Ask just about any musician, or creative type for that matter, and they’ll likely say quitting their “real” job to pursue their creative passion full time is the dream.
The members of Spokane alt-pop quintet Lavoy gave that route a try, and, at least for now, the opposite is a better fit.
When he spoke with The Spokesman-Review, singer Tyrell Tompkins was on his way to meet with customers as part of his job as account manager for an excavating company.
He didn’t have this job when he and the band – Tompkins, Ivan Brik, Ryan Monson, and Sean and Kipp Riley – moved to Spokane from Alaska in 2013.
In fact, none of them had “real” jobs then. Instead, the quintet lived together and spent their days working on the business side of things, which included booking and playing as many shows as they could.
Though they had saved up for the move, being new to the area made it difficult for the band to make enough money to make ends meet.
Worrying about the business side of things caused the creative side to become stunted, a realization that pushed the band to find full-time jobs.
The move has worked out for Lavoy, as Tompkins said the tours they’ve been on in recent years have been more significant than they would have been had they continued to play small shows.
“It’s almost as if having the full-time jobs now and having the money side of it, as far as your personal life, taken care of, it forces that creative side a little bit more,” Tompkins said. “Right now, we’re writing and getting ready to record some of the best stuff we’ve ever done.”
When looking to relocate, the band shot down suggestions of Los Angeles (too big of a jump), Portland (too many Alaskan bands had already moved there) and Seattle (cost of living), settling on Spokane because of it’s up-and-coming nature.
“We wanted to be somewhere where we could hit the Northwest really easy, but we didn’t want to jump into a scene,” Tompkins said. “We wanted to jump into something that was a scene, maybe, budding.”
Despite the initial uphill battle Spokane presented, Lavoy has embraced the city, highlighting Spokane in its music videos for “Smile” and “Friend.”
And the city has responded in kind, with crowds showing up as the band plays just about every venue in town.
All the work Lavoy has put in locally has helped the band’s profile nationally, too. Songs “Smile” and “Chicago” were recently featured in an episode of MTV’s “Teen Mom,” and though he couldn’t go into detail, Tompkins said “Smile” had “some big things happening with it.”
With those big things in the works and a dedicated local fan base, the band recently put down even more roots by building a recording studio and practice space, where the band has been rehearsing for Gleason Fest on Saturday at Riverfront Park’s Lilac Bowl Amphitheatre. Gleason Fest is the annual music festival inspired by Spokane’s Steve Gleason, who was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, in 2011. Lavoy also is on the bill for Tinnabulation Music Festival on Sept. 8.
They’re also using the space to record new music. Vocals and drums will be recorded with a producer in Seattle, but guitar, bass and keys will all be recorded in house.
“What it’s going to do is afford us more time essentially because we don’t have to pay for that portion of it where we’re doing the bass, the guitar and the keys,” Tompkins said. “If we’re doing it in house, it’s essentially giving our time rather than money.”
Money is still on the band’s mind, but they’ve found a balance between the business and creative sides of things.
And, overall, Tompkins said the band is happy in its second home.
“We’re glad that we made this decision,” he said. “I feel like there’s nowhere in the world we can’t get without a lot of driving and a little work.”