The Seattle four-piece has a soaring, Beatles-esque sound and a brand new record to tour on.
Seattle-based Ivan and Alyosha prefer optimism, four-part harmonies, and sing-along choruses. But there’s a realness to the band’s positivity. “We all deal with crap,” guitarist Tim Kim says with a laugh. “There’s a sunnier outlook if you look at our lyrics, but if you really dig into them, you’ll find darker material in there.” Ivan and Alyosha play One Eyed Jacks on Tuesday night.
The cheerful, folk-pop four-piece manages to keep the darkness (mostly) at bay on their 2013 debut full-length All the Times We Had. The record was recorded in two short “bittersweet” weeks, Kim says. “It was a dream to be in the studio, but we only had two weeks to record. We would’ve tried to get as many instruments on the tracks as possible if we’d had more time. Horns and a choir. We dream big when we’re the studio, but we didn’t quite have what we needed to accomplish our grandiose visions.”
With or without a full orchestra, Kim is still pleased with the way the record turned out. “There’s a cabin up north of Seattle where we hole up and flesh the songs out together,” he says. “We did it for our first EP, and we did it for this, too. We’re very song-oriented, and we focus on a good melody and meaningful lyrics.”
It doesn’t come as a surprise to hear Kim cite The Beatles as the band’s most important influence. All the Times We Had is a blend of high-spirited pop songs and orchestral ballads that showcases delicate harmonies and an attention to song structure. Even at its punchiest moments, there’s a simpleness to the music. “That’s a huge part of the identity of our band - the vocals and the harmonies,” Kim says. “That’s something that we focused on in the studio.”
Ivan and Alyosha is a band of close friends and former roommates. “We’re pretty like-minded, and we consider each other family,” Kim says. Since forming in 2007, they’ve received recognition on NPR’s “All Things Considered” and toured several times with Aimee Mann. But its the band’s tight knit relationship that keeps spirits high, which is important given the amount of time it has spent on the road already this year.
Kim says Ivan and Alyosha plan to continue to tour, and the message they take on the road is a simple one. “It’s like when your friend is down in the dumps. You don’t want to encourage them to stay down in the dumps,” he says. “You just want to say, ‘Hey, life’s not so bad.’”