Them Coulee Boys new record reflects on …

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NAMESAKE. Them Coulee Boys gave more than 150 shows a year – more or less – before COVID-19 hit last spring. This is what led them to focus on music, which led them to their latest album, Namesake, which will be released on August 6th. (Photo by Scott Kunkel)

Last year was set to be the biggest year yet for Them Coulee Boys – after a veritable string of years that just kept getting bigger. The group – made up of Soren and Jens Staff, Beau Janke, Neil Krause and Staš Hable – had just completed a series of shows aboard a Norwegian Cruise Line ship, and performed to their most astounding audiences to date in tour with Trampled By Turtles… when you-know-what happened.

For a band that regularly played at a breakneck pace of 150 gigs a year, give or take, not being able to do your thing for a year and change was a big challenge, but a blessing nonetheless. Everyone got away with it, safe and sound. Beau and his wife welcomed their first child in September. And, for the first time in nearly ten years of a band’s existence, I felt like a weight had been lifted.

In fact, it brought us together a lot. Like, tighter and more honest with each other.

Handsome Janke

the coulee boys

“We’ve always had this mentality – if we don’t play, we die. But we’re all fine now. We’re all still doing well, ”Beau said. “It actually brought us together a lot. Like, tighter and more honest with each other.

At first, they filled the void with live broadcasts of the Pandemic Era from their windowless training space at Artisan Forge Studios. On the one hand, nicknamed “TCB Variety Hour”, each member had 20 minutes to do whatever they wanted. Neil tried eating 40 pizza rolls in six minutes, Beau dressed up as Santa Claus and played Christmas carols in May, and Jens even sang a few covers on his own.

“I can be in front of 5,000 people and not be nervous at all, but just me and a camera, I’m shaking all the time,” Jens admitted.

After a few of them – and a notable remote performance for Blue Ox: Live From The Pines last summer – the band decided to really dive into the songs that would become their next album. Namesake.

NAMESAKE

Designed, written, recorded and finished during lockdown, these new songs reflect on the important things in life once you’ve taken it all away: family, legacy, friendship, memory, love.

“That sums up a lot. I have thought about family a lot. Grief and legacy are linked. And what it means to live.”

Soren’s Staff

The boys cast

Namesake is a big word for it, ”Soren said. “That sums up a lot of things. I thought about the family a lot. Mourning and inheritance are linked. And what it means to live.

This record marks the first time that Them Coulee Boys has worked with the producer Brian Joseph at the Beehive, who has worked with artists such as Paul Simon, The Indigo Girls and Ani DiFranco – as well as Sufjan Stevens, S. Carey, Bon Iver and The Fray. They have already had producers on records (notably, Dave Simonett of Trampled By Turtles produced the years 2019 To die happy), but something really clicked this time.

“He gave advice, he challenged. He was also not afraid to say, “That sucked,” Beau said. “At first I was like ‘Who is this guy?’ Then I was like ‘Oh, there’s a Grammy here.’ ”

CLOSE AND CUSTOMIZE

The sessions were fruitful and proved to provide some of the best work in the group to date. Track three on Namesake is a tribute to a close friend who passed away last year – “Phil’s Song,” which encapsulates the delicate balance of grief, joy, loss, gratitude, and poignant stretches of life found throughout the record .

“Phil’s Song” is not a sad song; that’s pretty optimistic, actually. It’s a rock’n’roll song that celebrates their friend’s legacy without drowning in grief. It’s personal and raw, but there is joy there. It was one of the last recorded during these sessions, and the memory of that moment in the studio remains engraved.

“I know exactly what it looked like, what it looked like,” Beau said. “I remember the outside temperature, everything.”

A DEDICATED FAN BASE

Them Coulee Boys left the studio with an album filled with some of their best and brightest. They’re posting this one independently as well, with the help of wild success Launch campaign to the tune of approximately $ 80,000 from fans and supporters. They reached their first goal within 72 hours of launching the campaign and more than doubled.

I’m just grateful. It’s so good to be able to do this stuff again.

Soren staff

The boys cast

This crush of support from their ever-growing fanbase is what keeps Them Coulee Boys blowing these days, ready to drop this album, hit the road again, create memories and continue to build their own legacy, through them- same. They do what they do best – fill this world with music. And it does not stop there.

“I’m just grateful,” Soren said. “It’s so good to be able to do this stuff again.”


Namesake was released on August 6. The main single, “Given Up”, is now available on all streaming services. The band performs throughout Wisconsin in July and August, including the Blue Ox Music Festival at Eau Claire. To learn more about Them Coulee Boys, visit thecouleeboys.com.

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