Winterpills will play Troubador concert at Guthrie Center
GREAT BARRINGTON -- What began as occasionally meeting to play cover songs in a living room in the winter of 2003 naturally matured into Winterpills, an indie rock band based in Northampton.
At the time, solo artist and guitarist Phillip Price said the group had no intentions of starting a band.
"We were all at Dennis [Crommett's] house, and we realized we had a sound," he said. His friends, "separately ambitious" in their own musical endeavors, joined Price on stage during his solo shows. Audiences could not get enough of the group's instrumental harmony and the group became official.
Dennis Crommett (guitar), Dave Hower (drums), Philip Price (vocals/guitar), Brian Akey (bass), and Flora Reed (vocals/keyboards) create the slow, haunting tracks of Winterpills.
"I felt so lucky to accidently meet up with people," Price said. "You can't buy that kind of chemistry."
He gave the group its name.
"Winterpills was a name I had in my back pocket, and I originally thought it would be for an electronica project, which never happened," Price said. "Over the course of the winter playing music, the name stuck better than anything else I could have thought of."
Friday, Aug. 15, at 8 p.m., Winterpills will perform at the Guthrie Center for the first time. The old Trinity Church, where Alice of "Alice's Restau -rant" once lived, now hosts a series of folk music concerts on Fridays and Saturdays all summer. Rory Block will perform Saturday.
"I like shows like this, where you can relax and stretch out," Price said.
Bass player Max Germer will fill in for Brian Akey, who is unable to make the show, and the Winterpills will perform songs from their entire music catalogue.
George Laye, director of the Guthrie Center, had been looking to fill an opening for the Troubadour Series and called upon his friend, Johnny Irion, for suggestions.
"I hadn't heard of [Winterpills] before, so I went on the computer and gave them a listen. I thought, ‘Gee whiz, they're a good fit,'" Laye said. "We're really excited to see them."
Eleven years and five original albums later, the band looks forward to the release of their next record this fall. According to Price, the band is still together, but they collectively decided to take some time off from touring for members who are beginning families.
For a year and a half, Price and Reed have been working on a covers album. They will cover songs such as "One Day" by Sharon Van Etten, "Time of No Reply" by Nick Drake, "From A Shell" by Lisa Germano and many others, Reed said.
"[Reed] thought it would be a good interim project," Price said. "It's bare bones kind of kept going and expanding, and it expanded quite a bit."
When it comes to writing, Price creates somber lyrics from personal experiences with family death.
"Everyone has their approach," he said. "Song writers are good at crafting narratives or evoking a sense of place. I tend to write from a rather somewhat interior space."
From writing to recording, the band processes each album in a different way. For the first record, Price said the band wrote and performed songs for a year before going into the studio. Songs for the second album were conceived while in the studio.
"I love recording demos and seeing how the raw material we come up with is transformed with the band," he said. "We'll be working on a new album of originals over winter, but, as of now, we have no idea how that one is going to go."
Along with touring, Winterpills' music has appeared in television shows: "Grey's Anatomy" and the U.K. series "Skins." The band has shared the stage with artists such as Vampire Weekend, CAKE, Grant-Lee Phillips, St. Vincent, Lisa Germano, Juana Molina, Crowded House, Fountains of Wayne, Martha Wainwright and The Mountain Goats.
Looking ahead, Price hopes the band will continue for a good long time.
"There's less resourses for struggling independent musicians than ever before," he said.
For now, he's taking on the next original album, one song at a time.
"The songs have been written, now they're just looking for a home," he said. "My version of ambition has changed over the year. I'm still ambitious, but I'm more focused in the present."
Each member of Winterpills has a career outside of the band, although Price said being in a band can sometimes be a full-time job on its own, especially in the middle of a touring cycle.
"For me, it's spiritually my full-time job," he said.
If you go ...
What: Winterpills in concert
When: 8 p.m. Friday, Aug. 15,
Where: The Guthrie Center,
2 Van Deuserville Road,