Of course, that's not totally true. They're solidly mature, and I'm sure that they have bad days just like everyone else and may even fight with each other occasionally, even if it's out of view of camera or stage. But there's a golden charm about them and their music. Even after a long drive in their tour van -- arriving at a locked club and scheduled to meet a bunch of folks that they don't know to shoot a video -- they're delightful and fresh to be around.
The Spring Standards are James Cleare, Heather Robb and James Smith -- Cleare is the one with curly red hair and Smith the one with straight brown hair, if that matters to you at all -- and despite the sappy high-school reference earlier, they really were best friends in high school. And they still are. They even had a band back then, the Urban Wombats, and a couple in between then and now, called What Now and Old Springs Pike. The commonalities between those bands -- which varied in size, style and ambition -- were that each contained at least James, Heather and James.
A lot happens to people during their late teens and early twenties; we change, our friends change. Most of us don't remain too close with high-school classmates. But these kids rode those waves together and are still rolling forward side-by-side. If I had to guess, I'd say that those shared experiences have contributed their affable, optimistic nature. When things are rough and you find yourself in close quarters with others, you've got to give a little and make the best of it.
You also have to be comfortable with yourself. Insecurity is one of the quickest ways to lose a friend. I asked them why the oldest theme in popular music -- that is, love, about which every songwriter has chimed in, and of which every angle has been explored -- was still worth writing about.
"You have to believe in your own voice," answered Heather. "And if enough has been said about love, then surely enough has been said about any topic on the planet. You have to trust your voice, and you have to trust that what you're saying is unique and is important, because it's your own take." And those words, said with such reassurance, were enough for me.
Watching them perform "Crushing Pennies" in an overgrown alley in south St. Louis was a revelation -- the first time that I'd seen the band perform. The harmonies were gorgeous, and the three lifted up a sound so natural that it was entirely at home beside the wind and rustling leaves around them. It was, of course, a song about love. And I found something new inside of it.
Video: Jarred Gastreich for Show Me Shows
Sound: Ryan Albritton for R&R Music Labs
Writer: Chris Bay