When The Appleseed Cast plays the Spanish Moon on July 13, band leader Christopher Crisci can reflect on a 15-year group history that had happy, but humble beginnings.
"On our very first tour our van's transmission fell out, and we didn't have the money to fix it," Crisci said. "But we did have a label that lent us the money, which we paid back."
After their van mishap, The Appleseed Cast continued to tour and put out a steady flow of records. Those releases total eight albums and two extended play CDs. The band is currently touring to promote their new CD, "Illumination Ritual."
Creating the new album put Crisci in a more hands-on role, which actually made it a cheaper record to produce.
"I've been around studios enough for 15 years that I know how to work everything," Crisci explained. "So, I just recorded the entire record and mixed it, then sent it off to be mastered."
By taking on the extra production duties, Crisci could direct the new album's tone.
"I wanted something a little more raw and chaotic, but also cohesive and very focused," Crisci said. "Songs, for the most part, are centered around the core of the band -- bass, drums, guitar."
The confidence to emphasize core instruments is a result of Crisci's reimagining The Appleseed Cast's sound and songwriting approach. Even though in the band's early days Crisci wrote most of the music, other band members are now contributing to this process. This sharing of the songwriting duties has strengthened the group's dynamic.
"We don't have any hard rules on how to write songs other than that I've been the 'final editor' of the songs," he said.
The Appleseed Cast members include Taylor Holenbeck (guitar) Nathan Whitman (bass), Nathan Wilder (drums) and Crisci (guitar, vocals).
The band's musical style is adventurous with jangling guitars, inventive percussion and lyrics that can seem conversational, yet still include an off-kilter stream of consciousness.
As the band's guiding presence, Crisci pulls from his longtime fascination with music. He started playing school band instruments in second grade. By high school, Crisci was in a jazz ensemble.
After being inspired by a live rock show, Crisci moved from San Diego to Los Angeles to pursue a music career, and The Appleseed Cast was born.
The band quickly got a reputation in the L.A. music scene and was signed to a music label.
"It was less than a year from when we had met each other to when we got rid of our apartments, bought a van and just lived the road for nine months," Crisci said.
Although The Appleseed Cast now travels with more reliable transportation than their first tour's van, Crisci still connects to the joy of playing music back then, which sustains him even today.
"When we first started, we were happy to make gas money and eat," Crisci said. "We stayed on people's floors, couches or whatever. I loved touring. It was all I wanted from music."
The Appleseed Cast plays the Spanish Moon Saturday, July 13. For more information on the band, visit: http://greenkansas.wix.com/theappleseedcast.