WHILE SOME MARRIAGE VOWS might suggest differently, it doesn't always have to be you and your spouse against the world. This has been Kevin and Anita Robinson's realization, though not always one they've put into practice. Perhaps the most beloved husband and wife musical duo since the Captain and Tennille—fine, John and Yoko—the couple have toured extensively since 2003 under the name Viva Voce, a recognizable moniker in the indie rock abyss.
On a more personal level, you might also know them as the Robinsons, whether from local shows where they weighed material for Viva Voce or Blue Giant, or because they live in your neighborhood and you've knocked on their door to borrow some sugar. Lord knows they're good for both.
But after braving the road as a pair and hitting the proverbial ceiling with Viva Voce, it seems all Kevin and Anita wanted to do was take a load off. However, for these two, this does not mean "take a break" from music; that's crazy talk when your nerves fire off synapses in tune. The Robinsons just wanted to play with other people, and thus Blue Giant was born. "It was perfect timing; we had just finished the studio, friends were coming over, and we were feeling out the new studio space. Things just started happening," explains Anita.
Planes soar overhead and bees buzz as we sit in the couple's backyard, sipping coffee and discussing the past and present proprietors of Blue Giant. These include Sam Coomes (Quasi), Sara Lund (Unwound), the Decemberists' Chris Funk ("he's in some small band, they might make it," says Kevin), Seth Lorinczi (the Golden Bears), and now, the current lineup: Dave Depper, Evan Railton, and Jesse Bates. "I've loved playing with everyone, but it's definitely great with those guys [Depper, Railton, Bates]. We all gelled immediately," says Anita.
"Plus, to take it back, we haven't been in a proper band since college. And this Blue Giant record is the first record I've ever done where we didn't perform everything on it," says Kevin.
This scenario of bands functioning with a rotating cast of characters is quite common in Portland, where musical talent flows like the drinking fountains downtown. But like all musical endeavors, if taken seriously they must coincide with the reality of living. "We're all adults with houses and grown-up shit; you can't just drop it all and do whatever you want anymore. We knew we'd be swapping things around," says Kevin.
It seems that's the founding notion of Blue Giant; come on over, grill a steak, play some music with us. Everyone leaves their mark, and it is this concept that lends the songs their immediate and infectious qualities. A rousing blend of crisp Americana and static indie fuzz, the self-titled debut, out July 13, is a seemingly perfect backdrop for any situation, from the foot-stomping first single "Blue Sunshine" to the Emmylou-style crooning of "Lonely Girl."
And then there's the real fun: the live show. While a slew of fall tour dates remain undetermined, you can catch Blue Giant in their true element, onstage as a kinetic band of seasoned musicians. In honor of their first LP and strong Pacific Northwest devotion, Blue Giant's multiple release celebrations are booked not at venues, but at local record stores. And though genuine smiles spread across their faces when they discuss their chance to pay tribute to the shops that have supported them, it's clear that for Blue Giant this only the beginning.