What: Ivan & Alyosha with Eight Knives and Fort Atlantic
When: 9 p.m. Saturday, April 13
Where: JJ's Bohemia, 231 E. M.L. King Blvd.
When people learn that indie rock band Ivan & Alyosha took its name from Dostoevsky's "The Brothers Karamazov" and that no one in the group is named Ivan or Alyosha, an impression is formed.
Not every song by the Seattle-based group is based on high-minded literature, but some of the songs do share the book's theme in exploring the existence of God.
The group is composed of Tim Wilson (lead vocals and acoustic guitar), his brother Pete Wilson (bass and vocals), Ryan Carbary (guitars, piano and vocals) and Tim Kim (electric guitar and vocals).
Tim Wilson said he is asked about the name all the time and that "it has taken on a life of its own." The name was suggested to them by producer Eli Thompson, a Dostoevsky fan.
"I don't read a lot of reviews or online comments, but I saw one the other day where someone had commented on a video," he said. "The person asked, 'Is this the most pretentious name ever?'
"If we are doing one thing intentionally it's trying not to be pretentious. Everybody wants to get to know the band once they've heard the music, and the band name has only added to that. At first, it was just a name, but now it means a lot to us."
The band is touring the country in support of "All the Times We Had" and the single "Fathers Be Kind."
It was featured on NPR's "First Listen," and NPR Music's Stephen Thompson wrote: "It's about time Ivan & Alyosha received due praise as a standard-bearer for the hyper-accessible, harmony-rich roots music: The band writes gorgeous, swelling, impeccably built songs about love and faith."
USA Today described the songs as "sheer joy, from their melodic surface to deep inside their lyrical core."
Critics often describe Ivan & Alyosha's music as uplifting pop, a description that Wilson said he is mostly OK with.
"I'm comfortable with that. The music lends itself to that, but as the music has matured, it is in a more contemplative state. One thing we don't want to be is tame. We want it to hit hard.
"I think there has to be tension, and most of the songs -- at least that I write -- come from some sort of tension or longing and not necessarily a place of darkness."
It might be difficult for some to think of an uplifting pop band coming from the place that gave us grunge, but Wilson said he is by and large a happy person, and so is the rest of the band.
"It's too hard to be in a bad mood or in a place that is superdark or negative. Life is too hard already to be so serious all the time.
"I take what I do seriously, but I don't take myself too seriously."
Contact staff writer Barry Courter at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6354.