Bumbershoot Watch: Ivan and Alyosha keep it in the family

Just days after his wife gave birth, Tim Wilson of Seattle-based indie band Ivan and Alyosha took the stage at the first-annual Timber! Festival as a favor to a friend.

"We got added last-minute," Wilson explains, noting that Kevin Sur, the promoter and creator of the festival, "called me while my wife was in the hospital...she had just had our second [child]. If he’d called me any earlier, I would have been like  ‘I don’t know, man…’ but once he was born, I was like ‘Yeah, the guys are in. We’re doing it.’"

In addition to Timber!, the band, which currently consists of Wilson, his brother Pete Wilson, Tim Kim, and Ryan Carbary, is also playing their first engagement at Bumbershoot.

But that’s kind of been how it’s been for Ivan and Alyosha (named for two characters in Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s "The Brothers Karamazov,"), whose path to playing Bumbershoot has been a winding and, at times, unusual one. The band just released their first full-length studio album, "All the Times We Had," this year, despite previously releasing several EPs and regularly being on tour since the group was founded in 2007.

"When we started this band, like as a local Seattle band, that’s the goal," says Wilson of playing the three-day festival. And it’s a goal that was a long time coming, and has occurred with a lot of support -- particularly from the bandmembers' families.

As we spoke, Wilson told me that his second child was "five weeks old today, and sleeping in my arms." Wilson and the band are currently on tour with another local favorite, Brandi Carlile, whose band also brings their families with them on the road.

"This particular tour with Brandi has been pretty amazing...This is our third tour with her and the band. It’s always pretty busy on the road, so we kind of take the moments we can with them, but we got to have dinner with Brandi the other night and asked her a hundred questions about the business side of what she’s doing and the business side and songwriting, making records...even how to have families and how to have kids on the road," Wilson noted.

"It’s just a huge blessing that we get to spend time with them and their families. We just love them."

Ivan and Alyosha's sweet, folk-pop tunes have garnered plenty of national attention since the band was founded -- NPR paid special attention to the group in 2010 in a preview of Austin's South by Southwest on the influential "All Songs Considered" -- but it wasn't until the release (and subsequent positive reviews) of "All the Times We Had" that the band really began to get noticed for their emotionally-charged melodies, coupled with sweet, often inspirational lyrics.
  Of their recent success, Wilson said it occurred, "slowly and naturally, but we’re in a good place."

"The last five or six months since the record has been out, we’ve experienced a real nice lift to what we’re doing. We’re out on the road, we’re getting to tour, we’re selling out rooms where we used to sell 10 tickets. It’s exactly what we needed. We needed to grow and change," he explains.

"A lot has changed, but at the same time...it’s happened how it should happen. To have a stable career in music, it takes development. It takes years."

And, like most Seattle musicians, Wilson cites the city itself and its support  for some of their success.

"We love being a band from Seattle, and I think that means something, especially to people not from Seattle. When we’re on the road and we say ‘Hey, we’re Ivan and Alyosha, and we’re from Seattle, Washington,’ that alone gets people excited."

"I think it’s done wonders for us, and the relationships that we have within the local music family -- whether it be other bands or people booking shows or promoters or bartenders that you see every show -- we owe a lot to those guys." They’re also looking forward to seeing the fans on their first performance back. "A lot of the people who come to our show come to every single show. Whole families. They’re there at every show. It’s so impressive."
Family is, indeed, a big part of the band’s experience, too. Wilson is not only on the road with his two children, but also his wife.

"It’s a lot of fun, we get to be together," Wilson says, though he admits it’s "stressful and wonderful."

"And it sure beats slinging coffee at home and wanting to be out on the road. It’s kind of awesome. I think we’ll probably look back and say ‘Holy crap, we had babies on the road!’"

Ivan and Alyosha play Bumbershoot at the Plaza Stage on Monday at 7pm. For more information, visit the band’s website.