For the members of Abandon Kansas, their bright future as one of the Midwest’s most storied DIY indie-rock acts has them doing just about everything but deserting their roots. Seven years into their existence, the band has over 800 headlining tour dates and three releases on an upper echelon indie label under their belts. They’ve capitalized on the social media surge of the mid-late 2000s with fans by the numbers on every platform, and have graced the national Christian festival circuit across the board with headlining slots. From the outside, Abandon Kansas is the proverbial success-package that the music world at large seeks to achieve. From the inside, Abandon Kansas is a threshold of creativity with a gritty, relentless do-it-yourself mentality – allowing them to not only continue their forward motion, but to do it completely on their own.
The band saw its beginnings in 2006 at Friends University in Wichita, KS. Brian Scheideman and Jeremy Spring met by sharing a love for indie rock music while attending their hometown school, and quickly got to work on their first independent release, 2007’s You Build a Wall, I’ll Build a Ladder. The album encompassed a sound both raw and polished, resembling shades of indie catalysts The Arcade Fire and Bloc Party. It built an instant buzz throughout the Midwestern U.S., and most importantly, caught the eyes and ears of Christian indie label Gotee Records. “Gotee was the only label interested at the time that understood how we wanted to walk the line between the Christian and general market, and they let us do our thing,” explains vocalist Jeremy Spring. “I remember signing the papers in a parking lot in Texas in March; it was very anticlimactic.”
Perhaps the described signing process was somewhat of a foreshadowing of the next two years, as the band eventually themselves in an uncomfortable creative situation with the label. They wrote and released 2009’s We’re All Going Somewhere, their Gotee debut, followed by Ad Astera Per Aspera, their first full-length effort with the label – both produced by Mark Lee Townsend (Relient K, House of Heroes). Ad Astra landed AK on Christian rock radio along with several headlining national tours supported by artists like The Wedding, From Indian Lakes, Swimming With Dolphins, and Farewell Flight. Additionally, Abandon Kansas performed at major national festivals like Cornerstone, Sonfest, Uprise, Purple Door, and headlined Tiranafast in Albania. However, the band felt as though they were running in place, and Gotee couldn’t accommodate their direction for the foreseeable future. “Gotee was a great home for us in the beginning,” continues Spring. “We were able to educate ourselves in the music industry and discover we had just as good of a shot putting out a successful record independently as we did being signed.”
Enter 2012, when Abandon Kansas found themselves at a vital crossroads – two singles charting on Christian radio but no creative outlet to be themselves. With an album’s worth of new material that Gotee would not commit to releasing any time soon, the band approached their label asking for a clean break. The break was respectfully granted, and the band quickly entered the studio with Dustin Burnett to begin work on A Midwest Summer – their first independent release in nearly six years. Vocalist Jeremy Spring says, “We didn't want to do a fundraiser or anything, but instead our fourth annual acoustic living room tour essentially paid for this new release. We are still fan- funded, just in the old fashion ‘come to a show, buy yourself a CD, and tell your friends’ kind of way. AK may be independent, but certainly not alone.”
A Midwest Summer is the 3-song pre-cursor to its parent release, due out later in 2013. It opens with “You+Me+The Radio,” setting an anthem-like, optimistic tone for the album. The following tracks include “The Chase” and “Marching Around Me,” which give Abandon Kansas the tone-heavy blend of dance-pop and true rock that will provide fans of Youngblood Hawke and Paper Route with their new obsession. A Midwest Summer hits digital retailers on June 11th – look for Abandon Kansas to grace car stereos all summer long in advent of their full-length concept album. In the words of AK vocalist Spring, “Where we’re from, summer is a whole lot of driving to the middle of nowhere just to get into trouble with your friends, working a summer job you really don’t care about, staying in your swim suits all day by the pool, and living inside this lucid dream of a season that seems to last a lot longer than a few months between semesters.”