Alty-folky act The Spring Standards are a trio of young’uns who have been kicking around since their 2008 EP, No One Will Know. What is known however is The Spring Standards’ penchant for simple, yet irresistable songs and a host of music videos whose number rivals that of Lil B. Their music has been featured on the TV shows Royal Pains and Exiled and they’ve been on Conan (twice).
The multi-talented musicians released the yellow // gold double EP this year and have been on tour over the past couple of months. The band plays the Record Bar tonight in Kansas, MO accompanied by The Caves and The John Mckenna Band. I recently had the opportunity to ask them a few Q’s about their music, videos, and of course, vinyl.
You guys are commonly given a “folk” tag, but seem to draw from many other influences both old and new. How would you define your own sound?
Probably unsurprisingly, we get this question quite a lot. We definitely have our roots in folk music, but we also integrate aspects of pop, rock, indie, Americana, and even bluegrass into our overall sound. In the past we’ve used really elaborate terminology to define our sound, but recently we decided to simplify our answer – we play rock’n’roll music. Because the essence of rock’n’roll is unbridled self-expression—music that can be whatever you want it to be—and that’s what we make.
Although there’s only three of you, your songs almost always have a big sound to them featuring an abundance of layered instrumentation and complex vocal harmonies. Is this a conscious effort or something that comes naturally?
The 3 of us enjoy writing those layered, multi-faceted songs—the hope being that you create something greater than the sum of its parts. I think it is both a natural and conscious effort, not one or the other. We like to push ourselves—playing multiple instruments and singing those tight harmonies keep us 100% engaged at all times, which is a very exciting way to write and perform.
The three of you are all avid singers and musicians. What about songwriters? Does one person take the helm of songwriting (say, if they were the vocalist), or is it always a joint effort?
We are all songwriters as well as singers and musicians. When it comes to arranging our songs, the process is very collaborative between the 3 of us, but the writing itself is a relatively private process—typically the lead singer on a song is the writer. We’re all the kind of people who need to be alone in order to really dive into the work of writing a song, but ultimately it’s the whole group that brings the thing to life.
Something that seems to arrive in tandem with a great Spring Standards song is an equally entertaining video. You all have a ton of them! Do you wait until you finish a record to start picking out which songs get visual aids or is it something that is determined as the song writing process goes along?
We’re lucky to have some ridiculously talented friends in the filmmaking world, and almost without exception we have left it to them to decide which song they wanted to make the video for – in the case of yellow // gold we sent the entire record to our pals and just said “Choose one.” They really deserve the credit!
Does the desired visuals ever affect the musical aesthetic or process of a song?
It’s definitely very illuminating to see what our friends bring visually to these songs—invariably it shows us a new side of the thing we had created and broadens our perspective on what the song means.
Let’s talk vinyl! Do you have any penchant for searching or collecting? Best finds or old favorites?
Yes, we’re all collectors. One of the best parts of touring is getting a chance to visit the great music stores across the country that still carry vinyl—we found an amazing one in Goshen, IN over the summer and we all found some serious gems. My best find that day was probably Neutral Milk Hotel’s In the Aeroplane Over the Sea.
With the success of your SXSW showcases, an appearance on Conan and critical acclaim of the yellow // gold EP in mind, what’s next for the Spring Standards?
Next on the agenda is a live album we’re recording this winter at a venue in our hometown in Delaware. We’re going to shoot video too, so there will be that visual element we love so much as well. Look for it early next year!
The Spring Standards play at The Record Bar in Kansas, MO, tonight. Doors are at 8 p.m.