The String Cheese Incident: Celebrating 30 Years of Music and Friendship on New Album ‘Lend Me a Hand’
Eight albums. Thirty years. Hundreds of songs. Thousands of smiling faces.
These are the accolades that describes the current status of The String Cheese Incident, who have built a devoted following on the strength and commitment of their kaleidoscopic musicality.
Some people may insist that the Colorado-bred six-piece — who effortlessly handles everything from bluegrass to dubstep to psychedelia — have “reached their peak” in the band’s career as they celebrate three decades of pioneering the music landscape. But if their latest album, Lend Me A Hand, has anything to say about it, SCI is only just getting started.
As the band’s eighth studio album, and first LP in six years, Lend Me A Hand showcases the band’s storytelling legacy as a group traversing three decades of shared creativity. While SCI fans may immediately jump to the band’s acclaimed sound, blending the likes of electronic components with carefully composed high-energy bluegrass arrangements, Lend Me A Hand trades all that genre-hopping for some more traditional, stripped-back folk rock.
“We wanted to showcase more ‘stories’ than songs, each one wrapping words together for a narrative of sorts,” SCI’s Jason Hann said in an exclusive interview with MP3 MAG. “Lend Me A Hand naturally came together with less of our usual jamming and soloing on tracks, and a stripped-back, relaxed sound full of organic instruments and flow. [Brad Cook] really defined that and brought it all to life while helping us produce the album. It’s more in your face, intimate, and personal, and we hope our fans can further connect with us through that.”
This overall theme of rootsy and introspective storytelling is poignant right from the start. The album’s leading title track “Lend Me A Hand” immediately jumps into Keith Moseley narrating an all too familiar message of relying on those who we love to make it through the ebb and flow of life.
Singing, “Accepting that all things change, it’s a lot to learn. Can somebody help me, somebody lend me a hand,” Moseley is paired with a Motown instrumental backing before moving through a bluesy breakdown.
Then there’s “One More Time,” an emotive ballad written by keyboardist Kyle Hollingsworth that beautifully showcases the full depth and character of the band’s songwriting, ultimately delivering some of their most intimate and emotionally potent material as it traverses through love, loss, and resilience.
Almost every listener can hear these emotionally-charged “stories” and connect them to their own life, but for each member of SCI, it truly hits home. “The whole album pays tribute to each member’s reflections and resilience through the past couple of years,” Hann said. ‘Lend Me A Hand” and ‘One More Time’ are the staple ‘stories’ that really overarch the whole theme we were going for.”
Hann continued, “‘One More Time’ pays direct tribute to our dear friend and manager Jesse Aratow who died a couple of years ago. During the pandemic, there was so much loss and many people can relate to that. Through this album, we really put forth personal reflections through lyrics with positive, feel-good instrumentation to light up our spirits and our fans.”
In the more lighthearted aria, “Love and Friends,” more is exemplified. Written by guitarist Bill Nershi while the album was already getting recorded in the studio, it’s a perfect example of surrendering to the unseen workings and connectedness of the human spirit. Nershi’s hopeful lyrics underpin the lifelong personal stories we go through of navigating friendships, with “love and friends” keeping us sane and directed on our path ahead.
Following “Love and Friends,” the bright and anthemic “Enjoy The Ride” continues the musical declaration that recognizes the need of surrendering to life’s rollercoaster of events. Saying goodbye to blood-red skies, knowing you’ll never count every grain of sand or slow the tide, SCI beautifully captures the fine line essence of what’s controllable in our own lives.
While the band is known for their electrifying live performances where each song is birthed into a new era within the live jam setting, Hann reflects that each one of these tracks should be prioritized through thoughtful listening.
“We really want these songs to live in their own right,” Hann said. “There’s a sense that what gets put out in the studio should be extended in the live setting, but these songs deserve to just be what they are. No excess jamming or soloing, they are set in their simpler approach. It’s the storytelling in each song that should be emphasized.”
With a heartfelt pour of new songs making their way within setlists on the band’s 30th-anniversary tour, one may ask what’s next. Having performed their 50th Red Rocks Amphitheatre show over the summer, The String Cheese Incident are grateful in the present while looking ahead for a fruitful future, including a performance at this year’s Hulaween festival in Florida at the end of the month.
“We still have plenty of songs that didn’t make this record. We’re all feeling creative and have some sort of new level when it comes to influences and an overall mindset,” Hann reflected. “There’s plenty of more to come and with that comes more motivation to keep this going. We’re all super stoked and are regularly writing new music and having fresh ideas while working on bettering the songs we’ve been playing for years. I’ve been with SCI for 19 years and it’s just been a crazy ride.”
🎉 #HulaFam, swipe to view your 2023 music schedule! Passes are 95%+ gone, and Hula is gonna sell out in advance! Act accordingly and get hyped by planning your musical adventure with us, now! It's time to once again come home together under the Spanish Moss & Suwannee Stars! 🤩 pic.twitter.com/B2itSPdtIg
— Suwannee Hulaween (@HulaweenFL) September 26, 2023
Feature photo shot by C. Taylor Crothers.