Interview with Eric Gilbert of Finn Riggins

By Roger Barrett

Idaho’s Finn Riggins (Cameron Bouiss, Lisa Simpson and Eric Gilbert) have toured with Built to Spill and been compared to the Talking Heads and on Monday they’ll be at George’s in support of their new record “Vs. Wilderness.”

“Vs. Wilderness,” released on Portland, Ore., label Tender Loving Empire, finds the trio blending textural guitar, steel drums and plenty of off-kilter vocals to their intense and abstract sound, both progressive and danceable.

Fayetteville’s own eclectic trio, Hosta, and new local heroes Where’s Lawrence will also be playing.

I talked to Finn Riggins’ Eric Gilbert (keys, vocals, bass) and asked some serious questions and he was cool enough to answer.

Care to elaborate on your new album title “Vs. Wilderness?”

Gilbert: (It’s) more of a reference to the urban wilderness and the unknowns of our day-to-day life as urban hunter gatherers as touring rock musicians, but also an homage to the fact that our home state of Idaho is also home to the largest roadless wilderness area in the lower 48 states. Also, we hate trees and rivers and mountains.

You go from abstract to anthemic pretty seamlessly, with band members playing more instruments, vocals shifting, etc. Do you think there will ever be another band member? If it could be any person, living or dead, who would it be? Pretend this is a fantasy baseball league.

Gilbert: (We’ll) probably never add another band member. We like the trio. We like the challenge of it and we like the balance. But if given the opportunity and the need, we all agree we’d be honored to have Dan Bukvich join the band. Look him up. He’s amazing. Taught us half of what we know. Probably can play anything we needed him to. Or just slay in the arranging process. He’s a professor at the University of Idaho.

Fayetteville’s motto is Keep Fayetteville Funky, how do you intend to do so? Is it harder to be funky on a Monday night?

Gilbert: I think that’s a beautiful and inspiring motto. Also, Monday is the new Friday. We’ll pretty much be coming straight from SXSW. Prob on very little sleep and possibly running on six days without a shower. I think we’ll be funky for sure.

Your song topics are very diverse, how do you decide what to write about? Or do you decide?

Gilbert: (We) don’t really decide. Not usually anyways. However, with Dali off of “Vs. Wilderness,” though, we had the music in place and were starting to work on vocals and the vibe made Lisa think of a movie about Salvador Dali she had just seen called “Soft Self Portrait.” The movie is a documentary about Dali from the ’70s and uses a lot of surreal imagery throughout. In this particular case, Lisa got a vision that this song would be about Dali and wrote the lyrics based off of imagery in the movie and in his work. Usually, we try and figure out what the song is about after it’s written and has taken on its character, which often changes anyhow.

You’ve made a lot of stops to Arkansas, what do you think about our lovely state? Is there anything we could do better, please be constructive?

Gilbert: We’ve loved Arkansas every time we’ve been there. Been too long, though … since 2008. Based on our experience I’d have to say what you could do better would be to not be so far from Idaho. Would love to come visit more regularly. Beyond unrealistic expectations, I’ll pay closer attention for some constructive criticism when we’re there. I feel like bands in Idaho and Arkansas have a lot in common in that we’re overlooked scenes in a lot of ways, with not a lot of music industry based locally, which makes some things tough, but it also tends to lead to a lot of freedom and creativity-both artistically and how we approach the “business” side of things. We love it. Really excited to be back in Fayetteville.

Listen to select tracks from Vs. Wilderness at or

Roger Barrett is a Fayetteville musician who occasionally leaves his apartment.

Categories: Music