Following the dissolution of Kelly Crisp and Ivan Howard’s marriage, the future of the Rosebuds, their North Carolina-based band, was in doubt. Crisp even left her native North Carolina, spending a few cold and miserable months in New York City.
“If you wanted to move with your band to Brooklyn, it would be a different kind of thing,” Crisp said from Raleigh.
“You would start making friends with bands there and things like that. But I didn’t find a musical, creative explosion at my doorstep. It didn’t seem available to me or as open and simple and easy as what I have here.”
Crisp did no collaborative musical work during her exile. Instead, she turned inward, writing fiction, non-fiction and poetry.
“Honestly, it was a brutal winter,” she said. “I missed my friends, I missed Ivan, I missed North Carolina.”
Upon her move back home, Crisp and Howard began the soul-baring work of writing and recording a new Rosebuds album.
The making of Loud Planes Fly Low became a healing process and affirmation of their surviving musical partnership.
“It was difficult, emotional work we did with each other,” Crisp said. “But we’re creative people together. It was worthwhile and so cathartic.
“I was afraid to open up at first and be honest with Ivan,” she added. “But once we created this atmosphere between us where we could be creative, in a small studio in the woods, it seemed like we were enveloped in this safe place.”
It helped that, during most of the sessions, producer and North Carolina music veteran Chris Stamey was the other only person present.
Despite the reality of their failed marriage, the Rosebuds crafted an album of beautiful, sad pop songs through pain and acceptance.
“Once we were in a room together, it became clear to me that it was very natural,” Crisp said. “We were creative together under these circumstances and I’m really proud of us for it. I’m so happy with what we discovered about ourselves in doing it.”
Marriage or no marriage, Howard and Crisp never lost their artistic connection. They’ve had that connection since their spontaneously organized first gig at the University of North Carolina Wilmington.
“I can write and play music with other people,” Crisp said. “Ivan plays with other people all the time. But the two of us together are different. We have a childlike creative relationship and it feels so good to experiment with music with Ivan.”
Also in place are the musical qualities Crisp and Howard have long admired about each other.
“Ivan’s voice in a room is like nothing I’ve encountered,” Crisp said. “He has this incredible range and clarity and depth. He can do anything he wants with his voice and it’s never strained.”
When Howard visits Crisp, he breaks into song as he walks through the rooms of her house.
“You can become a singer if you’re not a singer, but you can’t become Ivan,” she said with a laugh. “He was born with this.”
He’s also a prolific songwriter.
“He loves doing it, he’ll never stop doing it,” she said. “You should see these piles of four-track tapes we have.”
Howard admires his Rosebuds partner’s lyrics and recording production choices.
“He always has the most profoundly positive things to say about the writing that I show him,” she said. “He encourages me to write more. He’s a fan of my writing and I’ve blossomed in the light that he puts me in.”