Finn Riggins at Alex's

Finn Riggins' complex compositions belie the fact that the progressive rock trio is out to exemplify a good time.

"We don't put a lot of forethought into our style of music," says Eric Gilbert. "We just let it come out as is. Human beings are artistic by nature, and we naturally become the filters of our music. We create music that we find stimulating, both emotionally and spiritually. We could say physically, as well, because we like to provide a dance experience."

Finn Riggins' second full-length album, "Vs. Wilderness," was released earlier this week on the Tender Loving Empire label based in Portland.

"It's crazy. Our record comes out today," Gilbert says during a telephone interview from Portland. "I'm trying to get a shower and get on the road."

Gilbert (keyboards, synthesizers, accordion, sampler, guitar and vocals) and his wife, Lisa Simpson (guitars, keys, drums and vocals), and Cameron Bouiss (drums, steel drum, drum pad, washboard and vocals) are at the beginning of their West Coast tour — with stops in Arizona and New Mexico — to promote the new album.

Gilbert, Simpson and Bouiss call the towns of Garden City and Hailey, Idaho, home.

"We tour a lot, and we like urban environments," Gilbert says. "A lot of our friends have moved to bigger towns to pursue music, but we decided to stay. There are less distractions. We get to rehearse more, plus we love the outdoors. Cameron is a big ski fan."

The three friends — graduates of the University of Idaho's music department — found an independent rock niche in Garden City, a city surrounded by Boise, and a small cottage to share in the Pioneer Mountain Range outside of Hailey.

"Cameron is like a brother," Gilbert says. "We easily can go from living in a small cottage together to touring in a small van together."

Finn Riggins spends more than 240 days touring in 2008, behind its second album, "A Soldier, A Saint, An Ocean Explorer," released in late 2007 on Tender Loving Empire.

During the 2008 tour, the trio wrote new material, fleshed out the melodies in front of audiences and gave their new songs a thorough road-test. The trio returned home and recorded "Vs. Wilderness" in May, tweaking the details in a Garden City studio.

What came to fruition — with the help of co-producer and Tender Loving Empire founder Jared Mees (Jared Mees and the Grown Children) — is an innovative collection of post-punk, indie, progressive rock full of elusive time signatures and chord progressions.

"The music doesn't seem strange to me," Gilbert says. "Because I'm inside of it, I guess. The tunes are different. We listen to lots of different music. We just take what we like from it."

Gilbert, Simpson and Bouiss formed Finn Riggins in late summer 2006. They recorded a debut EP titled "Air Travelers" that fall at the cottage in Hailey.

"We were invited to play a New Year's Eve party in Pagosa Springs, Colorado," says Gilbert. "It was a big house party hosted by Jared and some of his friends. We hit it off with them at the party, and a couple of months later Jared asked us if he could put out an album."

Finn Riggins and Mees recorded "A Soldier, A Saint, An Ocean Explorer" in Torrence, Calif., along with an EP called "A Whale, A Fish" that features some of Finn Riggins' old home recordings. The trio headed out for its first U.S. tour in September 2007.

"We tour with Jared Mees and the Grown Children often," Gilbert says. "They're a super-fun live band. We love Jared's songs. They're so witty and genuine. The label helped create the relationship between us, but we also have a musical love affair going with Jared and his band."

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