Interviews

The Still Tide Is Anything but Still

The Still Tide's Anna Morsette.
The Still Tide's Anna Morsette. Sophie Calderon
The Still Tide is the creative force of reverberant indie rocker Anna Morsett.

The Still Tide saw its early sound materializing in Brooklyn, where Morsett met her future bandmate Jake Miller and started writing music influenced by her Olympia, Washington, upbringing. Influences from Jimi Hendrix to Pearl Jam and Nirvana coursed through Morsett and Miller’s early compositions, and they tried to find a home for that sound among the hyper-saturated indie-rock scene of late-’90s New York City.

Eventually, Morsett was hired as the bassist for rock band These United States and embarked on a fateful tour that would alter both the sound and the destiny of her music. “We did this really long tour, and over the course of that tour, my partner and I had split up, so I decided to move out of New York,” she says. “I think I was getting really frustrated knowing that all these ideas were there, but you never could get them to fruition.”

After the These United States tour ended, Morsett found herself in limbo, living at her parents' place and disillusioned with the romanticism of the fabled Brooklyn music scene. “I was really depressed after having moved out of New York, and not really sure where my life should go,” remembers Morsett. “After this really long touring season — I think it was from April until December, it was just a brutal long bit of touring — I didn't know where to go.”

At the time, These United States songwriter Jesse Elliott was living in Denver with his girlfriend and invited Morsett out. She took them up on the offer but was still cynical that it was going to do anything. “Jesse and his girlfriend, Lindsay, were like, ‘Just come to Denver. Come out here for a writing retreat or something!’" Morsett recalls. "And I was like, ‘Whatever, fine.”’

In Denver, she started a rootsy rock band with Elliott called Ark Life, which had its own golden moment in Denver before its members scattered to the wind.

However, despite her band dissipating, Morsett fell in love with the scene. “I just couldn't believe how supportive and encouraging and kind everyone was, especially within the music community. I was just so amazed at what would happen when people would be like, ‘What do you do? You have a show coming up? I'll come to your show,'” she says. “I feel like people would say that in New York and then you would never see them. But in Colorado — I remember opening up for some band at hi-dive, and it was my first show in Denver [as a solo artist], so I was really nervous. I had told some people about it, and they were like, ‘Oh, we'll come, we'll bring our friends.’ And I was like, ‘Sure, whatever.’'’ Contrary to what she assumed would happen, these random people showed up and brought their friends.

“It actually made me more nervous, because I was opening for this act I think I was a huge fan of, stepping out into the world as a solo artist," she remembers, "and now all of these people I just met showed up, and I was like, ‘What the fuck?!’”

In Denver, the support of the community and fellow musicians encouraged her to find the space and time necessary to succeed. This was in sharp contrast to the fast-paced nature of Brooklyn. The new context allowed her to focus on the more sentimental, less aggressive side of her songwriting — something that she’d struggled with on the New York City bar circuit, which she believes demanded a more bombastic approach. While she didn’t see the grungier songs she wrote for the NYC underground as being inauthentic, its sound wasn’t where her heart lived. Instead, she wanted to pull from her experience as a guitar technician for bands such as Kaki King and The Tallest Man on Earth, and explore the more timbral side of rock music. She partnered again with Miller — who had also moved to Denver — and formed the Still Tide.

Since then, her career has been on an upward trajectory: She was named by NPR as a Colorado band “on the cusp,” and went on tour to support Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats. Then a pangolin had sex with a bat and the whole world entered lockdown, which stopped the Still Tide's momentum dead in its tracks.

Morsett thought her creativity would flourish during the pandemic, but she found herself missing her community and collaborators. “I think I didn't realize how much I needed other people, because I am an introvert, and all of the songs I love most are written in such a soft, quiet, alone space,” she says. “I had a lot of realizations about how much I need people, which was kind of frustrating, because I love the idea of just being a lone wolf. I was like, ‘I can make all this shit in Pro Tools and I can write all these songs,' but you can only get that so far. I needed my people.”

Those people include the members of the Still Tide, which is a modular entity with Morsett as the only static member. Even Miller is less involved with the band now, contributing creatively here and there remotely from London as he finishes grad school.

However, every time the band turns over and new members emerge, each addition gives a fresh perspective to the compositions, which Morsett believes keeps the band exciting. “I think it's been interesting, because we've had certain players for a few years, and then people's lives just kind of move. And I kind of like that about the project, in the way that it can kind of change hands, and to see what different people will bring to the project is really exciting,” she says. Currently, the band consists of Mark Anderson on drums, Miles Eichner on bass, Dan Vollmar on bass, and Jess Parsons on keys and background vocals. Morsett is especially interested in incorporating more synth work into her compositions, a timbre that she got more in tune with while making music on Pro Tools over the pandemic, and something to which she sees Parsons contributing heavily.

Despite the pandemic and a fresh band, the Still Tide continues its trajectory. Currently, the band is recording music with Ben Wysocki of the Fray and preparing to release a string of singles. It will also be hitting the road with Strand of Oaks in June, and on Saturday, May 14, the Still Tide will play with the Walters at Summit Music Hall.

The Still Tide supports the Walters on Saturday, May 14, at Summit Music Hall, 1902 Blake Street. Tickets are $25.
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