By now, the band’s unconventional origin story is well known. Three years ago, guitarist Neal Casal formed the band with keyboardist Adam MacDougall (his bandmate in the Chris Robinson Brotherhood), bassist Dan Horne and drummer Mark Levy to record some Grateful Dead-influenced instrumentals to be played during the set breaks at the Dead’s “Fare Thee Well” concerts. “That was supposed to be the end of it,” Casal says.
Instead, there was an album, Interludes for the Dead, followed by several acclaimed live performances. The response was so positive, and the band was having so much fun making music together, that they agreed to keep it going, MacDougall says. “The chemistry the four of us had was instant and undeniable. It felt like we’d barely scratched the surface of what we could do, which is why we wanted to get back in the studio.”
Even if you’re not a music nerd, there’s plenty to smile about on the new record, from the easy-going groove that keeps “On My Mind” grounded, to the celestial symphony that sends “Ticket To Helix” into orbit. “More than anything, what you hear on this album is a band growing into its own sound,” Casal says.