The Accidentals are coming to Grand Rapids on Thursday for the Grand Rapids Art Museum’s GRAM on the Green concert series. Ahead of their visit, the band spoke with GR|Mag about the performance, their new album, “Odyssey,” being named a “top 10 band to watch” this year, and their love of another West Michigan band, The Crane Wives.
The Accidentals originally formed as a duo in Traverse City when Savannah (Sav) Buist and Katie Larson met and became friends while attending high school. The pair met Michael Dause, who hails from southeast Michigan, a few years later while attending Blissfest in Harbor Springs, and he joined the band as its drummer soon after. The band has been gaining momentum ever since. The Accidentals recently signed with Sony Masterworks, whose parent company is Sony Music.
GR|Mag: I read the band formed in Traverse City. Tell me a little bit about that. Are you all from Traverse City?
Sav Buist: Katie and I met in our high school orchestra program at Traverse City West. I was playing around in the music scene. I was playing violin and improvising with people, but I’d never written a song before and I only played one instrument back then.
I met Katie and she was trying out a bunch of different instruments and song writing, but she’d never played out live and improvised. So, we kind of gave those things to each other.
Michael Dause: I met the girls in 2013 at Blissfest in Harbor Springs and we became friends. They didn’t know I played the drums until about a year later. I can’t remember why I didn’t tell them, but they were looking for a drummer and I was a huge fan and knew all the songs already, so we did a couple of shows and I came on full time with them.
GR|Mag: The band has been gaining some attention and momentum for a while, but this year seems to be a bit of a breakout year with The Accidentals being named a “top 10 band to watch” by Yahoo Music. What was your reaction when you saw that and how does it feel to be gaining this attention?
Katie Larson: Honestly, it feels really incredible. The three of us are all super introverted. As soon as we step outside of Traverse City, it really humbles us to see people (coming to see us). We played a singalong with a group of third-grade students in Harbor Springs who covered “Michigan and Again” and it blows our mind that people enjoy our music and want to cover our music. It means something to them. The fact that we have the ability to create that is a really incredible feeling.
We are lucky to be in this Michigan community that helps support young artists and local musicians, with all the music festivals and breweries that bring in music. We owe a lot of our current success to our roots and that support. To have these national companies and magazines reaching out to us, sometimes we still can’t believe it.
GR|Mag: I saw you have a new album coming out later this month, “Odyssey.” Tell me about it.
SB: There are a ton of collaborations on this album we are really excited about, including Keller Williams, Jenny Conlee from one of our favorite bands, The Decembrists, Carter Gravatt, from Carbon Leaf, Dominic Davis, who plays bass for Jack White, and my dad is actually also on this album. Oh, and Kaki King, she is an amazing guitarist.
It’s kind of the culmination of the past four years of not releasing a full-length album. Some of those songs we’ve had for four years and have played thousands of times and other songs we’ve barely ever played live. It’s a lot of variation, which we are really excited about. And we are really excited to put it out.
GR|Mag: Tell me about the album’s title.
SB: It’s called “Odyssey.” It’s kind of this benchmark or snapshot of our lives, at a point where we are learning that vulnerability in itself is the strongest way to go at life sometimes. To be open and vulnerable is a really powerful thing and I think for us this album is the beginning of the new chapter that symbolizes moving forward boldly, not in the absence of fear but in spite of it, and to keep moving forward, even if it is just baby steps.
Emilee Petersmark, from The Crane Wives, actually designed the artwork on the back of the album. She is also doing a 12-piece collector’s poster based on the astrological signs that comes out one each month and all of it is her artwork. We are a little obsessed with that band at the moment.
GR|Mag: Since the album includes music from the past four years, do the songs have a consistency or are they very different from each other in terms of the sound?
KL: I would say our song writing and our arrangements are constantly evolving. Some of the songs on the album were written when we were a duo. Simply having Michael involved in the process, in the production and the arranging side, has transformed those songs but also transformed the way we are looking forward to song writing.
Also, we frequently go on tour with other artists who influence the writing. One of the singles, KW, I was inspired by touring with Keller Williams, who is a jam band guitar legend. We get inspired by other people’s styles and try to incorporate them into our three–piece lineup.
We’ve been on tour with Jake Allen as well, he’ll be at the show this weekend playing keys and guitar, and having an opportunity to have another player in there also transforms the arrangements of the songs. All of us like the idea of our music moving in a genre-less direction. We are trying to do a little bit of everything and keep the orch-dork instruments at the root.
SB: We recently signed with Sony Masterworks, a sub-label underneath the Sony parent label, and that label in particular picks up classical and jazz-fusion artists. It hits on that genre-less direction Katie is talking about. We’ve found our home in that and we’ve created an album that fits almost anywhere you try to put it.
GR|Mag: For the GRAM on the Green show, will you mostly be playing songs off the new album?
KL: Yes. We’ve been really trying to flesh out the new album, especially with Jake Allen on the keys and guitar. We’ll also be playing a little bit of stuff off of our EP “Parking Lot,” which came out last year, and a few cover tunes, maybe, as well. We are really excited to be featuring the new album songs.
The Accidentals will play from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on the outdoor terrace at the Grand Rapids Art Museum. The show is free to attend.
The band’s new album “Odyssey” comes out Aug. 18 and is available for pre-order now through The Accidentals website. Information about additional tour dates in support of the album can be found there, as well.
This interview has been condensed and edited.