Innocent Man is Guilty of Rocking 

Boise Band Prepares to Release its Debut Album

Don't be guilty of missing Innocent Man at Visual Arts Collective, Saturday, Feb. 9.

Skyler Nokes

Don't be guilty of missing Innocent Man at Visual Arts Collective, Saturday, Feb. 9.

A quiet Garden City wine warehouse seemed like an unlikely location to find musicians rocking out on a frosty Wednesday evening.

Beyond a set of roll-up industrial doors and up a flight of stairs, a small white room held the six musicians who make up Boise band Innocent Man, seven large upright speakers, four microphones with stands, lots of instruments, piles of black cables and a trash bin full of empty beer bottles.

"We rent it for a very, very, very small fee," explained guitarist and vocalist Scott Sprague, who spends his days working for Idaho Wine Merchants.

The warehouse loft acts as a clubhouse for mid-week rehearsals. Crammed inside the space on a recent evening, Innocent Man began cranking through a set list of 25 folk, classic rock and Americana-influenced songs, which were all typed out on a sheet of paper attached to a nearby speaker.

"The whole idea when we first started out, it was like a guys' poker night," said Sprague. "We'd get together a few hours per night, bang on some drums, and then we got to a point, like, 'Shit, this is good.'"

That's because much of the group has played together in bands over the years.

Sprague and guitarist Dan Burns grew up together in McCall, playing in the high-school jazz band and in their parents' garages. Bassist Conlyn McCain and keyboardist Tim Callender were raised in Payette, and though drummer Josh Sears was raised in Cody, Wyo., he may as well be from Idaho at this point. Together, the five men played in bands Classic Ashley, Enormous G and Red House, but they didn't come back together until they all returned to Idaho almost 10 years after Red House broke up.

"We all kind of scattered to the four winds," said Sprague. "And really, around the same time, came back together."

But the guys agree: Innocent Man wasn't a serious project until violinist Lindsey Terrell came along.

"My husband works with Tim's wife, and she said Tim was in a bluegrass band," Terrell explained.

"That's that lie I was telling you about," Callender interrupted.

"... And I said, 'You know, it's time for me to pick that thing up again,'" Terrell said.

Though she hadn't played her violin in eight years, she agreed to meet for a rehearsal with the band.

"It was kind of like being set up on a blind date," she said.

That's when "something kicked off," according to the band. More than two years later, Innocent Man is set to release its first album, the 12-track Home Grown, with a party at Visual Arts Collective Saturday, Feb. 9.

"It's a wide range of different snapshots in songwriting and in band evolution," said Sprague.

The goal for the album was to capture the band's live performances, which blends percussive rock, vocal harmonies, skilled technical work and a dash of guitar solo panache.

"We were playing live a lot; we were practicing every week and we were really tight," said Sprague. "We knew exactly what we wanted to accomplish."

But the band wasn't looking for a heavily produced sound.

"We wanted to make sure the songs played on the album could be replicated live, in person. We didn't want to do 6 trillion overdubs of 14 guitar parts, and 18 organs and X, Y, and Z," said Sprague.

The band finished Home Grown despite busy day jobs and families.

"It's a struggle to balance home life, work life and this life because this is obviously more than a hobby at this point," said Sprague.

During the day, Callender and Sears are both attorneys, inspiring the band's name. Meanwhile, McCain and Burns are engineers and Sprague distributes beer and wine.

"Lindsey is really the only full-time musician in the band," said Callender.

Terrell plays in Boise bands StoneSeed and Ophelia when she isn't playing shows with Innocent Man.

Even though band members spent years apart, music never stopped being a part of their lives.

"The reason I left Red House, which was a really sad day for me, was to go to law school," said Callender. "I've always had these weird tracks in my life; I'm doing this, I'm doing that, but if I'm not playing music, I'm not happy."

But the band said limited time leads to a stronger focus on making music.

"One of the things that forces us to do this the way we want to is we don't have time to do lots of experimental stuff. ... If we don't like it, we're not going to spend a lot of time on it because we have kids and all this other stuff. We always said it was supposed to be just fun," said Sears.

When asked what they would do if the band got bigger, members were torn.

"I think a lot of us sort of daydream about it," said Burns.

Sprague said it would have to feel right.

"I think, yes, it would be amazing to be full-time on the road. But I do, at the same time, want to preserve the musical integrity. ... If it starts becoming for the money, or starts becoming for something else, I think the intent is not that pure," Sprague said. "And that doesn't really interest me."

For now, Innocent Man is focusing on playing shows in Idaho and beyond. As the album's name, Home Grown, implies, the band is proud to represent its Idaho roots.

"I think it does have to do with the fact that it's very down to the roots," said Callender. "It's from a place that we call home."

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