First/Last-the Soil and the Sun

August 9, 2013

“The Soil & The Sun is corn-fed, Michigan-made, New Mexican Space Music, or Experiential Spiritual Orchestral Rock. Originating in 2008 as a two-piece band, the group has grown and matured into a seven-piece community of friends and musicians. Oboe, violin, guitars, accordion, percussion, piano, keys and vocals, cooperate to create complex harmonies, layered melodies, and driving rhythms. The careful orchestration and intentional instrumentation will speak to your soul.”

Check out the band on Facebook, BandCamp and Twitter. I am wrapping up this week’s coverage of the Paste 50 States Project by featuring from Michigan, the Soil and the Sun. My thanks to Alex McGrath (Guitar/Vocals/Drums) for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.

  • The first album you ever bought?
  • I purchased Switchfoot’s “Learning to Breathe” whilst in the 7th grade. Do I regret it? Absolutely not. I had it autographed by the band at their show with Relient K and the O.C. Supertones in 2001. Talk about a line-up. That’s the stuff of myth and legend.
  • Your last album bought?
  • Devendra Banhart’s “What Will Be”. His versatility never ceases to amaze me.
  • Favorite album of all time?
  • How about top 5? And maybe I’ll redefine the category to “Most Influential Post Millennial”, if I may… MewithoutYou, “Catch for us the Foxes” – Sigur Ros, “Takk” – Mum, “Go Go Smear the Poison Ivy” – twothirtyeight, “Regulate the Chemicals”,
  • Anathallo – “Floating World”.
  • Least favorite/most disappointing album?
  • I’ll try to cleverly avoid answering this one. If anyone goes to the trouble of writing and recording and pressing a collection of their songs, I’m happy for them. In fact, I’m proud of them.
  • First concert attended?
  • The first proper concert I can remember attending is a Big Tent Revival show at a county fairgrounds in the middle of nowhere, Illinois. This lyric stands out in my memory: “If loving God was a crime, I’d be an outlaw”.
  • Last concert?
  • The most recent concert I attended was a bitter/sweet blowout party for our (Grand Rapids) local arts collective, the DAAC. Bitter because they gotkicked out of their space after 10 years of supporting the art scene here, sweet because the future is bright and these kids can’t be stopped.
  • Favorite concert ever?
  • MewithoutYou, Cornerstone Festival, July, 2005. They played straight through “Catch for us the Foxes” and closed with ‘In a Sweater Poorly Knit’ off of the as of that date unreleased album, “Brother Sister”. I’m almost positive that everyone who was at that show will remember it forever.
  • Least favorite concert?
  • Death Cab for Cutie at the Riviera Theatre in Chicago, 2005. There was actually nothing bad about the concert. To be honest, it was perfect performance. My only criticism is that when they closed with ‘Transatlanticism’ it ended. I wish it hadn’t, ever.
  • Any thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
  • Pittsburgh, PA, funny you should mention it. On our most recent tour, we broke down in Pittsburgh for 4 days. We couldn’t have asked for a better city to get stuck in. People housed us, fed us, entertained us, and helped us get on our way back to Michigan. Big thank you shout out to Derek from Homeless Gospel Choir and the fine folks from Listener for their extremely generous hospitality. Also, Manny from Garfield Artworks is a one-of-a-kind character, and we love him.

Thanks, Alex. So glad you had a positive experience in Pittsburgh. Please come back and play sometime.