Dish caught up with the band recently before a sold-out show at Rocketown, in Nashville, TN, and it was clear from the first moment I met them that they wouldn’t be playing small venues like this much longer. Anyone who has heard their magical single “Angels on the Moon”, or their first self-titled CD Thriving Ivory, will know exactly what I mean.
Like most people, I imagine, I wanted to know the meaning of the band’s name, “Thriving Ivory” but Clayton Stroope's response to the question was essentially inscrutable.
“We’re asked that all the time,” he said, “but the truth is it just really comes from a little too much beer, and a blank sheet of paper.”
With ages ranging from 24 to 28 and none of them married, life on the road must be pretty wild for these guys, to say the least. Still, says Stroope “I can’t see maintaining any kind of relationship with a girlfriend. I can’t imagine being married with kids or anything like that.”
In fact, Thriving Ivory has no time for anything but driving and playing. Shortly after their Rocketown show, they had a 1,100 mile trip back to California in their van/hotel/practice room with equipment in tow. No personal jets or tour buses for them quite yet, but they have their sights set pretty high.
Sitting down with Clayton Stroope, the reluctant face and soaring voice of Thriving Ivory, he admittedly still feels pretentious about declaring himself a singer when people ask what he does.
“I just tell people I’m in a band, he says. “I was in plays and stuff when I was a kid but I never took it seriously. Even the first couple years [in the band], I don’t think any of us took it seriously. I mean every band wants to get a record deal and we were still going to school, but eventually things started happening along the way that kind of made us think that, ‘wow, we might really be able to do this.’”
I quickly learned I was witnessing the star process in the making. The steps have been taken, the dues have been paid, and as far as the band is concerned, it’s time to collect. Thriving Ivory hails out of California and claims San Francisco as their home, but they got their start near the University of California in an area known as Isla Vista.
“We lived there in fact, we lived there, unfortunately, and worked together. We did telemarketing actually which was a horrible experience. But we were there for I think, three years. I think there are, like, 20,000 kids in this square mile called Isla Vista. That’s where we lived, and it was like a perfect place to find people.”
“We met Drew at a coffee shop, we stole Brett from another band, and it was real easy to play shows. We would just set up and play to the street on like a Friday or Saturday night, and we started doing local shows there, and then we moved to L.A. and up to San Francisco, the Bay Area which is where four of the five of us are from…”
San Francisco gave them a big break when the KITS 105 radio station music director Aaron Axelson decided to put a local act in rotation and chose the song Angels on the Moon. This song has become the smash break-out hit they needed to move from the garage to the stage. If you keep up with the band, you will find a lot of references to 9/11 and “Angels on the Moon,” but Stroope says the song isn’t really as much about 9/11 as it is a song about hope.
“I wouldn’t say it’s wholly inspired by 9/11,” he told me. “We get so many interpretations of it on Myspace, Facebook, and Youtube, that I don’t know what it’s about anymore. As far as we are concerned the only meaning our songs have is the meaning the fans put into them. Yeah, we write from a personal place sometimes, but it’s the connection that the fans make with the songs that make them mean something, that make them really connect with us as a band.”
Although their Angels on the Moon release isn’t their first, it is their first major release since they first came on the scene with Secret Life. “It was our first collection of songs, it wasn’t to make money or anything, it was just a way to get our name out there and have our songs down on a CD. Eventually we ended up combining songs from that with other songs, re-recording them, and that became our new album.”
For their first major release (on Wind-up Records) they are making some serious waves, hitting #1 on the Billboard Heatseekers charts and Angels on the Moon has hit the top 30 on pop charts, and the HotAC radio.
Now with another tour starting up on February 2 in Orlando, FL, it’s back to the road for these veteran road warriors and rising stars. Missing a show while you can still catch them in a small club, or even a medium size venue, is not something I would recommend. Their live show is just as powerful and even more epically melodic then their recordings.
“We want to put on a really solid live show where people feel an emotional connection with the songs and the performance and take home a lot of feeling from our shows,” Stroope adds. “I think one of our most challenging things was that after we had a final version of our record, it sounded so good sonically, so we had to step up our live shows to, if not match it, to beat the sound ‘cause there is nothing worse than going to see a band and being disappointed by the live show.”
Believe me folks, that will not happen. “Everybody who hears us is really touched,” observes Cribley. “This music is meant to last.”
Find out more about Thriving Ivory and their music, as well as their upcoming tour schedule with opening acts Barecelona and Company of Thieves, at www.thrivingivory.com.