Denver-Based Trio Two Faces West Releases Debut Album, Postcards from Lonely Places

Two Faces West. Image by 91 Perks Photography.
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Denver funk and blues rock trio Two Faces West has been a wildly successful touring band throughout Colorado for the past ten years. After releasing singles and an EP, they have finally released their debut Album. Postcards from Lonely Places is packed with a diverse range of songs ranging from blues to funk to self-described “junkyard country.” The title reflects the theme of American lives and the stories we live through the daily grind of life. With a slew of the songs based on real-life events, the album reflects a new era for this growing ensemble with their own impactful stories to share through their music. Two Faces West answered a few questions for us recently. 

Tell me how you met and formed the trio.

Two Faces West was formed when Mick Knudsen and Kurt Ashmore met in English class at Western State University in Gunnison, Colorado. There were a few line changes over the years, but the current lineup includes Vince Carmellini who joined in 2019. 

What talent do you each uniquely bring to the trio?

There is no place to hide in a three-person band because your strengths and weaknesses are on full display. Mick Knudsen holds the rhythm down, sings background vocals and is the hype man for our live shows. Kurt Ashmore is the lead vocalist and multi-instrumentalist, playing electric guitar, acoustic guitar, banjo, and saxophone. Vince Carmellini is a second multi-instrumentalist who plays bass guitar, piano, and organ and sings background vocals. All of us contribute to writing music, lyrics and arrangements.

Two Faces West Perform at a Local Show. Image by Memorandum Media.

Tell us about this most recent album

Postcards from Lonely Places was originally intended to be an EP, but the COVID pandemic changed those plans. We changed bass players during the pandemic, added Vince Carmellini to the lineup, and then wrote another 6 songs. We added those additional songs onto the EP release, making this our first full length album. Stylistically, we stretch our legs so to speak and touch upon many genres, rock, blues, country, funk, and the occasional touch of americana. We feel like there is something for everyone on this album to like.

How did you come up with the name for the album Postcards from Lonely Places?  

The songs were written and recorded before we even thought of the album title. When we reflected on how the songs came together on the album, we felt each song seemed like a postcard from a life event. For example, Rock Like a Country Song is about heartbreak and resilience, The Ballad of Jerry Davis is about oppression and desperation, Vegas at 3am is about vices, Ain’t Got a Clue is about being aloof and distracted, Brand New Suit is about avarice, Dirty Ol’ Man is about lust, Moonshiners is about bootlegging on the eastern plains of Colorado, and so on. All these stories, at the root of them, is a sense of loneliness and isolation.

What do you think brings your talents together as a trio vs individual artists?

We are fully committed to being a band and songwriting together. Each of us has to give up the sense of possessiveness when someone brings a musical idea or lyric phrase to the rest of the group. It may go in places that any one of us may have ever considered on our own, but the song is always somehow better for it. We must let go of the idea of self-centeredness and let the band interject our collective identity into the songs. Anything short of that is asking for the band to break up.

What would you say is your favorite part of being a musician?

It is always a good feeling, after you spend so much time trying to write a song with meaning, to have a positive crowd reaction. Some of these songs took 8-10 months to write and develop to what you hear on the record. For example, we just got done playing a show in Iowa, and the crowd really reacted to Rocks Like a Country Song. It’s great to see when somebody understands and feels the lyrics the way that we wrote them. It’s also great to see how the crowd reacts to the musical bag of tricks Kurt Ashmore uses during a show, like when he loops his guitar and then picks up his sax and rips a great solo, or picks up the accordion for a solo, or switches to the talk box during a guitar solo. The audience just isn’t expecting that from a trio.

What do you hope to instill in others with your music? What message do you hope to convey? 

Our primary goal is to write great songs with interesting stories, and to have a level of musicianship that we can be proud of in our performances. There is no underlying political or social message in our songs. We allude to political and labor movements in The Ballad of Jerry Davis, a song about the Columbine Mine Massacre in 1927, but the song is more about empathy and compassion for people who got nothing to lose. If any of these songs can invoke feelings of happiness or comfort and stir an interest in art and creativity, then we did our job.

The trio has been performing live for the past ten years. Image by Memorandum Media.

In your own words, how would you describe your music? 

We struggle with this question, but essentially, we feel Two Faces West is a rock band with strong influences of blues, americana, alt country, jazz, and funk. There are moments in our live shows that allow for improvisation, but we don’t consider ourselves a jam group. We write songs that we think are fun, creative, and enjoyable regardless of the style. 

What’s next for Two Faces West?

We still have some gas in the tank with songs that we want to develop, record, and promote. Look for a single or two in 2024.

What would be your biggest dreams or goals to accomplish as a successful group?

Every independent music group right now is struggling to succeed in a DIY music environment. With that in mind, our immediate goals are to increase our streaming numbers and look for better placements at music festivals and/or opening for national acts. I think the biggest win would be to have a song or two licensed for commercial or film purposes.

I read that the songs convey real life events. Is there a favorite song on the album?

We think it’s more about favorite moments, than a particular song. The guitar solo section in Dirty Ol’ Man really exemplifies three musicians playing extremely well together, while simultaneously expressing ourselves as individual musicians. The vibe in that moment makes us smile every time. 

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