Rose Edwards spoke to EVERGREEN about their current EP and their soon-to-be-launched album
Hertfordshire-based indie rock band Evergreen currently have a song "Go" on the Cross Rhythms playlist. The British band actually have an American-born lead singer and bass player while the drummer hails from Mexico. Although the driving rock of "Go" sounds a little like a track by Kings Of Leon or Explosions In The Sky its lyric is based on the Bible's Great Commission. Evergreen's frontman and guitarist Colin Gruetzmacher spoke about their unexpected turntable hit. "We needed a fast song. . . and the music was all based around that pounding bass line. It seemed to drive the creativity of it all, and then the piano and guitar just flowed out of it. Then because the music was so driving and forceful we knew that the lyrics would have to reflect that need for movement. We get a lot of inspiration from our faith. There is this part in the Bible where at the very end of Jesus' life, he tells all of his followers to go out into the world and tell people about the new way of life that he showed them. That's where the lyrics came from."
The band - consisting of Colin Gruetzmacher (vocals, guitar), Andy Sloan (keys, guitar), Nathan Sperry (bass, trumpet) and Lalo Lima (drums) - formed in September 2009 with only two members, Andy and Colin. They met at a Christian charity in Harpenden, Hertfordshire for which they were both working and they began playing music together. The duo recorded a small demo 'Some Things Stay The Same' and played a few gigs then Colin got in touch with old friend Lalo Lima from Mexico who came over in March 2010 and joined the duo. After the group did a small tour in Cardiff and played a few local shows. After a concert in Dublin, Colin met Nathan who became the fourth member of the group in October 2010. Only five months later the group's EP 'March Is Coming', featuring the song "Go", was released independently.
The EP was recorded in Northern Ireland with the one-time frontman for Onehundredhours, now a studio owner and producer Tre Sheppard. It was recorded in just eight days. Explained Colin, "It meant that everything had to move fast and we had to get the parts right in the first few takes. It was humbling to see where our strengths and our faults were as musicians. It is a hard pill to swallow when you realise you aren't as good as you want to be, but it's helpful 'cause it helps you to know what to aim for."
Gruetzmacher spoke about the inspiration behind the project. "For us, it's a recording all about hope. While we were writing the EP we were in a very weird place as a band. We were still new together and had no money to record. So our future was unsure but we had hope. We had hope that we could make the EP and tour with it. We also wanted it to be an EP that people could relate to. We think that no matter who you are or where you are at in your life, you could always use somebody that would tell you that there is hope. We think that's often what people need most, a reminder of hope."
Now things are really taking off for Evergreen. The band will be launching their first full length album, 'The Mountain/The Giant/The Sea' this month and are about to undertake a 40-show tour in July and August. Said Colin, "We are so excited for this new album. In so many ways it's a step beyond the first one. We wanted it to be more than drums, guitar and bass. So compared to the last project, it's very progressive. It's much more based on keys and pads than anything else. I guess the soft parts are softer and the heavy parts got heavier."
He continued, "I guess we could call this a concept album. All the songs were based on a piece of poetry that Andy wrote about this journey of life we find ourselves on and the songs reflect that. They sing a message of purpose and direction. Why we do what we do and why we face mountains and giants. They flow into each other, themes of one are echoed in another and it makes sense as one complete entity."
It was recorded in an old factory in Harpenden. Colin explained, "Our rehearsal studio is in this old abandoned factory in Harpenden and we decided that rather than record in a professional studio, we would rent in a lot of the gear and record it ourselves over a three week period. We wanted time, space and freedom to experiment with sounds, textures and effects to make the new album much more layered and detailed than the last. We also had an amazing producer, Joe Grousse, who helped and pushed us so much to think and write in a different way."
On the group's twitter page they invited fans and friends to be on the album through gang vocals. Gruetzmacher said, "That was actually one of our favorite days recording. We had a few parts on the songs where one vocal wasn't enough. So we thought we would have our friends and fans join us on the journey. It wasn't about singing perfectly; it was about adding your voice to the multitude of others. And we were blown away with how it turned out. The people who came sang so beautifully. The gang vocals, naturally and organically, became a beautiful choir. The harmonies built and what was supposed to be a nice addition to a song suddenly became the main feature. It was really special."
Colin name-checked some of Evergreen's influences: "All four of us have different tastes in music. I guess this album most reflects the work of bands like Sigur Ros, Immanu El, Explosions In The Sky and This Will Destroy You. But it also has elements of so many others. Bands like Mars Volta, As Cities Burn, Switchfoot, Bon Iver, The Swell Season and Lowercase Noises have also had a great role in shaping us individually."
When asked whether they were a Christian ministry band Colin responded, "I'm not sure I could even say what a Christian ministry band is. Do we play well known Christian songs in churches? No. Does our faith play a vital role in how we write music, how we play shows and how we interact with other bands/promoters? Yes. Our main goal as a band is that our music might relate, encourage or give hope to someone who needs it. This isn't because we are trying to tick our 'make a convert' box, but because I think it's what Jesus would have wanted us to do. As Christians we believe that God put us here to serve, love and help others. Music is what we do, so we use that in the best way we can."The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.