After a January appearance at the Happy Valley Showdown in Northampton, the Easthampton-based band Ipomoea has developed a fondness for that event’s organizer.
“We love Mark Sheehan. We would play any show he booked. Even Rick Santorum’s Family Values Festival,” says guitarist and vocalist Thom Lopes.
In the meantime, the aspiring fuzz folker, along with fellow guitarist Michael “Mick” Williams, will settle for finding a new member to help fill out Ipomoea’s sound.
After cutting ties with the members of all their former bands and forming Ipomoea on a Brooklyn rooftop in 2010, Lopes and Williams are still without a permanent percussionist. Though drums can be heard on the band’s previously recorded material, Lopes says, “We’re looking for a drummer. But we don’t like drummers, so it may take awhile.”
Fortunately, with or without a full-time member manning the skins, Ipomoea already possesses a substantial backlog of tunes in addition to a full-length album, Species, which the group released via bandcamp.com in November. Featuring the songs “Many Mansions,” “Golden Top” and the hazed-out title track, the record also draws some of its inspiration from daily life in the Pioneer Valley.
“We write about people we meet in other cities [and] obvious aspects of reality that are often overlooked,” says Williams. “This last album, Species, has a lot of songs about the Valley.”
According to Lopes, the group’s songwriting process includes much more than local connections. In fact, citing ongoing frustration with other inspirations, the audio-engineer-by-day gives special credence to thoughts that others may perceive as abstract.
“It’s that strange feeling you get in dreams,” he says. “One minute you’re running down the street with your dog, the next minute you’re lifting off the ground. Songs are fleeting. Flowers are like that, too. What causes a daisy to push through the cracks of a sidewalk? I don’t know. We’re always writing. Always transmitting, you know?”
Much like the aforementioned plants pushing their way up through the concrete, the naming of Ipomoea made for a pretty down-to-earth tale.
“Ipomoea is derived from Ipomoea Violacea, the morning glory flower,” says Lopes. “I think one could guess how we came up with it.”
For those seeking a more definitive explanation, perhaps catching Ipomoea live will offer a better understanding.
“We’re playing Hampshire College at the Red Barn in the near future,” says Lopes. “I’m sure we’ll play The Sweet Demon in Hadley and Snowzee’s in Amherst really soon. Maybe on a nice day you can see us playing on a roof on Main Street in Northampton.”