If you have yet to get acquainted with Ivan & Alyosha, one of Seattle’s beloved indie-pop-rock bands, consider this post a formal introduction. Known for their energetic, uplifting performances as well as their exceedingly catchy, harmonically complex and lyrically insightful stylings; the four-piece group boasts an extremely dedicated grass-roots following, consistently sold-out national tours, and enthusiastic endorsements from alternative radio across the nation.
To bring you good folks some exclusive information about the band, the Seattle Living Room Shows got together with Ivan & Alyosha’s lead singer and frontman, Tim Wilson, to ask a few questions. As it seems with many great things that come to be, Ivan & Alyosha was born almost completely by accident. Although Tim has always viewed music as his inevitable and unavoidable calling, he and Ryan Carbary had little intention of starting a new band upon recording Ivan & Alyosha’s debut EP, The Verse, The Chorus, in 2008 and 2009.
When I asked Tim to tell me a bit more about the band’s creation, he expanded, “I had some songs, Ryan had some experience in the studio, at first we didn’t even plan on starting a band necessarily. Early on it was just the two of us – we recorded an EP, played some shows, then eventually added my Brother Pete and our good friend Tim Kim to the lineup.”
Now, almost 5 years later, Ivan & Alyosha is still comprised of those four core members: Tim Wilson (lead vocals and acoustic guitar), Ryan Carbary (guitars, piano and vocals), Tim Kim (electric guitar and vocals) and Tim’s brother, Pete Wilson (bass and vocals). With two EPs and a debut full-length album under their collective belt; the band is prepping to conclude their latest West Coast tour with an appearance at Seattle’s art-deco inspired theatre, Showbox at The Market, on December 21st. Mind you, this is the same theater that has featured shows by touring icons such as Duke Ellington, Prince, Muddy Waters and the Ramones. When I asked Tim what fans should expect for the evening, he remarked that the event, complete with local guests, holiday flourishes, and a partnering with Melodic Caring Project; will definitely be one to remember:
“We have played at The Showbox before – back in February we sold it out for our CD Release show! It’s a great, very iconic Seattle venue [and] I’ve really liked working with everyone over there. I’m excited that our friends Campfire OK and Pacific Gold (formerly Wayfarer) will be opening, amazing bands… I’m [also] excited to play a little bit more of a scaled back set w/ The Passenger String Quartet. Andrew Joslyn of PSQ is just one of those guys that I can talk to once on the phone about string arrangements and he’ll show up the day of the show and just nail it. He’s such a talented dude and I trust him immensely with our music – the arrangements he’s done for a lot of our songs are really incredible. I wish we had put them on the record!”
“The Record” of course refers to Ivan & Alyosha’s long-anticipated debut album, All The Times We Had, which the band released just last February. Although Tim related that the band has been intending to put together a full-length album for a couple of years, irritating inconveniences such as time and money thwarted their intentions. As Tim put it, “For the most part all of our records have been self-produced and recorded. We got a lot closer with ‘All The Times’ to what we’ve always been trying to do with the records we make. For ‘All The Times’ we got to spend two weeks in a proper studio (Avast!) with our buddy Chad Copelin, who is a great engineer and ended up co-producing. It maybe felt like we finally were able to put some time and money into the process.”
Not only was Ivan & Alyosha’s time and money clearly very well spent – the album was enthusiastically received and is on frequent rotation by the likes of our local giant, KEXP – the band is confident that being forced to wait a little longer to record was ultimately for the best. Tim explained, “releasing a couple of EPs prior [to our debut record], especially ‘Fathers’, allowed the group to develop as a live band, develop in the studio, build our team and just learn.” Tim continued, “When we put out the full length in February of this year we kind of knew exactly what we were getting ourselves into, what was expected of us and how hard we were going to have to work on the road.”
And work hard on the road their group certainly has – not only do they write new material while in transit, perform nearly every night, and cross several states in a matter of days; they typically do so with their entire families in tow. I asked Tim to tell me a bit about what it was like to be a father and a touring, professional musician, simultaneously. As one might expect, it sounds incredibly difficult:
“Multiple angry dads on the road, in the van. No, I’m just kidding, sort of. My brother Pete and I have kids, it’s really hard to be away. I try to explain to my three-and-half-year-old what I do. He knows I have to leave and sing every night so we can live in a house and buy groceries. I think he gets it, but sometimes it’s hard when he says stuff like, ‘Daddy, when are you not going to practice with the band guys anymore because I don’t want you to leave. You need to stay here with me and Mommy and baby Cash.’ Gut wrenching… But, I feel blessed – we’re building something, a career in music, a future for our families, I feel that more than ever.”
Continuing on the theme of family – albeit a slightly more expansive one – Tim went on to discuss how Ivan & Alyosha’s relationships within the Seattle music community have served as integral to the band’s success as well as to their development throughout the years:
“The Seattle music community has been amazing to this band. It takes time but I think we’ve built a number of long lasting relationships with a lot of bands and certainly our fans. I think we were all shocked when KEXP started playing the full length – they played it really early, too, which was amazing. To have the support of local radio, other bands that we look up to like our buddies Pickwick, Kris Orlowski, Campfire OK, the dudes in Pacific Gold (Wayfarer), and even the support of local business like Rhapsody, Amazon, Starbucks, or record stores like Sonic Boom, has been overwhelming. I’m glad people like our record, but at the end of the day it’s about friendship with all of these folks – it’s about relationships that have been built over many years.”
Among the long-lasting relationships that Tim cited as indispensable to both Ivan & Alyosha and the Seattle music community, he named Kristen and Carrie Watt of the Seattle Living Room Shows and Seattle Secret Shows- whom he has known for several years: “I met Carrie at Conor Byrne…[and have] seen her around town and at shows for a few years now. Earlier this year it finally worked out and we got to play a Seattle Secret Show with Mary Lambert, Star Anna and Campfire OK. Carrie and Kristen have really built something special. SLRS and SSS is such a great thing for Seattle music fans and bands – it’s such a unique thing, and they treat their bands so well. They’ve been very good to I&A, very thankful for them.”
To finish up my time talking with Tim, I decided to throw him a curveball and ask him which 90s boy band he thinks Ivan & Alyosha most closely resembles. He was, of course, a very good sport:
“I love this question, I actually tried out for a boy band once, I’m not afraid to share that! I think Backstreet boys would be a decent comparison, that record “Millennium” came out when I was a Senior in high school – that thing was everywhere, it was massive. I actually think the songs are quite good, the guy who wrote most of those, Max Martin, has been around writing hits for a long time. I love a good song, whether it’s Backstreet Boys, Delta Spirit, Rascal Flats, Etta James, or Rufus Wainwright, I don’t care, I listen to it all… At the end of the day I&A is kind of a boy band, Indie Rock Boy Band….”
So there you have it, folks. Whether you have known Ivan & Alyosha for years, or whether this was your first introduction, come out to see this “Indie Rock Boy Band” at their homecoming show on December 21st at the Showbox at the Market. Tickets are going fast, so visit the Showbox website to pick them up before they sell out! Get your tickets here:
I’ll see you all at the show. Cheers and thanks for reading.