The Lonely Forest are about to head out on tour in support of their “big brother” Chris Walla and the rest of Death Cab for Cutie. I had the chance to check out their set and talk with the guys on their last tour through Minneapolis in April and wanted to share my thoughts and overall recommendation of the band with the fine readers of Driven Far Off. Also be sure to check out the full tour dates and ticket links for their roadshow with Death Cab and their album Arrows (read review | buy).
The Lonely Forest kicked off their April 2011 show Minneapolis somewhat quietly with “Turn off This Song and Go Outside.” No, the music was not lacking in decibels; rather, the four-piece simply did not waste a second to chat the crowd up, opting instead to let the music speak for itself. Folding into “(I Am) The Love Addict” with manic dancing and over-sized expressions on singer Jon Van Deusen’s face, the band set an above-average energy level for the set and never turned it down.
Van Deusen never missed a note as he wailed away. Braydn Krueger translated the full drumbeats from the album Arrows into a ravaging show – rivaling Animal from the Muppets on “Tunnels” – but also found time to sweetly provide high vocal harmonies. Bassist Eric Sturgeon briefly scaled the drum-set to swing from the ceiling, and guitarist Tony Ruland (somewhat painfully, it turns out) collapsed into the drum kit to end the set.
Rise to Prominence
The band’s energy level could easily fill a longer set and a bigger stage, but for now, the foursome say they’re comfortable with their slow rise after playing together for five years. While they joke about being “the tortoise” in the race towards prominence, the guys say they plan to continue doing what they know best. The plan? Make decisions focused on longevity and steadfastly avoid compromising gimmicks.
Not surprisingly, they’re down to earth and thankful for their success thus far. It’s a great feeling to be the first (and still only) band on Trans, Chris Walla of Death Cab for Cutie’s label, the boys say. “It’s like a science experiment… but definitely one with lots of good ingredients,” remarks Sturgeon.
And while Walla patiently waits for the right second signing to come along, The Lonely Forest are enjoying the spoils of being an only child on Trans. Though they may be guinea pigs, the guys feel that they’re in good hands, noting that Chris is not only easy to work with, but also “like a long-lost big brother who has shown up in your life and is awesome and takes you to the arcade.”
Music and Messages
That nature crops up repeatedly is not because of any agenda, says Ruland. Rather, he attributes the many references to nature to nurture: the boys grew up in Anacortes, Washington, with the Pacific in their backyards and evergreen forests in their front. Impressive natural environments are simply ever-present in their lives and therefore perhaps more present in their songs than in those of other contemporary rock bands, he adds.
The ability to produce songs about more than just heartbreak makes the band seem quite mature, and so it can be quite surprising to find out that lead singer Jon is just 23 years old. With all the energy and talent they’ve got, we can only hope* that the road ahead of the band stretches far into the distance and that The Lonely Forest may keep on singing in time together for a long time.
* (beyond buying an album or hitting up a show to support these guys, of course).