The shoot had just concluded with the Spring Standards -- James Cleare, Heather Rob and James Smith -- running through two beautiful songs, one performed in an overgrown alley and the other in the yard of a vacant school. We sat in their van discussing the subtleties and implicit choices that go along with choosing a name, while they told me how they had agonized over the choice of "The Spring Standards."
"Green Day, if you take what that band is away from that [name] ... that band name sucks," argues Smith. "But it doesn't, because they're an amazing band." And though Heather thinks Radiohead is inherently a great band name, everyone else disagrees. "Just put it into the [context of] a high school band," Smith points out.
People have their own idea of what the Spring Standards' name means, but for the band there's not a whole lot that can be done about that other than to go out each night and try to give the name meaning.
"I dislike [the name] most when people comment on it and they say something like, 'I didn't know what to expect, I thought you guys were going to play standard oldies tunes,'" says Smith. "But them I'm like, screw that. ... You just hope and you keep going, and you make the band name and the band one."
One night at a time, a handful of new fans at a time, the New Yorkers are defining themselves, and in the course of doing so giving meaning to their name. Case in point is this song, "Watch the Moon Disappear." On record -- the song appears on the recently released double EP, "Yellow // Gold" -- the song takes on a Fleetwood Mac-like quality, richly melodic with plenty of drama. But in this schoolyard, performed with just two acoustic guitars and three voices, it's a different expression. The drama remains, but without the storm of keyboards, electric guitars and drums, it's also intimate and a bit fragile.
It's honest, well-hewn works like this that have created meaning for the band and all of the folks that have connected with their records so far. And if there's any justice, the Spring Standards is a name that will take on meaning for more and more people as they travel from town to town.
Video: Jarred Gastreich for Show Me Shows
Sound: Ryan Albritton for R&R Music Labs
Writer: Chris Bay