The details are important to Denver indie-rock outfit Turvy Organ. “I like to hide little things throughout the songs and leave it up to the listener to discover them,” says lead vocalist and guitarist Ilya Litoshik. And for those looking, there is plenty to find on the band's new EP, The Ghost at the Feast.
Turvy Organ began as a concept in 2015 when Litoshik quit his job and began writing an album, which would become The Soft Light, the group's first full-length release. He then took those songs to friend and multi-instrumentalist Paul Simmons. “We wanted to keep it a simple album, but it ended up turning into something bigger than I had planned,” says Litoshik.
The Soft Light is a lot of things, but simple is not one of them. Sonically, it wanders all over the place, from folksy guitar to krautrock, showcasing Litoshik’s fearless songwriting. The bandmates knew they needed to expand their numbers to perform the album live, but it didn't quite work out the way they thought it would.
“We turned it into a six-piece, then just as quickly, it fell apart, and we lost half of the members,” recalls Litoshik. "It was just Paul, myself and Tony [Duran], who used to play auxiliary, then took over on drums. When that happened, it was the moment Turvy Organ turned itself into what it is now.
Having the band split sent Litoshik back to the drawing board. “We couldn’t play The Soft Light anymore, because it takes six people to play some of this stuff," he explains. "So I had some old stuff that I had written ten years ago, when I was living in Austin, Texas, that I started to pull out again and rework and rewrite. Then two years later, we have the songs on The Ghost at the Feast.”
Going into recording The Ghost at the Feast, Litoshik and Simmons wanted complete control of the process, so they built out their home studio to make it happen. “We wanted to bring out the details. That is very important to me. And if you’re on a time crunch and there’s money involved with these other studios, it’s very difficult to get the songs to where you personally think they should be,” notes Litoshik.
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The attention to detail paid off as The Ghost at the Feast is a hearty spread of nuanced indie rock. From the meandering opener “South LA” to the single “Chicago," the album nods heavily to the band's early 2000s indie-rock influences like Wolf Parade and Modest Mouse, yet retains something distinctly modern and rooted in Denver.
“It definitely helped that those were the most influential years of my life, so the music obviously had a very big impact. I find myself getting caught up in the nostalgia of that time. It’s a good place to go when life can be pretty dismal,” says Litoshik. “I've listened to [Modest Mouse's] The Lonesome Crowded West a thousand times. Not that I got tired of it, but I wanted something more, and I kind of wanted it right now.”
To release the album, Turvy Organ signed to Denver indie label GROUPHUG, alongside local favorites such as Marti and the Dads, Pout House and Panther Martin. “They're a good group of dudes,” says Litoshik. “What they do is print a special-edition cassette tape, and when they’re gone, they’re gone.”
The Ghost at the Feast EP release, 8:30 p.m. Thursday, June 13, hi-dive, 7 South Broadway, $10.