For Mipso, North Carolina always will be home

The allure of Los Angeles, New York and the Pacific Northwest is a huge draw for many recording artists who are compelled to leave their hometowns.

But that’s not the case for Mipso. The Triangle-based band’s roots have been firmly planted since the group formed while they were students at UNC.

“It began when we were sophomores and it all just clicked,” Bassist Wood Robinson recalls. “Being in a band during college just felt right. When we graduated in 2013, we took this to another level. Not long after graduation we toured Japan and things started happening.”

Mipso appears Saturday at the Haw River Ballroom. In an interview with Robinson, calling from Portland, Maine, he talks about why three-fourths of the bluegrass/folk/Americana band with the gorgeous harmonies, opt to stay in the Triangle.

Wood also reveals why Mipso traveled to Eugene, Ore., to record its latest album, “Edges Run.” The UNC alum, who majored in environmental science, said he believes he’s doing more for the environment as a musician rather than as a scientist.

1. Go west

“Edges Run,” which hit the top of the bluegrass charts, is Mipso’s fourth album in four years.

“We do what we want to do,” Robinson says. “We have autonomy. We’re an indie band and so we can be prolific and it’s a great thing.”

The songs’ lyrics run the gamut, Robinson says.

“It ranges from hopeful to sad. We had some family members dying. Our country was changing. Musically we went into different places. Some of the songs are reflective. Some songs are unabashedly sad and some are uplifting.”

The band was driven to work with producer Todd Sickafoose, who is based in Oregon. While they loved working with Brad Cook, the producer of their 2017 album, “Coming Down the Mountain,” the group wanted to change things up, Robinson said.

“Brad is a Durham guy, and he’s a genius,” he said. “But we wanted to experience something else and we did. It’s so dark and dreary in Oregon in January. We recorded when Donald Trump was inaugurated. We were all in a bad space. All of that impacted the album.”

2. Robinson loves living in Carrboro.

And he doesn’t plan to leave any time soon.

“There no reason to depart since we spend most of our time on the road,” Robinson says. “I see most of the country when we’re on the road. The Triangle community is special. It really is kind of magical. Plus my rent is about a quarter of what it would be if I lived in New York.”

While mandolin player Jacob Sharp lives in New York, fiddler Libby Rodenbough and guitarist Joseph Terrell also have kept their Triangle residency.

When Robinson is at home, you might find him out and about town.

“I love Cat’s Cradle,” Robinson says. “I go there whenever I can to catch live music. On Fridays I go to Al’s Burger Shack for the shrimp burger.”

3. If Mipso didn’t take off, Robinson would have been a scientist.

He would have studied the impact of global warming.

“It’s just a tough thing to think about these days,” Robinson says. “I was planning to get a Ph.D. in Glacial Hydroclimatology, which is the study of water and climate. I wouldn’t want to do that right now because we’re in a pretty dire situation. I would just be documenting the unfortunate reality. I wouldn’t be making a change.

“But with this band I have a little bit of a platform to tell people how we desperately need to make some changes so it doesn’t get worse.”

4. Robinson has advice for fledgling musicians.

“Avoid debt. The reason we’re in this band is that we avoided the shackles of debt and we’re well-to-do white people. If you’re in debt you’re stuck working a regular job. Thankfully we didn’t have to deal with that.”

He believes the fractured music industry will be fine. “There’s cause for concern in this business but I believe it will be fine for recording artists,” Robinson says. “There are people out there, like myself, who still love the concept of the album. They want more than a single. Fortunately, there are still quite a few of us out there and we’ll keep music alive.”

5. Who he’s listening to

“What I’ve been loving is Phoebe Bridgers, Ry Cooder and Boygenius,” Robinson says. “Each of those artists are uncompromising.”


Who: Mipso. Chandler Holt, Lula Wiles and Kate Rhudy will open.

When: 8 p.m. Nov. 10

Where: Haw River Ballroom, 1711 Saxapahaw Bethlehem Church Road, Saxapahaw.

Tickets: $30 in advance and $34 day of show.

Info: 336-525-2314 or hawriverballroom.com

Related stories from Durham Herald Sun