Q&A: Ivan and Alyosha Talk Residency, Records and Religion

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Ivan and Alyosha's last residency performance is 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 19. The Seattle band heads to SXSW in March.
For the past two weeks,

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Q&A: Ivan and Alyosha Talk Residency, Records and Religion

  • Q&A: Ivan and Alyosha Talk Residency, Records and Religion

  • ">

    ivan_alyosha.jpg
    Ivan and Alyosha's last residency performance is 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 19. The Seattle band heads to SXSW in March.
    For the past two weeks, members and fans of local pop band Ivan and Alyosha have been part of an experiment. Every Saturday night through Dec. 19, the band will take the stage at the High Dive at 6 p.m.--part of their residency at the venue. It's partially to celebrate the second release of their lilting, romantic first album, The Verse, The Chorus (the disc was reissued after I&A signed with California's Cheap Lullaby Records this year), but the band also hopes this new idea will attract fans by word by mouth. "People always talk about buzz with local bands, and I guess we're trying to do that," said Tim Wilson, 28, the band's lead singer. "Get people riled up, and do something creative.

    This residency is also an opportunity for the five-piece to practice and improve. I&A was originally just Wilson and guitarist Ryan Carbary with occasionally backing musicians; recently, they've added three members to the band on a permanent basis: Tim Kim, Pete Wilson, and James McAlister. The band has plenty to prepare for the upcoming year. They're working on a new album to be released next spring, right before heading to Austin for South by Southwest in March.

    It's not surprising I&A would try something as unique and untested as a residency; the five members defy most stereotypes about musicians. For the most part, they're family men: Four of the five members are married, James McAlister has one child, and Tim Wilson will be a father in April. They're not heavy partiers: Tim Wilson jokes he "stayed up until 11 p.m." for the band's Christmas party last weekend. And all the members identify as Christians.

    Members of the band spoke with Reverb about their plans for the future and how religion factors into their songs.

    Why play a three-week a residency instead of just a series of regular shows?

    Ryan Carbary: The idea is that we'll play one weekend, and people come out to see it. And they'll play the next weekend, and hopefully more people come out to see us.

    Tim Wilson: It's kind of an event, or you try to make it an event.

    Pete Wilson: I think we're all just trying to be as a smart as we can.

    You've played at the Q Cafe before, which regularly books Christian bands. Why not try for a residency there instead of the High Dive?

    Tim: We don't want to be a youth group band, like an all-ages, youth group band.

    Ryan: We want to make music for anyone, you know?

    Tim: I think our market, too--I think we're looking beyond Seattle in a sense. As far as I'm concerned, the idea is to reach an audience as big as possible, within independent music, and not sort of pigeonhole it.

    Do you consider yourself a Christian band?

    Tim Wilson: It shouldn't really be an issue, if you're a Christian.

    James McAlister: [The Christian music industry] is kind of dead to us in a way... I'm sure it's still happening somewhere, but it's functionally dead. All that really demarcates in an industry, a kind of marketing.

    Ryan: And we're Christians, in a band. We're not a Christian band. It's a totally different thing, like writing a certain kind of song just for Christians.

    Doesn't it factor into your songs? One of the songs on your upcoming album is called "God or Man," for example.

    Tim: Yeah, it's a part of our everyday life, you know? We write songs about our wives and kids that are on the way and situations we're in and our friends and our faith. So, of course, it's constantly a part of us, so it's going to come out.

    Pete: Anytime I listen to [a songwriter], and I don't believe what they're saying, or I don't believe that they believe what they're saying, it gets really boring. You want a band to be writing about what they care about or what they believe.

    Tim: Maybe there are some bands that are afraid of it. But I think we've established that we're not afraid of people knowing that. We're just people trying to make records. Should it matter if we're Christians or not?

    What is about that sort of labeling that makes you uncomfortable?

    Ryan: When I think of a Christian band, I think of a band that's played on Spirit 105.3, and they have only a Christian crowd, and that's who they're marketed toward.

    I know Tim is quitting his day job soon to play music full-time, and now you're booked for SXSW in March. What does that mean for you--do you think you've made it?

    Tim: I think we're definitely making progress. We have little successes here and there, and we feel pretty strongly--and I feel pretty strongly--about the fact that full-time music is what I'm supposed to do here on Earth. And I have a baby on the way, so I'm jumping off the edge a little bit, to really attempt to make this stuff happen.

    Ryan: SXSW doesn't mean we've made it, but it is another stepping stone to be able to do this as our job, as our living.

    Tim: If doors didn't keep on opening, we wouldn't keep on doing this.

    Your songs feel incredibly upbeat. Like "Easy to Love," a singalong, clapalong number about being happy in love instead of being miserable.

    Tim: It's kind of fun to write songs about love and marriage, and good things. As best we can, we try to promote that in our songs--not in a cheesy way, but it's going to come out.

    Pete: We all know what people respond to, and what they have to responded to is "Easy to Love." And in writing the next record, we want to record things that matter, and that we believe in.

    Would you say that your songs are so positive because your own lives are pretty stable and secure?

    Tim: I would say, in general, things are good.

    Pete: We're blessed in a lot of ways.

     
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