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Archie Powell has been surrounded by music since he was little: His father was a violinist in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and Powell himself picked up the guitar at 11, so songwriting became a natural next step for the music prodigy. He joined up with his band The Exports — brothers Ryan, Adam and RJ Export play keyboards, bass and drums, respectively — soon after college. By 2010, the Chicago-based power-pop band was ready with its first full-length studio album, Skip Work.
The group's second record — Great Ideas in Action, released this past May — owes its name to a quote from a Calvin & Hobbes comic strip. Recently, Powell gave up lead-guitar duties to devote his attention to singing; in this session of World Cafe, he and The Exports play songs from their new album and discuss their songwriting process.
Powell even takes a minute to talk to World Cafe host David Dye about one of his major musical influences, his late father, whose picture appears on the inlay of Great Ideas in Action with Powell as a young man. "He died in November, so it's a memorial," Powell says. "I think that's where I get my [musical] inclinations from."