A Piano in Every Home: I've had enough relationship problems for two albums

Jake Pavek and Travis Erickson

Jake Pavek and Travis Erickson

Jake Pavek, who also plays in Taj Raj, and Travis Erickson form the folk-rock duo A Piano in Every Home. After 12 years of playing together, they've finally set on releasing their debut album. The introspective Meridian brings to mind a snowy winter evening with a glass of wine in hand, which was the mood Erickson was going for when he wrote the record.

Before their release show at Icehouse on Friday evening, Jake and Travis sat down with Gimme Noise to talk about why it took them so long to release the album and the heartache that went into making Meridian.

Everything Travis Erickson does is carefully laid out in his mind before it's executed. From the way he orders his bourbon in the basement of W.A. Frost to the way he considers each phrase as he's talking about his music. Perhaps that's why it has taken so long to release this album. It started as a side project with his best friend Jake Pavek every Friday night. Last year, their get-togethers to play music became something more. The band was pushed into the light when Pavek coaxed Erickson to release the music after hearing some promise in it.

So what did Jake see in these pieces that he felt had legs to stand on their own? Pavek shares, "They were simply good. I was a composition major, and I love Phillip Glass, so it was a lot of fun bringing in all of my influences to these songs and filling in the colors." Travis adds, "I see myself as the architect and Jake is the designer. I believe when Jake initially heard the songs, whether intentional or not, he saw himself a lot in the music. When he and I collaborate, it's about stripping away anything fluffy and over-sentimental and building up subtleties that is so much bigger than the sum of its parts."

Erickson took cues from Bob Dylan and Ryan Adams when he was writing, although the sound is much quieter and more subtle. Even Beck's song "Lost Cause" comes to mind on "Bridges." Pavek laughs, "You probably thought that because I get told I'm Beck's doppelganger all of the time." And he does look familiar.

Pavek and Erickson have recently added two other members for their live show, including City Pages contributor Mark Newcome Kartarik (Brilliant Beast) on bass and Jake Wallenius on drums (Taj Raj). The two have added another dimension to the sound, something that Travis thought he would have to draw out of them. He says, "My initial thought was they would come in, and I would have to walk them through things. They both came in and pushed it to where they thought it should naturally go. I've given them free reign with that; you can't hold on to things too tightly."

That's a metaphor that Travis has taken in life and that bled into the lyrics of Meridian. He shares, "Life has blessed me with enough relationship problems; I've already got the new album covered. [laughs] When I write, I don't sit down and make it about a particular problem, though. I don't sit and say, 'Oh, my car breaks down or my girlfriend has moved to the other side of the U.S. and breaks my heart.' Nothing's intentional, but it's more of a psychoanalysis. 'Let's open it up and see what comes out, then we'll string it together.' I make a dot, and it leads to a new one, then I draw a line from each one to make the picture. It has some ambiguity -- you don't need to tie it down. The songs frame my experience, and it's therapeutic."

The two friends took a trip backpacking through Southeast Asia back in early summer, and wanted to release the album soon after their trip, but decided to wait until now to get it out. Travis says, "It's a start of winter album. Something triggers in those weeks between late November and early December. This intense nostalgia comes out, and you're going to think about all of your long lost lovers and stories of your mother from when you were a child. These songs encapsulate that. I wrote these songs, matured and grew and let them sit for six years. I come back to them six years later, and I still see a lot of myself in them."

A Piano in Every Home will release Meridian at Icehouse on Friday, December 20, 2013 with Ben Burwell and Bethany Larson.
21+, $5, 10:30 pm
Click here for more details.

City Pages on Facebook | Gimme Noise on Facebook | Twitter | e-mail us

For the best in local shows, check out our Concert Calendar