The North Carolina duo the Rosebuds came through San Diego last Thursday, along with support from Other Lives. I caught up with Ivan Howard and Kelly Crisp at the Casbah, minding the interruption of "loud planes flying low" (literally), as aptly described by their latest record Loud Planes Fly Low.
After five studio albums and a decision to end their marriage, Howard and Crisp's commitment to each other hasn't wavered; they are still artists making music together. Just being around them feels redemptive. They've managed to find a greater peace within the art they can make, despite the transition of their relationship.
"This is a weird little family, and I know that it's probably not very conventional to be in a band as your job, but it makes sense for us" Crisp said. "The funny thing is that there was there was no way to hide the status of our relationship, so we just went ahead and said, 'OK, we are no longer a couple,' but no one has asked us anything too personal, I think, because our lyrics are abstract enough to be able to like -- it isn't about us as people, more than it is a feeling."
Crisp also described the album's cathartic effect.
"Instead of it being about Kelly and Ivan, it's more about having a feeling that's captured and recorded -- and then it's done, it's over, and you can move on, and you feel like somebody else. it has everything to do with textures, emotions, sound -- an aural history."
This record wasn't an attempt to redefine themselves, it was something that unravelled naturally, Crisp said.
"I feel like every moment of that was honest, and no part of that felt forced," Crisp said. "We gave ourselves all the time to do it, and we did have deadlines from the label, but they seemed arbitrary to us because what we were doing was so much bigger than the record."
Loud Planes Fly Low is perhaps the bands most fully realized effort. With an atmospheric lightness on tracks like "Come Visit Me," the layered harmonies of "Waiting For You" and the sensual build of "Second Bird of Paradise," the album is dreamlike and ethereal. It's the result of growth.
"Music forces you to write lyrics that deal with this super-enormous gift or weight or whatever -- this human condition and this thing that we share with one another," Crisp said. "It forces you to explore all of it, and I feel like that process taught us to be open to things that are hard, as long as you're doing it for the right reason."
"We just pulled in people from our community who lived down the street who were available to play these songs in a way that wouldn't change the course of the record," Crisp said.
The record has been well received by fans and peers alike. Justin Vernon of Bon Iver called the band to ask them to open on his upcoming tour.
"The cool thing is, we love his record, and he likes our record, so I think the vibe of the music and the timing is really great for us three bands [including Other Lives] to share this whole summer with each other," Crisp said.
What's most noticeable about the two is their courtesy and kindness, behavior only bred in places like their hometown in North Carolina. When asked about life on the road, naturally they gushed, "these shows have all been so positive. The Other Lives guys are the sweetest people -- and so encouraging us, a nice community feeling, so it's easy for us to connect with them. The schedule is crazy, but it's crazy every day, so you get used to it!"
Nada Alic runs the San Diego-based music blog Friends With Both Arms and works in artist relations for the nonprofit organization Invisible Children. Follow her updates on Twitter or contact her directly.