Local three-piece vocal and folk ensemble, The Last Revel, is set to release its debut album, Uprooted, this Saturday at the Turf Club.
With humble beginnings, The Last Revel began crafting its lyrics-driven, multi-instrument performances at a weekly open mic in southern Minnesota. Soon, the Thursday night event was packed with people dancing to their tunes.
That’s when they decided to dig in. They later released their first official recordings, “The Mason Jar EP” in February 2012.
Now, two years later, the band is releasing Uprooted, an album that chronicles the young band’s early struggles with a burglary, a band member moving on, threats of a lawsuit and more.
In an interview Thursday, frontman Lee Henke took a moment to address the adversity the band struggled through, what fans should expect at their “rowdy” shows and more. Check it out (and the music video) below!
So, how did the band get its start?
We all met in college in Mankato. I met Vinnie Donatelle and we got to talking about Tom Waits and had a mutual respect for each other after. I’ve known Ryan (Acker) for a few years. We got together and started playing at home for fun and we realized we were all on the same page as far a songwriting goes. We wanted to just have fun with it so we did some open mics and we made it a routine to go down every Thursday night. After a month or so of doing this, there was one night I remember where we saw someone dancing on a table because it was so full, so we’re like, “well, I think we got something here,” and we just kind of ran with it.
You guys describe your sound as “Front Porch Americana” … could you describe that further?
It’s pretty much newer folk music. We like the history that goes along with folk, but kind of wanted to give the feeling that (our music) is something we could play on the porch while you walk by. We kinda stick to roots, folk music. Some of our heroes are Tom Waits, Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash. We focus mostly on the songwriting and lyric content, which I think is different than a lot of the other genres.
What should people expect to see at a Last Revel show – specifically this one? Do you guys have different set ups?
We all play all the instruments in the band, so we switch around, which is kind of unique. We’ve got two more musicians joining us, too, one is a spaghetti western-kinda guitar player – kind of old country guitar playing – and we have a honkytonk piano guy joining us.
I usually say our shows are rowdy, but surprisingly attentive. People are paying attention but having fun.
Describe the new album, “Uprooted,” and what you guys aimed to accomplish with it.
Ryan and I went up to a cabin in the UP (Upper Peninsula of Michigan) about three years ago. There, we decided instead of turning folk songs into rock songs, we should just play them the way we’ve been playing them. It took our escape from the cities to find that.
So, we decided we wanted to go and record the new album where we had decided that. So, we moved a recording studio’s worth of gear and two engineers and then us to a remote lake on the UP and recorded our debut.
Most of the songs are kind of targeted at what we were going through in the last year of the band. It was almost exactly a year ago that all of our band gear was stolen out of our car. We were just starting out and we lost $15,000 worth of gear (in Eden Prairie). Also, we had four members, but lost him because he couldn’t take the life on the road or the stress that went along with it. That hurt because he was more of a friend than a band member.
Then, we got threatened to be sued by a band in the cities. We used to be called The Bitter Root Band and a band with a similar name contacted us and said we need to change our name.
So, in one year, we had all that junk happen, not to mention the fact that we were just getting out of college and trying to figure out how we were going to do, so “Uprooted” seemed like a perfect name for the album.
So, as far as personal goals go, I’d like to get around the U.S. a bit with (the new album).
Music Video: “Lead Me Home”
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