The Hope Trust
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The Hope Trust

Denton, Texas, United States | SELF

Denton, Texas, United States | SELF
Band Rock Alternative

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"Track of the Day: The Hope Trust- Whatever Suits You"

I realize I’m a little late with my discovery of The Hope Trust. They released The Incurable Want, the album today’s track comes from, in June 2007 and released a self-titled EP before that. All of that, of course, came after singer/songwriter Kelly Upshaw started the band as a solo project. But now that I’ve finally listened to the band, I’m thoroughly impressed.

They have elements of some of my favorite artists–Wilco, The Pernice Brothers and Bob Dylan, among others. Speaking of Dylan, Upshaw sounds strikingly like Bob’s son Jakob (with a little more grit), although I’ll take The Hope Trust over The Wallflowers or even Jakob’s recent, more mature work.

The Incurable Want is an apt title for the album. I find myself feeling a familiar ache in the pit of my stomach, that wistful pang that comes when I think about failed or missed opportunities, especially romantic ones.

Verdict: It was difficult to pick on stand-out track from the album, but “Whatever Suits You” embodies its best elements–evocative lyrics, gorgeous vocal harmonies, twangy steel guitar and immaculate drumming. It’s mournful yet uplifting, like all great love songs. - DayBowBow.net


"The Hope Trust Have High Hopes"

It's been three years since The Hope Trust released their debut LP, The Incurable Want. Some time, some lineup changes and the birth of a couple of babies later, and they've now recorded their second LP, an 11-track release entitled Light Can't Escape.

The band's main songwriter, vocalist and guitarist, Kelly Upshaw, describes the new album as a departure from the vocal-heavy stylings of the previous release, saying that the themes have more to do with immediate self-reflection rather than the big picture.

Polished and very structured, Light Can't Escape also focuses more on instrumentation than its predecessor, often going into long stretches with no singing whatsoever.

"Some of my favorite parts on the old record were when there weren't any words and it was just music," Upshaw says, justifying the change.

Not feeling as though his music is "particularly associated with any aspect of Denton, per se," Upshaw says he believes the band's grouping into the city's folk scene may not be wholly accurate—especially in light of the new record's sound, and the material currently being performed at shows.

"I understand why people took the record to be kind of folky, but I think the new record will create a sense of separation from that sound," he says.

But it makes sense why he's viewing this record so differently. In the three years since the last release, two of his bandmates have had children, two have nearly completed their post-graduate studies, and Upshaw himself even moved to New York for a two-year period before eventually moving back to Denton.

"There was a whole lot of life that got lived between the first record and now," Upshaw says. "This is the first time we've actually gotten situated to where we can actually be a band."

And, since Upshaw returned to Denton and reformed the band, The Hope Trust have been playing out actively and re-establishing themselves as part of the Denton music landscape.

That much is evident in the band's roster. Occasionally, RTB2's Ryan Thomas Becker will sub for a band member when needed, and guitarist and keyboardist Jeremy Bueller went on tour with Midlake last summer as part of John Grant's backing band. Bueller's experience and the chance to play with Becker has helped shape the new record, Upshaw says. So, too, has Upshaw's own time in New York.

The result is a group of songs on Light Can't Escape, which Upshaw is currently mastering, that pull more from outside influences than what is going on specifically within Denton itself.

But that's OK, Upshaw explains.

"I like having a feeling of community," he says. "I like that about Denton."
- Dallas Observer/Villiage Voice


"CD Of The Day - The Incurable Want"

The Hope Trust is Denton, Texas' Kelly Upshaw, and he's hit my musical sweet spot here with a mix of pop and Americana. His MySpace likens his sound to a mix of Neil Finn and Wilco, and it also reminds me of personal favorites like The Latebirds and Additional Moog.

There are highlights aplenty. "Break You Down", with its melodic mid-tempo sound buttressed by a tasteful pedal steel, could have fit right in on Bob Evans' Suburban Songbook; "Run It Through" and "Two In The Bush" bring to mind Joe Pernice's earlier days in the Scud Mountain Boys and his Big Tobacco solo disc (in fact, Upshaw sounds like a huskier-voiced Pernice). Meanwhile, "OK, Alright" is where he leans to the Neal Finn side of his sound, if Finn used pedal steel in his songs, and "Parting Shot" is where the Wilco comes in, at least the Wilco of the Summerteeth era, and "Don't Want to Fight" is straight ahead roots-influenced rock in a Wallflowers/Minibar vein.

This is high-quality stuff, and if your musical tastes run in this area, The Incurable Want is (to coin a phrase) extremely highly recommended. - Absolute Power Pop


"The Hope Trust - Interview"

Take your time with The Hope Trust’s album The Incurable Want. Let this record sink in – it’s somber pedal steel, earthy acoustic guitar, aching vocals and nostalgic lyrics meld truer with exposure.

If you absolutely crave a standout single check "Whatever Suits You". (This song made my mix CD of the week, and it got the prized 3rd position.) Want something a bit slower? Give “Mountain I Can’t Climb" a try. Honestly though, your time’s best spent taking this circular record in full.

Interview with Kelly Upshaw

Who’s in the band and what do they do?
The Hope Trust is Kevin Roden on drums, Jeremy Buller on guitar and keyboards, Andy Odom on bass, my brother Michael Upshaw plays pedal steel, and I play guitar and sing.

How’d the band meet and how long have you been playing together?
Michael, Andy and I have been playing together in some form or another since we were kids. Kevin and Jeremy have both been friends of ours for a very long time, as well. The Hope Trust has been around for four years, with a few changes over that time.


When we made the record and got the band in shape to go play these new songs, this line-up just felt right. If we weren’t in a band together we’d still be really great friends.

For those who’ve never been, describe Denton, TX and its music scene.
As a music scene, Denton is a really cool place. It does get a lot of attention from people on the outside lately, but I think for the most part it’s just a really pleasant town with a lot of great musicians who are into their craft. Fortunately, it’s small enough that a lot of bands are friends and we try to help each other in fleshing out our artistic goals.

You mention Dylan as an influence. If you could save only one song from complete deletion, which one would you save?
This is a tough question. I hate the thought of any song being erased, especially a Bob Dylan tune. I prefer to listen to whole albums as opposed to songs. I think the songs on an album play into each other in building a representation of the musician’s vision, and that interests me. That being said, “Time Out of Mind” is probably my favorite Dylan record. I think it’s such a beautiful album, and if spooning with my lady-friend had a sound, it would be that record.

Help settle an argument here at the office. Dylan vs. Springsteen. Who’s the better all-time song writer?
It’s really a question of what came first, the chicken or the egg, and the answer is Dylan. I think they are both “Greats.” Not to slight The Boss, but I do prefer Bob Dylan. I think that his songs, and the sort of mythologized character that he is, appeals to a lot of people. I also think that his songs are usually emotionally direct, though contextually vague enough that they leave themselves open for you to interpret for yourself, which can make them strike you differently at different times and keep them interesting.

Where do you find your inspiration when writing songs?
It’s a mysterious thing. It all just appears, really. If I’m messing with something musically, there comes a point when I know it’s right. There is always something underneath the surface to sing about that just sort of comes out; and then I grab some paper. It all seems to makes sense after it’s written.


Have you ever rock climbed?
I was actually in Boy Scouts growing up, so I got to do a little bit of that when I was younger. Those are really fun memories. Growing up in Texas was a great thing too, in that there are so many different types of geography and so many things to do. It’s really a wonderful place to be if you’re looking for some outdoor adventure.

Where’s your favorite place to gig?
Honestly, I really don’t care where we play, as long as the audience wants to hear it and people are into it. That makes for the best experience for us and the audience. We’ve had some pretty dreadful gigs when we thought we could do no wrong, and had some really great gigs when we just wanted to get in and out.

Do you tour with other bands or fly solo?
We haven’t really had too much of an opportunity to tour at this point. Hopefully, things will get to that point, and the right opportunity will come along.


What’s the craziest thing you’ve experienced at a bar or hall?
We were playing a show recently and a very intoxicated girl, with very few clothing items on her body, got on the stage in the middle of our last song to give everyone in the band shots. She kept trying to hand them to us while we’re playing. I had to explain that I needed my hands to play and couldn’t take it, and ended-up forgetting the rest of the words to the song. But, we gained an under-dressed fan and scored some shots. Everybody wins.

Wanna shout out to anyone?
My family and friends, everyone that’s been helping get us heard, and anyone who has bought The Incurable Want.

Where can we find your music?
You can find us on most online music stores (iTunes, Rhapsody, etc.). If you’d like to buy the physical copy, which is completely bio-degradable and eco-friendly, you can go to CD BABY (http://cdbaby.com/cd/hopetrust). - Urban Climber Magazine


Discography

The Incurable Want (2007)
Light Can't Escape (2011)

"Whatever Suits You" has been featured on the North Texas-based music blog DayBowBow.net and on DC9AtNight, the music blog for the Dallas Observer. Numerous other songs from the band's debut album, such as "Ok, Alright" and "Run It Through" have received regular airplay on KXT 91.7 FM, Dallas' public radio station.

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Bio

The Hope Trust hails from Denton, TX, and brings a healthy blend of pop, americana, and straight up rock 'n' roll to their music. They've been compared to artists like Neil Finn (Crowded House) and Wilco. Kelly Upshaw's songs combine heart-wrenching, literate lyrics with a husky-yet-breathy voice and a healthy dose of rock to create high-energy show that's cerebral but accessible.

The band have been together for over five years, and its members have played in various groups around North Texas like Slick 57, Doug Burr's rock 'n' roll venture The Lonelies, Bosque Brown, RTB2, and an early version of Chris Holt's The Slack. The Hope Trust recorded their debut album, The Incurable Want, in a home studio in 2007. The album was praised as "...high-quality stuff..." and "...extremely highly recommended..." by Absolute Power Pop, and made their "Best of 2007" list. The Incurable Want features performances by core members Kelly Upshaw, Michael Upshaw, and Andy Odom, as well as Bosque Brown's Jeremy Buller and Winston Reed Chapman, Midlake's Eric Nichelson, and Lift to Experience's Andy Young. The record was mastered by Jeff Lipton (Pernice Brothers).

In 2010, The Hope Trust was nominated for "Best Alt-Country/Roots" band at the Dallas Observer Music Awards.

The Hope Trust are currently in post-production with their second full-length album, Light Can't Escape, and anticipates an early-2011 release.