The band of siblings which plays Grand Rapids Wednesday boasts an eclectic approach. Watch the video and listen to the Local Spins on WYCE radio podcast which includes the premiere of new tracks by The Crane Wives, Devin & The Dead Frets, Balsam Brothers and more.
THE BAND: Rival Maps
THE MUSIC: Expansive, diverse indie-rock
WHERE YOU CAN SEE THE BAND: 8 p.m. Wednesday at SpeakEZ Lounge in Grand Rapids (with solo sets by Dave Zagar and Mike Council)
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Some of Rival Maps’ inspiration can be traced back to chief songwriter Dave Zagar’s summer job at a miniature golf course while attending Muskegon Catholic Central High School.
The owner’s son was a classic rock fan, exposing Zagar to everything from Pink Floyd to Fugazi for the first time.
But that doesn’t completely explain the indie-rock band of siblings’ lush, diverse and monumentally listenable 2015 debut album, “Echoes,” – an infectious collection that ranges from a prog-rock vibe to a power pop sheen and took 1-1/2 years and 23 instruments to complete.
It’s a significant leap forward from the Dave Zagar Trio, when Zagar, his brother, Andy, on drums, and sister, Laura Ogren, on keyboards, would perform “a lot of cover songs” during their shows around Muskegon.
“We sort of wanted to leave that behind, push forward under this actual band name and try and see what we could do with it,” said Dave Zagar.
“It came from us trying to get a little bit more serious about what we were doing and trying to develop as writers to write something that we could be a little bit more proud of to expand our horizons. Our musical influences were constantly changing, so we wanted to be a different band.”
What resulted on “Echoes” was an album with “a lot of differences in the songs, different feels to it,” he added.
“I just didn’t want it all to sound all the same. The collection of songs that ended up on ‘Echoes’ is there for a reason and makes sense together. It’s unique that you’ll get different flavors of what we’re doing.”
Dave and Andy Zagar showed off the band’s acoustic flavors by performing as a pared-down duo during this week’s edition of Local Spins on WYCE. Listen to the podcast here, with a video of their performance of “Blindfold” below. (Read a review of “Echoes” online here, with an audio clip from the album below.)
PODCAST: Local Spins on WYCE with Rival Maps
They’ll perform at 8 p.m. Wednesday at SpeakEZ Lounge in Grand Rapids as a full band, with the debut album’s engineer, Mike Council, on bass.
“I’d like to think that we’ve created something honest and true to ourselves, and hopefully this makes us stand out,” said Dave Zagar, who started playing violin at age 4. “I’d like to think that our album doesn’t all sound the same, and hopefully, that makes us stand out. We set out to make something fun while utilizing our classical upbringings.
“We’re siblings, and all have different musical influences. So when I pitch a song to the band, those diverse influences meld together to create a Rival Maps song, and hopefully that stands out. And as siblings, we’ve all shared many life experiences together which becomes part of our music.”
David Zagar works as an attorney in Chicago and often collaborates with his siblings in Muskegon via Skype and text messages.
The band’s music, Andy Zagar said, comes from a lot of give and take between band members and plenty of feedback about the parts they’re playing.
“There’s a purpose behind the way we’re doing it,” he said. “It’s doing it because we love it and playing because we love the sound.”
The band already is working on songs for the follow-up to “Echoes.”
Wednesday’s concert at SpeakEZ Lounge will represent Rival Maps’ Grand Rapids debut, with Dave Zagar and Council playing solo sets, followed by a full band performance. Learn more about the band at rivalmaps.com.
Friday’s edition of Local Spins on WYCE also featured the debut of new songs by The Crane Wives, Devin & The Dead Frets, The Balsam Brothers, The Lippies, Dear Tracks and Paddy’s Cure, plus tracks from Jared Sjoblom, Red Legs and Neil Jacobs.
VIDEO: Rival Maps, “Blindfold” (Local Spins on WYCE)
AUDIO: Rival Maps, “Montreal” (from “Echoes”)
Copyright 2016, Spins on Music LLC