Shovels & Rope perform in The Current studio

Shovels & Rope perform their song "I Know" from their 2016 album, "Little Seeds," live in the studio of 89.3 The Current. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
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Shovels & Rope perform in The Current studio (full session + interview)
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| 18:36
  • Shovels & Rope perform in The Current studio (full session + interview) 18:36
  • Shovels & Rope - I Know (live on The Current) 03:13
  • Shovels & Rope - This Ride (live on The Current) 03:11
  • Shovels & Rope - Botched Execution (live on The Current) 03:08

If art is defined by its limitations, Shovels & Rope have fully embraced that idea.

Throughout their existence, Shovels & Rope have always been a two-piece, consisting of Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent; they have no plans to expand that lineup. "This is the way that that we like to do it," Trent says. "I feel like it's the way that keeps us the most creative; we're trying out new instruments and we're always kind of morphing and doing things a little bit different to try to stretch our legs. I feel like working in that box is better for us. The results are better."

The most recent result is the band's fifth studio album, Little Seeds, released on Oct. 7, 2016. Now touring in support of the album, Shovels & Rope stopped at The Current studio for a session hosted by Bill DeVille on United States of Americana.

Exemplifying Trent's statement about the band's ability to morph and do things differently, with Little Seeds, Shovels and Rope went in some new artistic directions. "I feel like this record is just more extreme," Trent says. "It's probably as heavy as we've ever been, musically. It's also as sparse as we've ever been. There's a lot of personal songs on here, which is something that's a little bit different for us, because we like to write a lot of character-based songs."

That said, they're not afraid they'll scare away longtime fans. "Anybody that's been along with us for a while knows that we're very non-committal to genre," Hearst says. "We always kind of float in a couple different areas. We definitely have explored our rock 'n' roll side, and ["I Know"] is very much an indulgence in the spirit of rock 'n' roll that we love."

In addition to being musical partners, Hearst and Trent are married, and now they're also parents of a young child. Little Seeds was recorded at home, and the care taken not to wake the baby may have actually helped the final product. "Recording the record was very tricky with the baby in the house," Hearst says. "I think that Michael and I have always thrived when circumstances aren't ideal … The challenge of having a baby in the house might have been the medicine that we didn't know we needed."

Hearst and Trent also think becoming parents may have transformed the prism through which they view the world, perhaps making them more sensitive as people and as songwriters. "The message of the record is a lot to do with grief and also extreme joy," Trent says. "We've experienced a lot of both in the past couple years."

Use the audio player above to listen to the complete session with Shovels & Rope, including how they've enjoyed their gently paced trajectory as artists, the relationships they've built with venues of various sizes, and the fun they had touring last year with Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires.

Songs Performed


"I Know"
"This Ride"
"Botched Execution"
All songs from Shovels & Rope's 2016 album, Little Seeds, available on New West Records.

Hosted by Bill Deville
Produced by Derrick Stevens
Engineered by Michael DeMark and Jalen Russell
Visuals by Nate Ryan
Web feature by Luke Taylor

Resources

Shovels & Rope - official site

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12 Photos

  • Shovels & Rope perform in The Current studio.
    Shovels & Rope prepare to perform in The Current studio. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Shovels & Rope perform in The Current studio.
    Shovels & Rope perform in The Current studio. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Michael Trent of Shovels & Rope
    Michael Trent of Shovels & Rope performs in The Current studio. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Shovels & Rope perform in The Current studio.
    Shovels & Rope perform in The Current studio. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Shovels & Rope perform in The Current studio.
    Shovels & Rope perform in The Current studio. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Cary Ann Hearst of Shovels & Rope
    Cary Ann Hearst of Shovels & Rope performs in The Current studio. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Shovels & Rope perform in The Current studio.
    Shovels & Rope perform in The Current studio. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Shovels & Rope perform in The Current studio.
    Shovels & Rope perform in The Current studio. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Cary Ann Hearst of Shovels & Rope
    Cary Ann Hearst of Shovels & Rope (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Shovels & Rope perform in The Current studio.
    Shovels & Rope perform in The Current studio. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Michael Trent of Shovels & Rope
    Michael Trent of Shovels & Rope performs in The Current studio. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Cary Ann Hearst of Shovels & Rope
    Cary Ann Hearst of Shovels & Rope performs in The Current studio. (Nate Ryan | MPR)

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