After dropping out of music school, Griff Snyder wondered how to go about starting his own band.
Turns out, the best way to launch his music career was by sporadically signing on to a boat crew and setting sail for a voyage from Hawaii to Seattle.
Fortunately for Snyder he wasn’t the only not-so-seaworthy sailor in the crew. A series of problems sank his hopes for an ocean adventure, but instead led to the formation of his oddball gypsy-folk-bluegrass outfit, Dovekins, which comes to The Porch in Spokane on Monday.
“We tried to crew a boat and go sailing but we only made it out for two days – the weather was so crazy – and we got stranded and wrote a bunch of songs about it instead,” Snyder said during a telephone interview.
Since then the Denver-based Dovekins have solidified into a quintet that plays an average of 100 shows per year with unbridled stage energy and an eclectic sound that combines guitar, mandolin, washboard, piano, banjo, trombone, melodica, clarinet, cornet, upright bass, flute, accordion, kazoo, foot stomps and spoons.
“It was a natural development,” Snyder said. “The whole adventure was stimulating the music. This is how we started off and this is what our music is about.
“Like a lot of young 20-somethings we’re trying find our place in the world and not wanting to jump into the grind. Now that we’ve become a band, in a lot of ways we’ve entered that grind.
“We’re starting to see there are a lot of bands out there and it’s hard work. We’ve had bad turnouts in bars and some really great turnouts at festivals.”
Dovekins harnessed the raw energy of its live show for its third album, “(A)live,” released in June.
“We spent two months in the mountains recording our first studio album. None of us had done that before, even the engineer,” Snyder said.
“We learned a lot. It didn’t sound like the live show, and a lot of what people like about us is the live show, so we decided to make this live record. We recorded eight shows and picked from our favorites. It’s totally raw, more of our punk side.”
From more bluegrass-influenced roots, Dovekins’ sound has evolved, incorporating elements of soul, funk and experimental rock.
So, too, has the songwriting, Snyder said, with darker overtones that manage to resist becoming too heavy-handed by retaining a lighthearted repose.
“The songs still have that Dovekins spirit but it’s mixed in with our growth. There’s a lot of depth to the songs and the lyrical content, but it’s still really fun and we’re not taking ourselves too seriously,” he said.
“There’s a little bit of an apocalypse in our next album. In 2012 my goal is to learn how to garden. Hopefully I’ll have so much experience that I’ll just be hired by local warlords to be their gardener, like ‘Seven Samurai.’
“We’ll have all these ATVs rolling around with machine guns and people yelling, ‘Give me all your broccoli, you hicks!’ ”