"I stopped trying to be cool a long time ago," says Tim Wilson. "I think the biggest enemy for many young bands can be self-consciousness. You have to be free of all that to truly be a part of what you're doing — to perform and to write what you feel, otherwise you're trying too hard. It's posing, and people see right through that.”
Wilson is the frontman for Ivan and Alyosha, a burgeoning folk-pop outfit from Seattle with a Dostoyevsky-inspired name and earnest, philosophical lyrics to match.
The band started out in 2007 as a duo of Wilson and guitarist Ryan Carbary. And in 2009, they released their first EP, The Verse, the Chorus — which spawned the hummable sleeper hit “Easy to Love” and gained enthusiastic praise from NPR.
“In 2010 we added some band members, built a studio, toured a decent amount, signed on with our manager, went to SXSW, I had a kid,” Wilson says. “It was a little crazy.
“I feel like we’re building up some steam now as a band, and we plan to release projects more frequently, starting with our first fulllength this summer.”
The first taste of that album will arrive shortly in the form of Fathers Be Kind, a five-song EP that showcases some of the best new songs in their repertoire. It hearkens back to ’60s and ’70s Americana — a sound that calls to mind faded color photographs and Super 8 home movies. The lyrics are straightforward, usually taken directly from Wilson’s own life lessons.
“The way I write has always been a bit more specific than poetic,” he says. “I’ve never really gravitated towards artists who write in an ambiguous way.”
It was Wilson’s own entry into fatherhood that inspired some of the subjects of the new songs and in turn the title of the EP. Cynics be damned, he’s particularly fond of one verse from “Living for Someone” that runs: “Now I just quit my job/ and sold my fine possessions/ Expecting our first child/ amid the great recession.”
“Cheesy?” he asks, rhetorically. “To some, maybe. Heartfelt? Absolutely. Especially with all that’s going on in the world, this is a song about living beyond one’s circumstance, and I’m happy with some of the themes I was able to articulate.”
Perhaps more surprisingly, people often get the band’s literary nod to The Brothers Karamazov.
“Nine times out of 10, people are familiar with the book. Or at least Dostoyevsky,” Wilson says. “We usually get asked, ‘Which one’s Ivan and which one’s Alyosha?’ [But] the influence of the book on the band is a bit more broad and thematic than it is specific to each band member.”
Ivan and Alyosha play with Champion Birdwatcher and Goodnight Venus • Fri, Jan. 21, at 9 pm • Aclub • $5 • 21 • 624-3629