It’s been a pretty eventful 18 months for Total Imaginary Mind Experience.
After all, they have released four albums since the start of 2017, as they try to gain fans and interest in their music.
The alternative rock duet features Estevan resident Daniel Espelien and his best friend, Stan Hartman, who resides in Palm Springs, Calif. Their latest album, Parlour Hicks, will be released on May 25, and the first single from that album 1984, was available on May 18.
Espelien lends his guitar and bass guitar talents to every song, and also plays keyboard and percussion for some songs. Hartman plays drums for all of the songs. Both lend their vocal talents to the album.
Parlour Hicks is expected to be their only release this year, which might not seem surprising, but it’s a departure from last year, when they released three albums.
“Sound-wise, it’s probably the best work I’ve been able to put out, with doing the mixing and mastering myself,” said Espelien.
They were able to release three albums so quickly last year because they wrote a lot of songs over a two-year span. All of the songs on all four albums are their own works, rather than covers.
“It was a lot of work, but it just worked for us wanting to get everything out,” said Espelien. “And then we also wanted to keep writing, and when you’re not having to play live, you can just keep writing.”
But releasing three albums in a year helped them build a fan base and sell some recordings.
“With putting out three albums, it made us seem like we were a little bit bigger than we actually were, so it helped us get our online distribution deal, which put us on all online platforms, which was really huge for us.”
For the fourth album, they wanted to have a collaborative effort, with both members having lead vocals, for example. They also want to have a sound reminiscent of groups they liked when growing up.
“If you were listening to a Fleetwood Mac album, you’d have three singers in the band, and they’d all put stuff out, and it would never be a solo project,” said Espelien.
They also believe they have found the sound they were looking. The first three albums don’t sound anything alike, he said. But this one is a mix of what they’ve done, and where they’re headed moving forward.
A few people have heard the music on the album, and have enjoyed the music, he said. But they try to keep the music to themselves as much as possible.
Now that their attention has shifted to releasing just one album a year, they want to play live on a more regular basis. Espelien wants to do shows in Estevan, while Hartman has done shows in Palm Springs.
“Next summer we’re going to try to get some shows together,” said Espelien. “I’ve been trying to get on some of the musical festivals in the area, but we’re going to try to get it so he can come here and try to play live.”
And if they release just one album per year, it would allow them to release the songs they have written that they really like, instead of releasing all of their material with multiple albums a year.
Espelien met Hartman when they lived in Lethbridge, Alta. They were part of a rhythm section, in which Espelien played bass and Hartman did the drums. They did an album together in Vancouver, and they also lived in Nelson, B.C.
Hartman eventually returned to the U.S., and Espelien moved to Estevan.
It hasn’t been too tough recording albums with someone who lives a great distance away, he said, thanks to their time together and their friendship.
“A lot of the things that some bands have problems with, like with communication and things like that, we don’t have that issue, and we talk every Friday,” said Espelien. “We have a meeting over Skype, and we just are both really open to the different musical ideas.”
It’s a long process, he said, but it works well for them.
Espelien said he and Hartman view Total Imaginary Mind Experience as a writing partnership. “Songs that he’s singing (on the album), he wrote his lyrics, and songs that I’m singing, I wrote my lyrics, but we always say that we co-wrote it,” said Espelien.
And if one of them gains momentum in their musical careers, Espelien reasons it helps the other person out.
As for the name, it’s derived from Hartman’s first band back when he was a teenager. When they had their rhythm section and they were writing stuff for fun, they thought it was a funny name, but it was perfect and they stuck with it.
Parlour Hicks and their previous releases can be found on YouTube and other streaming sites.