Do it ourselves. That’s the motto Denver quintet Churchill lives by. The band members write their own music and even produced their first record and EP in-house. “That’s always been the goal,” says singer and guitarist Tim Bruns. “To do as much as we can on our own and see where that takes us.”

Two years ago, that meant raising more than $6,000 from fans via a Kickstarter campaign (an online funding platform) to finish the group’s first full-length release, Happy/Sad. But today, having performed with the Fray and Of Monsters and Men, and with the hit single “Change” in heavy radio circulation, Churchill can afford to do things differently for its next record, which will be released next month. The band brought on iconic producer Brendan O’Brien—who’s worked with legends such as Pearl Jam and Bruce Springsteen—for four tracks and focused on finding its sweet spot: a folk-rock blend of rustic blues, classic vocals, and the twang of a mandolin. “We’re growing up as a band,” Bruns says. “The songs are bigger, a little more anthemic and epic.”

The real draw of Churchill’s music is Bruns’ lyrics, which he composes with group input. The singer elevates common refrains about relationships and loss with wit and sincerity that are often missing from today’s pop rotation. “My songs are about tension and hope, so there’s a lot of struggle in the lyrics,” Bruns says. “I don’t think struggle for struggle’s sake is ever worth anything. I believe when things are bad, they always can get better. That’s what I try to write about.”

The struggle for fans will be waiting until fall’s Jazz Aspen Snowmass (August 30–September 2) to see the band perform their new material in Colorado.

This article was originally published in 5280 May 2013.
Daliah Singer
Daliah Singer
Daliah Singer is an award-winning writer and editor based in Denver. You can find more of her work at