So if you thought The Muteflutes have been in hiding, you’d be right.
Back in January, the Grand Rapids-based indie-folk group packed up their gear, got out of town and headed for one of the least-likely mid-winter destinations around: Minneapolis.
Once there, they holed up together at The Hideaway Studio, and a week later emerged with their third LP, naturally titled: Hideaway Love.
Hideaway Love Album Release Show
Tip Top Deluxe Bar & Grill
June 4, 8 p.m.
“It was really this tucking away and tucking in, and just getting into this music together,” singer/songwriter/guitarist Micah McLaughlin said of the album’s title. “We sort of ran away from the city and tucked ourselves into the studio, and just made this music which is this deep expression of who we are as individuals and who we are as a band.”
The group worked on the new album with New Jersey-based producer Darenn Vermaas. Originally from Grand Rapids, Vermaas contacted the band after seeing them on TV and asked if he could work with them. When they agreed, he came to Grand Rapids for several of their shows and practices over the past two years while the new songs slowly came to life.
“It was almost like an alternative world,” McLaughlin said of recording at The Hideaway. “You leave your family, leave your relationships, leave your job, leave your city, and go to this other place and do this thing that you don’t ever do, which is be in the studio for 12 to 14 hours a day. So it was a bit surreal, but the process was really incredible. We started the week and then seven days later you have an entire album done.”
A performer and songwriter since his late teens, McLaughlin, 34, first met Muteflutes bassist Adam Thompson through an alternative church called Lighthouse, where they began performing some of his songs. Wildey came on, joining the band together with McLaughlin’s wife Erica, and former drummer Chad Houseman. Later, when Houseman and Erica McLaughlin left for other pursuits, the group called upon longtime friend Levi Gardner to play drums, and he soon suggested they add pianist/vocalist Marie Dornan, whom he’d met at Mars Hill Bible Church in Grandville.
“I think that when we first got together it was for sort of a one-off show and something magical happened,” McLaughlin said. “At that time we had a lot of three-part harmonies and stuff, and I think that sort of stuck. We were all at the stage of life where we were starting to raise families and get married and all that, and yet we all wanted that musical outlet still that we had growing up.”
Focusing on friendship and finding an almost family-like connection, the group not only grew in size but in musical dimension. They added texture and depth to the singer-songwriter feel of their first LP, 2011’s The Ballad of the Rebel Grape, and expanded even more with their second LP, 2014’s American Dream, which won a Jammy Award for Best Contemporary Folk album.
Their latest effort draws upon their relationships, both within the band and their families, as well as a greater sense of connection that they all feel.
“I’ve never been a guy that writes lots of love songs,” McLaughlin said. “And while there are some love songs on this album, there’s a theme of depth of spirituality that comes out in the music. … To me this album is the closest to what I think The Muteflutes’ sound is, and that goes all the way from pretty folky-pop to pretty hard rock. We have a section in one song where it’s really not Americana — it’s not folk — it’s rock. And it has a spoken word rap in the middle of a song that’s so different from anything we’ve ever done, and yet I still think that sound is The Muteflutes.”
You can listen to Hideaway Love at muteflutes.bandcamp.com/.