Musicians and coffee are the opposite of mutually exclusive: they inspire, perpetuate, and constantly interact with each other, from the barista recording demos late at night after work to the musician seeking clarity at the bottom of a demitasse before loading up the van. From Indian Lakes, an American music group originally from Yosemite, California, take this intersection of coffee & music to its natural conclusion, incorporating cafe visits into their tours, traveling with a professional coffee set-up, and collaborating with noted SoCal roasters Portola Coffee Lab to keep them in supply on the road. FIL drummer Tohm Ifergan is even a coffee fanatic who works behind the bar at Portola in Costa Mesa when he's not on tour.
FIL have a brand new record out on Triple Crown Records called Absent Sounds, which you can purchase directly on iTunes if you're so inclined. The band is scheduled for an extensive Autumn tour with fellow musical groups Relient K and Blondfire. Enjoy the video for their latest single, “Ghosts”, embedded below.
We sat down digitally with Tohm Ifergan to hear more about how coffee fits into musical life.
What's your road coffee setup?
I tend to bring a lot: Baratza Encore, 2 Hario v60's, 2 Jennings CJ-4000 scales, Hario Buono Kettle, Bonavita Electric Kettle, 2 Tiamo Bamboo paddles, a Toddy brewing kit, an AeroPress and a Porlex Hand Grinder… I cold brew overnight, do pour overs in the morning/at the show and make an AeroPress at a gas station.
What are your favorite cafes you've visited?
Man that's tough since there's been so many great shops. I guess I would say my all time favorites are Heart Coffee Roasters in Portland, Ritual Coffee Roasters in San Fransisco, Madcap in Grand Rapids and my hometown Chicago ones: The Wormhole, Bow Truss and Gaslight Coffee Roasters.
What's the most desperate thing you've ever done for coffee on tour?
At South by Southwest [SXSW] this year I decided to make a batch of cold brew the night before but didn't think about when we'd have to leave to load in. I realized in the morning I had 2 hours left of brew time. I couldn't imagine a day at a hot festival without cold brew and leaving it at the apartment would over extract my batch so I brought it with me. SXSW is a festival that takes place in Austin throughout various bars downtown so loading in is insanely stressful and timely. We were running late and we had to park a few blocks away so my bandmates were rushing with all the equipment. As important as that was for us to do the first thing I could think about was coffee. So there I was, sauntering to our first showcase through massive crowds while gingerly carrying my already spilling Toddy (with a paper towel as protection) into the stage area. Of course everyone was furious and I was too obsessed to realize how unreasonable I was acting. After we played I rushed to the merch area to start draining it on schedule. The rest of the day I had my sweet gallon of cold brew that I so desperately wanted resting delicately in my backpack and I sheepishly drank from it all weekend long.
Which of your songs are secretly about coffee?
I can't imagine any of them are but I like to think Joey was drinking coffee when he wrote “Sleeping Limbs”.
What cities do you look forward to playing because of the cafes there?
Portland, San Fransisco, Chicago and New York City.
How many cafes do you typically see in a tour stop?
Before I started bringing my own gear I'd say 2-3 in a lot of cities. Whenever there was an awesome shop I really wanted to go to I'd tell everyone it was pretty close by. After 20-30 minutes of walking eventually someone would realize I was exaggerating and get mad…but it was totally worth it.
Do you have any wacky coffee-related requests on your rider?
Hot cups are essential (most venues don't have them on hand) but nothing really wacky. I always bring everything I need to brew in a green room (except provided water) but it's crazy how many don't have a trash can… I mean when you're making coffee for 8-15 guys, used filters will be EVERYWHERE.
How did you get hooked up with Portola?
I've been working at Portola for roughly a year now. When I started brewing coffee on the road I realized how expensive it was to be buying beans so frequently. All I could think about is how awesome it would be for Portola to just send me some bags weekly. I didn't really know if selling coffee on the road would work but figured that whatever didn't sell we would brew and drink ourselves. Portola, being a young up and coming roaster in California, loved the idea of national exposure and the fans have been overwhelming positive about it. The bags are seasonally rotating single origins that I hand pick. Right now we have a delicious Kochere Washed from Ethiopia that tastes like honeysuckle and white chocolate.
You are trapped on a desert island with one brew method. Which do you pick?
Funny thing is I just finished binge watching Lost and all I could think about is what kind of coffee the Dharma Initiative would drink. I mean they had to drink something, right? Imagine if they had some cold brew in those (never explained) food drops…That's what I would crave.
What are your top roasters you want to visit when the tour goes global?
That is the most amazing question you could ask. We have yet to tour internationally and the prospect of it is incredible and I didn't even THINK about coffee. Now I'm too excited…I guess a few that I've tried/heard great things about would be 49th Parallel and Bows & Arrows in Canada, Square Mile and Has Bean in the UK and Veneziano and Grounds of Alexandria in Australia.
From Indian Lakes tour across the United States this fall. Visit their official website, follow them on Facebook, tweet cafe recommendations to them on Twitter, and order a physical copy of their latest record, Absent Sounds.