The Innocence Mission
|The Innocence Mission|
|Origin||Lancaster, Pennsylvania, U.S.|
|Genres||Alternative rock, indie pop, dream pop, folk rock|
|Past members||Steve Brown|
The Innocence Mission (stylized as the innocence mission on all releases since 1995) is an American folk rock band centered on husband-and-wife singer-songwriters Karen and Don Peris. The group, including Mike Bitts (bass guitar) and Steve Brown (drums), was formed in Lancaster, Pennsylvania in the early 1980s when the members met during a Catholic school production of Godspell. Although all members of the band have contributed musically, Karen Peris is its main writer.
Before being signed to a record label, the band originally played local clubs, events and even a prom at Lancaster Catholic High School (the alma mater of the band members) under the name Masquerade. Their self-titled debut album was released in 1989 on A&M Records and was produced by Larry Klein, then-husband of Joni Mitchell. Recorded in the couple's Los Angeles recording studio, the album spent 10 weeks on the Billboard charts, peaking at #167 in 1990, with the album's lead single "Black Sheep Wall" peaking at #22 on Billboard's Modern Rock Tracks chart. Klein also produced their 1991 follow up, Umbrella.
Their third and final A&M album, Glow (1995), was produced by Dennis Herring, who had previously produced two records for Camper Van Beethoven. This album is a departure from Klein's heavier production style. Whereas the first two releases may have brought to mind The Sundays and 10,000 Maniacs with their moody keyboards and layered sound, Herring's lighter touch gave more emphasis to the group's guitar work and to Karen's vocals and lyrics. Glow contains songs that appear on the soundtracks of the films Empire Records and Dream for an Insomniac, as well as the television series Party of Five. The album's second track, "Bright As Yellow," peaked at #33 on Billboard’s Modern Rock Tracks. After the band completed the recording of a follow-up album to Glow, A&M Records was bought by Universal Music Group. The group decided to mutually part ways with the label, shortly before it was merged with other companies to form Interscope-Geffen-A&M. The album recorded during this period remains unreleased.
In 1999, the band signed to a new label, Kneeling Elephant, a sub-label of RCA Records. Additionally, drummer Steve Brown left the band to pursue a career as a chef. With the exception of his sole contribution - drums and brushes on "Snow" - the subsequent album, Birds of My Neighborhood, is largely bereft of drums. Don Peris took up percussional duties on "Birdless" and the closing moments of his self-penned "Green Grass, Red Tree," but otherwise the group adapted to its new trio status by replacing Mike Bitt's electric bass with an upright bass and taking on a more acoustic, folk-based sound. The album was followed by the release of The Lakes of Canada EP - which contains their one and only remix thus far, a remix of "Snow" by Icelandic electronic group GusGus.
The 2000 release, Christ Is My Hope, featuring folk songs and hymns that had inspired them over the years, was independently distributed by their own label, LAMP, with all proceeds from sales of the record being donated to hunger relief charities. An exclusive one-album deal signed with independent label WhatAreRecords? saw Small Planes following a year later. The album, which consisted of unreleased recordings made between 1996–2001, contained one song (the title track) from the unreleased album recorded for A&M in 1996.
Their first album on Badman Records in the US and Agenda in Europe, Befriended, was released in 2003 and was followed a year later by a collection of lullabies, standards, traditional and classical songs called Now the Day Is Over. Recorded over two weeks in August 2004, the album contained one original song, as well as their well-known cover of Henry Mancini's "Moon River." Badman Records acquired license to re-master and re-issue the then-out-of-print Birds of My Neighborhood album in 2006. We Walked in Song was released in 2007.
Street Map was released in December 2008 and was the second record to be distributed independently on their own LAMP label, while their ninth studio album, My Room in the Trees, was released on July 13, 2010. Their most recent studio album, Hello I Feel the Same, was released on October 17, 2015, and is their first release on Korda Records.
Karen Peris released her first solo album, Violet, on December 3, 2012. The ten song album was performed mainly on piano, and features six instrumental compositions. Don Peris appears as guitarist on two songs found on the release, while the couple's two children performed violin and viola on a further two songs. A version of the album containing two bonus tracks, "First Days in the City" and "Getting Here", were released in Japan through P-Vine Records on May 15, 2013.
Don Peris has recorded four solo albums, Ten Silver Slide Trombones in 2001, the mostly instrumental Go When the Morning Shineth in 2006, which features a vocal contribution from Karen Peris on "North Atlantic Sand," and an instrumental solo guitar Christmas album, Brighter Visions Beam Afar, which was released in 2007. His fourth studio album, The Old Century, was released on May 7, 2013.
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