If you ask Jeremy Spring, frontman for the quartet Abandon Kansas, what it is that motivates he and his band, you may be shocked at the answer. And in the answer to this question lies the very thing that sets his band apart from the endless parade of fame-seekers in this industry:
“As far as long term goals, none of us have any desire to be rich and famous. If we can keep connecting with people through music then we'll be content. There are way too many bands out there already so we're trying to make what we do a little bigger than music.” And deliver something larger than just music is exactly what they do on their debut release from Gotee Records, the We're All Going Somewhere EP. With fearless hearts, ingenious songwriting, and poignant wit, Spring and company shine like supernovas among fading stars. This is indie pop/rock that will surprise you with its candor and cause you to contemplate the deepest recesses of your heart.
Consider the track “The Harder They Fall,” for starters. If Abandon Kansas were just simply seeking to ingrain a melody in your head while simultaneously appeasing the music elitist in you, this song would more than achieve their goals. A bed of tasteful, yet compelling instrumentation snaps you to attention, as you say to yourself these boys can play. Then, Spring's vocal turns attention to attraction with obvious charisma and charm. As verse ebbs to chorus the energy swells and the deal is sealed, as you sing There is no one left who isn't better than the rest. I need to hear you say that I'm the best. You are of?cially charmed, hook, line and sinker. You are pulled into the song with breakneck speed, traveling down the rabbit hole to an unknown destination. But as you submit to the hypnotic pulse of the song, a question pops into your brain: Where is Abandon Kansas taking me?
“We don't just write songs about love or breakups, or the cliche' things that you hear over and over again. We try to write about the deeper places of our hearts, asking questions of the listener, rather than just giving answers. If we can cause someone, when the music is ?nished, to contemplate their life, their motivation, and their soul, then we have done our jobs. We can't complete the journey for the listener, but we can open the door.”
The band linked up with producer Mark Lee Townsend (Relient K, House of Heroes) for what promises to be a highlight in his already amazing resume'. We're All Going Somewhere comes with a full chamber; this is six shots, not just a couple rounds. Yet, if one were to focus on key tracks, it would have to include “I Wonder If It's Me,” a driving, dancy, yet contemplative number that confronts the “grass is greener” mentality that is so pervasive in our culture. And “Months and Years,” another standout among standouts, is an uplifting exercise in perseverance, complete with a chorus that could become the rallying cry of a generation of lost souls seeking a greater purpose.
Perhaps the greatest triumph of all here is the lyrical potency of Jeremy Spring. Only a truly inspired mind could conjure up lines such as these: We spend our lives tip toeing carefully just to arrive at our death safely...We all want what we deserve, unless it's going to hurt. And while he excels in providing sobering thoughts, Spring provides just as many euphoric moments as well: Close your eyes, then we'll start to see. Shut them tight, now we can believe. It's taken me so long to ?nd out where you are. You live in me. Few have the power to shape the listener's emotions with words, but here you will ?nd one who can do just that, and Abandon Kansas will leave you singing (as well as thinking) long after the songs end.
Amidst all this depth, it would be hard to imagine a band that who can also bring one of the most energetic and spirited live shows around, yet Abandon Kansas brings just that. Spring explains: “Our live show is a lot more intense than the music suggests. We love to dance and we love to communicate our music with the audience whether they know our music or not. Our guitar player Brad is known for his Michael Jackson-esque dancing and it's always an entertaining show. We also never make a set list so we can vibe off the audience as to which direction we should take the show.”
An exhaustive touring schedule and work ethic has built a steady, resolute following. If you can believe it, the band played 200 shows in 2008, and is on pace to do even more in 2009. One heart at a time, one city at a time, day after day, the band adds to their fast-growing following. With such a schedule, it's little wonder that the industry at large is beginning to pay close attention.
In the end, Abandon Kansas succeeds where so many fail because of their hearts as a unit, their commitment to a unique vision, and most of all because of their one-of-a-kind voice. We are all going somewhere. And Abandon Kansas is taking us there. Or at least they are pointing us to the door...
“If people remember anything from our concerts I hope it's not the band name and the crazy dance moves. I hope that long after our T-shirts have been given away to thrift stores and our CDs have been lost, people will remember having been drawn to something and someone much more important than music.”