Megan Saunders and the rest of the members of The Driftless—Blair McLaughlin, Jeffrey Kissell and Rob Smith—love their band. “We have a good time with it,” says Saunders (mandolin, banjo, vocals). “I’ve been in bands off and on for a lot of my life and sometimes it can take a lot of work, but with this group there isn’t any of the ego or drama you tend to get. … It’s fun.” Not only is this evident when speaking with Saunders, who will use some variation of this quote roughly half a dozen times during our interview, but you can sense it in their music, too.
A potent mix of country-folk, jazz, blues and American roots, their creative songs—with titles like “Watercolor Rain” and “Sweet and Salt”—reflect a diversity of sounds and emotions. Such variety has led fans at concerts to make some pretty bold claims about the band. “I would never say this myself,” Saunders begins, “but I’ve heard people say it sounds like we’re making up our own genre.” You can debate whether or not the quartet is blazing a new musical trail, but what is certain is that the band—which is currently recording its full-length debut album—is having a great time making music and is also very serious about it. “We want each song to be the best it can be,” Saunders says. “It’s as if the song is an entity, and we want to raise it up to the best level it can get to, by letting go of ego and treating the song like the most important thing.” Their new record is no exception, she adds. “The songs are pretty emotional and raw. There’s some bite to them. … There aren’t a lot of songs that are pretty or sweet, you know? A couple of them are bluesy and kind of silly though, and in a way, that describes our band perfectly: Silly, raw and dark.”
INFO: 7 p.m. Sunday, May 12. Don Quixote’s, 6275 Hwy 9, Felton. $10. 479-1854.