Music profile: Salt Lake City band Blue Rain Boots | Music | Salt Lake City Weekly

Music profile: Salt Lake City band Blue Rain Boots 

Evolving from a single writer's high-school songs into a full-fledged band.

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  • Jacob Moniz

A five-piece group based in Salt Lake City, Blue Rain Boots makes pop music that doesn't fit easily into any one genre. A vehicle for the songwriting talents of singer and guitarist Simon Griffen, the band recently released its first full-length album, The Grand Idea. But between touring commitments, the group is already busy on its next album, one that looks to take the music in a very different direction.

The earliest Blue Rain Boots release, "Good Old Days," predates the actual group. At that point, Griffen was a freshman in high school. He had been writing songs since middle school, but that song was his first serious foray into the world of recording and releasing music. In addition to composing and singing the song, he played guitar and drums on the recording. "My dad played bass for me," he adds. "Good Old Days" took off on streaming services, and currently the song has more than 2.2 million plays on Spotify.

Griffen met bassist Simon Palo in 2018, when both were still in high school. Shortly after they met, the pair found a drummer and launched Blue Rain Boots as a three-piece band. Today, the group has five members: Griffen and Palo plus lead guitarist Carter Sears, drummer Jackson Price and Courtney Lane on keyboards. The current lineup has been together for a year.

Griffen is the band's primary lyricist, but he's careful not to take all the credit. "I [write] most of the lyrics, but I get help from my partner Simon if I'm in a rut," he says. "I write the chord structures and the music, but then everybody else comes in and makes it sound good."

"One of the things that I really want to do with this iteration of the band is make sure that everyone is as involved as they can be," Griffen says. He emphasizes that he aims to make the album-in-progress a truly collaborative endeavor. "I want to give up as much control as I can," he explains, "and make sure everyone [in the band] feels like it's their album."

Blue Rain Boots is in the midst of a burst of productivity. The current recording sessions follow closely on the heels of The Grand Idea. "That album took us three years to complete; I'm still in school," Griffen relates. "And until we're [as popular as] Taylor Swift, we will all have day jobs."

While there are up-tempo songs on The Grand Idea, its overall character is subtle, displaying jazz influences. The next album, however, will be a departure. "It's [going to be] a lot folkier, a lot more inspired by country music," Griffen says. "But at the same time, it's inspired by pop that's coming out right now." Chuckling inwardly at the apparent contradiction, he adds, "So we'll see how that turns out."

Griffen feels that he has come a long way as a songwriter. "When we started, I was 15," he emphasizes. At that point, making music was for him simply a means of trying to fit in. "Music was a really good 'Hey, look at me,'" he admits candidly. "I feel like that's how a lot of people start in music." Today his lyrics focus on the things that he finds important, "like love, the things that ground me ... and uncertainty. Uncertainty is a big driving force for my lyrics," Griffen says.

While Blue Rain Boots has cultivated a strong following in and around Salt Lake City, the band has also taken their music on tour, wowing audiences as far away as Toronto, Canada. "We played there last summer," says Carter Sears. "It was great. It was crazy to see people who were enjoying our music, who knew who we were even that far from home." That tour found Blue Rain Boots playing 17 shows in 28 days, with dates in Kansas, Nashville, Philadelphia and New York, with additional dates in the Midwest on the way back home.

En route to the Canada gig, Sears drove the vehicle that was towing a trailer with the band's gear. He says that getting through the border check was "a little bit nightmarish. But other than that, it was super fun." He mentions that at the bar where they performed, Griffen shot a game of pool with a local guy. "That guy tried to give us drugs to take back across the border," Sears says with a hearty laugh. "We had to say no."

Touring is a gamble; one never knows quite what to expect. But that's part of the excitement. "It's interesting jumping from place to place," says Price. "We're like, 'We have no idea how many people we might be performing in front of. A thousand? Two?'"

But all of the band members enjoy touring. "One of the most fun things is how many friends we've made," says Palo. Griffen smiles as he names the biggest surprise that Blue Rain Boots has encountered as the group plays in cities across the country. "It's great when people [in the audience] sing our songs," he says. "Especially when it's in a town that we've never been to before. That's the best feeling in the world, truly."

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