"Staghorn ferns live in complete symbiosis with trees and need very little to live. They're completely self-sustaining, and a symbol of how mankind should be living with the rest of the world community," says Jared Scheurer, recent Florida transplant and founding member of Staghorn. His outspoken post-rock group takes an eco-friendly, DIY approach to every facet of its music. From its speaker cabinets, built from wood sourced in Missouri, to its hand-wired custom amps, the band pushes a holistic message through practice, not preaching.
In fact, the group's music would lack lyrics entirely if not for disparate narration. Scheurer lends his voice to relay the band's mythology, a tale of time-traveling spectres who bring warnings of the end of days — unless mankind makes peace with nature, of course. The tale begins with the band's debut record, Parousia I / Kismet II, set for release on October 3.
"Not only do we have a story, we have a graphic novel. Each section of it will be released with each album. One chapter per side, with art by Seth Rodgers," says Lexy Baron. She and Scheurer first played together in World's Strongest Man, a math-rock outfit based out of southern Florida. When that band dissolved, the pair branched off to develop what would later become Staghorn.
"I had been building riffs and ideas, all on the side, for two years," Scheurer says. "When Lexy came along, I knew it was time to move forward and make it a real band."
But that time was cut short. In March 2015, Scheurer moved to St. Louis and set up his own print shop inside a small building shared with Mills Custom Music Co., a custom amp and cab boutique run by longtime friend Justin Mills. Before leaving Florida, he and Baron tracked Parousia I / Kismet II with then-drummer Joey Morhaim. The band played a pair of shows that served as both a debut and an immediate sendoff. Shortly after moving to town, Scheurer was introduced to drummer Jack Middeke (of Laika, Jr. Clooney) and sent him the unfinished album.
"At that point, all I had was a written record, unmixed, and goals to make it into a real band again," Scheurer says. "Staghorn truly started when we met Jack."
"When Jack came in and just started playing, I just brightened up," Baron adds. "It was like, 'Oh my God, he knows the music, can play it and adds his own style as well.' He adds life to the project and completes it."
Following an offer to to play the Mighty Oak Music Fest in Jacksonville, Florida, the band booked its first tour with Middeke, only weeks after bringing him into the fold.
"It was cool to come in and have something already written out," Middeke says. He learned the songs and embraced the performance side: The band's members adorn themselves in dark colors from head to toe, topped off with hooded masks. Onstage, they evoke the roles of human survivors from a dystopian future of sentient animals, warning mankind of retribution for its crimes against nature.
"The concept feels powerful," Middeke says. "I'm doing what I love, which is playing music, but there's this innate positivity about it too."
And Staghorn's members don't just tell a story of saving the world — they live their ideals. In July, Middeke organized an event to benefit the Covering House, an association that helps victims of sex trafficking and exploitation in Missouri. Scheurer's Leave Your Mark print shop is a compound for handmade, independent gear and merchandise with an eco-friendly mantra. The company offers T-shirts and posters printed with water-based and discharge ink. Of course, all of Staghorn's merch is made in house.
"We try to outsource as little as possible. We use reclaimed materials; nothing goes to waste," Baron says.
"Even the records are made from recycled pellets from the factory. We chose the cheap route, and went with the random mixed color," Scheurer adds.
This fall, Staghorn embarks on a 24-day tour through America, starting with a semi-private release show in an undisclosed location in St. Louis on October 3. (The band welcomes anyone who is interested in attending — contact its members directly through Facebook or at www.wearestaghorn.com.) Staghorn's next public show in St. Louis is November 12 at the Schlafly Tap Room.
"I don't like when bands make people try to catch up with them, so we do intend to tour this record as much as possible," Scheurer says. "We don't want to be always working toward something; we want to have something done."
Still, he's quick to add that the next few releases have already been written, and he'll be working with Baron and Middeke to fully develop future songs as a trio.
"As long as we're destroying nature and living the way we do now," he says. "I'm sure I'm going to have material to write about."