As featured in our September 2013 issue:
On a local level, releasing a new album is hard work. It’s expensive. It’s time consuming. Even worse, it’s rarely profitable. Community musicians often times have to understand that the passion comes before all else, because in reality, the expenses for that achievement fall parallel to running the roulette table with a head full of absinthe. It’s risky, and the odds are stacked only one way.
For a Colorado band to offer three collections of work in the same year is all but unheard of in the tricky industry. Nic Hammerberg, front man and co-founder of Petals of Spain, said he realizes the complexities of so many releases, but thinks that 2013 is as good a time as any to make it happen. The new EP “Evolution” is the second release this year by the artists. Bringing the heavy goal a single step closer.
“I’d like this to be the year we put out 3 EPs,” says Hammerberg. “I’d like to get back in the studio right away because we’ve just got tons of stuff to record. We’ve done this whole basement recording session thing for so long and it’s worked out great, but I always hear about places like The Blasting Room and Candyland Studios…I’d love to get in to one of those places.”
The goal to make profitable and likeable music for the quartet started long ago. Hammerberg and co-founder Hunter Hall met while both participating in the Colorado Children’s Chorale. It was one of many traditional instances the two found themselves in while pursuing a more schooled approach to their sound. Hammerberg, who would go on to study voice at the University of Northern Colorado, and Hall, who took on an opera and performance major from University of Denver, are two well trained and higher-educated musicians, something not as common in the trade as one would think. The bond the two share by being classically trained is an uncommon one in the realm of indie-rock, but one that's said to be important in a life revolving around music.
As it is with most acts that haven’t been able to pursue the band full-time, the Petals of Spain lineup consistently shifs from year to year. The new EP’s title “Evolution” is a direct reference to the changes that the outfit is going through with the lineup, Hammerberg said, and is a pivoting point in the experimental direction the guys are considering.
“(We’re) exploring having some other people in the group, but otherwise it’s me, Hunter, Dylan (Johnson), Mason (Shelmire) and Tyler (Imbrogno) from Eldren – who’s kind of adjunct faculty right now. Changing so much kind of messes with branding a little bit, so we’re trying to keep it us four for right now and bring on guests as they come. It keeps it interesting for the fans and interesting for us as well,” says Hammerberg.
Using other people to fill certain positions in a band around town isn’t something unique to Petals of Spain. The invariable Wife-Swap of collaborations that happen in the local industry is something common to Colorado acts. It’s easy to find musicians filling in for multiple bands in every step of the process, from writing and recording to stage performances. Petals is one that has been known for a revolving door of talent.
“That’s why we decided to name it ‘Evolution.’ We’ve been going through some changes,” says Hammerberg. “The girl who’s been singing with us, Tanya Katz, she sang on a few songs on the new album. She may sing with us here or there, but she’s got so much going on with her life that it’s just impossible for her to consider it a permanent gig.”
Keeping music as a main drive is something that Hammerberg said he practices in his daily routine. He’s been on the grind exercising his skills in most every way possible. Lately business has picked up in the singing-telegram department, and Hammerberg has been front and center enjoying the work.
“I work with Custom Singing Telegrams. My best week I did 12 in one week. It’s awesome; it’s the best job ever! I’d love to do that all the time if I could… Once I went to Wash Park wearing a diaper and a wig dressed as Cupid and grinded on a girl for a bachelorette party,” Hammerberg laughs. “I felt a little objectified.”
The members of Petals of Spain may not be the household name they want to be, but they're not taking it to heart. Approaching the task requires diversity, something Petals is working on, Hammerberg said.
“We’re trying to just slow down and not do the monthly, or even more than monthly, show. We’re trying to work with a few different business models and are considering doing like three or four main, big shows a year. For me that’s not enough playing time so I’m trying to hit more open-mic nights and hone my craft,” says Hammerberg. “We have an amazing team right now and good solid plans for methods of making money, so it’s not just playing just to play anymore. It’s about respecting the art, and to make money doing it.”