Since Mipso’s last album release – 2015’s “Old Time Reverie” – debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Bluegrass chart, the Triangle-based band has been positioned as either young upstarts who saw a quick rise to fame or as photogenic stars that could help appreciative fellow acoustic pickers by association.
While Mipso, which plays Raleigh’s Lincoln Theatre on Friday night, has made its name in bluegrass, the band’s next album is leading them further away from the musical genre that has embraced them.
During a phone interview on break from recording and touring, Mipso’s mandolin player Jacob Sharp said the next album is currently untitled, without an official record label home and has a release window of late winter to early spring.
“This one has a different vibe to it for sure,” Sharp said, “as it’s produced by Brad Cook from the local band Megafaun. It’s got drums on the whole thing, and pedal steel and bass. We’ve kind of wanted to recognize how lucky we were to be surrounded by so many talented musicians doing so many different types of stuff. We’re using this recording time as a way of learning about that.”
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The band has been surprised by the success they have found since their debut in 2013. The group – at the time performing mainly as a trio – made a name for themselves on the local scene by performing across the state whenever their studies at UNC-Chapel Hill would allow. It wasn’t until the release of their debut album “Dark Holler Pop” that they were clued into two bits of information that had slipped past them during their travels. One was the record’s success, landing at No. 8 on the Billboard Bluegrass Album charts.
The second surprise? That they were apparently a bluegrass band.
“I guess it’s important to preface this by saying that for us the label doesn’t matter that much,” Sharp said. “We want to be known just as a good band. We write songs that we hope stand alone, regardless of how they are arranged and what instruments play them.”
The process of making good music has allowed Mipso to continue to evolve as a recording act. The first evolution began when Libby Rodenbough, a longtime musician friend who collaborated on the first album, was able to sign onto the band as a full-time member. Sharp said Rodenbough’s presence caused the original trio to realize what the fiddle player’s sound brought to their music.
“It had always been in our mind to bring in a fourth member, and if it couldn’t be Libby, we wanted someone similarly talented and unique in that role,” Sharp said. “Her fiddle playing is totally unique, and while classically trained, the sound still comes from the ol’ timey music world.”
That evolution continues as they take the gamble that many musicians have made – changing a signature sound and hoping fans follow along. This time, they embrace a multitude of influences outside of the traditional fold and put their faith into their evolving songwriting, as well as the commercial appeal that some of their peers have found.
Sharp continued, “I think with the rise of Americana music at large, and all kinds of folk music being adopted by different artists in general, there are probably a lot of musicians beginning to find common ground within the acoustic music fold that would have normally started a rock band. There are a lot of these groups that, 10 to 15 years ago, would have been classified as bluegrass upon first look. Now we understand that there is a bit more nuance to it than that.”
Who: Mipso, with Look Homeward
When: 9 p.m. Friday
Where: Lincoln Theatre, 126 E. Cabarrus St., Raleigh
Cost: Sold out