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Jess Parsons and Steve Varney connected instantly before a songwriting class at the University of Colorado Denver. The initial draw was the fact that aside from being musicians, they were both songwriters, too. Over the course of a week they had off from school during the 2008 Democratic National Convention, they talked about their music and played their music for each other.
At the beginning of 2009, Parsons and Varney — who share vocal duties and are both vocal teachers — released their indie-folk debut, The Annual Demise of Every Aspen, under the Glowing House moniker; they were married a year later. After hearing producer Jamie Mefford's work on Gregory Alan Isakov's albums, they recruited Mefford to produce their second effort, Days Run Out, which also features guest spots from DeVotchKa's Jeanie Schroder and Air Dubai/Petals of Spain trumpeter Wesley Watkins. We spoke with the couple about the new album and the band's name.
Westword: How would you say your new album differs musically from your debut?
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Steve Varney: I think one of the biggest changes was that we were writing with a drummer in mind this time. We didn't have everything written and just asked a drummer to be a metronome. I know that while I was writing particular things, I was already imagining a drumbeat. I've never done that before because it was always, "Oh, my goodness, strum to this" to make it interesting because it was just you. I had to be told to strum a lot less while recording. Writing with a drummer in mind, I think it ended up with a little more of an edge on some stuff.
Jess Parsons: I think it's bigger than we ever even imagined. That wasn't the intent. I think the songs just started to shape themselves, and working with Jamie sort of...there are parts of it — I don't want to use the word "epic" — but coming from where we came from, there were definitely some moments where it gets...
SV: It's more interesting to listen to.
JP: For sure.
SV: Put on some headphones, and you'll hear some things that we put in there deep that are cool. They're little gems in there waiting to be heard.
JP: And also the songwriting aspect, to write more together. We were talking to somebody the other day about it. The songs I wrote tended to be a little more jazzy if you ever listen to the first one, so we've sort of.... I know personally, and especially writing with Steve, I hope we've meshed those together well. I think we've sort of figured out a style as opposed to just sort of writing songs and putting them together.
Is there a story behind the name of the band, Glowing House?
SV: We wanted a warm name. We feel like we write warm, lush, inviting music.
JP: We wanted that imagery, and so the name just came out of a lot of thinking about, to us, what is inviting. We sort of just pictured, like, wintertime, you're walking up to a house and the lights are on, and obviously people live there. It just glows and it looks inviting. That was just sort of the imagery that we had wanted to use for the name.