Finn Riggins Next Chapter 

Boise band prepares to take a break

Eric Gilbert has a theory: He believes that everything runs in cycles of seven years.

He sees his band Finn Riggins as a case in point. Although no one planned it this way, the band's Neurolux show on Thursday, Aug. 1, will fall exactly on its seven-year anniversary.

Appropriately, it will be the last chance to see the celebrated local trio for a while. Finn Riggins announced on its website in May that Lisa Simpson, the band's lead singer/guitarist and Gilbert's wife, is pregnant with their first child (due Tuesday, Nov. 5). After the Neurolux show, the band will go on hiatus both to have the baby and to work on new material.

"It's hard to believe," Simpson said of her band turning 7 years old.

Gilbert and Simpson consider Aug. 1, 2006, Finn Riggins' "birthday" because that's the day they and drummer Cameron Bouiss moved to Hailey. Prior to that, the three were roommates at the University of Idaho. Gilbert met Simpson several years earlier in Vermont.

"We sort of dabbled in a band," Gilbert said, "and then, [Lisa] was basically like, 'Come back to me when you're ready for this.'"

"That wasn't my perception," Simpson countered with a laugh.

However their fated meeting went, the couple moved to Moscow in 1999 and met Bouiss in the spring of 2000.

"The scene there at the time was really vibrant," Gilbert said. "And it ebbs and flows with the various students and stuff, but I remember it was very empowering."

He also remembered that the Moscow scene was particularly supportive of original music.

"Being a cover band was not an option there, so it really pushed you. People were excited about really engaging, fresh, wild music," he said.

Seeking a creative community like the one it had known in Moscow, Finn Riggins moved from Hailey to Boise in 2009. An invitation to contribute to the Anneliessa Balk-helmed Rotating Tongues II compilation CD opened the band's eyes to the richness of the Boise scene.

"I just remember there being such a cool camaraderie amongst all of the musicians there," Gilbert said, "and there was this whole sensation of a lot of us [forgetting] the others existed or didn't even know, in my case."

Being an unknown musician was much more typical back then, Gilbert said:

"[A]t the time, there wasn't a lot of media coverage--from the Boise Weekly or anyone--of the local scene. So from the outside, it looked like there was no bands here. And then I remember that I was like, 'There's all these cool bands here.'"

Finn Riggins set down roots, recording its album Vs. Wilderness at AudioLab studio in 2009, followed by extensive touring, playing more than 200 shows per year across the United States. When the band decided to scale back on touring, Gilbert promoted shows around Boise, using the contacts he'd made playing all over the country. Since he had already set up shows in Moscow and booked the band's tours, it was a natural fit. For Gilbert, booking is a way to repay debts.

"For years, I'd been essentially receiving favors from people all over the country," he said, "from sleeping on their floors to them setting up shows for us. ... It felt [like] it was definitely time to start returning those favors."

Gilbert does just that with Duck Club Presents, the promotion company for which he books concerts both in Boise and across the United States, including the Treefort Music Fest.

For example, he showed little hesitation when local musicians Bronwyn Leslie and Kelsey Swope asked him to help book a 10-week, U.S.-Canada tour for their new project Psycho Adorable. Though he knew both artists and booked shows for their solo acts--Lionsweb and Grandma Kelsey, respectively--they hadn't even played as a duo in Boise yet. (Psycho Adorable will play its first show at the Crux on Wednesday, Aug. 21; see Noise News, this page.)

"But Eric didn't doubt us," Swope said. "I give him props for that. He was just like, 'All right, can you guys do it?' And we were like, 'Yeah.'"

"I just love their music, and I love them as people," Gilbert said. "And why wouldn't I help them if I can?"

Generosity and willingness to take risks don't always translate into financial profit, though. "Mostly, we like to help Eric out as much as possible," Swope said, "because he doesn't really make any money off of us."

Megan Stoll, Duck Club marketing director and Gilbert's assistant at live concerts, agreed.

"We don't make any money," Stoll said. "We kind of basically have a cycle: 'OK, so we made money on this show. This show, we lost money.'"

Still, Stoll said that she takes pride in how Duck Club Presents gives concertgoers a chance to hear high-quality music at reasonable prices--and not just established acts like Animal Collective, but up-and-comers like the Soft White Sixties.

For his part, Gilbert said he approaches Treefort and Duck Club with his eye more on art than commerce.

"We are trying to make it [Treefort] sustainable, but we're not thinking, 'OK, if we book this, we'll make this much money.' Duck Club as well; we don't think of it on those terms," he said. "Otherwise, we'd be getting Bieber more often."

Gilbert can't say just how his new fatherly duties will impact work with Duck Club. As for the future of Finn Riggins, taking some time off is part of the adventure.

"I think for me, it's always been, 'OK, let's see what's going to be thrown at us next,'" Simpsons aid. "And certainly, we're at that crossroads right now, with starting a family at the same time."

But that has always been part of the plan.

"It wasn't an either/or when we decided to start the band; we knew that this would be something that we chose as well," she said.

Still, they have to pay the bills.

"So I'm hoping that that can continue, that Eric can continue doing what he loves," Simpson said, "because I know how much he loves it."

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