and dimensions. It's reflected in the fact that we've come confident in the roles as multi-instrumentalists."
And to her surprise, the studio environment gave The Spring Standards a new way of discovering sounds that they've intertwined in their Yellow/Gold double EP.
"What was so neat about the Yellow/Gold experience is we had no preconceptions. Any song could go anywhere. That was so exciting. We found intimacy that the studio offers.It was a big epiphany for us. With our first two records, every song had been toured extensively before we hit the studio. We settled into the songs. Whereas with Yellow/Gold the songs weren't finished. We wanted to discover them in the studio setting. It was a playground feeling. The producer is never going to say no to anything. Something ends up on a track that you least expect. That excitement and spontaneity leaves the studio and connects with fans."
The Spring Standards connect with fans through their dynamic sound, and particularly with their sincerity in letting the music guide their creative style.
The trio mentions classic and contemporary artists like Fleetwood Mac, Jackie Brown, Joanie Mitchell, Delta Spirit and Dawes influence the group’s artistic style. But there's something more to their sound than the influence of respectable artists. It's their personal upbringing in rural lands and learning to play music. It's middle America, the big cities, the people they've met, the fans, and meditative states they've experienced over the years of touring that gets into the music.
The Spring Standards are no strangers to the lifestyle of touring. And those environmental, geographical, and personal elements have molded the words and sounds of the trio.
Those influences are "absolutely something we've realized more with time." "There's this junction we inhabit as three people who grew up in rural environments," explains Robb. From open farm land and university community surroundings, the three of them individually made their way to New York. "We did the classic move to the big city and quickly adapted to that environment. Those geographic influences are evident in Yellow/Gold."
"Getting out and seeing the country, we can't help but be influenced by it. There are these magical moments when you're in eastern Tennessee or places you wouldn't expect to be, the instruments get pulled out, and you get a taste of what music means there. All of that is getting logged in to us. It plays into the tapestry of who we are."
"There are stretches in the van where I go off on writing," says Robb.
"Especially in New York, you don't drive that much. Human beings, we've always been passengers, whether on a bike, in a car. There's something meditating about moving as a passenger. Getting to be in a car in a meditative state, often you start writing down whatever's in your head, not thinking about the way it's organized and letting it flow. That happens a lot."
"Life challenges with relationships back home or new - not just romantic - the new people you meet, the environment you find yourself in are all sources of inspiration. [Touring] lifestyle is different from one day to the next - you're collecting quotes and nuggets and they are going to come out creatively."
The touring lifestyle has also strengthened the trio's bond. "I am lucky enough to have so many experiences with two of the closest people to me I know. There's such a trust there that's amazing. They're like brothers now."
"When we're alone or on stage with some insane person we never thought we'd be near, it's happened to us together. It's like waking up while it's happening and thinking 'Holy sh*t, this is real!'"
Whether it's touring, in the studio, or laying low and generating new material, Heather Robb says it's all good. "When we were in the studio with Yellow/Gold, it was the best time I ever had. Not to say it was easy.
We would do 8 hours in the studio and then a night shift at a restaurant. Or be in the studio, and I teach kids, and I'd go do that for 3 hours afterwards."
"But when you see the fruits of your labor it's worth the laboring. It's a beautiful thing. It makes the down time at home that much more valuable, too. That's a great part." As to where she sees The Spring Standards doing in the future, Robb says, "Ideally we'll be doing what we're doing and making a living at it.
That would be a dream to continue in this way and have all the numbers line up. In terms of creatively, we've been really lucky and we go to our fans and ask 'Can you help us?' And we've raised all the money for our records through our fans. There's no limit."
Eliminating a late night dinner shift after an eight-hour session in the studio is something Robb wouldn't mind though.
Check out this talented group at the Hotel Utah Saloon in San Francisco October 3rd at 8pm.
For more on The Spring Standards, check out their site.