Acorn Project began with a risk. After nearly a decade, numerous highly-successful studio and live album releases, over 700 performances on the road touring relentlessly, and appearances at prestigious music festivals and events throughout the west; that risk has proven to be more rewarding than anyone could have imagined.
“Acorn has been working hard to manifest our creative visions as a group for some time now. The current culmination of that vision is felt strongly in our newest album Shift,” says co-founding member Sam Lax (saxophone/producer/percussion/vocals).
The eclectic and distinctive sound that Acorn Project produces is favorably captured on Shift, the band’s 4th full-length studio album. Acorn has been long known to seamlessly blend deep electro-funk grooves with psychedelic rock, live dance with progressive soundscapes, and on Shift these characteristics are well represented. Their fresh and new utilization of a tasteful balance of produced beats, audio samples, and unique synthesizer tones emphasize their growing love for live electronica music. Throw in a little pop flare with production savvy, and the result is an outstanding collection of material showcasing what Acorn Project has become in Shift.
“We strive to take our audience on a sonic journey through different genres of live music each night,” Lax says. “We hope to attract new fans with a little something for everyone, we believe Acorn has our own sound and continue to work hard at characterizing it. We play what we enjoy, hoping that people will take something positive from their experiences home from an Acorn show.”
Translating such a wide range of musical influences to record from notoriously creative and entertaining live performances is not a simple task. Shift accomplishes this challenge and dramatically succeeds.
The eleven original tracks flow effortlessly throughout. The collection of danceable beats performed by the virtuous rhythm section comprised of Kevin ‘Kreestoe’ Chryst (Drums) and Scott ‘T-Bone’ Vaillancourt (Bass) are infectious. Together they lay the foundation for addictive hooks, melodic progressions, and dynamic leads performed by Oskar Kollen (keyboards and synths), Acorn’s characteristic tone found in Lax on saxophone also acting as live producer, and newly joined Samuel Eisen-Meyers’ calculated, inimitable and emotionally driven style (lead guitar).
Thought provoking vocals written and performed by co-founding member Andy Pritiken (lead vocals/rhythm guitar) tell a story with a conceptual moral left to the listener to interpret. This concept is one Acorn Project would like to make clear to their fans.
“We took a risk in life starting this band and setting our other prospective career paths aside. It has been an incredible experience being a part of our organic growth as a group and the loving community that surrounds it. We’ve always believed that with our creative intention being well translated, that our music would help cultivate a positive shift in the social norms in our world,” Lax says. “No matter how many people our music reaches, the hope is to free people’s minds, even if it is just for one night, or one hour, through our music.”
Shift embraces this idea. Offering the listener a journey through Acorn Project’s new musical vision in a polished studio format while keeping true to their live roots. Showing maturation as a band, Shift includes pallet-cleansing interludes and postludes allowing time for reflection between the different sets of emotion each song targets in the listener. All together the record feels like a holistic work of art.
The story of Acorn Project only began like so many others. Lax and Pritiken met in college while studying at Western Washington University in Bellingham, WA. The band was born from basement jam session beginnings in 2004. Acorn Project worked fiercely and tirelessly to define their sound locally as a quartet for nearly three years before releasing their first EP Odd His Sleepy Soar in 2006. Following this release Acorn Project began touring as a Pacific Northwest regional act in an old converted shuttle bus.
Two years later, boasting a robust, polished sound, Acorn Project – now a sextet – released their first full-length album, We’ll Be Fine in 2008 to a series of favorable reviews. We’ll Be Fine took home Bellingham’s prestigious album of the year award in the What’s Up Awards, and charted at #5 on jambands.com and #4 on CMJ, making Acorn Project the new electro-funk band on every critic’s radar.
Acorn Project continued touring feverishly, expanding their region along the west coast, mountain states, and southwest earning devotion from their fans with their addictive live performances and impressive light show. The band has shared billing with names including String Cheese Incident, Widespread Panic, STS9, EOTO, Papadosio, Kyle Hollingsworth, Juno What, David Grisman, JGB, and Sam Bush. Acorn Project released their sophomore effort, Generation Debt, in 2010, which debuted at #1 on Relix Magazinge and jambands.com national radio chart index, taking home their second album of the year award, and continuing their critical acclaim.
“Acorn Project, who conjures up the appealing marriage of mid-period Pink Floyd, early Radiohead, and the blues-jazz-dub whap of Morphine… cuts a broad cloth that could fit classic rockers, jam fans, electro freaks and jazz heads with taste for prog. Often mélanges of this kind come out mushy and indistinct, too many ingredients dulling the sharpness of individual elements, but Acorn’s production and arrangement savvy keep things bright and together throughout. A hard touring bunch… unlike many road dogs, they clearly know their way around a studio, too.”
Dennis Cook – Jambase (Editor) – October 20th, 2010
In the past several years Acorn Project have appeared live at numerous music festivals including Earthdance (California), Sonic Bloom (Colorado), String Cheese Incident @ Horning’s Hideout (Oregon), Summer Meltdown Festival (Washington), Telus Live @ Whistler (BC), Seattle Hempfest, and Eugene Celebration amongst many others including their own successful annual festival productions WONK and UMF.
“We are filled with a lot of passion for playing music together and experimenting in the group dynamic,” says Lax. “There have been a lot of challenges for Acorn, but we have always sought to remain level headed, light-hearted, and humble in our time together as a band. Today, Acorn Project is a highly talented group of musicians with a much greater set of goals.”
Ultimately, goals affect fans in the greatest ways possible.
Now having performed over 900 live performances with a fervent fanbase in major U.S. markets like Seattle, Portland, Denver, and San Francisco, Acorn continues to actively grow into a mighty oak from deeply seeded roots throughout the west. Up and coming, always on the brink, Acorn Project is focused on establishing themselves as a national touring act while continuing to spawn a forward thinking and conscious movement amongst the community in their wake.
“More than anything else we love to play music together,” says Lax. “If you’re not in this industry for the love and passion for your musical craft first, trying to improve while enjoying what you play and who you play with, then you’re probably in it for the wrong reason. We are a family and our music is our art. That’s what has always and will continue to matter most.”
Sam Lax – Saxophone, electronic percussion, laptop production, vocals.
Andy Pritiken – Rhythm guitar, lead vocals.
Oskar Kollen – Keys, vocals.
Scott (T-Bone) Vaillancourt – Bass
Kevin (Kreestoe) Chryst – Drums
Tristan Curran – Lead Guitar
Sammy Eisen-Meyers – Lead Guitar