For Austin Thompson, Collin Krause, John Williams, John Merikoski and Travis Kowalsky, the Way Down Wanderers isn’t just a catchy band name. Though the five young men hail from Peoria, IL, wandering is a part of who they are—sonically, through folk and indie into the heart of bluegrass, emotionally, exploring themes of love, loss, anticipation and frustration and geographically, journeying across the country, not quite ready to put down roots. Since forming in 2013, there’s even been a wandering element to their live shows as they coined the idea of restSTOMPS, spontaneous shows played at rest stops along their travels and announced mere hours before on social media. Soon the guys found that they quite literally had a following— fans were travelling for miles to attend the free performances, with dancefloors springing up and spreading out into parking lots. Critics took note of the guys’ infectious, intricate sound as well; in 2014, Deli Magazine named them Chicago’s Best Emerging Artist, and a year later they came in as finalists in the International Song Writing Competition. All this before they even released a full length album. When it came time to record their self-titled, debut LP, which is set for release on July 15th, they recruited some A-list talent, heading to Sonic Ranch in Texas to work with producer Mike Marsh of the Avett Brothers, Grammy Award winners Jerry Ordonez (engineer) and Neil Cappellino (sound mixing), as well as guest artists Michael Duchette on accordion and Old Crow Medicine Show’s Critter Fuqua.
Today, Elmore is premiering “New Day Dawning” from the band’s upcoming record. The group’s violinist, mandolin player and lead vocalist, Collin Krause, shares, “I wrote this song a number of years back when my family was going through a tough time. There was this moment I realized that there are times when there isn’t an answer and you just have to give the situation time to correct itself. It talks about accepting the situation you’re in and waiting it out, and having faith that things will get better eventually. Mike Marsh worked with us on the tune and really helped us give it that meditative quality you’ll hear in the track.”
The meditative quality rings through on gently repetitive choruses, which build with layers of instrumentation and soaring harmonies as the track progresses. Mandolin, fiddle, banjo and guitar overlaid with tight harmonies lend a distinct bluegrass feel to the track, but the young men create a fresh perspective on the traditional genre. Kause’s high, ringing tenor carries the band’s enchanting, uplifting drive towards positivity, the message that though “there’s dark and fear” in moments of our lives, we have to push through and remember that all will be well in the end.
Listen to “New Day Dawning” below, and catch the guys at the Mercury Lounge on July 26th. See below or head the band’s website for a full list of tour dates now through December.