June 14 marks the return of the ascendant Milwaukee group, Chris Haise Band. On that date, they will release their second album of hyper-literate folk rock, titled "Suburban View," at Anodyne Coffee in Walker's Point at 7 p.m., featuring Milwaukee scene staples Zach Pietrini playing a solo set followed by Cullah and the Comrades.
Chris Haise Band is comprised of the band’s leader, Haise (piano and guitar), Mark Herrig (guitar and mandolin), Tony Sturino (cello), Weston Gritt (bass) and Chad Burgess (drums).
"When I made 'Your Ugly Friends' out in Boston, the producer – George Woods – and I played multiple instruments and added harmonies to fill out the sound," Haise says. "Weston, Mark, Chad and I are all members of (the band) Paladino, so that was an obvious connection, and Tony was added shortly after the release when we played at Locust Street Festival."
Haise garners many comparisons to Bob Dylan – and he is certainly in debt to the great bard – but his influences run a bit deeper, and weirder, than just that. When asked about his influences, some names you would expect popped up: Randy Newman, Conor Oberst, John Prine and Cole Porter. Then he dropped Kanye West casually.
"I have a tendency to badger people in any setting about Kanye and his music, specifically the visionary production that just keeps evolving," Haise says. "Controversy aside, I just try to illustrate why I think he is the height of modern art and one of the greatest artists of all time. I know my bandmates tire of it."
Haise’s road to becoming a songwriter began in earnest when he began classical piano lessons in the first grade. He continued with that until high school. The guitar found him through an eighth grade math teacher who would play while the students worked on problems.
"After a few years of learning, aided by the piano and (music) theory, the typical cocktail of adolescence – the radio and an acoustic guitar – I was trying my hand," Haise explains. "Like most things, songwriting improves by doing it a lot so it took many, many songs to push forward to a place of confidence."
Haise’s songwriting is sharp, pointed and concise on the new record. His vision for what his songwriting can be seems to be more expansive here. Throughout the album, Haise’s lively words touch on big societal issues such as organized religion, mental health and social responsibility.
"I think the main theme of the record is the constant readjustments to plans and perspectives the younger generations are required to make to feel some sense of relatability with the modern world," Haise says.
To make the most impact with his material, Haise works hard on the lyrics.
"I spend a good deal of time fine tuning any aspect of the words, meter, phrasing and rhyming," he says. "Apart from servicing the song as a whole, it personally brings me satisfaction to craft the lyrics in that way."
With twists tangling stories over many musical hooks, it's quite evident that this dedication to his vocation is paying dividends on "Suburban View." Haise, too, feels like he has turned a corner in his songwriting.
"I began to write with purpose rather than waiting for some sort of divine intervention. Not that inspiration isn’t real, but it is flakey," he says. "By forcing yourself to write for the sake of writing, you also begin searching for things to say in a new way. It feels like a much more proactive way to find meaning and themes in songs."
"Suburban View" took the band about a year to record. It was recorded by Harrig and mixed by the band, giving them an opportunity to really take their time and honor the songs.
"It ended up working really well as we had a wide-open schedule with no need to worry about booking or availability and had as much time as we could ever want," Haise says. "It’s also a treat when everyone involved in making the record is invested in the band itself. I think the end product reflects that focus but also portrays that we were in touch with the songs having played them many times."
When asked about the future, Haise had some plans.
"I think the best-case scenario … (is) regional touring, opening up for major acts when they come through town or having a fantastic online presence. Streaming (music services) obviously helps to accomplish these things in the modern age bringing your music to a much wider audience instantly," says Haise. "I think that (the) first and foremost goal (is) to expand our reach with these albums."
For more information on the album release show, visit Anodyne's website. Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the door.