Upcoming: Folk-rockers, Goldfinch, to headline the Blue Spark

by Maddie Hayes

Clear your calendars for March 17, Spokanites, because a great band is venturing over from Seattle to play for all who will hear.

Seattle/Tacoma-based folk rock outfit, Goldfinch, will be stopping by the Blue Spark in downtown Spokane on a short four-date tour. 
Goldfinch is composed of five musicians: Aaron Stevens, Grace Sullivan, Paul Hirschl, Jake Rohr and Steve Norman. What started as an unofficial duo with Stevens and Sullivan has now blossomed into a full band with a full sound.

It’s hard to describe the sound of a band like Goldfinch, since they don’t really fit into a specific category. Grace Sullivan sings and plays keyboards in the band, but is also one of the two songwriters. She believes one thing setting them apart in a sea of folk rock bands is their writing.

“The biggest feeling I have about our band is the storytelling that goes into the lyrics,” Sullivan said. “We often feel like we’re writing little books or movies.”

Previously, the band had written songs that were more plain and simple, but it’s branching out into different territory now.

“I think in the past, we’ve written [songs] where we say exactly what we mean, but now we’re learning how to write songs that are meaningful to each of us in our own separate lives,” Sullivan said. “It kind of pushes us to write a lot of coded language that’s true for both of us, and that isn’t necessarily revealing our deepest, darkest secrets to the whole outside world.”

Sullivan and Stevens, guitar player, singer and the other songwriter, have known each other for 13 years and did little bits of writing, singing and performing together in the years before Goldfinch formed. It wasn’t until about three years ago that they decided to go for it.

“Certain events happened in our lives that year where we were kind of reminded of the fragility of life,” Sullivan said. “That really pushed us toward deciding to go for it and go into the studio and record our first album.”

The closeness of these two band members allow them to write about things they are both familiar with, or situations they are both experiencing.

“Lots of times if we go through something difficult or challenging, we’ll end up processing through what’s happening by writing a song about it,” Sullivan said. “I think sometimes history and nostalgia influence what we’re writing about in really big ways. Lots of times, novels or movies will really get us.”

Another thing setting this band apart is the instrumentation they choose to implement in their music. They use guitar, vintage keyboards, trumpet, bass and drums. The trumpet and vintage keyboards add a unique sounds to their music.

“We’re really passionate about having good melodies in our songs and good beats,” Sullivan said.

Goldfinch is currently working on it’s second full-length album, and is aiming toward a July, 2011 release of the new music.

“We have a bunch of stuff recorded, and then we’re in the process of putting more instruments on and more vocals and stuff,” Sullivan said. “But we’re also doing a lot of writing, which I’m feeling really excited about.”

This is the first time Goldfinch will be recording as the band that it is now. The previous recordings were done when it was merely a duo with Sullivan and Stevens. Things typically take more time for a band like Goldfinch, since most of the members have day jobs, and two of the members, Sullivan and Stevens, both have children.

“We’re a band that tends to move slower, so far as being able to pull things off, just with our life commitments and stuff like that,” Sullivan said. “It’s important for us to pull back on live shows in order to give room for the creative process and recording and stuff like that.”

A good part about taking things slow, is that it allows the band time to think things through really well and get the songs exactly right before recording and releasing music.

Goldfinch hasn’t ventured too far from home for touring, but they do what they can.

“We try to stick close to home and do lots of writing and recording, and then play shows around when we can make time for it,” Sullivan said. “It’s hard to get away.”

This will be Goldfinch’s second time playing in Spokane, and the first with this particular linewup and with the new single in hand. Goldfinch released their single, “Vacant Lot / Elephant” in December. Prior to that, their last release was their self-titled full-length album that was released in April of 2009.

They will be playing at the Blue Spark located at 15 South Howard Street on Mar. 17, accompanied by local band, Hey Is For Horses.

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