Although North Carolina Americana quartet Mipso have just been making music together for a little more than half a decade, April 6th saw the release of their fourth full-length studio album, quite a feat in the age of iTunes and digital-only EPs. The album is Edges Run, which would seem to document the band’s explorations throughout all sides of Americana. I recently got a chance to chat with mandolin player Jacob Sharp, who tells me that, although the band’s sound has changed a bit over time, it feels very much like the same band, both sonically and personally.
“We started as a bluegrass band and then we were kind of folk and then it was like indie Americana, but the one thing that’s been the same is our songwriting. Our songs are just like stories and that holds up, regardless of the genre, so the people who best get us are those that appreciate the stories… Sonically, it feels like a natural progression… We all write and we arrange everything together. Some songs come in almost fully formed and some songs come in totally unformed. A lot of songs on this album were like that. In some cases, some band members wouldn’t have even heard some of the songs when we got to the studio… We made it in Oregon, which made it our first time recording outside of North Carolina and we made it with a producer we’ve never worked with before and he was sort of from a different background. He was sort of from a jazz background and he’s made so many of our favorite records… Thematically, the biggest influence was that it’s the first album where it felt like there was more ahead of us than behind us.”
When I ask Jacob about the band’s highlights over the past several years, he (like many contemporary independent musicians) tells me that, although Mipso have achieved a lot, the greatest thing is just knowing that they’re still able to do it: “One of the highlights is looking back on the past half a decade and seeing that we’re still together. And now we just released our fourth album, which just feels crazy. And, we’ve had two albums that have charted on Billboard charts, which is also just so amazing.”
Mipso are currently on a three-leg Edges Run Album Release Tour, whose first, East, leg wraps this very 4/20 (This Friday… for the kind of people who celebrate 4/20) at our very own Boot & Saddle. I ask Jacob what can be expected of the evening and he tells me that it will definitely be all about Edges Run, but that longtime fans might also see a slightly new side of the band: “It will be all 12 songs from the album and a couple of covers. And there’s some new instrumentation. For people who have seen us, it will be familiar, but with a newfound confidence.” The second, West, leg of the tour picks up 4/24 at the historic Troubador in LA (with the third, Midwest, leg kicking off 5/11 in Lewisburg, VA), but when I ask what the second half of 2018 holds for Mipso, Jacob tells me it’s really going to continue to be about being on the road: “There’s a lot more touring ahead of us. There’ll be a follow-up album release tour later, hitting some of the cities we couldn’t fit in during these initial two months.”