BY JAMES COOK
TRAVERSE CITY —
Evans Blue is set to play its first Traverse City concert tonight.
But it's not the first time they've played here.
The band — which headlines a show at Streeters tonight — recorded its last two albums in a small studio in Williamsburg owned by Trevor Kustiak and Mari Dew.
"It was great," said bassist Pitter, one of three original members from the group's 2005 formation. "It's a beautiful area. The studio over at Trevor and Mari's place is basically right on the lake, so you can walk over after. It's so relaxing."
Evans Blue — which has had five top-40 U.S. mainstream hits — released Graveyard of Empires in April, its second album recorded at Sounds+Sights. The first single, "This Time It's Different," climbed quickly on U.S. charts.
"The first single went into the top 30, which is an accomplishment being independent," Dew said.
Tickets to today's show are $9.55, and State Your Cause and 5th Way are the opening acts for Evans Blue's return to Traverse City.
"We go up and do about a week's worth of pre-production, which is just hammering out the songs altogether," Pitter said. "Since we all live in different areas, we all go up at different times. It probably took a couple months to do the whole thing. I was there for about a week. Dan (Chandler) was there for a month off and on. Parker (Lauzon) was up for about a week or a week and a half to go through all the guitar stuff, and the same for Vlad (Tanaskovic)."
Previously, Kustiak and Dew operated out of Pocket Studios in Toronto, where the band originated.
"It's way more pleasant to record there than in Toronto, just because of the atmosphere," Pitter said. "It's almost like a vacation, a working vacation. We really love going there. My wife's family goes up there for vacation, too, so they're jealous I can go up there and record and spend time there while I'm technically working."
Sounds+Sights works with about 20 acts, including Rains, which has toured with Evans Blue.
"Trevor is wonderful to work with," Pitter said. "He's one of the producers that don't tell you what to do. If something's not working, he sort of guides you in the right way. He's not pushy at all. Everything still comes from the band. There's not enough good things I can say about working in that area. We've been together since the beginning, and I don't think we'd be the same without him."
Graveyard of Empires ran into a speed bump when the band parted ways with drummer Howard Davis and the drums needed to be redone. Paramore's Jason Pierce recorded the drums for nine of 11 tracks on the album, and the other two were done with Mike McClure.
"Replacing the drums and having to redo them was an interesting obstruction," Kustiak said. "Other than that, it was pretty smooth."
The album also includes Traverse City musician Al Jankowski playing piano on three tracks.
"This one took longer than expected to record," Pitter said. "But it came out better than we expected, too.
"We just took it song by song. It turned out a little heavier than we expected, and a little deeper as far as the lyrics go. Dan got really personal with the songs, about belief in pretty much every aspect of his life. You go in with high hopes, but it blew us away."
Click here to stream State Your Cause's new album in its entirety.