As some people get older, they start climbing corporate ladders instead of oak trees, and playing house morphs into paying a mortgage. Others, like the members of Michigan-based indie-folk trio Breathe Owl Breathe, become a curious hybrid of child and adult. They make art, play banjos and live in cabins made of what amount to giant Lincoln Logs, far from the shadows of big-city skyscrapers.
I spoke with multi-instrumentalist Andréa Moreno-Beals about the fruits of this lifestyle, which recently spawned a children's book and accompanying two-song EP, The Listeners/These Train Tracks. Catch the band's show at Project Lodge on March 2.
What's the story behind The Listeners/These Train Tracks?
The idea came to [front man] Micah [Middaugh] while mowing the lawn. He's a woodcut printer and a storyteller, so he decided to make a children's book where woodcut blocks fill each page and the words of the stories are also song lyrics. The songs can interact with the pictures or live on their own.
How did you make the characters come alive?
The book has this nice yin-yang balancing act. One half is a bedtime story and the other is a daytime story, or, as Micah likes to say, "a story to wake up to." The daytime story is about an ostrich who's been hiding his head in the sand. A mole bumps into his beak while tunneling underground, and they become friends when they realize they have some things in common. For instance, the ostrich doesn't use his wings, and the mole hardly uses his eyes. They're both kind of different from everyone else, and that helps bring them closer.
The bedtime story has this evolution of images that's wonderful to imagine while falling asleep. It begins with a train, which turns into a caterpillar. Then the train tracks become a ladder to the night sky. One thing metamorphoses into another, like a dream.
What's next for you guys?
When we get home, we'll start recording our next full-length record. We came up with the beginnings of lots of new songs before the tour, so we're excited to see where they take us.