We caught the Seattle based band, Ivan and Alyosha, at their Troubadour show to talk subgenres, dream collaborations and The Brothers Karamazov.
Note: Interview is with Tim Wilson, Ryan Carbary and Tim Kim. Tim Kim is referred to as TK to distinguish between the two Tims.
EarPeace: Do the subgenres annoy you guys? You get a lot of “indie folk pop rock”, when tonight you guys are more like a rock band. Does that annoy you or are you fine with it?
Ryan: I think sometimes it’s helpful to actually explain the genre. The more annoying thing is saying “you sound like Mumford and Sons”. Like, no we don’t. We actually don’t [laughs]. That can be tiring or it doesn’t really make sense. But I don’t mind the “folk indie pop rock” thing.
Tim: But I think rock n’roll is a pretty broad term, you know? I think a lot of things can be rock n’ roll. So when people do the folk thing because it’s “in” right now or “was”, I don’t know, but when we say we’re just a rock band that should explain kind of a whole bunch of things. That can be anywhere from Marilyn Manson to… N’Sync.
EarPeace: You guys released your album when a lot of bands or labels are trying to capitalize on the Americana folk/rock sound, is that frustrating or exciting for you?
Tim: We tried to capitalize on it. [laughs]
TK: It’s not like we don’t like those genres, it’s that we feel like we have a broader perspective and …we’d rather not be pigeon holed into one particular genre. Because our influence comes from just kind of rock n’roll roots and that encompasses so much I think. For us it’s mostly the song and the melody, and just good song craft that appeals to us. And we’re interested in a wide variety of music and genres. We definitely don’t want to be just type casted into a certain corner of music.
EarPeace: So what do you guys listen to personally? What’s on your ‘on-the-road’ playlist right now?
TK: Britney Spears… just kidding [laughs]
Tim: I listen to a lot of Rufus Wainwright…
Ryan: I listen to a lot of Tom Petty, Leagues, Colony House…I think like over time it’s been a lot of Bob Dylan…Beatles.
Tim: 30 Seconds to Mars…
Ryan: That’s what Tim listens to… [laughs]
Tim: Justin Timberlake.. Jay-Z, Kanye… [laughs] We do listen to quite a lot of hip hop on the road… I feel like most of the time, if we’re trying to find something on the radio we’re listening to hip-hop, or Elton John…or country… Honestly, I’ve said it before, but if it’s a good song we don’t care what it is. It could be Justin Bieber… or…
Ryan: You’re on your own [laughs]
Tim: I’m saying hypothetically…or Head and the Heart, Mumford and Sons… National…Mariah Carey…Celine Dion…whatever
EarPeace: Your songs are obviously really well-crafted; you put a lot of thought into each individual part. Who is the biggest perfectionist of the group?
TK: That would be Ryan Carbary and Tim Wilson. They are the biggest perfectionists.
Tim: I think we probably all bitch about different things, when it comes to a song. Like maybe when we’re in the studio Ryan wants to hear specific sounds and the quality of the actual recording… and I want to hear like feeling. [laughs] Yeah or just like vibe, and I’m always asking for more reverb…and ‘turn up the vocals, turn up the drums, turn up everything’.
Ryan: From the beginning, it’s been a good mix of critical disagreement, I guess. Like Tim wants one thing and I want this other thing and it kinda comes together… in a good way.
TK: Like an old married couple [laughs].
EarPeace: Like you said, a good song is a good song. So what makes a good song?
TK: A good song…You think it would be easier to come by. But when you hear something… that is kind of like instantly enjoyable or I don’t know… I feel like simplicity… You know, I don’t know what makes a good song. But certainly, beautiful melodies… there’s not a lot of things you can do with a song- like a certain amount of notes or whatever- but it’s hard to write that kind of perfect pop, simple song that a lot of people would gravitate towards. I think that maybe the easiest most simple pop song that we’ve ever written… that took us a half an hour to record, is the song people have loved the most.
Ryan: I think lyrically too. Telling a story, coming from somewhere. As opposed to just fluff lyrics.
TK: Or “trying to do something”.
EarPeace : Your songs are all pretty major and upbeat, but even when the themes are more introspective and darker, is it natural for you to write a major song? Or do you write minor songs and switch them to make them more major and upbeat?
Ryan: I love a good, happy pop song. And at the same time… there’s a time and place for a dark song if the mood is right for it. But… I think I gravitate towards the poppier, happy stuff more. Like… what’s that Stevie Wonder song… It’s D minor, all piano… Like songs like that…
TK: And I will say… we definitely explore the darker side of music. But I think, towards the end of the song we always kind of try to bring in a redemptive theme. Something to cap the song with. Something lighter and something hopeful. That’s just how we operate… I guess.
EarPeace: So have you guys read the book that your band name comes from,“The Brothers Karamazov”?
Tim: Yes we have.
EarPeace: Was it before or after you named your band?
Tim: After, we didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into [laughs].
EarPeace: Does literature influence your writing at all?
Ryan: I read a lot of Conde Nast these days…
Tim: I haven’t read a book since I had kids, I haven’t wrote songs since I had kids either. But I look forward to reading a book, someday…
TK: Not Dr. Seuss… [laughs]
Tim: When I have several hours of alone time…
Ryan: More so we’re just influenced by what we see around us.. It’s kind of a changing world with technology. I feel like reading is more difficult when you have movies and media all that instantly…
TK: It’s a lost art …
Tim: It’s almost like there’s no time in the day … and I know there is. But when you’re trying to build something and you have family and friends that deserve your attention as well. It’s hard to find that time.
EarPeace: Did you guys like The Brothers Karamazov?
Tim: Yeah. The portion of the book that the band is named after is “The Grand Inquisitor”. It’s interesting to me that people are still talking about what Dostoevsky’s theology is… it’s still something people are talking about which is my favorite part of the book… and obviously why we named the band Ivan and Alyosha.
EarPeace: What’s a dream collaboration for you guys?
TK: Bruce Springsteen.
Tim: Joe Chiccarelli… he’s a producer who we know, he’s a friend now. Bono. We like the big boys.
Ryan: I think it goes back to loving a pop song. Like, Bruce Springsteen is huge because he wrote great songs. There’s so many answers for that. I would love to collaborate with any of the artists we mentioned earlier… like what we listen to. So, it’s kind of a hard question…
EarPeace: So what’s next for you guys?
TK: Yes! Well, we go home after this tour… and we’re finally home for a good chunk of time. But in the New Year, we’re looking forward to touring Europe in the early spring. And after that… there’s definitely talk about a new album… nothing has been finalized yet but it’s probably going to happen next year. We’ll get in the studio or at least get in the cabin and write some demos…And it’ll be interesting to see how people receive us there as opposed to there. We have no idea… It’s our first time over that. I mean through social media we definitely know that there are people from different countries in Europe that want us to come…It’s comforting …and we’re also fascinated by different countries…etc.
Visit their website for more info: http://www.ivanandalyosha.com/
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