With its animated energy and strong, soulful lyricism, This Providence marks the coming of a genuinely inspiring new band. Songs like "Secret Love And The Fastest Way To Loneliness" and the biting first single, "A Wolf In Sheep's Clothing," are rich with passionate riffs and heartfelt emotions that are both deeply individual and universally approachable. Having toured nearly non-stop for the past two years, This Providence have already earned a fervent following throughout the country. The bighearted melodic rock of their self-titled Fueled By Ramen debut should see the quartet bringing their joyful noise to an even wider audience.
Formed in the suburbs of Seattle, This Providence came together in mid-2003 when Australian-born vocalist Dan Young and bassist Phil Cobrea's high school punk band invited local guitarist Gavin Phillips to join them in a new project.
"We really liked Gavin, and we were wanting another guitarist," Young says. "He played a big part in our maturing as musicians. Gavin is a great writer, and it really changed the direction we were going in."
Inspired by Seattle's prolific and diverse music scene, the band was determined to move away from the pop-punk of their youth into more open musical terrain. In 2004, This Providence released The Sunday's Best EP, which featured material penned before Phillips joined up, and as such, didn't truly represent the band in their current form. With that in mind, they quickly recorded three songs with local producer Casey Bates, known for his work with such bands as Forgive Durden, Daphne Loves Derby, and Gatsbys American Dream. The demos caught the attention of Washington's RocketStar Recordings, who invited This Providence to lay down additional tracks, resulting in the band's debut album, Our Worlds Divorce.
Meanwhile, This Providence honed their stagecraft with near-constant gigs, usually sharing stages with such like-minded local outfits as Daphne Loves Derby and Forgive Durden.
"It's just a bunch of bands coming up together, playing with each other," Phillips says of the current Seattle sound. "There are some similarities between us, so it turns into what people call 'a scene.' But really, we're just bands playing shows together."
The Pacific Northwest couldn't contain This Providence's big rock for long, and the band soon ventured out into America on a series of national tours alongside their pals in Daphne Loves Derby and Forgive Durden, while also teaming up with California's Jenoah and Sherwood. The band's cinematic songwriting and endearing on-stage energy drew in new fans with each gig.
"We were playing two or three shows a weekend," Young remembers, "and we'd see kids coming one night, then the next night and then the next. It was insane."
This Providence pulled off the endless highway in the fall of 2005 to devote themselves to writing songs for what would become their self-titled Fueled By Ramen debut. They hit a bump in the road when their drummer decided that he wasn't cut out for the touring life, but they soon found new basher Ryan Tapert via the modern miracle of MySpace.
"Ryan caught wind that our drummer left and that we needed a new one," Phillips says. "He sent us a message on MySpace, we tried him out, and it just clicked."
With more than a dozen songs ready to record, This Providence went to work in February 2006, again teaming up with Bates at his Johnny Cab Studio in Shoreline, Washington.
"Casey's like a member of the band," Young says. "He knows exactly what we're going for and he's very cool about standing back and letting us control it when that's what we want to do. He'll give us ideas, but if we really want to do something, he'll always say, 'Sure, let's do it your way.'"
From the start, the goal for This Providence was to make a more adventurous record than they'd ever attempted before. The band was propelled by a wide array of influences, both sonic and lyrical, spanning modern rock outfits like Saves The Day and Taking Back Sunday, to folk songsmiths Iron & Wine and Denison Witmer, to classic combos like Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers and Counting Crows.
"We tried to pull from a lot of different places," Phillips says. "There's a lot of classic rock in there - it's definitely not straight-up indie rock. We tried to make it very diverse, but also very accessible."
"We wanted to push ourselves to make a record that wasn't clichéd," Young says. "We really wanted to make an album that was lyrically honest and musically versatile, where one song didn't sound like the other. And I think we pretty much pulled it off."
This Providence makes plain that the band indeed achieved their ambitious aims. Kicking off with the dark, invigorating "A Wolf In Sheep's Clothing," the album traverses a remarkable range of rock textures and melodies while always staying true to the band's indie roots. Though This Providence arrived in the studio ready to go with a sheaf of material, the sessions themselves resulted in the album's two most audacious tracks, the piano-based "The Road To Jericho Is Lined With Starving People" and the rhythmic, synth-driven "...But What Will They Say?"
"It was torture writing that one," Young says. "I'd never really written to any music like that before, so it really stretched me. It took hours and hours of trying different stuff. Now it's one of my favorite songs on the record."
Throughout This Providence, Young addresses a range of personal issues that have long held a deep resonance for him. Songs such as "Anything Is Possible" and "Walking On Water" espouse a positive and encouraging message, suggesting that hope is always within reach.
"The album is pretty spiritual," he notes. "I've always wanted to honestly express myself, but also make it accessible for everyone, so everyone can relate to us. One of our goals is to be real and open and write songs that inspire people."
With This Providence, the band has more than delivered on their desire to create a sweeping, full-on rock record that expresses all the purpose and energy they have to offer. Their mission now is to spread the word, sharing their optimistic spirit and potent songcraft with audiences of all stripes, to fans old and new. As for where the road will take them from here, This Providence is amenable to whatever cards the future may hold.
"The first thing is, we plan on being on tour for, I don't know how long," Phillips says. "As long as we can."
"One of the best things about this record is that it leaves us with so many options as far as what directions we might take later on," Young notes. "Whatever happens next, we'll just have progressed and matured in our tastes and our abilities. So who knows? We're all open to pretty much anything."