Pueblo Colorado’s The Haunted Windchimes is a band that defies easy classification. Co-founder Inaiah Lujan says that it’s the group’s ability to shift between styles that he likes best.
“We do bluegrass festivals," he says "We play cowboy poetry festivals, we go and do these indie rock ‘n’ roll gigs. We’ve done a good job of dabbling here and there with every sort of scene. Perhaps by some magic our music seems to be fitting for any kind of situation. We’re kind of chameleon in that sense.”
The band is rounded out by Lujan’s sister Chela, plus Desirae Garcia and Mike Clark. Although some might think that having four writers in a band would make inner tensions rise, Lujan says that it’s the familial element of the band that makes decisions about the repertoire relatively easy.
“We’re big fans of each other’s songwriting outside of the group," he says. "Our ears will kind of perk up on certain tunes that we feel is really appropriate for the band. Sometimes a member will bring a song to the table and say, ‘Hey, I really want to do this in the Chimes,’ and then we kind of bang it out, arrange it, come up with parts, it’s a pretty organic process.”
Unlike some of their contemporaries, the members of The Haunted Windchimes are not focused on showing off their chops on individual instruments but, instead, accentuating what the audience came to hear in the first place. The songs.
“We may be a string band but we’re definitely more focused on songwriting," Lujan says. "To us, songwriting takes precedence over everything else.”
He’s quick to point out that his band stands out for a number of reasons. Pueblo is not traditionally a town given to Americana music.
“Pueblo’s always had a great punk rock and metal scene—and hip-hop even more recently," Lujan says. "It’s got a great comedy scene too. And yet, The Windchimes are, you know, at least from my vantage point, kind of the only ones doing this more rootsy string band thing. So, we’ve kind of created our own little niche for ourselves in Pueblo.”
Lujan and his bandmates are also not striving to recapture a bygone era by writing songs that imitate structures and themes heard in the past. Instead, the writers focus on what they know best.
“They come out of real experiences. They come out of real situations,” he says.
The band has developed a few second homes in recent years, but Kansas—and in particular Wichita—has become one of them. Desirae Garcia has family in the city and former bassist Sean Fanning was a critical member of the Wichita musical scene when he lived here. But beyond that Lujan sees strong similarities between this city and the place he calls home.
“Just the overall attitude," he says. "The sort of love for good songs and camaraderie. I definitely think that there is some sort of hidden string between Wichita and Pueblo. It just seems that the types of people we end up running into just seem so familiar. It just seems that there’s a certain sense of home there.
"As a musician you’re always looking for those types of places and those types of people. Just too kind of have this extension of home----to know that you can leave your house and find like-minded folks and a like-minded environment. It kind of shows you that the world is a lot more similar than it is different. It gives you hope.”
Bassist Sean Fanning left the band just as the group’s summer tour was beginning. Lujan says there are no plans to hire a permanent replacement.
And, he says, there are some tight bonds within the band. He’s in the band with both his sister and his girlfriend and multi- instrumentalist Mike Clark is a longtime friend.
“There is an unspeakable bond between all of us," Lujan says. "We really understand each other, especially as songwriters. I think the everyday challenges of making it work is really no different than a tight-knit family. Chela and I were raised in a really close family. We did everything together. We ate dinner together, we went on long road trips together, so we were raised around that air of family. I know it’s the same for Desi; it’s a little different for Mike with his family situation but there is a true sense of family in his personality as well.
"The more we grow and the deeper we go into this Windchimes land the more we understand the importance of honesty. Being pretty open about your feelings or just saying, ‘I’m having an off day. I’ll probably be OK. But that’s just to let you know.’ That way there’s no tension. We’re still learning but we’re getting extremely good at it.”
Inaiah Lujan and the other members of The Haunted Windchimes perform at The Cotillion Ballroom on Friday night with The Calamity Cubes.