Band’s largest project to-date is available for purchase and streaming this week
CLARK COUNTY — The first licorice pizza from Battle Ground-grown band The Governors hits the billboards on March 9. “Power to the People” will drop the same day as the group’s last in-person concert one year ago.
“Our first band meeting, we said, we want to record an album, and we want to do all original music, what do we need to do to get there? This was back in September of 2019,” said lead singer Michael McCormic Jr. “It wasn’t all a bed of roses, from start to finish, we had challenges, we had hurdles to overcome. We had to raise a lot of money to be able to do this. And we had a lot of really generous people who came alongside us and helped us get to this point. I’m very, very grateful.”
The group of six musicians met while attending college at Boise State University, and have at times since been faced with a unique challenge: making music remotely.
In the latter half of recording “Power to the People,” one of their number, acoustic guitarist Daniel Sarkela, returned to South Carolina to pursue his degree in Spanish and guitar performance at Furman University. Shortly after recording and moving into mastering, the groups highly-dynamic drummer, Lemuel Saputra, moved back home to Indonesia.
The band said at first, occasional remote collaboration was just normal for them, and odd to everyone else. Then the pandemic arrived, and what they were doing seemed ahead of the curve.
“It’s probably like, a pound of excitement, an ounce of relief and just a dash of nervousness,” Sarkela said. “It’s like, ‘Okay, it’s out there. There’s our music. What are people gonna say?’ I’ve been so honored to play with so many good musicians, and be a part of it. We had our challenges of being remote, which is kind of normal now.”
Now, with a full collection of music about to be released into the wild, the group’s members are proud of their perseverance and out-side-the-box-thinking. They all say they’re ready for volume two.
“It’s interesting that the album’s coming out, and it’s exciting and it feels like kind of an end to a long journey, kind of like reaching the mountaintop moment,” said pianist Patrick McCuistion. “And it’s interesting to realize that as we’re reaching the mountaintop, I would say at least I personally am looking to the next one.”
The six friends had to find a way to fund the endeavour of course, and connected with a growing fan-base through releasing singles and an EP along the way. They streamed a live performance back in October, while also producing compilation videos with fans.
“Maybe I was a little more pessimistic than others, but it wasn’t until we got close to the end of this that I actually started thinking, ‘We might actually do this,” said electric guitarist AJ Trantham. “‘Let’s do an album!’ Like, okay, I mean, sounds fun. Let’s give it a shot. And then, ‘Oh, hey, if we raise four grand, we can!’ Okay, we’re never going to do that, you know. But everything worked!”
There are two common themes that are apparent when interacting with The Governors: humility and teamwork. McCormic said he believes the group’s success in enjoyment, fulfillment and skills gained is largely because they have stayed together and built eachother up.
“I’ve been playing drums for a few years. I never had any dreams or expectations of doing something like this,” said Saputra. “In Indonesia, I think it probably looks different than it does in the States, but doing something like this when I was growing up and first learning music was pretty unheard of. Like just being able to go and record your own album without being a part of a label. Even up to this point, doing this interview is like wow, this is… this is actually real.”
The band’s axiom that first led them to begin professionally releasing music in June of 2020, remains the same today: Worst case scenario, we have a good time. That may be why, despite the infamous low returns on investment of the music industry, they maintain an optimistic, hone-your-craft mentality with everything they write.
“I’m here to have a good time, and it’s been a good time creating this album, and it’s going to be a good time creating the next one. I’m ready for it,” said bassist Carl Krutz. “This to me, this feels like a step in the road, and I’m glad we made it this far.”
Many of “Power to the People’s” tracks were conceived prior to even the band’s formation. Thus, the group had to find a way to blend the songs to honor their brand and sound. Perhaps, though, the collaborative, melting-pot approach is better suited to the title and their story. Nevertheless, they say they look forward to a second run where everything is created in their midst.
“One of the things that we’ve kind of learned through this process is that not everything that we write is going to become a Governors’ number,” McCormic said. “Now that we’ve kind of learned how to work with one another and how to make music together, I think we’re able to write music for the whole band better. We’re learning how to play off of each other’s strengths, and it’s just becoming more natural.”
The Governors are tentatively planning on holding a few in-person concerts in the greater Vancouver area over the summer of 2021, as restrictions allow. Their album and all other music is available on Spotify, Apple Music and you can you can follow them on social media. Visit their website to stay updated and maybe even pick up a vinyl.