Returning to the Maintenance Shop for a much-awaited comeback, alternative rock band The Envy Corps will be taking the stage 7 p.m Friday for their sold-out show.
Formed in Ames in 2001, the band has produced an impressive discography that has garnered attention, critical praise, an enraptured audience and even support from the music community, including that of the Grammy-winning heavy metal band Slipknot.
Performing with their current four-man line up since 2008, The Envy Corps has drawn comparisons to other rock bands like Radiohead and Dinosaur Jr., and has worked with artists like Imagine Dragons, A.J. Mogis, Editors and Dave Keuning from The Killers.
Going through a few lineup changes before settling into this one, the members have been making music together for over a decade. Guitarist Brandon Darner acknowledges the difficulty of keeping a band working for so long, but also said the band’s dynamic is nothing like any other he’s come across in his years as working as a producer for other artists.
“The Envy Corps is pretty unique compared to any band I’ve ever worked with," Darner said. "There’s chemistry between the four of us have that I’ve never really seen repeated. It has to do with the respect we all have for each other and a mutual understanding that the music comes first. Each of us are concerned with the music itself more than our specific component.”
Vocalist Luke Pettipoole agrees with Darner, saying the motivation to keep on making music as a band through the years comes from their love for it.
“We all play music in a variety of situations, but there’s something about the four of us getting together that feels like the best possible scenario for creating songs,” Pettipoole said.
Keeping a close relationship, the band works together in many ways to produce their distinct sound.
Playing the role as main producer of the band as well as guitarist, Darner said how the band makes music is akin to their dynamic in general.
“I’ve produced all our records but everyone else in the band acts as a producer too, and I act as a writer too," Darner said. "There are main positions but we all also deliver different parts to a song. It’s not always easy but we all have great respect for each other’s talents. We sort of want the best man for the job.”
Pettipoole comes up with most of the musical framework and writes lyrics.
“[Darner] has a vision for how things will fit together and that informs the choices we make in the studio," Pettipoole said about Darner's producing.
He then described the other band members’ parts in their process.
“Micah is our sound engineer, so he records and mixes everything; that’s our secret weapon," Darner said. "We don’t really need to book a studio and work within their timeframe.”
When talking about drummer Scott Yoshimura, he said, “Scott is essentially a human drum machine and has all the classical training, so anytime we need to communicate with traditional players like string or horn folks, he takes the lead.”
With each member focusing on their specialties, the band delivers song after song that carries a distinct feel.
“All of us kind of defer to each other’s expertise in the area but we all have a say in everything," Darner said. "It’s a genuinely collaborative relationship born out of mutual respect.”
Their newest songs carry that vibe. Released in May, the singles "Weather Baby" and "Sourpatch" marked the first time the band had released any content after an eight-year hiatus where the members pursued individual and group projects.
Darner said there were no goals in the making of these songs and their new record.
“Those two songs are quite different to each other, but that’s part of what seems to be common about our new project," Darner said. The songs are very different from one to the next, touching on different genres in music. We’re doing whatever delights us and whatever feels like it's stuff that we haven’t done before. What we try to do is to just keep making music that feels good, music that we like, and these all can end up different, but when someone hears it, they can say ‘Of course that’s an Envy Corps song.’”
On the meanings behind each song, Pettipoole said, “[Weather Baby and Sourpatch] are more of a snapshot of the place you’re at in that moment. We thought those songs represented a different sound for us and a new way of working on music together, which is satisfying.”
Darner said these singles are set apart from their previous discography.
“Various time[s] in the past, we’ve tried to use the computer as an instrument, recording the song as we’re writing," Darner said. "Every time we tried this before, it never worked out. But this time, we really tried it again and made it work.”
This expands to the making of the rest of their upcoming record, diverging from their usual producing process to keep growing.
“It’s easy to say ‘Hey, this works. Let’s do that every time,’” Darner said. “We did that for a good portion of the record then we abandoned that idea. It was time to move on and move forward.”
Pettipoole said their new album is almost ready to be released, with another one already in the making.
“Since we can record and mix our own stuff there’s just a stream of starting and finishing songs,” Pettipoole said. “We’re not sure when it will come out, but the situation needs to be right and everyone needs to carve out time to support the release properly — when there are families and kids to consider that can get tricky.”
Performing what could be their last show of the year, Darner and Pettipoole said they enjoy the aspect of connecting with people in the audience when playing live.
“Honestly, my favorite part is after the show when I get a chance to talk to people and they share stories about how our music has contributed to their lives,” Pettipoole said.
Darner said, “I love seeing people’s reaction to the music and don’t mind the challenge of doing something to make the song come across to the audience.”
The M-Shop is home territory for The Envy Corps, having played at the venue multiple times before and being natives to Iowa. This time around the band is looking forward to the overall feel that comes with playing in the familiar space as well as the people who come to the show.
“It’s really special when we play there, like our version of playing a house show,” Darner said. “We have so many great memories at the M-Shop and it’s probably our favorite place to play in Iowa. Also, I’m looking forward to the new people that are there and seeing if they’re into our new stuff.”
The band also looks forward to simply hanging out in Ames before the show. While Darner looks forward to what the Student Union Board will be feeding the band, other band members have other things on their minds.
“To be honest, what I look forward most to [is] a slice of Great Plains pizza and a walk around Brookside Park," Pettipoole said.
The sold-out show will be opened by singer/songwriter Trevor Sensor. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.