Meet The Study Abroad, a four-piece alternative band from Denver, Colorado.
The Study Abroad boasts a Dreamscape sound that takes you back to a time romanticized by cigarettes and timeless European fashion. Though, that could be changing soon with the addition of their new material.
The project began as many creative projects do, an itching in the mind of its creator, Christian Fickling. In 2013 Christian began writing the tracks that would eventually make it on to their 2019 album, Sleep Well, a dreamy nine track collection recorded right here in Colorado at Rusty Sun Audio.
By 2020. The Study Abroad became a fully realized band with the additions of longtime friend John Wilson on drums, bassist Jay Rieder, and guitarist Chris Church. They have since played sold out sets and embarked on writing new material which is set to be released later this year. I had the chance to sit down and chat with them earlier this week about all things The Study Abroad, the return of live music, and the perfect sandwich. Here’s what they had to say:
You have all been in bands in the past and you have all played very different genres; tell me what it’s been like working with Christian and The Study Abroad and what it’s been like switching genres?
John: I think for me, being the drummer, the hardest transition was not adding so many crazy fills. Coming from playing in metal bands, it was definitely a huge change at first -- training myself to take it easy. I’m growing into the style now and I really enjoy it.
Jay: You know, I joined a Jam band for a couple years and did the touring thing which was a lot of fun. Structurally and composition wise, the jam bands were very improvised, and we could do whatever we wanted as long as we stayed in key. With The Study Abroad, it has been really nice working with more traditional song structure the way that Christian writes. It has actually been great, it’s been forcing me to think more about what I play and how it impacts the song instead of playing chaotically without a destination, which has definitely been working my ear a bit. That has been nice. The music is great. I haven’t done a lot with clean singing, so it’s been really cool to do something completely different.
Chris: I’ve played in different bands, but it’s all been kind of around the same thing. Indie rock. It is definitely different than my other band, Warring Parties, which is a lot more involved for me since I do all of the writing and singing, that’s why this one is nice. I just have to show up and play and I enjoy the music.
It seems like you all really get excited about this band and about the sound. Is it that perfect combination of all the right people at the right time?
Christian: It definitely came at the right time, now we’re just focusing on what’s next and creating music. This is the first time that we are recording as a full live band together and we’re doing it ourselves, so it’s been a lot of fun.
I got the opportunity to listen to you guys practice today, it sounds like your sound is changing just a bit from what we heard on Sleep Well. Tell me about that.
John: I think this album has more of an influence in that direction -- of being a little heavier. Maybe a little darker.
Christian: Yeah, it’s definitely more alternative, I think I got tired of always playing the upbeat happy songs. One of our tracks we tend to avoid playing because of that. When I’m singing it, I just picture animated people with balloons and they’re just kind of floating back and forth.
That will have to be the video for that song.
John: I just picture a grandpa skipping through a field with like a sunflower.
Christian: Yeah, it’s a little… not us. At least not anymore, so we’re changing directions.
You’re artists, it’s okay to feel that way. It’s nice to see the different sides of you guys and I’m super excited about the new material you have coming out. So, live music is coming back, the world is kind of opening back up. Tell me what you guys are most excited about?
Christian: Well, obviously playing shows again. Especially with our new stuff which I think could be more fun for us to play to an extent.
What about shows you’re excited to go see?
John: All of them.
Christian: Yeah, there’s a lot. I’d even go see a DJ.
Unanimous: We just really wanna go see shows again.
What about the showcase, are you guys excited about that?
Christian: We’re pumped for the showcase! Super excited to play our new stuff. It’s very exciting and the opportunity is great. We’re really excited to see a lot of the art and artists at the show and -- Oh! Bunny Blake! Yeah, very excited to see her. She is really good. So are Kid Astronaut and Elektric Animals. We’re also excited to perform at Number Thirty Eight. It looks amazing.
When asked about the perfect sandwich, the guys had this to say:
Christian: I’m gonna have to go with the Larry David Sandwich from Curb. White fish, sable, capers, onions, and a nice layer of cream cheese on a nice, toasted bagel.
Jay: I’m cool with a turkey sandwich. Throw some fucking lettuce, avocado on it. I’m happy.
Chris: Backcountry Provisions has this sandwich with cranberry and turkey on it. That’s the one I would choose.
John: I’m gonna have to go with the Reuben. I was gonna say the Italian, but it’s the Reuben for sure.
They say you can tell a lot about a person by their perfect sandwich. What do these orders say about The Study Abroad? Only you can decide.
I had the pleasure of booking these guys back in October of 2020 to play two back-to-back sets. Though they had never played live together as a band, they not only sold out both of their shows but blew the audience away. I still get messages from attendees saying that their show was the highlight of an exceedingly difficult year and I am very grateful to be able to work with them again with RiNo Showcase.
All the members of The Study Abroad add something unique to the sound of the band. I am excited for their 2021 year and I can’t wait to see the new music they create. The guys hope to be on tour as early as next year so be sure to catch them live here in Denver while you can. You can find their album, Sleep Well, on all streaming platforms and be sure to check out their video, “In The City”, on YouTube. Their next live show will be on July 25thfor RiNo Showcase at Number Thirty Eight. Tickets are on sale now.