Chain of Lakes frontman Kyle Rasche creates lush, harmony-driven contemporary folk songs that have earned deserved attention. (Video, podcast)
Any number of things can explain why Kyle Rasche immersed himself in the music scene, forming Chain of Lakes in Grand Rapids as a solo project a few years back.
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He grew up listening to the Cat Stevens, Dan Fogelberg, James Taylor, Elton John, Simon & Garfunkel and Beach Boys albums of his parents and was a self-professed “choir geek” at Okemos High School. Rasche later reveled in the music of Green Day, Nirvana, Bon Iver, Fleet Foxes and even Lord Huron (a Michigan-bred band with whom he’s good friends).
But his avocation as an indie-folk singer-songwriter can mostly be traced back to one thing: “Dad went to work and left his guitar unattended.”
Luckily, by the time dad discovered Rasche’s subterfuge, he had learned how to play the instrument fairly well and never looked back, eventually calling on friends he met during open-mic nights and elsewhere in Grand Rapids to flesh out Chain of Lakes.
GOING FROM SOLO ACT TO BAND PROJECT
“It’s more fun to make music with them than by yourself and it kind of blossomed into a collaborative effort, which is exactly what I wanted,” he says.
Indeed, the Chain of Lakes’ most recent album, “Softer Sticks,” shows off not only Rasche’s ever-evolving instrumental and vocal talents, but some compelling writing that complements the band’s layered, ethereal folk-rock.
Although the album recorded by Greg Baxter boasts contributions by seven different musicians – adding to its lush sonic feel – Rasche returned to his open-mic night, solo roots on Wednesday, performing “A New Kind” by himself on Local Spins Live on News Talk 1340 AM (WJRW). Listen to the show’s podcast here and a video of his performance below.
On Friday, he’ll ramp things up a bit with the band – Jordan Griffis (guitars), Mat Churchill (bass), Dustin Anderson (drums) and Dana Jackson (vocals) – at The Pyramid Scheme in Grand Rapids, with Brooklyn’s The Stationary Set and Grand Rapids’ The Brave Youth following the Chain of Lakes on stage. Admission is $6.
“We really pride ourselves on (the fact that) the album sounds like we perform it,” insists Rasche, a surgical neurophysiologist in his day job. “I have a cabin up on the Chain of Lakes in northern Michigan which is where we get the band name from. I brought that pocket of songs up with those guys and we locked ourselves up until this album pretty much was written and fleshed out the way it sounds recorded.”
Still, Rasche – who also collaborated last year with Shanghai’s Hamacide on an electronic-hued recording assembled over the course of a year via Internet file transfers – readily concedes he mostly takes a laid-back tack with his music, which put Chain of Lakes among REVUE Magazine’s 2013 “Ten to Watch” bands in West Michigan.
EMBRACING THE STORY-TELLING TRADITION
“I’ve always been really drawn to vocal harmonies and the storytelling of Paul Simon, James Taylor, Elton John, Bernie Taupin, that classic art of telling a story over music,” he says.
“There’s nothing better than playing for a quiet, attentive audience. I love dialing it back. You put a lot into the story and the lyrics and the poetry behind this and it’s nice to have somebody paying attention to that. … I’m not sure I’m capable of writing anything other than soft at this point.”
Email John Sinkevics at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright 2013, Spins on Music