The walls of Klipsch Music Center's backstage corridors, where the undistinguished rarely get to venture, is lined with candid photos of many of the legends who have performed there.
It's a veritable gallery of some of pop music's best ever. It's also where a rock 'n' roll band from Indiana draws its inspiration while rehearsing and, recently, recording its debut full-length album.
"Anytime you hit a creative wall, all you have to do is look around to remind yourself to get your head out of your ass," says Andrew Newport, drummer for the group, Borrow Tomorrow.
He's joined by his guitarist brother Robert Newport, singer/guitarist Chris Jerles and bassist Shawn Canary. It's a mild December evening, and the members are showing off their practice space at Klipsch. It is indeed upscale digs compared to some of the other places where they've rehearsed.
At one point, they were so desperate for a place to play, they used a storage unit. During the summer. Sans air conditioning.
"We'd sweat our asses off," Andrew says while nursing a beer and lounging on a couch in the Klipsch green room. "No part of being in a band is worth doing that."
And yet Borrow Tomorrow hasn't stopped. They've dealt with the common pitfalls of professional musicians: multiple car breakdowns, stolen gear, forgetting equipment at shows and scrambling for replacements, carrying 300-pound subwoofers up 40 steps to play for nine people. They've even endured death in their close circle.
"If you look back at some of the bullshit we've plowed through, we probably should've quit a long time ago," Andrew says. "If any of us were smart, we would have."
"The quick and the easy have never been the roads we've gone down, for better or for worse," Jerles says. "But we don't want to be a flash in the pan. Our goal in life is to make a living playing music. That is our dream. That is what we've worked toward every single day."
The Newports and Jerles attended Delta High School near Muncie. As far back as junior high, the elder Newport, Andrew, had a band called The Headless Weebles. He once convinced the school principal to let them play in front of the student body.
"When you play your first gig at age 14 in front of 800 people, you've got some issues playing clubs when you're 30 to almost no one," Andrew says.
Robert Newport and Jerles followed suit, forming their own semi-successful band in high school named The Fever. After graduating from college, Robert moved back in with his parents, unsure of what to do next.
During a holiday gathering, he suggested to Andrew that they start a band. Andrew said sure, thinking he wouldn't hear any more about it. Two weeks later Robert called and asked when they were going to practice.
The brothers recruited friends to join, none of whom lasted long. Robert met Randall Trumbull through his college roommate and invited him to play bass. Serendipitously, he bumped into Jerles for the first time in four years. Borrow Tomorrow was born in the winter of 2007.
They recorded a couple of EPs, the second being Retrospective in November 2009 in Nashville, Tenn. While they felt it was the best they could do at the time, they also thought they were capable of more.
"Nashville was the turning point," Jerles says. "We went from wanting to do an album to all roads lead to an album."
Borrow Tomorrow spent the next year pooling resources, playing more shows to finance recording and writing new material. They figured they'd have to compose upwards of 25 songs just to get 10 good enough for an LP.
Production for the record that would become Too Far to Feel began on Dec. 18, 2010. For the next three months band members and their producer, Kyle Ferguson, spent nights, weekends and holidays at Klipsch crafting what they hoped would be a masterpiece (Andrew's job as building manager for the Center opened up their practice space.) No one complained.
There are lots of textures on Too Far to Feel, running the gamut from slide-blues heat to haunting, piano-driven solitude.
"It was an opportunity to have a lot of space to be creative and try some different things," Ferguson says. "Not everything worked, but it was good to have the time and space to do it. The result is a product we're all thrilled with. We're glad we took the extra time."
Aside from Andrew, the rest of Borrow Tomorrow was seeing the finished Too Far to Feel for the first time the night of this interview. Copies were delivered earlier in the week. Conspicuously written in the liner notes is,
"Dedicated to Randall Trumbull. You'll forever grace the stage as a permanent fixture in our memories and in our hearts."
Though his playing and influence are all over the album, Trumbull left the band last February to care for his ailing wife. Robert found Canary through friends of friends.
"We auditioned some bassists but none came close to what Shawn brought to the table," Jerles says. "He was enthusiastic from the get-go."
Canary went so far as to study Trumbull's pedals by watching a YouTube video of him performing, then showed up at his audition with the correct gear.
"I didn't want to have to worry about changing something," Canary says.
The group still wanted Trumbull to have some type of role. He'd attend shows and help out behind the scenes when there was time. But everyone could tell Trumbull was struggling with being the only caregiver for his wife. They expected to hear at any time that she had died. Instead Jerles got a call from Andrew one morning. It was Trumbull who had died.
"He was just carrying such a burden for so long," Jerles says. "If you ever need proof that life isn't fair, that's it."
In Robert's mind, if Borrow Tomorrow was always on a downward trajectory, it would prompt some sort of re-evaluation. But they always seem to turn those adversarial corners.
"Just when we think this really sucks, the life gets kind of pumped back into us," Robert says.
Case in point: Last spring Andrew got a call from Live Nation asking if Borrow Tomorrow would like to open for Bob Seger, who was performing at Conseco (now Bankers Life) Fieldhouse. Though Andrew initially thought it was a joke, the answer was an ebullient yes. They spent the next week rehearsing their 28-minute set dozens of times.
"We practiced everything from walking on stage to guitar changes to tuning to what you'd do if you shit your pants," Andrew says. "We tried to think of every conceivable scenario."
The actual concert was a wonderful experience.
"It's something we'll never forget, but nobody's life ended (that night)," Andrew says. "We won't be saying 25 years from now, 'I opened for Bob Seger once.' We said before the concert, this is going to be incredible, but make no mistake, there's not going to be any red carpet waiting for us when we walk off that stage. It was an honor to get to do it, but it's not the ultimate goal."
Editor's note: Andrew Newport is employed by Live Nation and works at the Klipsch Center.