Local duo Nervous But Excited talk Michigan music ahead of album-release show at The Ark
The new album is "you are here," and it features the duo's by-now-familiar quality songwriting and organic sound, displaying a fair amount of stylistic variety along the way.
The duo—Kate Peterson and Sarah Cleaver—answered a few questions via email.
The new album is called “you are here,” and the lead-off track is “Ohio to Michigan.” You have been known to talk about how Michigan is a good place for the band—how much does a sense of place inform your songwriting in general, and these new songs in particular?
The idea of Home has always been a force behind our songwriting and it has definitely weaved its way all over this record. The idea of “you are here” means just that it’s about being present—and that concept manifests itself into our lives consistently and therefore works its way out of us into our songs. We do find a very solid sense of home in Michigan, kate being raised here and Sarah approaching a decade as a Michigander. Its terrain and its people have informed the majority of our songs on this record and we are very grateful for that.
The new album features guest appearances by a lot of great local performers — Chris Bathgate, Theo Katzman, etc.—how important is it to you to be part of a thriving local music community? How do you rate the health of the Ann Arbor / Ypsilanti scene at the moment?
We feel extremely lucky to be part of such a talented and thriving community of performers. We tour the country many months a year and we have not come across any other pockets of musicians that are as talented or as open as the Michigan music scene. We find it common that folks here in the Mitten are consistently down to earth and generally happy to help each other out, and that’s totally our style.
You play a lot of live shows, and call your upcoming dates your biggest tour yet. What does that mean — are you going farther afield than in the past? Touring for a longer time? Or both? What sort of venues will you be playing out of town?
A little bit of both. We are touring into new territories that we have not been to before on the east coast and in the U.P. (Florida in December!) and we are also logging more consecutive dates. We are excited to be playing so many amazing venues including Club Passim in Boston, The Living Room in NYC, and the Ten Pound Fiddle in Lansing.
What’s in store for the Ark show?
The Ark show will provide a time for folks to come see us with a full band in an intimate setting, which rarely happens. The band will include Murray Stewart Jones on drums; Susie Giang on banjo, keys, and bass; and Kaylan Mitchell on the cello (people may know her previous band Canada, and her current project, the Juliets). We will also be playing a bunch of new songs and have some secret surprises that may just involve some new choreography. Also, Ann Arbor music scene hero, magic maker and "you are here" engineer Jim Roll will open the show!
The new album was produced with no carbon footprint. Why is that important to you, and how do the logistics work?
In making our first green record, "Anchors," we realized how easy it was to eliminate our footprint for the production. With the amount of traveling we do in our car, it is even more important for us to do our part. With help from our NYC-based record label, Riot Grrrl Ink, we’ve been able to offset the energy usage via renewable energy sources. They put money into a variety of organizations that in turn plant trees, develop wind power farms, landfill gas capture programs and more. To make sure we are covered, we track energy usage and gas mileage per studio, vehicle, and the plants that duplicate the actual discs. On top of everyday attempts at avoiding excess energy usage, we also keep production as local as possible - you are here was recorded at a remote location in Mid-Michigan and Backseat Productions in Ann Arbor. The discs were also manufactured here in Ann Arbor by Ann Arbor AV (previously World Class Tapes).
Nervous But Excited play The Ark, 316 S. Main St., at 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 14. Jim Roll opens. Tickets ($15) are available online, or in person at The Ark box office (with no service charge); Michigan Union Ticket Office, 530 S. State St.; Herb David Guitar Studio, 302 E. Liberty St.
Listen to a track from "you are here":