While brothers Bill and Rich were the main writers of lyrics and melody, all songs were developed as a band to create a sound that felt distinctly Prune. Song themes were at times hazy and only hinted at familiar images. Other times, the themes were crystal clear and often spoke of the joys and pitfalls of balancing domestic realities. As musicians, the level of experience on instruments varied.
Keyboardist Rich Ives and guitarist David Lucash had spent years developing their craft, which provided a strong core. Bassist Jen Ives and drummer Bill Schwartz first picked up their instruments as more or less an impulse just a few years prior, when they formed the almost all‑girl group Mr. Pink Jeans. Wally had long held the anchor as bassist in his previous band lives, but elected to pick up a guitar and add some simple melodic solo lines that drift through many of the songs.
The band still considers this to be one of the key ingredients that make a song a Prune song. In May/June of 1998, the band recorded a demo‑cassette titled Mixed for the Car and began playing local clubs, festivals and coffee shops in St. Louis. In the spring of 1999, David parted ways with the group and Prune soon invited Bill Michalski to add his guitar and voice.
Bill, a long‑time follower of both Give Her a Lizard and Lydia’s Trumpet was filling up coffee houses with his own style of mostly acoustic, mostly solo musical stylings. He was a welcomed creative addition and was excited to finally have a chance to plug-in and carry the weight of a lead guitarist. By Autumn of that 1999, Prune released its second self-produced cassette titled Nightlight Juggler, which introduced Jen’s lead vocals on the final track, Why Do I. This highly conservative use of Jen’s voice would become a signature feature that played out in the songwriting process.
A favorite for many who come to hear Prune play, Jen often prefers the softer glow of the bassist’s spot light, but graciously steps up to the microphone when songs written or cover songs selected just beg to be sung by her voice. Nightlight Juggler also introduced another tradition, the contribution of Rich and Jen’s children to the recordings. Recording and mixing in the home of a young family means that everyone is a part of the band. Alex Ives, now known to all as Lexi, was a key contributor who added background vocals, percussion and took the lead for a song or two at live performances.
In the winter of 2000, Prune’s song, Deck the Halls was the first submission on the Better Than Fruitcake local artist Holiday compilation CD for charity with re-recorded vocals of the holiday favorite fitting neatly over the track for the song Road Block that would later appear on Partly Sunny. In the Spring of 2001, Prune released its first CD, Partly Sunny. The album was recorded and produced by Rich Ives at the home studio lovingly referred to as The Elephant Playroom. With the exception of three songs, Riding a Bike, Cover Girl, and Aw Yeah, the album was a compilation of re‑recorded songs that were mostly released on the two previous cassettes.
Rich’s submission, Cover Girl, featured a guest guitar solo from Graham Day. Graham soon started sitting in on more and more shows. To this day, there is some debate in Graham’s mind whether or not he’s really a member. The founding members of Prune just keep inviting him to practices and performances and spare him the drudgery of logistics and financial decisions, and it seems to work just fine.
In 2002, a “for family and fans only” release called 8 Tracks for Free was added to the collection which included a song written by band nephew Jack Probst, a few originals not included on Partly Sunny and several cover songs. From 2003-present, Prune has quietly written and played out on such a low frequency, that one might assume the band is officially broken up and reuniting. The creative outlet remains and is tapped as needed. The band members enjoy rich and diverse lives filled with family, friends, work and play.
In February 2008, Prune entered the studio for the first time not self-producing a CD. The arrangements were made new CD produced by friend and local musician/producer Steve Hoover. In true to the current incarnation of Prune fashion, no time constraints were placed on the project. The album now released was aptly named Slow Cooker.
Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
show me more