Gifford Pinchot
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Gifford Pinchot

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The best kept secret in music


"Local trio Gifford Pinchot celebrates the birth of its very first album, 1910. The songs alternate between lacy riffs with tiptoe rhythms and distorted chords with pounding drum beats....The brightest moments on 1910 come when the band chills out, relinquishes control and skillfully delves into drawn-out, melodic jams in which it seems to have a lot of fun."
- Josey Duncan

"...There are few places where naming your band after a national forest is a viable option. Fortunately for Vancouver band Gifford Pinchot, Portland is one of these places. The CD is concerned with themes of negotiating respect from others and frustrations with jobs, relationships and the creative process, all set to pounding guitar rhythms that swoop around the songs like graceful birds of prey. The disc trades in indie rock, touches of heavy metal and lots of atmospheric soundscapes, and no meandering hippie jam sessions were harmed during its production. In fact, the album's only tangible connection to the band's timber-centric name is the distinctly autumnal vibe found on "1910." You can just about hear the decay of fallen leaves and slow march into winter in the harmonizing vocals of the Kings, a married couple who practice the "family that plays together stays together" theory of rock.

"1910" is a weird beast and it whipsaws between intensely structured, stop-on-a-dime rock songs and periods of squealing feedback, tape noise and other odd echoing sounds....the noise segments nicely counterpoint the actual songs and help create a kind of sonic integrity throughout the album..."
- Curt Schulz

"...This three-piece is just releasing its debut album, "1910," a fetching record of hypnotic, old-school indie rock (emphasis on "rock") that also includes passages of experimentation that will make you feel like you're floating in space.

Led by core duo (and married couple) Jesse and Stephanie King, Gifford Pinchot has turned the art of dynamics into a veritable science. It's hard not to be drawn in."
- Barbara Mitchell

Gifford Pinchot might be the most well-adjusted, functional band ever. Its vocalists and front persons, Jesse and Stephanie King (who play guitar and bass, respectively), have been a couple for 14 years, and they’ve been playing music together for the pas six and a half. They’re the kind of couple that speaks volumes in mere glances, and the Kings compatibility is unmistakably woven through Gifford Pinchot’s rich and varied dark rock sounds.

The most telling aspect of that bond is found in Gifford Pinchot’s ability to move from heavy, semi-industrial math rock to spacey, experimental jams to more mellow pop all while maintaining an almost indefinable consistency. Over the course of its debut, 1910, the band-which is rounded out by longtime friend and ex-member of the Daylights, drummer Josh Arnold-sounds akin to a female-led Sunny Day Real Estate, a hard-rock Wedding Present or even a horn-rattled, experimental noise-rock outfit. But the trio’s members-who have been involved in the Portland music scene since the ‘80s, knit it all together into what sounds like the product of far more than three people. “I play through three different amps, and I have ‘em all going almost all the time,” explains the redheaded, mild-mannered Jesse, “so every time (I) play, it’s different.”

Besides owing a debt to its members’ congeniality-”You guys never fight,” Arnold tell the Kings over beers at My Father’s Place- the band’s sound also takes inspiration from its namesake, the Gifford Pinchot National Forest (itself named for the first U.S. forestry chief). A Washington native (the entire band, oddly enough, is from the Northwest), Stephanie says, “We were always leaving Portland and heading to that forest. There was something about that forest that always drew us.” It drew the Kings so strongly, in fact, that they left Portland and bought a house in the country near Vancouver.

“We sit out there and watch bunnies and coyotes and shit like that,” says Jesse, a comment that implies a more sunny sound than Gifford Pinchot’s often dark, sinister rock. But, appropriately, 1910 is named after something dark itself: the year a massive fire burned the Kings’ favorite area of the forest. Even the cover of the album-which features bare, burnt tree trunks reflected in a mountain lake- is foreboding yet lovely, visceral yet eerie. And, like that of the forest they so love, Jesse says, “Our ashes will be here.” Naturally, Stephanie agrees, adding a statement that could just as easily describe the band’s debut, “It’s just so diverse. There are so many amazing places, and you don’t have to go that far to find them” - Amy McCullough


"1910" was released in November of 2006

Airplay: Portland's 94.7 KNRK and KPSU


Feeling a bit camera shy


Gifford Pinchot is fronted by husband and wife songwriters Jesse and Stephanie King, Jesse on vocals/guitar and Stephanie on vocals/bass, and rounded out by drummer Brian Netherton.

Stephanie and Jesse, who have been active in the Portland music scene since the early 1990s, have come together to create a dynamic, abstract sound that pulls equally from guitar-rock, pop, space-rock, and even hard rock, to create a truly indie sound unlike any other. Furthermore, the boy/girl vocals give the songs an added edge, making them highly visceral, as well as memorable.

But, how did they get their name?

“We spend so much time in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest that we decided to name the band after it,” says Stephanie King. “The name stems from what we experience when we are either playing music or spending time in nature, which are two of our favorite things to do.”

Following the demise of Nicotine, a local guitar-rock band fronted by Jesse King, and managed by Stephanie, the husband and wife team moved from Portland, Oregon to Vancouver, Washington, where they acquired acres of land and could live in more rural setting.

It was there they began writing together for the first time.

The duo began to realize they had something they wanted to share, so they soon developed the bug to play out, and began seeking a drummer to do so.

After a few misfires on the drummer front, they found Josh Tuttle. With Tuttle on board, the band began booking live shows and honing their songs on the stage.

With the songs down, they entered Klickitat Band Camp, a studio in Portland, Oregon, and the recording sessions for their debut full-length, “1910”, soon came into full swing.

Preferring analog to digital, the band recorded on 2” tape with engineer and co-producer Shay Scott.
Originally only planning to record seven songs and release an EP, the band later decided it would be fun to record an experimental 30-minute reel, where everything was done on the fly, spontaneity the driving force behind the songs.

“Hey, Jack!”, “Spacious”, “Impediment”, and “Scary Lawyer Letter” were all a result of this experiment.

Near the album’s completion, the band faced a few setbacks, namely the drummer.

Coming to the mutual decision to part ways with Tuttle, Jesse and Stephanie forged ahead without him, entering the studio one more time to lay down two more songs, “Forever and a Day” and “Figure It Out”, both songs Jesse drummed on.

With the record now complete, the band sought drummers.

Playing “1910”, the title they settled on for their debut full-length for a few friends, Josh Arnold soon mentioned to them that he was looking for a new project. Without hesitation, Jesse and Stephanie knew they had found their drummer. However, in June of 2007, Josh accepted a two year contract teaching in China and was replaced by drummer Brian Netherton.

Songs on “1910” range from no concept, just-for-fun numbers like “Impediment”, “Spacious”, “Scary Lawyer Letter”, and “Hey, Jack!”, to “Believe”, a song about people who lie a lot and losing trust in them upon this realization, and “Still Ours”, a song about someone you’ve surrounded yourself with who suppresses your creativity.

Other songs, including the heart-stopping “Denial” deals with compromising yourself for status and the struggle to develop that higher social status, before realizing, in the end, that you lost yourself to the lie. Deeper into debt, deeper into deception, the road you thought would lead you to happiness spells out misery and depression. The band even has an anti-Bush, anti-war song in “Figure It Out”.

One of the album’s highlights, “Pig Iron”, discusses work and how consuming and controlling it can become. After working so many hours doing brutal work, your body is left worn and tired, leaving little energy to do what really matters… playing music.

This song and its content is exactly what the three members of Gifford Pinchot are trying to avoid. The band came together because of their love of music, and their need to have a release, a way to have fun and relax after a hard day’s work. And it shows in “1910”.

Written by Alex Steininger of In Music We Trust