For me its the feeling I got when I heard Lou Reed “Walk On The Wild Side” on the radio when i was a boy has never really gone away. It made me love rock so much. I was probably 8 or 9. The song was so exotic. Such a trip far from my world. I was so hooked on this thing that came out of the radio. “Jumpin Jack Flash” on an AM transistor radio in Philly in the early 70’s was pretty magical.
So its escape and energy and fantasy and freedom for 3-6 minutes when tuned in. That feeling is hard to beat.
Also–In the early to mid 70’s all I listened to in my fathers old Jeep were 8 track tapes of, Willie Nelson live, Ernest Tubb, Charley Pride, And Hank Williams.
3.0 – Is there an artist that sets the barometer for you today?
Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings and the mid period Rolling Stones
They wrote songs so honestly. “Swinging Doors” what a brutal song. “Black Rose” is hard to top. “Let It bleed” is an amazing release as is “Beggars Banquet”.
The Stones from that 69-73 period is hard to get around. I think all of my songs have a taste of “Torn and Frayed” in them.
I think just did not care how honest and sincere I was. It was my goal to get it right like Merle Haggard done on his classics. Every song is a true story on Untethered. With that it was easy to to be free to let the songs come to life.
I was also very tuned into the detail of the pedal steel and acoustic guitars. The levels and accents of both made it sound the way it does. All of this comes with getting older and being more patient and relaxed.
Many things on this recording were done on the spot in the studio. It was very organic you might say. And with that I let go and let people do what they do best. Very rewarding.
5.0 – What did it take to get the sound you were looking for on the record?
I knew it in my head.
I had a clear vision of what it was I wanted and but at the same time it was not letting that idea take control. The Stones song “Let It Bleed” and that LP was the basis for the entire release production wise. The instrument selection along the way was fun too. Some of my old guitars & mandolins & banjo’s would just step right up and say this song is my song. I then focused on the acoustic track and the snare.
I had a family. My Son was born right after 22 Dollars came out. We had a daughter two years later. So life was busy for me just that simple. In 2011 we moved from an old stone house built in 1926 to a new townhouse. No house maintenance and the kids being older was a real treat. The songs just poured out that summer.
Simplicity and tone.
My live gear is very basic. 59′ Grestch 6120, 58′ Fender tweed deluxe amp and a early 70’s Echoplex. That’s it.
The studio is a real treat. I have been collecting vintage instruments since the mid 80’s when I was in college. Nothing is more fun than bringing these old guitars, mandolins, banjos, steels and amps to life. I want them all to be used and to sing. Let the instruments do their job. I’m just strumming.
Typically its a title or a key line in a song and I build on that. The song “Every Empty Bottle” was originally called “Reinvent The Feel”. I came up with that line one night in my garage and wrote it on the side of a box with a sharpie pen. I looked up at that box for over a year. Then I used the phrase in the song. The idea of reinventing a feel stuck with me. The song wrote itself after that.
“High water” was written during the hurricane we had in august of 2011. The amount of rain was used as a parallel to a past romance I had. The song just spun naturally out with using the vision of a big flood and a tough breakup. The riff was much more rock as I was using barre chords. I changed the feel using the first position voicing.
I have always been somewhat of an outsider with the rockabilly scene. Gas Money was described once as “The Replacements of Rockabilly“. We have never really been embraced as a rockabilly band per se. Nor did I want to be. We play lots of rockabilly but there was something a little wrong about the way we played it in the 90’s.
I have a deep love for rockabilly and I always will. The shit that comes along with the music however is somewhat silly. I have had an odd relationship with the genre for a long time. The music is magic but the scene surrounding it makes me a bit uneasy. Those big rockabilly shows are like Halloween parties.
Playing live now however we do three sets of classic honky tonk and rockabilly. The bars and clubs we play are interested in dancing and drinking not original music. We don’t get paid playing our tunes. The classics are really fun and ya know who else in Philly is playing George Jones “You’re Still On My Mind” with a pedal steel player on a sat night. No one. I think in a way it helped my song writing with playing classic honky tonk songs.
It is true. I have a few pre-war Gibson flat tops, 50’s Gretsch hollow-bodies as well as some pre-war Gibson mandolins and banjos. Each one really is unique and has its own voice and character. As a player I can pick up a guitar at a friends house or at a vintage guitar show and just “feel” it. Especially the pre-war mandolins and banjos. They want to talk and just don’t get out like they used to. yeah old wood is magic without a doubt. It’s intoxicating if you get hooked on it.