FIRST THINGS FIRST: Rapids is not Sean Croghan's band. Despite his legendary status as a long-running fixture in the Portland music scene, the former Crackerbash frontman does not call all the shots. Rather, Croghan is one member among a fully democratic band of five; in fact, he was the last to join. The band's original core was drummer Barry Anderson and guitarists Steve Davis and Jarred Decker, who all grew up in Iowa and have been playing together for years. After some time playing around Portland under the name Farmers Almanac, the Iowa boys added bassist Jake Baker. Croghan sat in on vocals for a Robert Pollard tribute night in November of 2007, and subsequently became a fixture of the band.
"Sean definitely brought a huge element of energy to it—ironic given his senior status," jokes Davis. "It's pretty obvious watching him that he's a complete sparkplug for any music that's around him."
Croghan also helped the band find its name, after looking at a map of Iowa and suggesting the name Grand Rapids. Shortened to simply Rapids, the newly minted five-piece embarked on a long string of local shows, recording two 7-inch singles along the way. The second single, "Transmission" backed with "Children of the Rain," was finished and pressed in fall 2009, but before it came out the band decided to take a hiatus. "There was no animosity," Decker explains of the break. "Part of it was not wanting to be in the bar scene as much, not wanting to be out every weekend at shows."
Unsure of their next move, the band reconvened at a friend's wedding this summer; with all five members in one place for the first time in months, they decided to play another Rapids show and finally give the 7-inch a proper send-out into the world. It's smart, propulsive, fast rock and roll, buoyed by the band's massive gravity. "I think they're the two best songs we've ever done," says Decker.
"And they're Portland songs, too," adds Croghan. "'Children of the Rain' is about growing up in the streets of Portland. I think we're all pretty happy with being a local band, and not trying to make it something bigger than what it is. We play for Portland; that's where this band is from."