In this exclusive interview, we chat with the band about their latest album, life on the road, and staying in the world's largest human birdhouse.
At the end of John Green’s novel Looking For Alaska he wrote, “Thomas Edison’s last words were ‘It’s very beautiful over there’. I don’t know where there is, but I believe it’s somewhere, and I hope it’s beautiful.” Those words resonated deeply with Sarah Slaton, one-third of the Denver-based trio, Edison. Having grown up in a very religious household, Slaton found herself questioning her faith and coming to terms with morality when she lost her mom. “I didn’t know what I believed in anymore, but I wanted it to be beautiful over there for her, wherever that was,” explained Slaton. It was those final words would later go on to inspire the band’s name.
Lead singer / guitarist Slaton, along with multi-instrumentalist Dustin Morris and Grammy-nominated guitarist, Maxwell Hughes (formerly of The Lumineers) formed Edison in 2014. Slaton had been playing solo for years, and met Morris when she opened for his prior band. The duo performed together over the next year when they met up with Hughes on a co-headlining tour. By the end of that run, they’d become a trio. “It started with us all having such a strong, instant friendship on that first tour,” said Hughes. “It felt seamless and natural to start playing music together.”
True road warriors, they began their journey by touring and writing on the road. In between shows, they’d take breaks just to write, with stops at a cabin in the Rocky Mountains, the Chesapeake Bay, and in the Arizona desert. That collection of songs went on to become a large part of their latest album, Familiar Spirit.
“The songs reflect going through grief and the death of a loved one, followed by a great romantic love that ended years after the first loss,” said Sarah, describing the inspiration behind Familiar Spirit. “Lyrically it does come full circle with the hope we each found being on the road together.”
The trio often draws inspiration from the landscapes they surround themselves with while on the road. “Back & Forth was written on a dock on the Chesapeake and you can hear that sway in the rhythm that the water brought out,” explained Sarah. “On the other end you have Water In The Well that was written out in the desert and brings space and loneliness into the song that was stirred from the feeling of being out there.”
The band just wrapped up shooting a video for the third track on the album, Civil War. The song is based on a letter that was written by Sarah when she was ending a romantic relationship. “I had come to a crossroad of indecision,” she explained. “Your head believes the logical step is to accept its over and walk away before you hurt each other more. You’re madly in love though and the heart wants to hang on and keep hoping there’s a light to guide you both back to each other. The song encapsulates the anxiety within your toughest decisions.”
At SXSW this year, the trio had planned on just sleeping in their van – named Van Morrison – given the high cost of lodging in Austin. Instead, thanks to a contest they entered with HomeAway, they were set up in the world’s largest human birdhouse. It was a tranquil retreat, fully furnished with all the amenities, including a fridge stocked by WholeFoods and beverages provided by Austin Eastciders. “The accommodations and perks were just incredible and we felt so special the whole time in Austin,” said Sarah.
Van Morrison is definitely a big part of their lives given the amount of time they spend on the road. The band usually turns to podcasts for those long drives. They also created an interactive playlist on Spotify where people can add songs. “It’s always fun to hear what people add and get new music as we travel,” said Sarah. Check out Edison’s Open Road Playlist here.
Having just spent the past three months on the road for the Familiar Spirit Tour, Slaton, Morris and Hughes are now back in Colorado. Though it won’t be much of a break as they prepare to kick off the west coast leg of the tour. They’ll be making their way through Texas next month, where they’ll also begin recording part of their next album. The tour will be capped off with a residency in Los Angeles at The Hotel Cafe in June. The trio will be back in NYC later this summer – stay tuned for the announcement!
For all of the latest news and updates on Edison, head over to listentoedison.com.