Whether headlining or opening for a touring band, Spokane-based alt-rock trio Dawn of Life has, show by show, honed its live act since 2012 when brothers Stephen (guitar/vocals) and Sam (drums) Shoemaker officially teamed up six years ago.
Before that the pair played music together for fun while Sam Shoemaker played in a few bands.
But during a family vacation to the Seattle area, the duo became inspired by the city, and the idea of “traveling and spreading the music and energy,” Sam Shoemaker said, and decided to pursue music seriously.
For the first two years of the band’s existence, Dawn of Life was an instrumental duo that played community events like Bloomsday and smaller venues around town.
In 2014, Stephen Shoemaker began singing, and the next year the band added G Train on bass after meeting him at a show at Club 412, now the Pin, in which the Shoemakers opened for G Train’s band.
“He stayed and watched our show and then he ended up really, really liking our music,” Stephen Shoemaker said. “What’s really funny is he said that we didn’t really need a bass player. We had a lot of energy up there already.”
(Joe Pumphrey will play bass at this show, as G Train is out of town.)
G Train’s first show with Dawn of Life was also the band’s first show at the Knitting Factory.
Since then, the trio has played the Knit six more times, opening for the likes of the Young Dubliners, the Marcus King Band and, most recently, Zoso-The Ultimate Led Zeppelin Experience.
The band also played the Tinnabulation Music Festival in September.
Dawn of Life’s Knitting Factory show count will increase to eight when the band releases its debut album, “A Long Time Coming,” at the Knit on Friday.
Though it only took four or five months to record, “A Long Time Coming,” is true to its name.
The band attempted to record an EP in the past but felt it didn’t capture the energy of its live shows.
“With other studios beforehand when we recorded, we recorded a four-bar measure and they looped that and then we played another part and they cut and paste,” Sam Shoemaker said. “It really affects our sound because we’re so much of a live band that it lost that live vibe that we like and the energy.”
So the Shoemakers and G Train decided to record the album themselves in their own studio, Infinity Music Production, tracking live to capture the energy audiences have come to expect at a Dawn of Life show.
“When we did the drums, I’m listening to Stephen right then,” Sam Shoemaker said. “It’s solid tracks all the way through. We felt much better doing it that way.”
Much of the recording process involved learning to do everything – from post-production to album artwork – themselves.
The Shoemaker patriarch, who has an audio background, stepped in to help with engineering, mixing and mastering.
“It was one of those things where he never got the opportunity but he’s getting a chance to live that again,” Sam Shoemaker said. “It totally brought out a little boy in him. He learned a lot in the short amount of time because we had the show coming up to get the album released but he pulled it off and we’re so proud of him too.”
“A Long Time Coming” features songs from throughout Dawn of Life’s six years together.
Over that time, Stephen Shoemaker said the band’s music has gone from simplistic with heavy grooves to more complex, while still maintaining that groovy feel.
“Music you can bop your head to and tap your feet and really try to be a little different,” he said.
“A Long Time Coming” will be available on Spotify, Pandora, iTunes, Amazon and most online music stores.
After the album release show, the Shoemakers hope to book a weekend of shows in Idaho and then branch out to Seattle and Portland, the kind of cities that inspired them to form Dawn of Life in the first place.
“We’ve got some big plans in the mix that we can hopefully manifest out and really break out of the region and really start looking at the country now,” Sam Shoemaker said.
But it doesn’t matter where they’re performing as long as they are performing.
“Whether we were in a band or not, we have to play music,” Stephen Shoemaker said. “We’re not ourselves if we’re not playing music in one way or another.”
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