We love seeing artists use the Scout Books platform to create meaningful ways to connect with their audience, so when we saw the lyric book that the band The Accidentals put together, we knew we had to share their story. It’s a beautiful book complete with lyrics, chords and tabulature, and hand drawn illustrations. All this makes it feel like a deeply personal book. We reached out to the band to ask some questions, and bandmembers Katie Larson and Sav Buist shared some of the backstory of the books.
First off, that cover art is gorgeous. It looks like it drew inspiration from Princess Mononoke, can you tell us the story behind that? What about the two birds on the back of the book?
Sav: Thanks! The artwork was actually created by a member of our sister band, the Crane Wives. Her name is Emilee Petersmark and she’s doing a series of tour posters for us based on the astrological signs. This one draws inspiration from Leo. It symbolizes bravery, which ties in with the message of our upcoming album Odyssey – to move forward boldly, not in the absence of fear, but in spite of it. Emilee is a pretty amazing artist and musician, her band The Crane Wives is definitely worth checking out.
The two birds have been consistent in our brand since we started the band six years ago. We recorded our first album in a barn studio in Copemish, Michigan and while we were laying down some tracks, a little bird sat on the windowsill like it was listening to us play. It’s a memory we’ve carried with us in the form of the little mascots.
We love how you’ve intertwined a lyric book with guitar tabs and doodles. It really feels like a notebook that an artist would have on tour. How did the idea to do that style of book happen?
Katie: Good question! Lyrics have always been important to us as music lovers and as writers. We take inspiration from random sources; books, films, fellow musicians, life on the road, soup, broken ATMs, etc. For the past three years we’ve been touring full time, so we’ve spent many hours in the van and have picked up journaling. Sav has chronicled hundreds of pages of tour stories, interactions, day to day thoughts, and I have a notebook my sister made for me that I fill with sketches, song ideas, and lines of poetry.
We frequently hand write lyrics and chord charts for people who support our music or want to learn our songs, so with the release of our upcoming album we decided to mass produce chord & lyric books. I really wanted the books to have a handwritten feeling and be interactive. Growing up I would listen to songs and wish I knew how the artist was playing certain chords, so I used Adobe Illustrator to handwrite the chords names over the typed lyrics, design chord voicing diagrams, and tablature for the riffs and solos. We included black and white artwork from Emilee Petersmark and some space for notes to encourage further doodling.
How can people interested in the books check them out?
Katie: The books are currently part of the pre-order campaign for our upcoming album Odyssey! We are selling the books along with little hot sauce keychains, vinyl, Emilee’s posters, and other quirky things. We’re also taking them on the road with us for our national album release tour, starting this fall. After building huge arrangements in the studio and playing the songs live, it’s a little terrifying to break them back down to their bare bones state of lyrics and chords. Our goal for this album is to embrace our own vulnerability, and with the books we hope to encourage people of all ages and experience level to pick up a guitar and make the songs their own.
Your new album “Odyssey” is coming out August 18, can you tell us a bit about what the creative process for the album was like?
Sav: We recorded Odyssey in a couple of different places – Echo Mountain Studios in Asheville, NC; House of Blues in Nashville, TN; and Addiction Studios in Nashville, TN. We had the incredible opportunity to co-produce our album in a collaborative way after signing with Sony Masterworks in December. We were lucky enough to have some of our favorite artists contribute tracks to the album, including Keller Williams (who we toured with extensively), Jenny Conlee of The Decemberists, our friend and fellow Michigan native Dominic Davis (who plays bass for Jack White), Kaki King, and Carter Gravatt of Carbon Leaf.
The mixing and mastering process took months of hard listening. There would be times where we would bring Yamaha HS-5 speakers on the road with us, set them up in the hotel and listen to mixes just to make sure they were right. After a ton of scrutiny, we’re incredibly excited with how it turned out. Despite our band name, we are pretty intentional about our music and our brand. We try to keep it real, authentic, vulnerable and powerful, and we feel that Emilee’s artwork captures those elements really well.
Do you have a favorite song from the album?
Sav: I love every single one of Katie’s songs – from “In the Morning”, which has a Vulfpeck-y vibe, to the dramatically titled “The Sound A Watch Makes When Enveloped In Cotton”, to “Memorial Day”‘s heart-wrenching major seventh chords. Still, my favorite is her song Nightlife – it tears me up. Lines like “I would’ve carved these brittle bones / if you asked me to” completely destroy me. I never get tired of playing that one.
Katie: I’m a sucker for a catchy melody or cool chord progression… we’ve been editing a music video for Sav’s song “Earthbound” which I have a love/hate relationship with because I can never get it out of my head, the hook gets me every time. I also love some of the lines in “Crows Feet”, a song about balancing all the aspects of our lives. At shows Sav opens the song acapella and it brings out a still moment that feels really honest and raw.
Thanks to The Accidentals for sharing your story with us, and for putting together these beautiful books! You can find more about The Accidentals and their upcoming album, Odyssey, via their website.