PLATTSBURGH - iS has something to celebrate.
The Vermont-based band will be releasing its new CD, "The Tree of Us," this Saturday, Dec. 18, at the Monopole. It's a project that's been a long-time coming, said band member Pieter Van Leeuwen.
"Our debut CD has been so much work and has really consumed us, especially over the last month," said Van Leeuwen.
The band - which consists of Mike Friest on bass and vocals, Matt Donohue on drums, and Van Leeuwen on keyboards and vocals -recorded the CD on their own to save on expenses, said Van Leeuwen.
"So, the trade off is that you've got to put that much more work into it," said Van Leeuwen.
The 12-song CD clocks in at just more than 71 minutes in length and features their hit "Belong," which itself is almost 14 minutes long.
"We wanted to get a decent amount of songs on the CD, but we also made sure we'd get one that shows our love for improvisation," said Van Leeuwen. "We have grown as a band and learned much through this experience. Now we get to celebrate all of the hard work."
iS formed over the course of a couple of years between 2003 and 2004, born from a previous band that had moved out to Santa Cruz, Calif., in 1999. The band dissolved soon after the move, but Friest, and Van Leeuwen continued to work on songs together.
"We played with a bunch of musicians out there and eventually started doing some shows, abbreviating our old name - Indian Summer," said Van Leeuwen. "We believe the word personifies our live show and our love for adventurous improvisation, because iS is now, the present tense. No show is ever the same and if you love live music and appreciate good musicianship, you'll never be bored."
The band's sound is "thick and dynamic," with influences like Phish, Medeski, Martin and Wood, Bruce Hornsby, Rush, and a list that could "go on and on," said Van Leeuwen. The overall sound of iS is made up from styles like groove rock, progressive, funk, bluegrass, jazz, ragtime, and more.
"Seeing a complete show of ours is like going for a ride with lots of diverse scenery," said Van Leeuwen. "We also care very much about the songs we write. The lyrics are relevant and relatable, and the vocals are full of soul. We love the jams, but they wouldn't exist without the songs."
Having the band's CD release party this Saturday is special to iS, said Van Leeuwen, since it was the first venue they played in Plattsburgh a few years ago. It was there they were introduced to what they consider to be a great fan base.
"I think Plattsburgh people are real and hearty, like a good soup," said Van Leeuwen. " We've made some great friends up here and we also find that Plattsburghians dig good music. That's why we drive all this way. It's always a good time."
(Editor's Note: This Saturday's show at the Monopole at 10 p.m. Check out the band's Web site for tour dates and more at www.whatitis.biz.)