Big Stars kicks off with Thriving Ivory
July 1, 2011
Guitarist Drew Cribley said his band, Thriving Ivory, is lucky to call Wind-Up Records its home.
Cribley, vocalist Clayton Stroope, keyboardist Scott Jason, drummer Paul Niedermier and new bassist Charlie Reid have survived the music-business shake up that saw a lot of bands lose their record labels.
"We’re still with Wind-Up and happy to be there," Cribley said during a telephone interview from his home in Oakland, Calif. "They went through a shaky time when they were setting a deal with EMI Records, but they came out OK and have always been really supportive of us."
The support has followed the band through two albums, the most recent, "Through Yourself and Back Again," being released last fall.
In fact, the band will open the St. Regis Big Stars, Bright Nights concert series at the Snow Park Amphitheatre at Deer Valley on July 3, in support of the new album. The music will start at 7:30 p.m. with opening acts The Alternate Routes and A Silent Film.
The music-business was a different animal when Cribley started playing guitar in the early 1990s, he said.
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"The whole rock-star thing was sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll and people were living the lavish lifestyle," said Cribley, who cited Radiohead, Coldplay, U2, Muse and Mutemath as some of the band’s musical influences. "These days, you have to step your game up quite a bit to stay alive. There is no resting on your laurels, even when you’ve released an album or two. I think the general life of a rock musician has changed a bit."
Back in 2003, Thriving Ivory released its self-titled debut on Wolfgang Records. Five years later, after signing with Wind-Up, the home of Creed, Evanescence and Hawthorn Heights, the band re-issued the CD and saw better results.
The disc peaked at No. 102 on the Billboard 200, but also landed the No. 1 slot on the Billboard Heatseaker’s chart and No. 46 on the Rock chart.
The kick-off single, "Angels on the Moon," earned a place on Billboard’s Hot 100.
When the band decided to return to the studio to record the new CD, the musicians were more excited to make new music, rather than feel any pressure record a successful follow-up to the debut.
"A lot of the songs on the first album were really, really old," Cribley said. "We had eight years to come up with that first album, and then we added another five years onto that when we reissued it. In the meanwhile, we wrote new stuff.
"There was some pressure, but more than that, we were stoked to be playing these new songs," he said. "They represented more accurately where we were last year, because after playing on the road together for months on end, you develop more of a sound and your playing changes."
Just before heading to the studio, original bassist Bret Cohune took his leave.
"He wanted to be an engineer and went into music engineering," Cribley said. "I can understand that in way, because it’s hard to have a normal life when you’re in a band and gone all the time. You go on tour for a year and you get back for a month and then have to go again. It’s hard to find stability when you’re going back and forth like that, so we all respected his decision."
The band found Charlie Reid through its lead singer.
"Clayton went to high school with Charlie, but the rest of us didn’t really know him," Cribley said. "We heard he was an amazing bassist, and asked him to try us out." Finding a new band member is always a challenge, but to find one who fits a band’s chemistry is more difficult.
The band lucked out with Reid, Cribley said.
"You never realize how it works interpersonally to be in a band," he said. "Sometimes that can be tough, but sometimes it can be amazing, because you’re sharing these once-in-a-lifetime experiences with these guys you’ve chosen to be in a band with. We’re so happy Charlie’s with us."
Cribley feels it is important for the band members to be friends.
"When you’re in a band, you’re under a lot of stress being on the road and playing a lot of late shows," he said. "We’ve definitely done well together, and we continue to remain close, which is something you don’t see in some of these other bands. A lot of times bands will put on a happy face and show that everything is great, but you never know what’s going on behind the scenes."
The closeness helped Thriving Ivory survive the rough spots, which can sometimes include writing a set list.
"It’s funny, because I’ve been one who wrote the set list for years," he said. "Sometimes there’s a battle that goes on behind the scenes because different band members want to play different songs.
"Ultimately, we try to play songs that fans are into and that will go over well live, but there are some songs fans ask for that we don’t play," he said. "I know that sounds terrible, but some of those songs are so old and aren’t even on our label-released albums.
That said, we do try to balance with what our fans want and what we want to play."
Thriving Ivory will play the Snow Park Amphitheatre at Deer Valley on Sunday, July 3. The music will start at 7:30 p.m. with opening bands Alternate Routes and A Silent Film. Tickets are $35 to $65 and available at http://www.ecclescenter.org or by calling (435) 655-3114.