The Low Anthem is an American indie folk band from Providence, Rhode Island, formed in 2006. The band consists of Ben Knox Miller (vocals, guitar), Jeff Prystowsky (drums, vocals, double bass), Mike Irwin (bass, trumpet, guitar), Tyler Osborne (guitar, bass) and Florence Wallis (vocals, violin).
Founded by duo Ben Knox Miller and Jeff Prystowsky, The Low Anthem recorded and self-released two studio albums, The Low Anthem (2006) and What The Crow Brings (2007), before the arrival of vocalist and clarinettist Jocie Adams in 2007. In 2008, the band released its third studio album, Oh My God, Charlie Darwin, and increased its fanbase significantly with the album's re-release on Nonesuch Records and Bella Union.
In 2009, multi-instrumentalist and longtime friend Mat Davidson joined the band for its fourth studio album, Smart Flesh (2011), which was recorded in an abandoned pasta sauce factory. During The Low Anthem's tour in support of the album, Davidson left the band and was replaced by bassist and trumpet player Mike Irwin. Five months later, the band added a fifth member to its line-up, guitarist and bassist Tyler Osborne.
In a message to fans in June 2013 during the recording of their fifth studio album, the band announced that Jocie Adams was departing The Low Anthem to focus on her new project, Arc Iris.
Beginnings and What the Crow Brings (2006-2007):
Ben Knox Miller and Jeffrey Prystowsky met while DJing an overnight jazz show on a Brown University radio station, WBRU. They became friends and teammates for a local wood-bat baseball team called the Providence Grays. Miller and Prystowsky played in various ensembles together ranging from classical and jazz to electronica, and the Low Anthem was formed in 2006. In the fall of 2006, Dan Lefkowitz, a bluesman from Strasburg, Virginia, joined the band and contributed to its evolving brand of songwriting with his song "This God Damn House." Early in 2007, Lefkowitz left the band to pursue simple living in a yurt in Arkansas. The band became a trio again in late 2007 with the addition of classical composer and clarinetist Jocie Adams, a fellow student and former NASA employee, who joined the band after a late-night recording session for the band's album What The Crow Brings. She appears on vocals and clarinet on the album's closing track, "Coal Mountain Lullaby."
What the Crow Brings was recorded in Miller's and Prystowsky's apartments over several months and was then self-released on October 2, 2007. The band took on every aspect of manufacturing the album including dumpster diving for empty cereal boxes to fold into album sleeves, creating the silkscreens for the album art, and hand painting and serial-numbering 600 copies of the album.
Oh My God, Charlie Darwin (2008-2009):
The Low Anthem recorded and self-released its third album, Oh, My God, Charlie Darwin on September 2, 2008. The band traveled to Block Island in the middle of winter and spent ten days recording the tracks that would become the album, with engineer and co-producer Jesse Lauter. After the album was completed, the band returned to the island to handpaint and silkscreen the first 2000 copies of the album. The band did a release tour booked by booking agent Jeff "The Scarecrow" Jones.
While touring, the Low Anthem first gained some recognition in the UK when Rough Trade Shops decided to make it an Album of the Month. End of the Road Festival then booked the band and released a 7" single of "Charlie Darwin" coinciding with the celebration of Darwin Day.
The band signed record deals with both Nonesuch Records and the UK label Bella Union and both rereleased Oh, My God, Charlie Darwin after Bob Ludwig re-mastered the disc. There was new artwork and the track order was resequenced.
In the summer of 2009, the band played US festivals Bonnaroo, Lollapalloza, the Newport Folk Festival, and Austin City Limits. In addition to headlining shows throughout Europe, The Low Anthem also played Glastonbury, Hyde Park Calling, Wireless, and End of the Road Festivals in the UK.
In November, The Low Anthem released its debut music video for Charlie Darwin, a claymation work by Glenn Taunton and Simon Taffe. On November 20, 2009, The Low Anthem made its television debut on Later... with Jools Holland. During its November 2009 tour in Europe, Mat Davidson, an old friend and multi-instrumentalist, joined the band.
The beginning of 2010 saw the band's first US television appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman, where it performed "Charlie Darwin", and a short tour in Europe, including its biggest headlining show at Shepherds Bush Empire. The band returned to the US to support The Avett Brothers and then completed its first headline tour of the USA.
Smart Flesh (2009-2012):
From December 2009 until February 2010, the band recorded its fourth album, Smart Flesh, in the abandoned Porino's pasta sauce factory in Central Falls, RI. The album was engineered by Jesse Lauter and mixed by Mike Mogis (Bright Eyes). The album was released February 22, 2011. The band released "Ghost Woman Blues", the first song on the record as a free download in December on its Web site. The band appeared again on the Late Show with David Letterman on January 12, 2011, performing "Ghost Woman Blues."
Mat Davidson played his last show with the band on July 9, 2011 in Quebec and has since been replaced by multi-instrumentalist Mike Irwin. Upon Davidson's exit, the band noted, "He is a friend, an incredible musician, and we will all miss him dearly." In December 2011, the band added Tyler Osborne to its line-up, stating on its official website, "Our newest Low Anthem member joined us earlier last week at 6:55 PM in Providence, Rhode Island after an eleven-hour pilgrimage from his hometown of Roanoke, Virginia. His name, already given, is Tyler Osborne, and he's as good as they come, a great multi-talented musician, and a great guy. Osborne's first shows with the band were in Canada, whilst the band supported City & Colour.
On December 20, 2011, the band released an album for free under the alter-ego Snake Wagon, entitled Have Fun With Snake Wagon. The album was recorded during the same sessions as Smart Flesh.
The band recently announced plans for a hiatus from touring following its current commitments. An announcement on the band's official website stated, "We know the Darwin/Smart Flesh material inside and out. ... Maybe some artists reach this point and become safer, more refined, imitations of themselves. We're not interested. So, we've decided that this upcoming tour will be the last tour of the chapter. The last tour devoted to this material, this incarnation. A final hurrah. A sweet goodbye. The refined completion of three years of work. It's anything you want it to be, but it will be the last for a while. It's not the end. There is no end. But it's the last one for a while. We have too many unfulfilled ideas in the works to stay out on the road. We've got 40+ new songs in the wings. Two very different albums to record. Blueprints for a handful of electro-light sculptures. But it's going to take some time back home, to turn the page and build a new sound world. To burn the furniture."
Despite the band's announcement of a potential respite from touring, the band continued to tour extensively in support of Smart Flesh.
On March 16, 2012, the band opened for Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band at the Moody Theatre in Austin, Texas. They also joined him onstage, along with Tom Morello, Jimmy Cliff, Eric Burdon, members of Arcade Fire, Joe Ely, and Alejandro Escovedo, for the show's finale cover of Woody Guthrie's "This Land is Your Land."
Arcadia soundtrack and fifth studio album (2012-present):
On February 22, 2012, the band announced that they had recorded a soundtrack album for the forthcoming film, Arcadia. The band's website stated, "The soundtrack is self-engineered and was recorded in a week. It consists of a few composed songs and harvested sections of epic improvised sessions. It was a new process for us."
The band are currently recording their fifth studio album in an abandoned opera house. In June 2013, The Low Anthem revealed that Jocie Adams had left the band to pursue a solo career under the name Arc Iris. She was replaced by Florence Wallis.
Ben Knox Miller - lead vocals, guitar (2006-present),
Jeff Prystowsky - drums, vocals, double bass (2006-present),
Florence Wallis - vocals, violin (2013-present),
Bryan Minto - "space harp", electric guitar (2013-present),
Andy Davis - pianet (2013-present),
Dan Lefkowitz - guitar (2006-2007),
Mat Davidson - bass guitar, various instruments (2009-2011),
Jocie Adams - vocals, clarinet, organ, dulcimer (2007-2013),
Mike Irwin - trumpet, bass guitar, guitar (2011-2013),
Tyler Osborne - electric guitar, bass guitar (2011-2013)
Text from this biography licensed under creative commons license