Them Coulee Boys
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Them Coulee Boys

Eau Claire, WI | Established. Jan 01, 2013 | INDIE

Eau Claire, WI | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2013
Band Americana Rock




"Four Friends Finding Folk"

I love a good summer camp movie. You got Heavyweights, you got Wet Hot American Summer … they’re all great! (OK, they’re not all great.) They’re all just about a bunch of casual friends whose short, limited time together creates a very rushed meaningful experience.
The same can be said for Them Coulee Boys, a folk/bluegrass/pop/punk quartet from the coulee region in Western Wisconsin. Like all good coming-together-at-summer-camp stories, lead songwriter Soren Staff and Beau Janke came together at summer camp working as counselors at Luther Park Bible Camp in Chetek in 2011.
“After the kids left, we would unwind in our cabin by playing together, bonding over our love for classic rock and, of all things, Kanye (West),” Staff said. “We would jam to kind of release all the stress we accrued over the week.”
Thus, Them Coulee Boys was born – and in an apt location, at that. A little banjo twang, a little moonlight, a couple of new members – Soren’s brother Jens Staff on mandolin and Michael Aschbacher on bass – and soon the Boys had a seven-track demo under their belts and starting playing all over the state of Wisconsin.
A perfected and upbeat live show racked up a few fans, and as the Boys’ notoriety started to blossom, the itch to record a proper debut did as well. So the foursome retired to a farmhouse back at Luther Park and using both do-it-yourself technology and professional technique, recorded I Never Lied About Being In Love while continuing to hit up open mics in Eau Claire and in Tomahawk, keeping their energetic live show polished.
“We tend to jump around, dance, scream, really whatever the mood calls for,” Staff said. “Playing live is truly the way we want our music to be enjoyed, because it’s the medium in which we enjoy it the most. We like to keep one another on our toes, be it by strumming your neighbor’s instrument, joining them on their mic, or adding jam sections into a song. We never want it to get stale, so we try to change things up. You’ll have a good time.”
I Never Lied houses a whopping 14 tracks that flip between sweet folk ballads and raucous bluegrass blowouts with wholly conversational, simple lyrics about love and politics that find Staff and the Boys making sure you hear exactly what they’re saying and feeling, whether you like it or not. And if you crave more, Staff said they’ve got some new stuff they’ve been playing live – to the tune of about 10 new songs. They’re prolific, caring, and a fiercely good time on stage and off.
“To be honest, we are just four best friends who are tickled pink that people will actually pay to have us play somewhere,” Staff said. “We would be happy enough playing in our basements, but to be given the opportunity to play these songs which mean so much to us, for all kinds of people, really means the world to us. We couldn’t be more appreciative of the people who come to shows and dance along. To know that we can make someone feel that, regardless how brief or intense, we know that we’ve done our job.” - Volume One Magazine

"The Coulee Region Crew"

With every strum, every head bob and every foot stomp, the energy coming from each instrument ricocheted to the back of The Cabin and all the way to the loft. For some people, it seemed impossible not to bob their heads, shake their legs or even strum their fingers along with the beat of the music. Them Coulee Boys, a band comprised of four men, performed at The Cabin in Davies Center Saturday night. Beau Janke, Jens Staff and Soren Staff formed the band about two years ago. The fourth member, Michael Aschbacher, joined in February, completing the staff. Originally, Soren Staff and Janke found each other at a summer camp the summer after their freshman year of college, and the remaining two members came to work the next summer. “That summer, we all kind of just jammed,” Soren Staff said. “We kind of formed out of jamming after all the kids left camp on a Friday. We were exhausted, but we’d just sit there and play.” The band is named after the Coulee Region, which is where the band formed. Currently, the band has a seven-song EP titled Them Coulee Boys out. Later this month, the band plans to release its first full-length album. The album, which is still unnamed, is set to have fourteen songs on it. Altogether, the band took two weeks to record the album – one during spring break and one week this summer. Although the genre of the band is bluegrass, many of the members came from different backgrounds of music. Some have classic rock backgrounds, and Soren Staff was a part of a punk rock band in high school. Soren Staff said there wasn’t a real reason why the band became a bluegrass one. “I don’t think there was ever a decision,” he said. “I mean it’s kind of like, here’s the song that came out of the instruments we play.” Everyone agreed they’re an emotional bunch, but Janke noted emotions don’t run high as the men step on the stage to perform. “When we play live, there are no problems whatsoever,” he said. Them Coulee Boys are no strangers to the stage as they’ve performed in Milwaukee, Madison, Viroqua and around the Eau Claire area. The band likes to go out and have fun on stage, and appreciate every moment of it. “We’re super appreciative of everyone who comes to these gigs,” Jens Staff said. Their full-length album is set to release on Oct. 31. To find out more information about the band, find their Facebook page by searching Them Coulee Boys. - The Spectator

"Artist Profile: Them Coulee Boys"

Wisconsin has no shortage of folk and bluegrass acts, but Them Coulee Boys, a Hixton-based string quartet, stands tall above the rest with their rowdy energy and heartfelt lyrics. Hot on the heels of releasing their second album with a performance on Halloween at Acoustic Café, Them Coulee Boys are ready to take the Midwest, and eventually the rest of the country, by storm.

Them Coulee Boys was founded in 2012 when banjoist Beau Janke and guitarist/ vocalist Soren Staff met at a summer camp in Chetek, Wis. and started jamming together. Months later they were joined by Jens Staff on mandolin and Michael Aschbacher on bass, and soon they had established their signature “punkgrass” sound.

Janke, a super senior in Studio Art here at the University of Wisconsin–Stout, cites Bob Dylan, The Avett Brothers and Neil Young as the band’s major influences. Their creative spark also comes from more diverse sources.

“It’s not just bands and musicians; it’s artists and poets that inspire us, Walt Whitman in particular,” Janke said. “We inspire each other a lot too.”

The inspirations within the band come from the different perspectives and emotions that each band member brings to the songwriting process.

“The lyrics are heartbreaking, but it’s communicated through a happy, rowdy aesthetic,” Janke said. “When writing the music, that comes from happiness and having fun. When writing the lyrics, it comes from a place of sadness and depression.”

Both happy and sad components are present on their new album, “I Never Lied About Being in Love,” though the harsh, honest lyrics bring out the sad part this time around.

“Heartbreak is the theme of the album,” Janke said. “The lyrics on the new album were mostly written by Soren, and he was dealing with heartbreak in the best way that he could: by writing songs.”

Such heartbreak was particularly prevalent within the band, as the production of the album was rife with drama and conflict.

“Making the album was so stressful because we fought a lot,” Janke said. “There were things I said to Soren I wish I could take back. We honestly made each other cry a couple of times.”

Fortunately, production was peacefully completed and the album was released on Oct. 31. The release was accompanied by a packed performance at Acoustic Café; fitting, given the lively, rowdy nature of Them Coulee Boys.

“We’re definitely a live band,” Janke said. “Our energy is best shown in a live setting. We still want people to listen to the albums, but we also want people to experience the music live.”

Those interested in indulging in this live experience can check out their upcoming shows at Madison, Wis., Ripon, Wis., Trempealeau, Wis. and Duluth, Wis. among other places. Of course, they plan to perform in Menomonie again in the near future, with a show at the Waterfront Bar and Grill already scheduled for April. Frankly, you can expect to see Them Coulee Boys just about anywhere.

“Wherever this music thrives, we’ll go with it,” Janke said. - Stoutonia

"Dancing in the Dim Light - Album Review"

With so many bands flooding the folk-rock genre, the barebones acoustics often can leave many bands sounding too similar to one another or being too generic, but the best bands know how to stand out. Wisconsin’s Them Coulee Boys stay at the head of the pack on their latest LP Dancing In The Dim Light, out on June 28. Mixing parts Lumineers, Mumford and Sons, and a country soul, the effort proves a strong and accessible album for those who may be growing tired of the typical new folk band.

The record opens on the bright and spry “10 ft Tall” that rushes undeniably through its reminiscing verses. The powerful harmonies make the choruses more catchy and beautiful simultaneously and give them an undeniable pop hook, with a hint of Mumford and Sons in their delivery. “Sunset Sermons” slows things down for a darker and more introspective track, especially lyrically. The ambient instrumental section in the middle of the song is delightfully beautiful when it begins and forces a drive into the song that gives it an energetic ending.

There’s a distinctly Kinks feeling to the sound and riff of “16th St.” giving a colourful wink to its lyrics of longing. The song jumps into a fast race to the finish in its final third that feels a little disjointed with the rest of the song despite its great energy. “The Mask” emulates the feel of the wild west, with an epic galloping rhythm almost like a more country-heavy “Knights Of Cydonia” complete with harmonies and distorted guitars. This feeling bookends the song’s harmony-laden middle section, more folky and ambient than its surroundings.

“Lost On You” strips things back for another introspective slow burner. The song’s quiet beauty may be slow for some, but a relaxing listen for those who give it the chance. There’s a pleasing slow rock to mandolin strings of “Take Her Easy” that blends the band’s rustic acoustic sound into an absolutely stellar pop song. The fluttering violins provide a satisfying hum over choruses and in the euphoric final chorus they turn into a flurry of beautiful arpeggios that make it all the more brilliant.

“Standing In My Shadow” adds a Spanish tinge to its dark folk-rock. The lyrics speak of the devil in the narrator’s shadow who he sees not as a demon but almost a friend, this chaos is mirrored in the song’s intense instrumental bridge as well. Deep sadness runs through “Leave This Man” which tells the story of a broken man with such utter emotion it would be a surprise if there isn’t an autobiographical aspect to it.

The piano and vocals that open “Want & Need” play to the sound of Fun. before the band’s attitude and sound affect the tone and sway of the song and make it their own. Halfway through the track jumps into a frenzy of strings and tambourine, and it becomes a Celtic-fueled shred, before returning to the slower sound with more life. Album closer “I Won’t Be Defined” ends things with a strong helping of harmonies and a feeling of self-growth. The closing shuffle brings spirits even higher to leave listeners smiling as it closes. - The Scene Magazine

"The Boys Are Back: Them Coulee Boys drop off another pack of folk gems"

When I last caught up Soren Staff and Beau Janke to talk about their debut album I Never Lied About Being In Love, they were a couple fresh-faced, wildly talented kids who met as camp counselors and just loved playing music together.

Since then, the band has put in serious work gallivanting around the Midwest, playing every last show they could, in every conceivable venue. From packed festival shows under tents in small towns to La Crosse’s Cavalier Theater, to apple orchards to the Majestic Theatre in Madison, to last weekend’s Blue Ox Music Festival right here in Eau Claire.

It’s been many busy months polishing a live show, perfecting their foot-stomping bluegrass-inflused tunes, and figuring out new ways to write songs collaboratively. And you can add moving to Eau Claire to that list, for added measure.

And now they’ve got a brand new record to show off their hard work called Dancing In The Dim Light, which comes out on June 30 and shows off this band's startling growth. Where previous recordings were mostly DIY efforts, this new batch of songs comes with an added professional flourish courtesy of Evan Middlesworth at Pine Hollow Studio in Eau Claire. Where previously the four members would pick and pluck their way through quick and catchy songs, they’ve added live drums to some tracks. Elsewhere on the record, backup vocals and strings round out their rougher edges.

Dancing is really a testament to this band’s work ethic. When they’re not writing and recording, they're making folks dance and vibe out at live shows all over the place. They work tirelessly, it seems, and even though they consistently play two or three shows every single week of the year, there’s no steam lost.

“Soren writes in his free time for hours and hours – barebones stuff – then he’ll come to us. We’ll hear them and say ‘I can add this, this, and this,’ then we all get together on Sundays and pump out tunes,” Janke said.

“When I’m writing, I’m trying to connect more with past experiences and emotions I’ve felt,” Soren said. “That’s how I process things. I’m trying to relive those moments and get in that headspace.”

On Dancing, the band sounds more reassured than ever, and ready to prove that they have what it takes to make some serious waves way past their geographical radius.

But to truly experience Them Coulee Boys purely in their element is to take in a live show. They crank out some seriously good music with such gusto and energy, it’s irresistibly fun.

“We cut our teeth playing live shows, getting better as a band just by playing together all the time,” Staff said. “We just always want to be playing.” - Volume One Magazine


Still working on that hot first release.



Allegedly founded at a bible camp, and born in the back valleys of Western Wisconsin, Them Coulee Boys craft a brand of Americana that blends punk, bluegrass, and rock & roll.  Guitar, banjo, mandolin, bass, and a lone kick drum provide the pulse that drives underneath the conversational yet thoughtful lyrics.  Them Coulee Boys seek to start a conversation with their performance, knowing just how diverse that interaction can be. From love letters and farewell fights, to fists raised in protest with a hand held in harmony, the songs are reflections on the current state of the world, and in turn, ourselves. The lyrics and singing of Soren Staff are complemented by the reckless banjo stylings of Beau Janke, the deft mandolin work of Jens Staff, and the thump of bass/kick drummer Michael Aschbacher, Them Coulee Boys are sure to make it “impossible not to bob your head, shake your legs, or even strum your fingers along with the beat” (The Spectator).

After the release of their debut “I Never Lied About Being In Love” in 2014, Them Coulee Boys toured tirelessly until it came time to record their first professional studio effort in the winter months of 2016.  After 7 days at Pine Hollow Audio outside of Eau Claire, WI the new record “Dancing in the Dim Light” was born.  With new songs came new sounds, as evidenced by the use of electric banjo, drums, and piano.  Engineer Evan Middlesworth also contributed pedal steel and baritone guitar, while Eve Wilczewski (Seasaw) added violin.  It’s a grander sound, while still keeping the rawness of a live setting Them Coulee Boys are known for.  Lyrically, “Dancing in the Dim Light” deals with the duality of life, in which we often remember the lows in our highs, but also see the light in the dark.  Being weak or vulnerable isn’t what defines you. It’s about how you dance when the lights aren’t shining like they need to.  “Dancing in the Dim Light” is set to be released June 28, 2016 with a tour to follow.

Since the release of "Dancing in the Dim Light", fans and critics alike have praised the giant step forward into Them Coulee Boys own sound.  Reviewed by many U.S. publications, DITDL was also loved by Scene Magazine in Canada, and had press from the U.K. as well. It was named "Best Local Album 2016" by Volume One Magazine, and has been played on radio stations all across the country, most notably on NPR's "SImply Folk" program.  Them Coulee Boys have shared the stage with Yonder Mountain String Band, Pert Near Sandstone, Horseshoes and Hand Grenades, and Charlie Parr.  They have had the honor of playing incredible festivals and venues including First Avenue Mainroom, Majestic Theater, Blue Ox Music Fest, and Boats and Bluegrass. 

Band Members