The Innocence Mission
(stylised in lower-case on
all releases since 1995) is an American band centered on
husband-and-wife songwriters Karen and Don
. The original group, including Mike Bitts
(bass) and Steve Brown (drums), was formed in Lancaster, Pennsylvania in the early 1980s when the members met during a
Catholic school production of Godspell.
Although all members of the band
have contributed musically, Karen Peris is its principal
début album, released in 1989 on A&M
, was produced by Larry
, then-husband of Joni
, and recorded in the couple's Los Angeles recording
studio. The album spent 10 weeks on the Billboard
charts, peaking at #167 in
1990, with the album's lead single "Black Wall Sheep" peaking at
#22 on Billboard's Modern Rock
chart. Klein also produced their 1991 follow up,
Their third and final A&M album, Glow
(1995), was produced
by Dennis Herring
, who had previously
produced two records for Camper Van
. This album is a departure from Klein's heavier
production style. Whereas the first two releases may have brought
to mind The Sundays
and 10,000 Maniacs
with their moody keyboards and
layered sound, Herring's lighter touch gave more emphasis to the
group's guitar work and to Karen's vocals and lyrics. Glow contains
songs that appear on the soundtracks of the films Empire Records
and Dream for an Insomniac
, as well as
the television series Party of Five
The album's second track, Bright As Yellow
, peaked at #33
on Billboard’s Modern Rock Tracks and also reached #17 on the
Bubbling Under Hot 100
chart, which would be the equivalent of #117 on the
main Hot 100
chart. While in the process of
recording a follow-up to Glow
, A&M Records was bought
by Universal Music Group
group decided to mutually part ways with A&M, just before it
was merged with other companies to form Interscope-Geffen-A&M
album recorded during this period remains unreleased.
In 1999 the band signed to a new label, Kneeling Elephant, a
sub-label of RCA Records
drummer Steve Brown left the band to pursue a career as a chef.
With the exception of his sole contribution - drums and brushes on
"Snow" - the subsequent album, Birds of My Neighborhood
largely bereft of drums. Don Peris took up percussional duties on
"Birdless" and the closing moments of his self-penned "Green Grass,
Red Tree," but otherwise the group adapted to its new trio status
by replacing Mike Bitt's electric bass with an upright bass and
taking on a more acoustic, folk-based sound. The album was followed
by the release of The Lakes of
EP - which contains their one and only remix thus far, a
remix of "Snow" by Icelandic electronic group GusGus
The 2000 release Christ Is My
, featuring folk songs and hymns that had inspired them
over the years, was independently distributed by their own label,
LAMP, with all proceeds from sales of the record being donated to
hunger relief charities. An exclusive one-album deal signed with
independent label WhatAreRecords?
saw Small Planes
following a year later. The album,
which consisted of unreleased recordings made between 1996-2001,
contained one song (the title track) from the unreleased album
recorded for A&M in 1996.
Their first album on Badman Records in the US and Agenda in Europe,
, was released in 2003 and was
followed a year later by a collection of lullabies, standards,
traditional and classical songs called Now the Day Is Over
. Recorded in a
number of weeks in August 2004, the album contained one original
song, as well as their well-known cover of Henry Mancini
." Badman Records acquired license to re-master and
re-issue the then-out-of-print Birds of My Neighborhood
2006. Their most recent studio album We Walked in Song
was released in
An EP entitled Street Map
was released in
December 2008 and is the second record to be distributed
independently on their own LAMP label. The seven new songs,
recorded in 2008, were originally intended to preview and feature
on their next studio album, but a recent update to their website
has revealed that after further recording, the next album "has
turned out to be a mostly new group of songs," and that with the
exception of one song (thought to be "Pioneering"), all songs found
on Street Map are sure to remain exclusive to the EP. Their next
studio album is expected at the beginning of 2010.
Don Peris has recorded three solo albums, Ten Silver Slide
Trombones in 2001, the mostly instrumental Go When the Morning
Shineth in 2006, which features a vocal contribution from Karen
Peris on "North Atlantic Sand," and an instrumental solo guitar
Christmas album, Brighter Visions Beam Afar, which was released in
Most recently, their out-of-print self-titled début album
well as Birds of My
, have been digitally re-released on places such as
Amazon, iTunes and e-Music.
- 1989: "Black Sheep Wall" (#22 on US Modern Rock Tracks chart).
- 1989: "I Remember Me"
- 1989: "Wonder of Birds"
- 1991: "And Hiding Away"
- 1991: "Sorry and Glad Together"
- 1995: "Bright as Yellow" (#33 on US Modern Rock Tracks
- 1995: "Keeping Awake"
- 1996: "Everything's Different Now"
- 2001: "Today"
- 2004: "One for Sorrow, Two for Joy"
- 2007: "Song from Holland" (available on iTunes)