On the Verge: Churchill 'embracing' Fleetwood analogy
Posted February 24, 2013
Percolating companionship: For Churchill, the Denver-based indie folk quintet, working at Starbucks was a wise career move. "I worked at Starbucks for five years, from when I was a solo act in Nashville, and in 2008 I moved to Denver. I just quit in December," frontman Tim Bruns says. "Starbucks is not a bad first gig, actually. You can play until 3 in the morning and then come into work at 6, so the two rarely overlap. I could play a lot of gigs."
From soccer to songwriting: Before Bruns, 27, headed down the music career path, he was kicking a ball around a soccer field. "I went to college in Pennsylvania with the intention of playing soccer." In 2004, his roommate introduced him to guitarist Mike Morter, 26, who also liked to play guitar. "We didn't even have a real conversation. We just started playing and we connected," Bruns says. "We'd originally tried to be a little bluegrass, like The Lumineers." After graduation, Bruns struck out on his own playing in Nashville and went to Denver to meet up with Morter in 2008. By 2009, they collected the other band members: Bethany Kelly, keyboardist, 23; Tyler Rima, bass, 27; and Joe Richmond, drummer, 28.
Taking into account the diverse tastes of the other members – Kelly's affection for sugar pop and Rima's love of emo, for example – the band serves up a lively blend of folk, rock and pop. "We've been told that we're a modern folk version of Fleetwood Mac, so we're embracing that," Bruns says. Kelly wrote her first song, Leave, in homage to Stevie Nicks. It will be included on the group's still-untitled album, set for release later this year.
Goal!: Thanks to the success of single Change, off Churchill's same-titled EP, which peaked at No. 3 on USA TODAY's adult-alternative airplay chart in early February, the band has been sidling up with big-name artists. They'll join American Idol winner Phillip Phillips on a college tour on March 19 before heading to Europe to open for Pink on April 24. On Christmas Eve, Bruns got an unexpected gift, a call from producer Brendan O'Brien -- famous for his work with The Killers, Bruce Springsteen and Pearl Jam -- who offered to work with the group on the upcoming album. OneRepublic's Ryan Tedder will also perform on a few tracks. "We've been writing a lot of songs," says Bruns. "We're still narrowing it down to 10, but I'm really excited that we're including Leave."
Couch surfing: Like any proper up-and-coming band, the members of Churchill have slept on their fair share of friends' couches. "Sometimes, it was uncomfortable, because maybe someone had six cats, or you walk into the bathroom and there's standing water in the sink," Bruns says.
Since signing with A&M/Octone Records, the bandmates are well on their way to swankier digs. But the group hasn't graduated to tour-bus status. "We're still traveling by van," Bruns says. "It gets a little cozy, but what helps a lot is when we make stops to stretch our legs or get gas, we throw a football around."
Four guys and a gal: Kelly doesn't mind that she's in the company of men and neither does her husband, who isn't in the band and stays home in Denver while she's on tour. "It's really sweet; I'll come home to flowers and a clean house," Kelly says. "My husband is best friends with the guys. They're like my big brothers. They take good care of me."
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