The Humble Kind’s Soaring Harmonies

Humble Kind Turnstyled Junkpiled
By Amanda Wicks

Humble Kind’s four core members, Will Folse (lead guitar), Michael Legendre (guitar and lap steel), Benjamin Moore (rhythm guitar) and Marc Stubbs (bass) are exactly what their name purports: humble. These Baton Rouge-based gents made their way around the local music scene before forming their Americana sound and becoming one of the area’s fastest growing bands. There is no frontman, no one person spearheading the songs; instead, they approach their music collectively, humbly. “I think here we gain so much by everyone playing a part in creating the music,” Moore says.

The band’s most impressive element results from their three-part male harmonies with additional vocals built in to augment the already robust sound. In a music world where guy-girl harmony duos reign supreme, Humble Kind offer something decidedly different. “I think we all kind of enjoy taking something and adding a dimension to it,” Legendre says.

It took a while for every member to find his place vocally. When Folse and Moore joined up with Legendre and Stubbs, they needed to figure out how they fit into that pair’s already tight harmonies. “[Michael and Mark] had such an ear because they were already together in that sense of power range harmony,” Folse explains. “It was easy for [Ben and me] to be like, ‘Oh, yeah tell us where we fit in.’ I think we’ve all developed past that now where it’s a little bit more intuitive.”

Now Humble Kind has what Folse describes as “crazy huge sounding harmonies.” Still, bigger isn’t always better. Stubbs says, “We know what parts to remove so that the fundamental harmony is working.”

Humble Press PhotoWith songs that at-times lean toward folk, at others toward rock, with a bit of Outlaw country thrown in for good measure, the harmonies are what ground the band, giving them their unique flare in a Louisiana scene rife with competition. Listening to the band’s song “Sweet, Far-Off Song” from their most recent EP, To Keep From Being Lonely, Legendre structures it with a folk-pop vocal reminiscent of Paul Simon mixed slightly with Robert Ellis’ affected flare. When the band joins him on the chorus, however, the sound takes on a folk-rock-country feel. Humble Kind are a choir in conversation with their Americana past as well as where they aim to take it in the future. Moore says, “I think we’re a bit of a fractured band; we all come from something a little bit different. That’s kind of American in a way.”

If you noticed there’s a drummer missing from Humble Kind’s line-up that’s because they have a handful of rotating players who sit in with them for gigs. As a result, their sound shifts between a heavier rock or folk feel, depending on the drummer.

Whatever way their sound skews on a given night, the band exudes immense and visible fun playing together. “That is the best part for me, just playing with these guys,” Stubbs says, which draws good-natured “Awws” from the other guys. It’s hard not to be a happy listener when a band is visibly enjoying themselves and what they offer audiences. “I’ve talked to people after shows and they’ve mentioned to me that it’s imminent we enjoy playing with one another,” Legendre says, “and I hope that’s a message we’re getting across because we are enjoying it.”

The band will head into Baton Rouge recording studio The Legendary Noise Floor towards 2015’s end to begin work on their first LP. While they’ve primarily toured around Louisiana thus far, they have plans to break out of their box and hit the road to take their swelling vocals to parts unknown.

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Amanda Wicks
has written for Pitchfork, Consequence of Sound, New York Observer and Paste, among others. Follow her for more good local sounds on Twitter @aawicks.

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