Whether it’s an obscure song from the 1980s or a Billie Holiday tune, the Springtails will take it and make it into something new. The local Americana four-piece band, led by husband-andwife duo Andy and Julianna Wilson, is preparing to release its second album, “Rain or Shine.” The group formed as an ad hoc ensemble to cover a gig, but the Wilsons quickly realized it had potential to be something more.
“Three or four years ago, we got offered a wedding gig from a friend of ours, and we needed to put a band together to support us,” Andy Wilson said. “We called a few musician friends of mine — this was before Julianna was really playing the ukulele — so we had a guitar player and a bassist and a drummer and Julianna sang and I played harmonica and trumpet. The whole thing went really well, and we decided to pursue it.”
The bass player and drummer from that gig, Louis Rudner and Bob Bryan, respectively, still play with the group and are on the new album.
Eventually the Wilsons realized the group needed a name, and that’s where Julianna Wilson’s background in entomology came into play.
“So I don’t know if you’ve ever Googled springtails, but they’re these really tiny insects — well they’re not actually classified as insects anymore, but whatever, that’s totally geeky,” said Julianna Wilson with a laugh. “What’s really cool about them is that if we were able to jump as high as they can (relative to body size), we’d be jumping over the Empire State Building in one leap.”
“When you Google our name, you get an interesting combination of photos of us playing music and weird little bugs,” added Andy Wilson.
Andy Wilson, along with twin brother Joe Wilson, was a founding member of longtime Lansing folk group Steppin’ In It. The band also featured “The Voice” finalist Joshua Davis and bassist Dominic Davis, who records and tours with Jack White, among others.
“Steppin' In It was quite successful,” Wilson said. “We were successful without doing the normal things that bar bands do. We didn't feel the need to play cover songs. We played cover songs that no one in the bar knew, most people wouldn't be able to tell if we wrote it or didn't. So that did shape my approach to (the Springtails) to some extent, because I didn't feel the need to do that.”
The Springtails released its debut disc, “Because We’re in Love,” in 2013. The album includes original tunes, as well as covers from the early 20th century. “Rain or Shine” is slated for a Sunday release, and the band is celebrating with a concert at the Robin Theatre in Lansing’s REO Town district. The theme of the album deals with the highs and lows of relationships.
“We’ve had some things with some close friends in the last few years that have made us think a lot about valuing our time together and farewell-type things,” Andy Wilson said. “So Julianna wrote a song about that theme, and we’ve been interested in songs about that, so it came together for the new record.”
While Andy Wilson and Steppin’ In It were Monday night regulars at the Green Door for years, the Springtails opted for a more intimate venue to release the new album.
“I’ve heard a lot of great things about the Robin Theatre but never set foot in there myself,” Wilson said. “I know the owners well, and we wanted a venue where people could really pay attention to the music.”
The Springtails CD release concert with Jen Sygit
6:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 21
The Robin Theatre
1105 S. Washington Ave., Lansing