Guitarist Don Joslin, bassist Nate Munger and guitarist-pianist Eric Salk espouse the ideals of a DIY collective. It's a principle they've stayed true to since they formed San Francisco-based The Union Trade in 2006, but it hasn't always been easy.
"We do all of our own work, PR and releasing, [instead of] just playing in the band and writing songs," said Joslin. "We got a little burnt out, basically, after five years of putting our all into it."
After losing two drummers and releasing the EP Why We Need Night (2011), the group went on a three-year hiatus. During that time, Joslin checked the sales records of his Tricycle Records label—which has released all of The Union Trade's albums—and found a surprise: "Everyday Including Holidays," an instrumental track on the band's debut LP Everyday Including (2008), was still selling even though the band had stopped playing live.
"It sort of made me realize that what I had always wanted to do ... was to create a full album of instrumentals," Joslin said. "I felt like from day one of the band, that's what we were the best at."
The Union Trade's new album, A Place of Long Years (2015), supports Joslin's belief. A few subdued guest vocals from singer Ann Yu aside, the group's somber, melodious guitar lines and stately drumming (courtesy of new recruit Eitan Anzenberg) dominate the record. The Union Trade will bring its haunting blend of shoegaze and post-rock to Boise on Wednesday, Feb. 18, when the band plays Crazy Horse with local openers Bliiss and Darling Rollercoaster.
Joslin described The Union Trade's formation as an organic process: The members had all played with one another in other groups before forming their own. Joslin's Tricycle Records, also formed in 2006, grew in a similar way. Joslin considered it just a name to attach to his band's releases until he met photographer Julie Schuchard. "She said, 'Oh, I'm very connected in the music industry, and I've always wanted to start a label,'" Joslin recalled. "So on a drunken night, I said, 'Oh yeah, let's start a label.' And then the next day, she emailed and it actually happened."
Groups signed to Tricycle include Everyone is Dirty, which is on the 2015 Treefort Music Fest roster. The label has also put out releases by electro-pop group Geographer (also scheduled to play this year's Treefort), which Spin featured in its 2008 article, "Three Undiscovered Bands You Need to Hear Now."
The Union Trade plans to tour behind A Place of Long Years for a couple of (long) years.
"It's not a one-listen kind of album," Joslin said. "The more you listen to it, the more you get it and like it."