Interview: Ivan And Alyosha Has Spiritual Concerns, But Folky Twists The Seattle band Ivan and Alyosha counts neither an Ivan nor an Alyosha among its ranks. It takes its name from characters in the Dostoevsky novel The Brothers Karamazov. Turns out the questions of faith in that book can be found in this group's music, too — however inverted.

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(Soundbite of song, "Fathers Be Kind")

GUY RAZ, host:

We recently received a new album by the Seattle-based band Ivan and Alyosha. It's called "Fathers Be Kind." Anyway, we popped the CD into the machine, and we couldn't believe our ears. It almost sounded like something out of the lost archives of George Harrison.

(Soundbite of song, "Fathers Be Kind")

IVAN and ALYOSHA (Music Group): (Singing) Fathers be kind to your children. It never matters what you tell them, gotta feel for them. We'll go ahead and steal for them.

RAZ: And Tim Wilson from Ivan and Alyosha is here with me in the studio. I'm expecting Ivan and Alyosha, as well, in the studio. They are not here. Where are they?

Mr. TIM WILSON (Musician): Right. Man, they're sleeping in the RV.

(Soundbite of laughter)

RAZ: There is no - I should say there is no Ivan. There is no Alyosha in this band.

Mr. WILSON: Exactly.

RAZ: I know some people might get the reference. I certainly didn't.

Mr. WILSON: Right.

RAZ: Can you explain why the band's called Ivan and Alyosha?

Mr. WILSON: Sure. Yeah. It's from a book called "The Brothers Karamazov," an old Dostoevsky novel. A long time ago, when we were doing our first record, we were asking around, and we asked the guy who was producing our first record, Eli Thomson, for a good band name. And he said, what about Ivan and Alyosha? And it stuck.

RAZ: You must get - I mean, at concerts, you must get sort of like these Dostoevsky scholars...

Mr. WILSON: Right.

RAZ: ...or - because he's like James Joyce. He has these people who really know his work.

Mr. WILSON: Exactly.

(Soundbite of laughter)

RAZ: And they'll come up to you and want to have this really in-depth conversation...

Mr. WILSON: Right.

RAZ: ...and you're sort of saying: Well, you know, I've read it, and it's a great book, but I'm sort of a casual reader of the work.

Mr. WILSON: Yeah. And it's taken on a life of its own, in a way, the name.

RAZ: Right. Because one of these characters is a believer and one is not a believer.

Mr. WILSON: Right.

RAZ: A lot of your music is about - or some of your music has religious themes. And I want to ask you about the lyrics on one of the tracks. It's called "Glorify.

(Soundbite of song, "Glorify")

IVAN and ALYOSHA: (Singing) Glorify the Lord above with your drink and making love. Glorify the Lord my son, with your whiskey and your gun.

RAZ: Tell me about this song. What it is about?

Mr. WILSON: It is about - well, this is our best attempt at the Johnny Cash bruiser gospel song. There's a scripture that says: Everything you do, do it to the glory of God. You know, whether you eat or sleep or stand or sit or whether you stay or whether you go.

We just started writing a song about a cabin on a lake. And in a sense, we're coming from that kind of background, but we wanted to write something a little bit more interesting and a little bit more out of the ordinary to your typical gospel song.

But at the same time, it's not poking fun. It is a little bit tongue-in-cheek, but it's just about - it's a story about someone who's screwing up.

(Soundbite of laughter)

RAZ: You guys are from Seattle.

Mr. WILSON: Yeah.

RAZ: And, you know, people still think about Seattle, I think, unfairly. They sort of associate it with grunge or a louder kind of rock sound. Do you think that impression is starting to fade?

Mr. WILSON: With all due respect, people who don't necessarily know what they're talking about, they find out we're from Seattle, and they're like: Are y'all grunge?

(Soundbite of laughter)

But, you know, I think kind of coming off the '90s into the 2000s, there was a - we call it a grunge hangover. And I think now, there's fantastic bands coming out of Seattle. I mean, we're more pop-oriented, which hasn't been as cool in Seattle.

RAZ: Right.

Mr. WILSON: Maybe it still isn't that cool, but I think there's a lot of really fantastic pop bands coming out of Seattle: Head and the Heart, Campfire OK, Pickwick, people writing really great stuff that has nothing to do with grunge.

RAZ: My guest is Tim Wilson. He's from the band Ivan and Alyosha. Their new record is called "Fathers Be Kind." Let's take a listen to another track. This one's called "Living for Someone."

(Soundbite of song, "Living for Someone")

IVAN and ALYOSHA: (Singing) I might just quit my job and sell my fine possessions, expecting our first child amid the great recession.

RAZ: That last lyric, expecting our first child amid the great recession. I gather that's about your story. I mean, you're...

Mr. WILSON: Yeah, yeah.

RAZ: ...I should mention that behind us in the studio is your 11-month-old son Henry.

Mr. WILSON: Yeah.

RAZ: This is about your life.

Mr. WILSON: Yeah. I mean, that line, this is - I call this song almost the anti-recession song.

RAZ: Kind of upbeat. It's an upbeat song.

Mr. WILSON: Yeah. You know, and I've always said this is a song about living beyond your circumstance, but I've been corrected in the past. It's about living despite, you know, despite your circumstance. And we've got it pretty good as a band and my family and my wife Lindsay. And we have so many people around us that support us, but, you know, it's a struggle. And I think with all that's going on...

RAZ: It's scary, right, to bring this human into the world amidst all these things?

Mr. WILSON: Yeah, yeah. Absolutely. It's a little scary, you know, to see all that's going on in the world.

RAZ: And especially, you're a musician. You're in this world that is uncertain, and now you've got this...

Mr. WILSON: Yeah. Yeah. This is one of my favorite songs on the record because it's - I don't know, it's just an inspiring song to me, even when I go back and listen to it.

I wrote that song sitting around looking at my friends. That first line, the world is breaking down, but we are marching forwards. My friends are breaking ground and loving one another. It's almost like, despite what's going on, it's like, dream big. And more importantly, don't make excuses, because I hear a lot of excuses, a lot of young guys my age who have big dreams, have fantastic gifts but aren't using them because they're scared.

RAZ: You're touring right now.

Mr. WILSON: Yeah.

RAZ: You guys are in an RV, travelling all over the country.

Mr. WILSON: Yes, we are.

RAZ: Your wife is in there. Your 11-month-old son is with you. What's that like, being a new dad, having your baby boy on the road with you in the RV?

Mr. WILSON: I kind of lost it a little bit. And I was like - I told my bandmates, I said: If this - if doing this means I can't be with my family, then I can't do it, or we have to figure something else out. I mean, we're all family. My brother's in the band. So - but being on the road, I mean, sometimes it gets a little hairy at 6 a.m. when Henry's screaming his guts out.

RAZ: Especially after a late-night show, probably, yeah.

Mr. WILSON: Right. But, you know, it's like, this is what we're doing. And some people think we're crazy. But Lindsay is the most flexible, lovely woman I've ever met in my life.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. WILSON: But for the most part, it's pretty good.

RAZ: That's Tim Wilson. He's the front man for the band Ivan and Alyosha. Their latest is an EP. It's called "Fathers Be Kind." You can hear a few tracks at our website,

Tim Wilson, thank you.

Mr. WILSON: Thank you so much.

(Soundbite of music)

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