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Ivan & Alyosha

Folk-pop band uses homesickness to advantage


Ivan & Alyosha
  • Ivan & Alyosha

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Twitter: @Bill_Frost

In the months since Seattle-based folk-pop band Ivan & Alyosha released their warm, harmony-rich stunner of a debut full-length album, All the Times We Had, in February, the four musicians have gotten used to coping with homesickness.

Constant touring and being on the road is “certainly tough, but it’s, at this point, kind of what we do,” says lead vocalist/guitarist Tim Wilson while en route to Cleveland. Leaving families temporarily behind is never easy, but the heartache has served as an impetus to keep this hard-working band moving upward.

“[Our families] are certainly why we’re doing this and trying to build something for them,” Wilson says.

Formed in 2007, Ivan & Alyosha’s namesake comes from the polar-opposite siblings in Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov. Ivan is logical, struggling to reconcile the idea that a benevolent God exists while terrible things happen in the world, and gentle, caring Alyosha has an effortless faith in God.

The latter temperament is the one that seems to shine through the most in Ivan & Alyosha’s songwriting, which deals with subjects of love, family, hope, pressing onward during hardship, and spirituality, especially in the song “God or Man”: “I don’t believe in chance; you know, we’re all here for some reason,” Wilson sings.

And the instrumentation is breezy, joyful and lush, with the harmonies of four pure voices melding above all in absolute perfection; “Be Your Man” and “Fathers Be Kind” will melt your heart.

Ivan & Alyosha’s melody-driven acoustic music has been perking up ears around the country, but reaching national recognition has been a slow build. “There’s never been a sort of magic moment where it’s like, ‘All right, now we’re here, we’ve made it,’ ” Wilson says. “It’s been 10,000 small things that kind of make up the whole.” Ivan & Alyosha was interviewed in 2010 on NPR’s All Things Considered and played a Tiny Desk Concert in 2011, and their emotional song “The Fold” was featured on an episode of Bones that aired Sept. 30.

Ivan & Alyosha are happy to be a steadily building flame instead of a flash in the pan. Wilson says the gradual accumulation of fame “allowed us to keep our heads and keep everybody, for the most part, happy and focused.”

Moving forward in 2014, the band will welcome their friend Cole Mauro to the lineup as a full-time drummer for both recording and touring, as well as begin working on their second full-length album. Ivan & Alyosha’s climb is far from over, but they’re up for the challenge.

“It’s kind of a grind but … we just keep on doing it,” Wilson says. “I think we feel like we have to and we’re supposed to.”

w/ The Lone Bellow
The State Room
638 S. State
Wednesday, Dec. 4, 8 p.m.

Twitter: @VonStonehocker