In Conversation With . . . Thriving Ivory

Thriving Ivory is a California rock band whose 2006 demo CD quickly amassed an enthusiastic fan base.

The band’s music is passionate, sensitive, well crafted, and monumental, and perfectly suited to the innovative vocal style of lead singer Clayton Stroope. Their self-titled debut album with Wind-up Records is based on the original demo. The band is now touring Canada.

The following are notes from a conversation with the band’s drummer, Paul Niedermier.

That Ivory Sound

It’s really rewarding to have fans connect with the music. We get emails and MySpace messages every day from people who are really connecting with ?Angels on the Moon.? Every email is completely different; everybody has a different idea of what that song means. One guy wrote to us saying he thought it was about the New York Yankees. Someone else wrote in whodunnits’d lost their mother to cancer and had been touched by that song. I don’t even write the lyrics but It’s rewarding for me to be a part of it.

Sometimes when we’ve done a bunch of shows the next one can seem like just another show to us, but then people start singing every single word to a song and you can tell they’re really moved. That never gets old.

Life History

Scott has been playing piano since he was a little kid. Clayton never really had any vocal training but he sang growing up in school. I had a couple of drum lessons here and there and the guitarists had lessons here and there but nothing super serious.

I was born and raised in San José, California. That definitely influenced my musical development. I went to a lot of shows. I played in a punk band when I was in high school. I did the whole jazz band thing. It helped me learn to play in front of a crowd and be comfortable on a stage. I got an early start with that, around the age of 14.

I graduated high school in 2002 in San José and went down to Santa Barbara to go to school and the rest of the guys were already down there because they were a couple of years older than me.

The first day I moved into the dorm I saw a flyer saying Thriving Ivory wanted a drummer. They listed U2 as an influence. I was a big fan of U2 so I thought I’d give it a shot. It wasn’t the kind of music I usually listened to but it was a challenge I was up for. Over time I really learned to love the music.

Basement Tapes

We released our first demo in the summer of 2006. We went to all our parents and borrowed money from them. Most of it was recorded in Drew’s basement, with a really good producer named Chris Manning from the Bay area (he used to be in the band Jellyfish). That was the album that got us signed to Wind-up Records. Most of what’s on this new album is what we recorded on our own.

In fact, with ?Angels on the Moon,? which we recorded again once we signed on with Wind-up, the basement version turned out to be better than the new version, which we’d spent a ton of money on.

Not All Labels Created Equal

Wind-up’s been really awesome to us. They kind of let us steer the ship and they’re just there for support. If we have questions we can always go to them. We hear these horror stories from other bands on other labels that completely change their music. I think that we’re one of the few bands that can sit back and honestly say we’re happy with the record we have out now.

The Songs

Scott comes up with most of the lyrics but he’ll bounce some off of Clayton. Scott will come to the band with the skeleton of a song. Then we add our own parts. Sometimes we nail it right there and That’s where it sticks but sometimes changes keep getting added to it for a couple of months.

Do Your Part

we’re all pretty much on the same track with our political views but we try not to impose our ideas onto anyone else because we don’t want people to vote for someone just because we did.

Having said that, we do encourage our fans to take enough of an interest in current events to do their part. It doesn’t take long to read up on the candidates? policies. Every vote really does matter. Before the election we put up a short message on MySpace encouraging people to get out and vote.

I’m really, really happy with what happened this election. After Bush’s first four years I couldn’t imagine another four years but then it happened. If we’d had another four years of the same kind of thing it would have been a catastrophe. we’re all thrilled about it. And as far as the propositions that went through, I’m happy with but some I’m not so happy with.

People need to realize that the choices we’re making today are going to affect our kids? lives and their kids? lives and so on. It’s not so much about how lowering or raising taxes is going to affect you instantly; It’s about how It’s going to affect the entire country and its future.