There is a sort of magic in the formation of a band. From The Beatles to Mumford & Sons, no band ever comes together exactly the same way.
Folk-Americana duo The Milk Carton Kids is no exception.
Comprised of Joey Ryan and Kenneth Pattengale from Eagle Rock, Calif., the duo came together after Ryan saw Pattengale perform a song from the point of view of a dead dog.
"I had never heard anything like it," Ryan said.
Before they joined forces in 2011, both Ryan and Pattengale had solo careers. Ultimately, the two decided they would be better off as one.
"All the other options paled in comparison," Ryan said. "When you're playing as a solo artist, there is an immediacy to the collaboration and singing harmonies. There was something about playing together that called our attention to it and made us want to stop doing everything else."
The organic nature of the group's creation manifested itself clearly in their choice of guitars, according to Ryan. Both musicians play vintage guitars – Ryan on a 1951 Gibson J45 and Pattengale on a 1954 Martin 0-15.
"They sound better (than other guitars)," Ryan said. "They were the guitars we played when we met each other. These particular guitars seemed to be meant for each other. They sounded unique together in a way that was compelling and emotionally charged."
The Milk Carton Kids has toured almost constantly since the group's inception and has received worldwide recognition, including a Tiny Desk Concert on NPR. The duo has also opened for bands like Old Crow Medicine Show, The Lumineers and the Punch Brothers.
Ryan emphasized the positive effects touring with Old Crow had on The Milk Carton Kids.
"With the Old Crow tour we played in front of some of the biggest crowds we've ever played in," Ryan said. "We learned how to play in front of 5,000 people and we also learned what it means to collaborate in a way that we never had; those guys are very musically generous and collaborative.
"The whole thing felt like one big party. We never stopped playing music on that tour."
Their experience with the Punch Brothers also had a strong impact on the duo's musicianship, Ryan said.
"They are five of literally the best musicians on planet earth," Ryan said. "And to stand in their shadows in front of their audience every night is one of the most humbling things you can do. I learned a lot about music, about what is important in music.
"When you become friends with five virtuosos, you learn that virtuosity is not an end goal but actually a means to an end of achieving some sort of emotional communication with the audience."
The indie-folk genre has seen a sharp increase in popularity in recent years, and Ryan said he hopes The Milk Carton Kids brings a different aspect to this type of music.
"(We try to) be quieter than everybody else," he said. "Physically, the volume is lower. (In the Americana genre) there's a lot of foot stomping and hand-clapping and that's never been very appealing to us.
"We've just sort of naturally gone in the exact opposite direction, which is something subtle, understated, outwardly complex and definitely quiet."
The group has had a busy 2013 that included the release of their third album, "Ash and Clay," and an almost constant string of tour dates including the band's upcoming show in Knoxville at The Bowery on Oct. 30.
Ryan is excited to play at a smaller venue than the Bijou Theatre, where they opened for Josh Ritter a few months ago.
"We love playing at dive bars," Ryan said. "They're very intimate, which is a very congruous setting for our music. I think that's part of what we like about it."
As for where the band hopes to take their musical career, Ryan kept things in the present.
"We're already there," Ryan said. "We already did it. We are doing it. The end goal is to not stop."
Doors open at 7 p.m. and tickets range from $12-$15. The show is ages 18 and up.