For Jesse Lee, Casey Tennis and Hubert Glover, Pravada is much more than a rock 'n' roll band. Instead, the trio of exceptionally experienced musicians sees their collective music efforts as a breeding ground for creative exploration and growth.
Lee (vocals, cello, guitars) and Tennis' (drums, keyboards, percussion, guitar) artistic bond began more than a decade ago, stemming back much further than the first ever Pravada recordings. Lee recalls, "We had known each other a long time, and there was a small catalogue of songs we'd been working on. We got a band together, and we tried to work on those after I relocated to Indianapolis, after living around a few other places."
Upon receiving second place at a 2004 Battle of the Bands at The Vogue, Pravada ventured down to Bloomington's Echo Park Studios, finalizing work on their debut full-length (Manus Plere) with their runner-up winnings. The album would eventually receive an official release from an impressed Jeb Banner in July of 2005 via MFT Records; however, several years passed before fans heard much more from the group, with other pursuits (including work with Margot & the Nuclear So and So's) putting Pravada endeavors on hold.
But during this time, Lee remained diligent, eventually returning to Pravada with several formidable song ideas that he'd developed over the years. These tunes would later surface on the band's two most recent releases: 2012's NO! EP and 2013's Dirty Looks full-length. It was with the first of these that Lee and company decided to create a series of five music videos, presenting each one of the EP's tracks through a compelling visual lens.
"Videos are the art form of today and will continue to be," Lee reflects. "When we watched musical performances we would be impressed or inspired, but honestly, we wanted to see a production, a mood, a mini film; they [music videos] do more than sell a song, that's besides the point. They create a memory."
Since making that decision, Pravada has teamed with several creative Indianapolis friends, orchestrating videos for "Molly," "Someone Else" and, most recently, "Flatbush." Collaborators have included Consequence Pictures, Justin and Dustin Lane, Matt Mays, Savannah Norris, Joel Umbaugh and many other Indianapolis-based talents. On these partnerships, Lee says, "We know so many talented videographers and art directors -- artists of their medium. I'd like to work with everyone I know and showcase their amazing styles." The trio will continue on that path when it begins work on its first animated production of the five-part series at the end of this summer.
Nevertheless, this juncture in the band's lifespan marks just one more stage in the founding duo's creative inquiries, according to Tennis. He explains, "Jesse and I have a very long-term goal about everything we want to do in music. We want to do a jazz record. We want to do a country record. We want to do all these thematic records because we want to challenge ourselves as musicians ... We have a lot of musical identities we want to exploit and learn from."
These analyses are made possible, in part, by the educated backgrounds of the trio. Hubert (bass) points out, "You're not going to find a lot of bands where everybody has gone to school and studied how to play live music. We've all done that." Continuing down this probing path, the next of Pravada's explorative endeavors will be a release to be titled Pravada Family Sings, which will feature "a collection of singles with guest singers and instrumentalists recorded at varying houses, studios, attics and bathrooms," according to Lee.
At the end of the day, the Pravada frontman certainly feels a rousing satisfaction about his group's recent undertakings, thanks in large part to his pair of adept companions.
"The diversity of influences and skill levels of Casey and Hubert change what would be only an enjoyable, pretty song into an actual piece," he says. "Every time we play I'm again wowed by them."
This Sunday, the tightknit three-piece will perform on the River Stage at the second annual White River Arts, Recreation & Music Festival (WARMfest), alongside several other local and touring acts. For more information on the weekend-long event, visit the WARMfest website.