The Rosebuds write a new chapter with ‘Sand + Silence’ (and help from Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon)


The Rosebuds’ Ivan Howard, left, and Kelly Crisp are living proof that divorced couples can get along. (Graham Tolbert)

After indie-rock duo The Rosebuds wrap an August tour, multi-instrumentalist Kelly Crisp is finally going to get around to writing that novel.

Well, maybe not immediately. This fall, Crisp starts her second year at Columbia University, where she’s studying for an MFA in fiction writing.

“I guess the end result would be that I’m going to publish a novel,” Crisp says. “I’m definitely fearful of it, but I’m going to have to do it because I already got in too deep.”

If she needs inspiration, perhaps Crisp can look to her and her bandmate Ivan Howard’s origin story: Girl meets boy in North Carolina, they form a band, get married, tour the world, get divorced — and continue to work together.

The sessions for the band’s expertly crafted sixth album, “Sand + Silence,” out Tuesday, were also full of good stories, Crisp says.

1-2-3-4
The Rosebuds pressed “record” on the first “Sand + Silence” sessions one night at 12:34 a.m. with a live-in-studio take of “In My Teeth.” That take ended up opening the record. “I was like, This is really funny because I think 12:34 is a lucky time,” Crisp says. “It’s not even superstition, it was just happening at the time.”

Better (Not) Together
Crisp and Howard are a few years removed from their divorce — and 2011’s quasi-divorce record “Loud Planes Fly Low” — but their creative relationship is stronger than ever. “There was one argument between me and Ivan and that was really it,” she says of the sessions. Friends with Howard since they were 18, Crisp says “it’s been easy for us to continue this communication on all creative levels because it always has been.”

A Little Help
“I ended up not playing a whole lot on the record,” Crisp says, because “I’m not the best musician in the room.” Bon Iver leader Justin Vernon produced the album and played on it, as did his drummer, Matt McCaughan, and Sylvan Esso producer Nick Sanborn.

Bunk Beds
Crisp and Howard lived at Vernon’s April Base Studios in Wisconsin while recording, a full-circle throwback to 2007’s “Night of the Furies.” For that record, the then-married couple turned their North Carolina home into a studio, and Vernon moved in to produce. “That was one of the more fun times of my life,” Crisp says.

A Perfect Storm
You’ve probably heard the story about Vernon holing up in a cabin in the woods to record his breakout album “For Emma, Forever Ago.” While making “Sand + Silence,” Vernon took that idea a step further when he had Howard record a lead vocal outside the studio — quite literally in the woods.

Then it started raining, and they kept rolling. The sound of an impending storm closes “Tiny Bones,” the final track on the album.

“At the end of the take,” Crisp says, “I got goose bumps.”

DC9, 1940 Ninth St. NW; Wed., 9 p.m., $12-$14; 202-483-5000. (U Street)

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Rudi Greenberg is Express' Weekend Pass editor and comedy columnist.
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Holley Simmons · July 31