The Fray started it. It’s their fault. Since The Fray broke out, a plethora of bands have made their way out of Denver, CO. Before The Fray, Denver was known mostly as a sports city. Now it’s different; bands move to Denver for it’s thriving music scene. The latest band to make it out of the mile high city was actually started by a Denver native.
Churchill got their start in Denver and they’re at an all-time high right now. Their EP, properly titled the Change EP, and been a huge success. They’ve signed to A&M/Octone and they’re working on a new album right now. The band’s Tim Bruns grew up in Denver, and although he left home for college, and briefly found himself in Nashville shortly thereafter, the return to Colorado ended up being the smartest move that Bruns could have made to start what’s turned out to be a promising music career.
“Mike (Morter- Churchill’s mandolinist and guitarist) and I met at a small college in Pennsylvania. We started jamming together and writing songs. Then I left and moved to Nashville for a while,” said Bruns on how Churchill started. “When I was in Nashville I decided to move back to Denver. I called Mike and asked him to come start a band with me there, so he did. We heard Bethany (Kelly) singing in church one morning and asked her to sing a song with us. That led to her playing piano and singing in the band. Joe (Richmond) the drummer, had produced a solo record of mine, we asked him to produce our record and that led to him playing drums for us. We met Tyler (Rima) at this wing place we went to a lot on Tuesday nights. He happened to have his bass gear and he started playing bass with us. It kind of fell together in a super-unintentional way.”
Early Churchill featured just Bruns and Morter then it turned into what it is today. Talking with Tim about the band’s early music, it’s obvious that the chemistry clicked between the members right away. Most band’s despise the early music and what comes out as the group is developing the relationship between players. That’s not the case with Churchill.
“Some of our favorite songs come from when we first started,” said Bruns. “The first song we ever recorded is a song called ‘I Still Remember’ and it’s probably one of our favorite songs. We even considered rerecording it for this new record we’re doing. The process of producing the first EP is crazy compared to what we’re doing now. We did the first EP with just one microphone in a kitchen in someone’s house with a laptop.”
The first EP was the start, after that they recorded Happy Sad in Northglenn, CO with drummer Joe Richmond producing the record.They’ve come a long way from the kitchen, they’re recording their new album for A&M/Octone and working with a variety of people, including the legendary Brendan O’Brien.
“I met him the first time the other day.” Bruns continued talking about the legendary producer, “the guy is so good at what he does and he’s a really nice person as well. We’re excited to get to know him more over the next few weeks. The five of us and Brendan are all really excited about the songs and to hear the outcome of everything.”
“He’s the kind of guy that doesn’t get in a lot of pictures so you’re like- ‘oh that’s Brendan.’ I think I’m just as excited to hear stories about him playing with Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen and producing The Killers and Pearl Jam. I’m as excited to hear those stories as I am to actually work with him.”
Working with O’Brien is one of the last things that Churchill is doing for the new record. In fact, Bruns has predicted that the album will be completely finished by the end of this month. Leading up to working with Brendan O’Brien in Los Angeles, the band already had most of the record finished. Speaking with Tim on the writing process for this record, Tim said the group’s approaches to the songs was varied.
“The record is a lot of different approaches. Some of the songs were written with the idea of it being a big song. Most of them I write and bring it to the band and they make it sound way better than I ever imagined. We kind of let whatever the song needs dictate the way we’re going to approach it because it makes for a lot of really different kinds of songs.”
None of the new songs compare to the way that the group’s first hit, “Change” was written. The song features the band’s Bethany Kelly on vocals, but it was started by Bruns in an unconventional way for the songwriter.
“That one’s interesting,” noted Bruns. “I was listening to Gnarls Barkley a little bit at the time and I came up with that drum beat. Then it took me about a month to build the melody and everything around it. It was the weirdest approach that I’ve ever had to writing a song because it wasn’t me sitting around with a guitar and letting it happen. I built it around that beat, which was a rare thing for me to do as a writer. I think that’s why it has the groove that it has.”
“Change” has been a huge song for the group. It’s earned them a spot on the airwaves across the country, been an iTunes single of the week, and it’s paved the way for their Change EP to have the result that it’s had. The song has started a stream of success that seems to keep flowing. While taking the moment to talk to Alternative Addiction away from working on the new record in L.A., Bruns reflected.
“The place we’ve stayed at is ridiculous. The last four months we’ve done things as a band that we would never even have dreamed of because they just seemed too far out there. Then we find ourselves hanging out at a house in L.A. that overlooks the whole city and working on a song with Brendan O’Brien, it’s been amazing.”
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