The Chapel Hill-based Americana quartet’s female singer holds forth on their ambitious, just-released new album, life on the road, favorite bands (Phish!) and authors, and more.
BY DANIEL MATTI
Outside the Woodlands Tavern in Columbus, Ohio, Libby Rodenbough and the band stood before the venue they were going to play later that night. Before the load in I spoke with Libby on the phone about the new album Coming Down the Mountain that was about to drop in just a couple days and how they passed the time in the van.
If you’re not familiar with the band Mipso they started off as a three piece in the city of Chapel Hill, North Carolina with members Jacob Sharp, Joseph Terrell, and Wood Robinson. Starting off with open mics and playing around town they later branched off into playing what was known as Mipso Trio. They went on to record an album titled Long, Long Gone under the name and from there they grew among the locals and their college friends who they had grown up with and moved out of North Carolina increasing their fan base to a larger scale. The following year Libby joined the band to add fiddle and powerful harmonizing vocals on the album Dark Holler Pop and, later on, Old Time Reverie.
(Below, listen to new track Hurt So Good.)
BLURT: How long have you all been on the road?
LIBBY: We’ve been in the Midwest for about a week and half and it’s been typical Midwestern rainy and gray and now we just got out of the car and the sun has broken.
That’s great to hear! Midwestern weather can be quite a drag. Congrats on the new album by the way! Did you all have a concept or idea for the new album Coming Down the Mountain going in to the studio?
The concept was just we didn’t want to overthink so I guess that’s the absent of a concept. We had songs and we didn’t want to overdue them we wanted to create space and track simply and track most of the stuff live and just get it down and you know just not over complicate it. It’s easy nowadays to do want to do a bunch of drafts and then.
Is that something you have tried to do in the past?
I don’t think we have spent as much time as we did but we definitely put time into crafting the songs. This one I feel like is the most livest.
One of the best tracks on the album is “Monterey County” is there a significance behind that song?
I think that was just because we were driving highway 1 out west and it was just a super evocative landscape and I think the images got into Joseph’s head and he wrote that one. It was the landscape that reflected out mid twenties angst.
For this album album did anyone take more charge of writing?
I did more writing on this one than in the past. Were all pretty interested in songwriting so it seems to be pretty collaborative.
Any favorite albums you have been playing on repeat recently?
Our friend Jake Xerxes Fussell just dropped an album a couple days ago so I’ve been listening to that a ton. As we were driving up to the venue we were blasting some Blink-182. So I’m the one exception to this but all my band mates were high-school Phish heads. So sometimes when we need to get in sync we throw it on. Even though I don’t know any of that stuff. So there’s the contagious positive energy while listening to it
(So there it is. One of Mipso’s biggest influences is Phish.)
Other than listening to Phish albums in the van is there anything else you guys do for fun in the van?
Yeah I’m very fortunate I have had time to read a lot more. That’s what I’ve been trying to do. We have this mobile hotspot with us so it’s very easy for us to sit our laptops for six hours. Reading a lot more novels now since college for me is key
Is there anything that you are now reading that you are now saying to yourself why haven’t I read this already?
I just found this one author name Nell Zink. Really great authorial voice. She writes irreverent dark humor but their also filled with great characters. Through an interview with Nell Zink I found this book called The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing. It’s from a woman’s point of view during communism during the ‘30s-‘50s. Strong intelligent female voices. It’s all about communism and it’s about the collapse through the eyes of female characters.
Make sure to grab Mipso’s new album Coming Down the Mountain out on CD/LP/MP3, released today, April 7.