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SPIRAL STAIRS IS OUR BIGGEST FAN
Irving has been on the verge of blowing up big since their first shows in the late 1990's. The band recorded five songs with legendary producer Andy Paley (Brian Wilson), played to packed crowds at CMJ and Noise Pop, and became critical darlings with the release of their debut LP, "Good Morning Beautiful" in 2003. With the completion of their second full-length album, Aaron Burrows, Alex Church, Brent Turner, Brian Canning, and Steven Scott are, as usual, on the cusp of indie rock superstardom.
Not bad for a band that began by "happenstance," as bassist Alex Church tells it.
"Steven, Brian and I had been playing music together for about 8 months or so. Just writing songs and doing little 4-tracks and dreaming of starting a band. Then a friend asked us to actually play in front of other people at [a] gallery, and that sort of propelled us toward forming an actual band."
"We were so well received at those shows, we got a manager right away who began booking us real shows and got us a demo deal at a major label. We didn't know what we were doing at the time, and sort of let them- turned into 2 people co-managing us- guide us where they wanted, which eventually we realized wasn't where we wanted, but at least it got us started and gave us the incentive to keep going."
Church recounts a stop on one of Irving's early tours- an Omaha basement on Halloween in 2000.
"That was right when Bright Eyes was starting to get some national attention and we thought maybe there'd be some cool kids in Omaha to make it worth a stop on a tour we were doing. It was by far the best show of the tour. Played in a basement crammed with kids in costumes, swilling 40's, and dancing around like we were a punk band. Only later did I find out that members of the Faint, Cursive, and Bright Eyes had all been there. It was one of those magical nights you can't reproduce."
Irving plays a pop-perfect mix of Beach Boys melodies and Beatles backbeat, jumping from the modern-day Dizzy Miss Lizzy of "L-O-V-E" to the quiet strumming and dockside noise on "Crumbling Mountain Tops." Every Irving song is a standout in its own right, a testament to the benefits of having five singer/songwriters in the band.
"With multiple songwriters, we're more of an influence on each other than any one band is on us," noted Church.
Moving to Los Angeles after college, Irving is yet another band out of The Ship collective, that Eagle Rock recording studio/hipster farm/love den that's also spawned Earlimart, Panty Lions, Silversun Pickups, and others. Started in the mid-late 90's the Ship and all of its mates are gaining more and more attention.
"It's more of a question of how did the Ship get started, because it always involved us. I think the people who were most gung ho about it, and who had the idea first was Earlimart. They had this sort of utopian idea I guess that we were of course immediately into, but they put the work into making it become an actual thing," explains Church. "I'm sure that as we [in the Ship] become more successful we will also become busier and our worlds will open up a bit. Meaning, we'll all make new friends out there in the world, some of us will move away, and we may not see each other as often as we do now. Regardless of what happens, we have a bond that is like family, and we'll always have that bond," he continued.
Irving's world is likely to explode with the release of their second full-length LP. The band has been in the studio for much of 2004, working with Aaron Espinoza from Earlimart, Jim Fairchild from Granddaddy, and producer Elliot Chenault. Church explains what's taken so long:
"We began this record last February. It's been a long time. We're also set to do the rest of the songs with Producer Phil Ek (the Shins, Modest Mouse, Pretty Girls Make Graves, etc.) and he may also mix the record. It's taken so long because we've just been piecing it together whenever we have time."
The end result is an album edgier and more cohesive than their last.
"Our song writing is maturing, and it will show on this record. It's going to be darker, sexier, slightly political, a bit slicker. We wanted this record to have a little more cohesion than our last, which was eclectic. It will still be a bit eclectic, but the themes and overall feel will be more unified, I think."
Once again, Irving is fielding interest from major labels.
"Right now we're fielding interest from all levels. It may be a while before anything is solidified. We want to go with the best offer we can get," said Church.
"I hope we get to the point where we can play places like the Wiltern in LA, you know those grand old theatres with the balconies and ornate details and chandeliers and seats covered with red velvety material and have a capacity of like 4,000? Even if we could play stadiums, I'd want to play that kind of venue."
With fans like Spiral Stairs of Pavement and Tim Delaughter of Polyphonic Spree, could stadiums be far behind?
"I just wanted to drop a few more names...Brian's Mom is probably our biggest fan," Church quipped. "We'd love to see all of you folks in Visalia this Friday, and any of that are in or around LA next Thursday Dec 16th at the Echo in LA (playing with fellow Ship-mates Silversun Pickups!)."
Irving will perform Friday, December 11, at Howie and Sons Pizza in Visalia. Howie's is located at 2430 S. Mooney Blvd. Show starts at 9:30pm, tickets are $2.