Finn Riggins
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Finn Riggins

Boise, Idaho, United States | INDIE

Boise, Idaho, United States | INDIE
Band Alternative Rock


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This band has not uploaded any videos



"Finn Riggins, a band from Idaho plays music that traverses American psyche"

Like Pink Floyd before him, Finn Riggins isn't a real person. Finn Riggins is a band from Idaho that tours year-round, playing music that traverses the American psyche from buzzing urban centers to lonely rural sprawls.

Finn Riggins is made up of real people who thought it would be fun to name their band after an imaginary character they could send on adventures. Their first full-length album, released in 2007 on Portland label Tender Loving Empire, told of "A Soldier, A Saint, An Ocean Explorer." The artwork featured sea-green tentacles wrestling with what might have been an albino phoenix.

For his most recent adventure, the members of Finn Riggins -- keyboardist and vocalist Eric Gilbert, guitarist and vocalist Lisa Simpson, drummer and vocalist Cameron Bouiss -- have pitted their protagonist "Vs. Wilderness," and the mental movie it inspires is epic.

"It's a little more cohesive," Gilbert says. "It's still playing with a lot of styles, but it's a little more cohesive."

Surely, he's just being modest. The music ranges from thrashing rock to airy steel drum sidetrips; from ascending bubbles of synthesizer to country twang. If the musicians find ways of making those stylistic fusions and transitions less jarring, that's one thing. But cohesive? That almost sounds peaceful.

"We didn't want to have any rules," Gilbert says of the band's formation, which took place at the University of Idaho around the year 2000. Since then, they've become road warriors, playing 200 shows a year. They've sent themselves on the adventures for which they created the character Finn Riggins.
Coming up
Finn Riggins
When: 9 p.m. Saturday
Where: Mississippi Studios, 3939 N. Mississippi Ave.
Tickets: $10, 503-288-3895 or mississippistudios .com
Also appearing: Hosannas, Empty Space Orchestra

Like the time they were in Savannah, Ga., and a fan was so moved by their performance that he took them on a late-night/early-morning tour of the city in a convertible hearse, regaling them with stories of wars and ghosts.

"Vs. Wilderness" was recorded in the midst of their 2009 tour. The music is part indie-rock and part progressive rock, and would sound at home pouring from the jukebox in a roadhouse or wafting from the sound system at Mississippi Studios, where the band plays Saturday night. Given this mingling of the space-age and the rustic, it makes sense that the band would come to the attention of Built to Spill, with whom they toured last year.

Gilbert attributes the appeal of the band's sound to its members' distinctive styles. Simpson played primarily acoustic rhythm guitar before joining, and even her lead parts still bear the marks of that very different attack. Bouiss brings both percussive variety and relentless rhythmic motivation to the songs. Gilbert, with his keyboards, provides the atmosphere -- and technological counterpoint -- with his electric leads.

"The possibilities are endless," he says of Finn Riggins' instrumentation. "You can change the texture and tone a lot."

"It has that weird, sort of tech-y vibe to it, almost electronic. But there's a human playing it."

Jake Ten Pas is a Portland freelance writer;
- The Oregonian

"A Soldier, A Saint... SLUG Mag album review"

Finn Riggins
A Soldier, A Saint, An Ocean Explorer
Tender Loving Empire
Street: 11.13
Finn Riggins = Mates of State + Rilo Kiley

Now, don’t get me wrong—I don’t have a vendetta against Idaho, but when I read that Finn Riggins’ place of origin was Hailey, Idaho, I cringed a little. However, my next thought was, “Well, if Built To Spill came out of Boise, then anything’s possible.” I was right in my second assertion, because Finn Riggins’ A Soldier, A Saint, An Ocean Explorer exceeded my expectations and gave me quite the pleasant surprise. The album’s name is a reference to the shape-shifting, working-class spirit that roams the Pacific Northwest searching for his body, and their music’s sound parallels this ghostly search. It travels with their experimental/indie vibe that roams to all ends of the music spectrum. The dueling vocals of Lisa Simpson and Eric Gilbert complement each other and are equally as good apart from one another. I guess Hailey, Idaho, isn’t so bad after all. (Dec. 21, Burt’s Tiki Lounge) –Jeremy C. Wilkins
- SLUG Magazine / SLC, UT

"Best of CMJ: Finn Riggins + the whole goddamn Portland Fest"

"Today's Portland dayshow might have been the better showcase of CMJ, what with its free coffee and infinite weirdness. Portland's is the only scene strange enough to make Baltimore look sane, and the three floors of the Knit were crammed with one deeply odd act after another: there was Rob Walmart, who performed out of a converted ice cream truck parked on Leonard Street; Tenlons Fort, a hefty, nerdy looking fellow who sings heartrending R&B over homemade backing tracks, and Starfucker, whose two synths-two drum sets-three samplers-fifteen pedals-a four-track-two guitars and a turntable setup is one of the most elaborate this correspondent has ever seen.

But the best band of the day was Hailey, Idaho-based Finn Riggins, a guitar, synth and drum combo that plays pulsating, anxious post-punk that has an arrestingly ramshackle quality to it. Their sound is simultaneously full and stripped-down: there's very little looping and no reverb; only labyrinthine songwriting and epic, often ecstatically-shouted choruses. They were kind enough to give me a demo to review; unfortunately I set it down at the showcase's free coffee bar and didn't realize this until I returned to my apartment uptown.

Listening to their Myspace was like getting a swift kick in the gut: much to my horror, I learned that I had just misplaced one of the best records of the year. So for the love of God, Finn Riggins, if you're reading this, please send me another copy of A Soldier, A Saint an Ocean Explorer. Reviews will be nothing if not hyperbolically good." -- Armin Rosen / Impose Magazine / CMJ Music Marathon 2008 (NYC) - Impose Magazine blog

"Westword's 2009 top national releases"

Finn Riggins, Vs. Wilderness (Tender Loving Empire). Fascinatingly eclectic throughout, this is the sound of a talented band flexing its creative muscles with songs that weave together jubilant pop music, classical structure and an experimental edge. Artistically ambitious and playful, Vs. Wilderness hooks you with infectious melodies but keeps your attention with its imaginative songwriting. — Tom Murphy - Denver Westword

"Boulder Weekly feature Dec. 2009"


Idaho indie wunderkinds Finn Riggins are on quite a roll, touring sizeable venues this fall with the likes of Built to Spill and showcasing the trio’s diverse and wonderful new long-play Vs. Wilderness.

Multiinstrumentalists and University of Idaho music graduates Cameron Bouiss, Eric Gilbert and Lisa Simpson having been playing hundreds of shows a year since their inception in 2006. Finn Riggins, with their joyfully eccentric indie-pop workouts that juxtapose XTC, Blondie and the Poster Children, might not yet attract the kind of scenester crowd that flocks to the latest Sonic Youth- or Slowdive-inspired outfit, but the band’s calculated harmonies and impressive poly-rhythms are irreverent and beautiful, as are the group’s quirky lyrics.

And as keyboardist/guitarist/singer Eric Gilbert told me in a recent interview, Finn Riggins’ word-ofmouth momentum and rampant touring (which brings them to the tiny Laughing Goat coffeehouse in Boulder on Sunday) makes the blossoming young band “a sustainable project.”

Boulder Weekly: First off, how did this band get together and how have the initial stabs at touring gone?

Eric Gilbert: We all met at the University of Idaho in Moscow, Idaho, around 2000 and collaborated in several projects before moving to Hailey, Idaho, in August of 2006 and forming Finn Riggins as our new full-time focus. The name was loosely inspired by two small Idaho towns we often drove through, but the vision was to create a character name for which we could write the story to. Since then we’ve been touring the U.S. pretty heavily, and it’s been going great. The last couple of years we’ve played over 500 shows in 37 states and one Canadian province. It’s all been pretty incredible on multiple fronts and the project has grown a lot over this relatively short time due to the amount of playing we’ve been doing and the focus we’ve had. We tend to take one step at a time. Our general goal is to make this a sustainable project so that we can continue to write and record albums and continue to play our music all over North America and beyond.

BW: What impressed me straight about Vs. Wilderness was the inability I had to immediately pin down your influences.

EG: This is something we struggle with as well. We truly struggle to pinpoint any direct influences, musical or otherwise. [Finn Riggins] came out of about seven years of gestating in a very free-form and open-minded music scene in Moscow, where we experimented with all kinds of different takes on writing and performing original music. Combined with a lot of broad listening — I was a DJ at KUOI (the college radio station at U of I) — we were all in music school and Lisa and I were taking writing classes and art classes and whatever else, as well as seeing tons of touring bands coming through. When we moved to Hailey and began this project, we all agreed on a couple of things: we wanted to only perform music we wrote, we wanted to tour and play live a lot, and we wanted to be open to opportunities and ideas of any sort. And from there what we’ve created has been a product of us as filters for all that we had consumed and experienced. That’s always changing, especially with all the travel we do and all the different bands and artists we come in contact with. From the get-go we considered it a sort of art project more than a band … I would agree that it’s morphed pretty clearly into being a band, but our attitude and openness toward it hasn’t really changed. Things just seem to keep happening, but a lot of that obviously has to do with thefact that we keep paddling this boat and keeping our eyes and ears open.

BW: Your lyrics are curious: giraffes and a whole load of other presumably zany but effective things. Who writes them and what would you say is the overall vision for what Finn Riggins’ lyrics have to say?

EG: All three of us are very involved in the writing process, and it’s very balanced when it comes to the music, [but] Lisa and I tend to write most of the lyrics. Our approach to lyrics is as varied as our approach to the rest of what we do. There’s no overall vision. It’s a very case-by-case basis. However, Lisa and I both studied writing to differing degrees in college and take lyrics very seriously ... even when they’re not serious at all.

BW: The harmonies on your records are remarkable. Have you all been singing since childhood, and how long have you all been singing together?

EG: Lisa usually takes the lead with most of the crafting of vocals, and coaches Cam and I through our parts if necessary. Lisa’s been singing since childhood; [she’s] by far the most adept at singing, both lead and harmony, but all three of us were in choirs in college and have been singing “professionally” for several years now. We don’t tend to overwork our vocals too much; most of it tends to be what comes out when writing the song and what feels natural.

BW: What’s the funniest thing that’s happened on the road so far?

EG: Impossible to claim one as the funniest. So many random and incredible things happen on tour; it’s a constant challenge to convey it to others. Sorry I can’t come up with something simple like my pants falling to my ankles in the middle of a set or one of us getting locked in a truck-stop bathroom or something like that. We’ll keep working on it. - Boulder Weekly

"OPB Music Blog Interview: Finn Riggins + Review: 'Vs Wilderness' New CD"

by Zaph Mann

I first saw Finn Riggins live at Slabtown, a small venue and I knew nothing of them. They stunned me. I got their album A SOLDIER, A SAINT, AN OCEAN EXPLORER and it won my vote for best of 2008. To the burnt-out music cynic (not me!) who asked when, if ever, I was actually “blown away” by an act, I now had an instant response. As I reported then: - “Finn Riggins. The peak. They shocked and stunned: Truly amazing, like a locomotive storming into a barn... in years to come this could be the band you wish you were on the front wave of.”

Surely Finn Riggins’ new album Vs Wilderness had to disappoint, surely. Well, for a suspended, brief time, it did: For about one listen. Two, three plays, and I was having another experience, it wasn’t the same sonic masterpiece of ’08, but it was already up among the best of ’09.

I requested the album lyrics (some band’s words are best undisclosed, Finn Riggins’ add, flip and transform songs to present a dish of alternative takes: a real kettle of fish). Soon, in came the missing lyrics... and off came the kettle’s lid.

Now I wonder if Vs Wilderness may be even better than it’s predecessor. This is power, this is class, these people write with deep intention but don’t bring the music down, instead they let loose controlled energy and sheer joy across ever shifting rock-scapes. You can go see them live and just dance-off, or you can listen in to a fine set of observations of the American experience. What you can’t do is ignore it: This is infectious, relentless and the only performance/album I’m reviewing in several years that’s a 7 out of 7.

Read about the full facts elsewhere, here’s the gist: - Eric Gilbert plays 3 full keyboards (and no tinker-toys), & sings & sweats. Lisa Simpson sings (yes like Natalie Merchant of 10,000 Maniacs) and subjugates guitar in a manner that will have Thurston Moore salivating. Cameron Bouiss holds the whole monster together with a full drum kit, driving the rhythms on without appearing to move; a zen presence with a West Indies steel tease.

Read below,my reactions to the songs on Vs Wilderness, or jump to a truly surreal interview that is the multifarious result of notes flying out of windows, camera theft, spilt liquid bleeding over ink scratchings and of course, blurred memories...

Zaph Mann Copyright: Zaph Mann 2009+. Reproduction with attribution is fine. Original publisher: 2009

Finn Riggins PDX CD RELEASE PARTY - 10/10 PORTLAND, OR @ Berbati’s Pan
w/ Jared Mees & The Grown Children + World’s Greatest Ghosts + Typhoon

Vs Wilderness - The songs

Vs Wilderness has songs of admiration, songs of challenge and songs to shift perspective.
Yeah, yeah, yeah... well, not much of that. Is this the ridicule of cliches? No soppy love songs, no nonsense; it’s more than any individual’s thought, it’s what’s happening on a wider landscape, or imagination - thoughts laid out while the music does the thumping and hammering. Take these samples:

‘Wake’ - a song reminiscent of Talking Heads on More Songs About Buildings and Food: “Building homes lies in all our thoughts / spent my life tryin’ to get what I haven’t got / what I got is what I sought / holes and holes, holes in my socks / carving trees into table tops/ planting crops in our backyard lots / See the birds in the graveyard / grey as the stone / press the snow against your heart / see your breath against the frozen trees”

‘Wake’ finishes with a prolonged refrain which echoes through America’s financially devastated backwaters “gotta keep this town alive / gotta keep this town alive / gotta keep us all alive”.
The infectious, uptempo, rock ’n’ roll dance beat disguises the angst of this song, or perhaps signals the counterpoint that is hope.

‘Dali’ -
If you don’t know Salvador Dali ‘s work, or you think he just painted weird pictures, go check him out at a book store, then listen to this homage which ends with “Dali painting the sky / Gala / Lorca / Dali painting the sky//”. Idaho is a place dominated by The Sawtooth Mountains, which the Vs Wilderness artwork seems to reference, there, in late summer you can watch the Perseid Meteor showers (shooting stars) minute by minute - and it’s Finn Riggins painting the aural sky.

Need a road-trip song fix? Not me, usually. In Furs, Finn riggins have updated the American road song, will Mellancamp or Springsteen cover it? Lowell George (Little Feat) would have lived to write this song:
“Drive-in movie screen burned down late last July / left a burning parking lot at the corner of Blaine and Oxford Tennessee / in the middle of rush hour traffic / can’t get my window to roll down in this heat /” ...
“not sure what to make of the bridge over the Mississippi River / we used to cross it in wagons / we used to trade our furs for directions, trade our furs / the shirts shirts shirts we sweat through / the shirts shirts shirts we build in / the shirts shirts shirts we play in / the shirts shirts shirts we drive in//”

These songs are about meaning, about choices and about conflicting pressures. It’s no wonder that Finn Riggins’ music is so charged given such downright honest and emotional observation of the human condition. America changes and needs fresh perspectives. And although the songs the usual pop personalization, the reach is such that it may reveal strains in the emotions of the band as revealed by: “I try to quiet this mind of mine/ to break the drone of storylines” - and doubts too in a repeating refrain: “We’ve got the same old cause”.

Good writing hurts a bit, wrings the soul, no need here for doubts.

published October 2009
- Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB) - Portland, OR

"A Soldier, A Saint, An Ocean Explorer: 8/10"

chops \’chäps\ noun plural alteration of chap c.1589 1 : JAW 2 a : MOUTH b : the fleshy covering of the jaws (a dog licking its chops) 3 : EMBOUCHURE; broadly : the technical facility of a musical performer 4 : expertise in a particular field or activity (acting chops)

By definition, the members of Finn Riggins have chops. Inarguably: the whole jaw-mouth-teeth-lips assemblage. Yup, no Daisy St. Patience in this crowd. Less empirically: technical expertise of a specifically musical nature. Chops, man!

Given, Finn Riggins's proper members Cameron Bouiss, Eric Gilbert, and Lisa Simpson each have a degree in music from the University of Idaho, whereat the undergraduate trio first began performing together, however informally. But academic credentials don’t necessarily count for much in the world of popular music, what with the presumed fustiness and overly-technical études of classically-trained musicians often taking second chair to the balls-and-vagina-out grassroots approach of garage rockers and the self-taught exploits of rock-n-roll’s esteemed wunderkinder. Slash may have dropped out of high school, but Frédéric Chopin never had panties or hotel keys thrown at him mid-performance, y’know? Flowers, gifts, and applause, maybe, but nary a thong e’er graced the piano of that celebrated Polish prodigy.

Okay, so it was the Romantic period, and thongs probably were not commonly worn, let alone easily removed and thrown at concert pianists. Still, undergarment asides aside, it’s hard to rival the sensual appeal of feral musicianship, the mystery of the wilderness brought in for the amusement and amazement of milquetoast civility and its textbook routines. Yes, musicologists and academicians have their chromatics and harmonics, their off-time signatures, notations, and syncopations, their arpeggios and legatos. But, impressive though they may be, demisemiquavers and semiotics seem rather soulless when compared to music in the raw, to sound unencumbered by considerations of form and composition. It’s the appeal of tennis with the net down—of Calvinball, if you will.

This is not to imply that trained and organic musicians cannot coexist, or that they cannot intermingle. Heck, it’s often in the confluence of the two that music is most interesting: self-taught musicians challenged by the technical demands of specific form, or regimented performers grown tired of their accepted boundaries and looking to break a rule or ten.

The latter is where Finn Riggins comes in, and from whence their debut studio full-length comes. At first listen, A Soldier, A Saint, An Ocean Explorer is most easily likened to the jangle-ridden pop dissonance of alt-rockers like Pavement, Built to Spill, Low, Bound Stems, Colossal, and Aloha. Guitars range from overdriven fuzz to tone-jacked splang, keys play with straightforward piano chords and nuanced effects, and percussion provides a righteous flurry of slapped skin and crashing brass (and various other alternative surfaces). Call-response vocals employ male and female roles for full effect, swapping leads and back-ups as befits the situation. It's indie-friendly Midwestern pop-rock, essentially.

Then again, that’s short shrift for a band that does a hell of a lot more than simply ape accepted pop tropes. Sure, chorus-centric opener “Glove Comprtmnt” toys with synth noise, suggestive lyrics, and the tried-and-true rock guitar/drum dynamic, but don’t be fooled—Finn Riggins packs a lot of intelligent experimentation into A Soldier, A Saint, An Ocean Explorer. Key track “Black Rock” hints at things to come with Bouiss’s free-rolling drums, Gilbert’s droning keys, and vocal and guitar change-ups from Simpson: rough raucous-rock ‘til the ominous instrumental interlude, then Simpson’s vocal chops (chops, man!) kick in full force for a spine-shivering breakdown. Doubled croons and layered craziness, explosive drumbeats washing over riff after six-string riff. Breathe in, breathe out, and prepare to skip back to hear that one a second time.

Current on-line single “Hraka” swaps back to spangle-and-keys, with upbeat boy-girl relationship vox crying out for sing-alongs and rhythms that demand show participation—hands up, feet stomping, the entire crowd crying out with willful self-assurance that “I’m in the middle of the road / and I lost my way / but that’s all gonna change! / ‘Cause everything begins tonight!” Positivity incarnate—hell yes.

Next up, the regrettably abbreviated “Carbonate” takes it easy with steel drums and a slow-building guitar riff that cuts off right before you expect to explode—it’s a stop that could break your heart, really, but for the quick follow-up of “Box Elder” and its prog-influenced combo of affected riffage, space-y keys, and percussive runs.

“Geology” stutter-steps both vocally and percussively, with a quick-and-snappy snare-tom-ride rhythm guiding Gilbert’s vocals and instrumental tremolo for a lively stop-start effect. “Flying” picks things back up from ground level with Simpson’s beautifully fluid car-ride poetics overtop brass-centric jazz-inspired rhythms aided by clean-and-bright guitar riffs and bleeping electronics:

“Flying down this highway / back seat / if you keep the windows closed / she can’t smell the city / and it seems like there’s really no need for guardrails with / all this / manufactured housing / manufactured housing / and the rhythm is your heartbeat / and the tires on the concrete / and the rhythm is your breath / and the whirr of your brain / and the radio stations that keep fading in and fading out and / wait for the glorious downbeat / where it all gets figured out.”

“Pannin’ for Gold” switches primary vocal duties back over to Gilbert, who cries out a qausi-comedic dream of life in the Alaskan wilderness: kayaking, high-powered hunting, fishing with dynamite, drinking, grizzly-wrasslin’ (while wearing a bowler derby), drinking, prospecting, drinking, and quarreling with claim-jumping neighbours. Strange, but oddly entertaining.

“Pankakes” jumps back to steel drum and experimental instrumentals coupled with occasional coos and an unsettling binary vocal run (points to anyone patient enough to transcribe and decode it). The transitional ruminations of “Plumest” start slow but none-too-soft with Simpson’s purposeful vocal and guitar set-up, only to jump off with a low-key bass line, unaffected guitar riffs, and perhaps the most staid percussion you’re likely to hear from Bouiss on this album. It’s hardly 4/4 tom-and-kick blandness, but it’s reserved enough to stand out by comparison.

“Detamble Wings” cues up some textured percussion that is quickly tucked behind Simpson’s chords and lead vox, Gilbert’s keys, and Bouiss’s more traditional kit. After yet more rhythm changes and a lively group chorus, it’s on to album-ender and titular parody, “A President, A Pacifist, An Auto Restorer.” Running four seemingly disparate ways with Bouiss’s steel- and washboard-aided percussion, Gilbert’s synth, Simpson’s echoing chords, and a variety of vocals both solo and choral, “A President, A Pacifist, An Auto Restorer” is by all means a dense track—chaotic, even, but nevertheless engrossing.

Truth be told, “A President, A Pacifist, An Auto Restorer” is a fitting end for Finn Riggins’s A Soldier, A Saint, An Ocean Explorer, as the album is itself a strange amalgam of oddball rhythms, uncommon chord progressions, head-banging pop-rock grit, and intelligent yet accessible songwriting. It’s a rare combination that combines the best of both worlds: hearty riffs for the rock set and enough compositional clout to keep the structuralists from grumbling o’ermuch.

Hell, that’s an achievement in and of itself.

Sure, Finn Riggins makes pop-rock, but it's pop-rock with chops. It moves, it runs, it travels to places that are unfamiliar and mysterious, and it comes back better for the experience. If you're lucky enough to listen, you can do the same.

Written by: Tom Körp
Posted on: November 7th, 2007
- Tom Korp / Beatbots Audio Reviews / Baltimore, MD

"High School, Musical: Idaho's Finn Riggins will play your school any way they can + Track Review of Hraka"

Idaho trio Finn Riggins live together, work together and eat in your cafeteria together.

Finn Riggins singer/keyboardist Eric Gilbert, along with guitarist Lisa Simpson and drummer Cameron Bouiss, visited Simpson’s old high school to teach the kids a lesson about D.I.Y. “We visited with the high school band and just talked really frankly with the kids about what a pursuit of a music career looks like,” explains Eric. “Then we played an all-school assembly in a gym for 500 kids, who were super-pumped to not be in class.” The trio also went into the school’s music-theory class and talked about songwriting, then had that absolute best part of high school: a hot lunch in the cafeteria. Finn Riggins may plan an all high school tour in the future: “For [the students], it's like, ‘Oh wow, they're touring the country but I've never heard them on the radio. How does that happen?’”

It happened pretty naturally for Finn Riggins, who all met while studying music at the University Of Idaho. They had been in other bands together when they decided to sequester themselves and only work on Finn Riggins. Drummer Bouiss’s family had a house they could live and practice in, so the three packed up for nearby Sun Valley, Idaho, in 2006. The close living and working environment (Simpson and Gilbert have been married for five years) forced them into high gear: within the last year the band has completed several tours, as well as released an EP and prepped their upcoming debut, A Soldier, A Saint, An Ocean Explorer (Tender Loving Empire).

The record evokes a sense of open space, despite Simpson's snarl and the ever present shambling of Bouiss’s wonderfully thick drums churning beneath sawtooth guitars and layered harmonies. The tracks on A Soldier also bounce between lyrical density, like the galloping, country-fried “Pannin For Gold” and the sinister, groaning “Glove Compartment.” The song's lyrics may be too simple, actually: “People keep wondering if ["Glove Compartment" is] a real sexual reference. For us, it’s basically about how ridiculous lyrics can be and still be a song.” For the record, the song’s chorus is, “I’ve got a glove compartment/You’ve got to love it, love it."

Or maybe Finn Riggins have just learned to love their new van. After all, their June tour was derailed by no less than seven breakdowns of their old one. “We got to the point where the van would not drive during the day for more than a half-hour,” remembers Gilbert. “We were on the way to a festival date in the middle of the day in Utah and we broke down nine miles from the venue. We had to be there in 15 minutes, so Lisa and I just hitchhiked with an acoustic guitar and an accordion.” Those were the two most portable instruments for a band that usually travels with a lot of gear. A couple on their way to go shopping picked the pair up, and they made their show "just because we wanted to fulfill our obligation,” says Gilbert. “And, we needed the gas money.”


FINN RIGGINS - "Hraka" 8.0
from A Soldier, A Saint, An Ocean Explorer (Tender Loving Empire)

"Hraka" is, according to Finn Riggins, a word that means "excrement" or "droppings." It's from a language that Richard Adams created for his novel, Watership Down. "Hraka," the Finn Riggins song, doesn't sound like shit, but it does sound like "hraka"; the same satisfying consonant crunch and vowel shout in the word is a nice parallel to the track's push from transistor-thin guitar to broad, bright piano melody. The band spends most of their time bashing away on a couple of chords before taking it down for the express purpose of bringing the verses back full-tilt. Vocalists Eric Gilbert and Lisa Simpson sing in unison, but dance around what they need to say: "I changed the subject," they explain, just after shouting "Thank God, it's springtime!" The subject's avoided in other ways: "You knew what you needed to say, but that's not what you said," they sing vaguely. By song's end, Finn Riggins have pushed past the song's initial urgent pace into something downright brief but frantic. For them, spring is relief, a cleansing time that flushes away the past.
- Jessica Suarez / Paper Thin Walls / Brooklyn, NY / Nov. 6th, 2007 + Nov. 12th, 2007

"Amplifier Magazine album review"

Envision, if you will, intellectually charged, experimental indie rock rapscallions left to their own devices. As per the official press notes, the moniker “Finn Riggins” is a “reference to the shape-shifting working class spirit that roams the Pacific Northwest in search of his body…he’s a soldier, a saint, an ocean explorer, a president, a pacifist, an auto restorer…” This quirky collective of idiosyncratic Idahoans; vocalist/guitarist Lisa Simpson, vocalist/synthesizer whiz Eric Gilbert, and percussionist Cameron Bouiss indeed live up to their ingenious namesake. Every track is a decidedly left turn into a futuristic pop abyss. The ensemble’s punk pedigree emerges in “Glove Compartment,” a sexy/kitschy diatribe worthy of the B-52s in their heyday. “Box Elder,” a pseudo-prog instrumental, evokes thoughts of a world wherein Eno produces Frank Zappa, and vice versa. Jazzy keyboard interludes and frenetic, double-time drum patterns underpin Simpson’s sultry juxtaposition of her dull day job and the resurrection of Jesus Christ in the rambling “Blackrock” - a cut that will surely drive right wing conservatives crazy. Finn Riggins by any other name would still be…Finn Riggins. Fans of They Might Be Giants, Moxy Fruvous and The Residents are advised to check this one out. - Tom Semioli / Amplifier Magazine / Westford, MA / Nov. 14th, 2007

"CMJ album review - A Soldier, A Saint, An Ocean Explorer"

Swaying with the uncanny rhythm of Midwest America, this debut by Hailey, Idaho trio Finn Riggins is a bouncy joyride of jittery, lo-fi college rock and titillating noise-pop. A Solider, A Saint, An Ocean Explorer is both a bright and lively record stocked with odd time changes and dynamic song structures as it stutters along with a swagger, a devil-may-care grin and an affection for the unconventional. Songs like "Glove Comprtmnt" coax the experimental and boisterous side out of the band while "The Plumest" is a provocative, dreamy jazz-influenced ditty. The layering of dirty guitars over the dense and tactful drums creates a soft spot for singer—don't laugh—Lisa Simpson's chirpy contemplations. But, at the same time, the band can find itself in the midst of an identity crisis while playing along to an uppity pop number like "Hraka," which devolves mid-way through into a fun, free-form breather before jumping back into the tandem vocals and easy-does-it twee pop. A Solider, A Saint, An Ocean Explorer is an exhaustive debut that spans multiple genres with ease and rare proficiency. - Matt Kiser / CMJ / Nov. 15th, 2007


Finn Riggins / Hillfolk Noir (Record Store Day 2011 7" Split) -- Tender Loving Empire 2011
Vs Wilderness -- Tender Loving Empire 2009
A Soldier, A Saint, An Ocean Explorer -- Tender Loving Empire 2007
A Whale, A Fish [ep] -- Tender Loving Empire 2007
((alive bugs)) [live] -- Moon is Not Smooth 2006
air travelers [ep] -- Moon is Not Smooth 2006



Dynamic, quirky and highly energetic indie rock trio Finn Riggins has made a name for itself around the West and the greater US as road warriors from the oft-overlooked state of Idaho over the last several years. Since the release of their debut album on Portland's beloved mom-and-pop label Tender Loving Empire in 2007, they have averaged close to 200 shows a year in 43 states -- including a massive 80-day tour around the entire perimeter of the US in the Spring of 2010. Most of this touring has been on the backs of their DIY ethic and wide open approach to the changing music industry. In 2009 and 2010 they did three different support tours with fellow Idahoans Built To Spill.

The collaborative brainchild of three music school graduates from the University of Idaho -- Cameron Bouiss, Eric Gilbert and Lisa Simpson -- Finn Riggins has always been a tough entity for the music industry to pin down. Their genre-defying approach to rock-n-roll has yielded a long stream of varied explanations for their sound over the years -- experimental pop, prog-pop, post-punk post-epic 70s rock, synth-driven indie rock, and so on. One consistent thread through most of the press raves over the years has been the fact that Finn Riggins' sound is unique and fresh and not adhering to any particular trend, all while being accessible through pop-hooks and an incredibly well executed and fun live show.

Since relocating to Boise, ID in early 2009 from the small mountain town of Hailey, ID at the foot of the Pioneer Mountain Range, Finn Riggins has taken an increasingly active role in the growing young music and art scene in Idaho's largest population center. They took their first extended break from touring in 2011 to further connect with their local scene and focus on writing and creating anew.

Finn Riggins toured in support of "Vs Wilderness" -- their second full length with Tender Loving Empire -- throughout 2009 and 2010. They have continued to play shows all over the West in 2011 while working on new material -- new releases slated for early 2012.

--three support tours with Built To Spill in 2009 and 2010.
--Daytrotter Session
--SXSW 2010 Official Showcase
--170 shows in 43 states in 2010 alone
--Vs Wilderness charted on college and independent radio all over the US
--multiple song placements in Go Pro youtube videos and 30sec national TV commercial that has seen lots of airplay including during the Super Bowl 2011
--over 1 million views of one youtube video, hundreds of thousands of views on some others.

"Best pop single that’s not even out yet: Finn Riggins, “Wake (Keep This Town Alive)” -- Michael Mannheimer (Willamette Week in Portland, OR -- MFNW 2009 preview)

"This is (Vs Wilderness) infectious, relentless and the only performance/album I’m reviewing in several years that’s a 7 out of 7" - Zaph Mann, Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB), Sept. 2009

"It’s indie rock as it should be: knotty, quirky, and wildly confident." - Doug Wallen, San Francisco Weekly, Oct. 2009

"On their second full length, Vs. Wilderness, Idaho-based band Finn Riggins merge the dynamic tendencies of progressive rock with the quirky side of '00s indie rock. The band's pairing of these two sets of influences places the album somewhere between recent tourmates Built To Spill and classic 70s prog-rock a la Rush, or more modern progressive revivalists The Mars Volta. The album offers a range of moods, from quaint indie-pop leaning tracks driven by the group's male-female harmonies to more grandiose tracks in the mode of The Arcade Fire." -- Amelia Raitt / / November 2009

"Indie-pop outfit Finn Riggins plays rhythm-heavy rock with flourishes of piano, organs and steel drums. Imagine a more world-music-friendly version of Los Campesinos!" -- Time Out New York

"It (Vs Wilderness) kicks the asses of indie rockers that thought they had it all figured out" -- Andrew Framstead, Synthesis Magazine, Sept. 2009

"joyfully eccentric indie-pop workouts that juxtapose XTC, Blondie and the Poster Children... the band’s calculated harmonies and impressive poly-rhythms are irreverent and beautiful, as are the group’s quirky lyrics." -- Adam Perry, Boulder Weekly, Dec. 2009

"This is a band alive, awake and ready to pursue risky territory." -- Reyan Ali, City Weekly, Oct. 2009

"Finn Riggins manage to sound like something I've never heard. The easiest thing is too call them experimental indie rock. There's something very interesting about this band that screams to be heard." -- Star Beat Music / NYC / April 2010

"with songs that weave together jubilant pop music, classical structure and an experimental edge. Artistically ambitious and playful, Vs. Wilderness hooks you with infectious melodies but keeps your attention with its imaginative songwriting." -- Tom Murphy, Denver Westword, Dec. 2