The Lost Shepherds mature in their sound with a new EP
With their new EP, Secret Place, the group is looking for longevity through cleverly crafted songs that take you on a pastoral journey. The Lost Shepherds have created an album which exists on its own terms; as heavy as it is tenuous, vague as it is crystal clear, rough as it is smooth.
Gimme Noise caught up with lead singer, Eben Stine before their CD release at the 7th Street Entry on Friday.
Eben Stine - Guitar, keys, vocals
Chris Wilson - Electric guitar
Michael Gunvalson - Drums, samples, percussion
Jordan Leininger - Bass, vocals
Patrick Mazurek - Electric guitar
Gimme Noise: Eben, you seem to involve a lot of nature in your songs; where do you draw inspiration from when writing?
Eben Stine: Most often what pushes me to write is others' music that I find compelling. Sounds that are new to me make me think new thoughts and hear new things. Lyrically, I think natural imagery tends to be the easiest way for me to express my feeling, but maybe that's because our environment in Minnesota is constantly the determinant of our moods.
What was the reasoning behind having two EP releases so close to each other? Are you constantly writing? Any plans on a full-length? The way this band works tend to be somewhat of a catch-up cycle. The Venture EP was a group of songs that averaged near two years old when we began recording them, and the Secret Place EP is a set of songs almost one year old right now. The amount of material I've got that we have yet to really get into as a band constantly grows and as time goes by, we chip away at it. It's a way to ensure that our sound can evolve in an organic way, and it also allows our fans to be a part of that growth. Our goal is to make what we're creating available at the same place that we're creating it.
Any plans for a full-length?
A full-length record could be in the future again for us at some point, but for now, I feel inclined to keep releasing music at a pace that sparks my artistic restlessness. When I stopped thinking about full-length records and began considering the other avenues there are for independent artists, my productivity as a writer only increased because it made me feel my need to make things all the more urgently.
How has the sound evolved since Venture?
I think I've begun to write music that's escaping the indie-folk and turning into something darker and more tense. I'm more interested no in building interesting rhythms and creating atmosphere than I am in layering a bunch of pretty parts. The things is, I love layering a bunch of pretty parts, so with this EP I thought I should explore what I could do with other sounds. There's lots of synths, drum machine, weird guitar parts. It's overall just much moodier, maybe more raw. It's definitely opened up the sonic possibilities that I can work with, and that get's me excited for what will come next.
The Lost Shepherds' members count has expanded and contracted since its evolution. Have people's roles changed within the band?
We're trying to make music that highlights everyone's talents and doesn't leave abilities unused. There have been some role changes designed to accomplish that. As far as maintaining continuity there, I think this band will always exist as a mechanism for bringing songs to life, so the differences in sound aren't really that important.
How do you maintain the intimate feel of the music with so many people?
I think my songwriting tends to be very honest -- definitely embarrassingly so sometimes -- and that's the thing that makes our music something that I hope people can easily feel, regardless of how we're framing it.
What is everyone's backgrounds, and what did they bring to the band as musicians?
Chris, Jordan, and Michael had played together for years in different bands, and Patrick played with Victory Ship and a few other bands before we all met.
Jordan and Michael have been a rhythm section since before middle school, and besides the tightness that comes with that, they're extremely intuitive in shaping those rhythmic elements of the songs.
Chris and Patrick are themselves excellent songwriters and each invaluable arrangers of my material. We have an unspoken chain of command when it comes to ideas that works very well. Everyone has a creative voice.
With such a saturated music industry, what is the band doing to make your music different and new?
We view music almost as manual labor, and we don't expect to support ourselves with good luck. Three of us share a house where we rehearse in the basement and have made the rest of the house into a working studio where we do our recording. The visual artists in our circle help with concepts and design, and we assemble our products ourselves. Our studio is somewhat cooperative between us and other working musician friends of ours; we share everything we have to accomplish our goals. That cooperative aspect of our community makes it function like a record label, but one in which everyone doing the label work is also making the music. It's not quite off the ground yet in technical terms, but it's how we're operating, and we like the way it works. We call it Powdercoat Recordings.
From a musical perspective, I don't see the value in trying to make something conceptually "different" or "new." What makes an original sound is so subjective, as is what makes a great song, and I want to focus on the latter half. Songs are what lasts. My goal is to constantly shape my natural tendencies as a songwriter into something that's compelling, gratifying, and always improving. It's not going to be new or different exactly; it's just going to be me.
Why do you think people connect so well with your music?
Well, I hope that they do! If I was to guess, I would say it's because I try to make a good melody and frame it in some memorable words. Mom likes it, I know that for sure.
How did you come to the decision to have the release show at the 7th Street Entry, and what can we expect at the show?
To me the Entry is the best sounding mid-sized venue in the city. Its other advantage for the musicians is that they only people in the room are there to see the show, which onstage, is the type of atmosphere that you want. It's a positive environment.
Villa and Big Lake are also on the bill; each also very much song-over-sound oriented projects. We haven't been onstage in a few months and to get to on again at the Entry is pretty perfect. We'll be energized and ready to have a great time with all our friends and fans.
The Lost Shepherds will release Secret Place at the 7th Street Entry with Big Lake and Villa on Friday, March 16, 2012.
18+, $5, 8 pm
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