Golden Groves was ready to pour its music for audiences in 2020, but when stages across the world — including Boulevardia in Kansas City — went dark, members of the local indie rock band refined their flavor.
Pulling inspiration for the band’s name from Kansas’ wheat fields, Golden Groves first played together in 2013. Although a few members have come and gone, the band’s lineup now includes lead vocalist and guitarist Isaac Hodges, lead guitarist Mark Wampler, bass guitarist Max Kmeck, keyboardist Eric Rivier and drummer Andrew Lewis.
“Our collective history is with jazz and rock in roll, but we each bring in our own unique musical history and taste,” said Isaac Hodges, lead vocalist and a guitarist for Golden Groves, as well as the vice president of sales at FairWave Coffee Collective, which includes Messenger Coffee and The Roasterie brands. “Our music is about having fun and dancing. … But we will still have those moments at shows where we bring it down to reflect because we are also 30- to 40-year-old dads.”
Click here to listen to Golden Groves’ music on Spotify.
The band originally anticipated the premier of its third EP album — following “Ideas” in 2016 and “Recess” in 2017 — at one of Kansas City’s largest music festivals in 2020, they noted. Boulevardia ultimately was among the first major public events in the metro as the pandemic lingered from its first spring into summer.
“We were going to release our new EP in concert at the Boulevardia festival — so we were really excited about 2020,” Kmeck said, laughing.
Rather than hitting a permanent pause on the music, they set up stage in Hodges’ neighborhood for a socially distanced block party once COVID restrictions eased, they recalled.
“Some of our band practices in Andrew’s garage turned into neighbors hearing the music and pulling up chairs in his driveway,” Hodges said. “COVID is so stressful, and music has been such a release for us. And it gave some life to Andrew’s block as people were walking back and forth.”
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Evolving their sound
After a year-and-a-half hiatus from performing professional shows, Golden Groves prepared to hit the stage again in early August at Lemonade Park. Feeling like they’d finally gotten past a major hurdle, another unexpected obstacle came along.
“Mark got a really bad concussion from a freak boating accident a week before the show,” Hodges shared. “At first we were not optimistic about our likelihood of playing in the show, but once we knew Mark was going to be OK, that allowed us to tune into how to make the performance work.”
With the third EP album still in the works, the band is giving Wampler time to fully recover before getting back into the studio.
“When this next album comes out, I think you’re going to hear a really cool blend of some of the soul we had in the first album with the pop sounds of the second album,” Lewis said. “Eric has also pulled in some synth wave-inspired sounds. So we’re really excited about the album — we just don’t know exactly when it will come out.”
Eager to share new music with their community, Golden Groves shared a rough cut of “Acting Like You Don’t Care” from their third EP with Startland News.
“Ultimately, what we wish is for our audience to get a little taste of what we are working on and almost invite them in to experience our process as we are [shaping] our new EP,” Rivier noted.
Listen to the rough cut of “Acting Like You Don’t Care” below, then keep scrolling!
Finding their flow
Balancing work and personal lives outside the band hasn’t been as stressful as with some creative projects, members of Golden Groves said.
“Some guys have fishing; some guys have book club. We like to make music and play shows,” Kmeck said. “Plus we’ve always had a strong family vibe. My wife knows how much I need music, and she’s pushing me out the door. It’s very much our families making time for us to be able to do this.”
“And we don’t take that for granted,” Rivier added. “We continue to try and be disciplined, but there’s flexibility. We care about each other so there’s not this pressure if we can’t make it to a practice.”
The crossroads between friendship and passion helps make Golden Groves worthwhile and a high priority in their lives, the members echoed.
“A special part of this group is that we get to pour ourselves into the music and one another,” Hodges shared. “We don’t have to accomplish everything in one night, because I know I’m going to see them next week. It’s an ongoing journey with both music and friendship.”