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Thursday, May 6, 2021

Chasing Waterfalls to Rivers to Roads

It was a cold and cloudy Saturday night when Bellingham band Rivers to Roads piled into the back corner of Woods Coffee, just hours before their performance up the street at The Wild Buffalo.

Well, not all six members of the band.

Electric guitarist Cameron Parker and drummer Lucas Hendrickson, scrambled to find a guitar because Parker’s had broken during sound check.

Parker and Hendrickson strolled into the interview a few minutes late but arrived victorious. A guitar for Parker had been found;  a loan from a friend.

“It was interesting. We had chosen not to be naked, but it was almost like there was this weird pressure from the crowd that we felt like we almost needed to be [naked].”

Sasha Thomas 

“These guys. Always late,” pianist Danae Hendrickson said.

Rivers to Roads didn’t always have six members. Originally it had two: Western alumnus and band vocalist Sasha Thomas and guitarist Tylor Decker. The two met through mutual friends in 2014.

Decker said the pair spent one day playing together before deciding to make the band.

Playing Skykomish River at a rafting festival was their first performance as a duo. During the show, they realized this wasn’t just a passing fad for them.

“We played right next to the river while the moon was coming up, and it was an all day event. It was the first moment it just really clicked that this is something I want to invest most of my time into,” Decker said.

Pianist Danae, drummer Hendrickson and bassist Brian Kent, joined the band in 2015. Parker is the newest addition, being in the band for less than two months. Parker had only played one show with Rivers to Roads before their performance on Saturday, Jan. 21.

They’ve had the opportunity to perform at a wide spectrum of venues due to their genre, which the band describes as indie-folk.

Rivers to Roads // Courtesy of Tylor Decker

“Most of our ideal shows are places where people can dance if they want to,” Thomas said.

As a group, the band’s favorite place to perform is a whiskey bar called The Swillery, which was where they played their first downtown show.

“Every show we play there is very fun. Everyone gets to dance and sing and dance with us,” Decker said.

Another memorable performance was their unique chance to perform at the afterparty of the annual Naked Bike Ride two years ago.

“It was interesting. We had chosen not to be naked, but it was almost like there was this weird pressure from the crowd that we felt like we almost needed to be [naked],” Thomas said.

From lyrics to the band’s name, which was decided on before the whole group got together, a lot of their inspiration comes from nature.

“Usually when I try to start writing, I find myself outside,” Thomas said. “When I’m away from the band for awhile my heart gets a little sad. Then I am more prone to trying to find an outlet for those feelings. I usually end up writing more.”

Thomas writes the majority of the lyrics, while the other band members focus on creating the music.

“Sasha will come in with these awesome lyrics and sometimes even music to accompany the lyrics. We have the privilege to just add to it and build on it. We inspire each other,” Danae Hendrickson said.

For Decker, Bellingham’s venues are about the people.

“The thing about being a musician in Bellingham is it’s not very clique-y, and everyone is super welcoming,” Decker said. “The network is easy here because everyone just backs you up.”

Everything isn’t always perfect. They sometimes struggle to find time to get together because they all have lives outside of the band. Thomas is a substitute teacher in the Bellingham School District. Kent and Decker work in sales.
“I know it is hard to be a full-time musician, but I would like to be one. I would like to tour the world and have amazing experiences,” Decker said. “But if not, whatever we have accomplished until now I am satisfied and happy. This show tonight [at the Wild Buffalo] could be the last show and I would still be so thankful.”

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