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After graduation, what's next for the men of Mipso?

When Joseph Terrell, Jacob Sharp and Wood Robinson joined together their sophomore year at UNC to play their first show at Local 506, they never expected that their experience making music would turn into what it is today.

Mipso, formerly Mipso Trio, has taken some big steps since the graduation of its members in May. From touring in Japan to releasing its second full-length album this week, Mipso continues to be a model of success for aspiring student bands in Chapel Hill and Carrboro — where the band currently lives.

“We’ve had so much fun every step of the way, and there’s been so many times where if it had been the end, we would have been super happy,” said Terrell, lead vocalist and guitarist from High Point. “It’s only icing on the cake that we’re still having fun and doing it at an even bigger level now.”

Performing full-time was not Mipso’s expectation after graduation. But now, after finishing a summer-long tour of the U.S. and Asia, music is definitely the fellows’ main focus. Mipso played 40 shows around the southeast in June and July and played 23 days in Japan and China in August, including the 42nd annual Takarazuka Bluegrass Festival.

In the wake of its second full-length album, Dark Holler Pop,, Mipso is busier than ever planning its release and tour to follow, which includes shows every week throughout the U.S. until December.

“It’s one way of describing our particular combination of Appalachian influences and a pop sensibility — with a wink,” said Terrell, referring to the album’s title. The phrase was coined by the album’s producer, Andrew Marlin, who is half of the Carrboro duo Mandolin Orange.

Marlin, who considers Mipso’s approaching him to produce their album a “nice honor,” attributes the differences between Dark Holler Pop and the band’s previous releases, such as 2012’s Long, Long Gone, to the extra time spent arranging and tracking in the studio.

“I think Long, Long Gone shows off what they’re able to do as a trio, but with this album it also shows what they can do with the support of some of their friends and more collaboration,” Marlin said.

Features on the album include members of prominent local acts such as Mandolin Orange, Chatham County Line and Town Mountain. The band’s closest collaborator is fiddle player Libby Rodenbough, a senior cultural studies major at UNC. She performs with them when she can, and offers what the members call a “dynamic presence” onstage.

Rodenbough said performing with Mipso provided her with the confidence to play in front of a crowd. She has played with the band since it formed, but has been more involved than ever with the production of the new album.

“I think they have all gotten tighter musically,” said Rodenbough, describing how the band itself has grown since its start. “I also think they take the band more seriously now.”

Although at times they miss being at Carolina, Terrell, Sharp and Robinson said the transition into post-grad life was relatively easy.

“We’re doing full-time what we’ve been doing part-time for two and a half years, in relatively the same place with the same large support network,” said Sharp, the band’s mandolin player from Morganton. “We have a lot of cards that are being played in our favor and we’re definitely conscious of that.”

“The center of our lives has moved about a mile and a half west,” said Terrell.

As for the future of Mipso, the band is taking it day-by-day.

“We’re a totally ambitious band and part of that means playing your music to new people and different places,” said Sharp.

Terrell added, “My goal for us right now is to keep feeling really good about the music that we make and the places that we’re making it — to tackle some big rivers.”

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