DAN BAIRD

How is the European tour going so far, having fun?  Well, i’m back at the shack right now, but i’ll be over there again in 3 weeks. confusing, but yeah, we’re having fun.

Any chance of running into Dixie Beauderant over there? Nope.

Do you have a philosophy when it comes to the stage?  Yes I do. Bring it absolutely as hard as you can and your night’s “happiness level” will allow.

3 levels of happiness:

High level – band is feeling good, audience is receptive, monitors are happening and you find a flow. we don’t use a set list as i think song selection is a part of the flow of the night. this should make it possible to do a great set. it does not guarantee success, but places the onus on the band.

Medium level – one or two of the above mentioned factors is lacking somehow. Doesn’t matter which ones, but you’ve got work through something to do a good set. this is most shows for all bands. they can be the best nights of all. If you do pull through whatever problems it can really be a galvanizing force, and then you feel like roots-rock superheroes!

Low level – pretty much nothing is going right. the club has you in a hostel, fed you alpo on noodles, inept sound man hates you, monitors are best turned off, it’s a sauna on stage and there are 15 rabid fans there that you really don’t want to disappoint, but you’d really, really like to tank the show. we’ve all been there. Hopefully a certain professionalism will kick in, or your guitarist will go “dan, don’t do it” (geez i wonder if this exact scenario has ever happened). just a suck it up and go night.

So in the end, maximize happiness level, and go like hell.

Any tips to surviving a world tour in one piece?  Oh boy, as a band; take care of each other – you’re all you really got out there. To the permanent pain in the ass in the band – stop it now you stupid butthole, we’re all you got.

Individually – rest as much as you can, eat 4 hours before the show if possible so the drummer and singer don’t puke onstage, unless that’s your thang. Make the other guys in the band laugh as often as possible. don’t be the permanent pain in the ass.

It also depends on how old and beat up you are. You’ll need to stop “having fun” as much as you used to. Sorry.

What English players, if any, were you most influenced by?  Good grief – too many to list. the obvious Stones, Faces. Steve Marriot, Clapton; it’s endless.

Any plans for a follow up to the rockin’ Dan Baird & Homemade Sin debut?  Yup.

Any new tunes or titles you can tell us a bit about?  Nope.

How do songs start for you most often; with a riff? a subject?  A groove or chord change that talks to me.

What was the first rock concert you ever attended and what do you remember about it today?  The original Fleetwood Mac with Green, Spencer and Kirwin. See, there’s some more english guys.. the “Then Play On” tour. they did “oh well” without the hobbit dance theme thingy that was on the end of the record and the audience didn’t like that, so they cranked it up and did “rattlesnake shake”. Whining over.

If you had to blame someone, who really got you hooked on rock & roll?  This will be a funny answer – Johnny Rivers.  See, when I was 13 and was learning how to do it, I knew I couldn’t be in the Beatles or Stones. I was smart enough to know i wasn’t that cool, but maybe, just maybe i could be as cool as johnny rivers singing “Memphis” or “Seventh Son” and have James Burton play in my band. and then the chicks would dig me.  Yes, I identified with a cartoon character when he said “come to butthead”.

VON CLOEDT

1.0 – What 3 albums would you say had the biggest impact on you as a kid – are they still essential to you?

Wow, I had to think really hard on this one.

I’m not so sure that I can narrow it down to 3 albums, as much as 3 songs. When I was a kid, around 9 or 10, listening to the radio wherever I was, I wasn’t so much interested in what album these songs were on, but rather what the SONG was, and maybe who sang it. I had an uncle who was in country music cover bands for a long time in my life, and he could do a killer Johnny Cash voice. But, at the time of being so young, and not caring about who Johnny Cash was, the lyrics of “Folsom Prison Blues” can stand out if you’re paying attention to them, and I remember thinking “dang, that’s messed up”. And only thinking back on that do I realize that that was when I started to actually care about music and see how cool and different it can be, because… well… they weren’t going to be playing that song on “The Muppet Show” anytime soon.

The second would be the first time I heard Nirvana, which was their MTV Unplugged session. They did this song called “The Man Who Sold The World” by this guy I didn’t know about named David Bowie. That was a two-for-one. Just like every kid in the mid 90’s wanting to be a musician, Kurt was that motivation, and it made me want to find out who the hell this David Bowie was. So, I started looking into more of the historical aspect of music/musicians.

And the third one, the one band that made me hunt for meaning BEHIND the lyrics is Pink Floyd. Besides the Johnny Cash tune and the fact that I heard a lot of country tunes from my Uncle’s cover band, The Silverwings Band, Americana wasn’t really apart of my early musical development, it was classic rock.

Are they still essential to me today? Absolutely, you can’t deny the classics.

2.0 – How does being a musician yourself impact your opinion on a disc received for consideration if at all?

I think the fact that I’m a musicians affects a lot of how I listen to an album. I listen for musicianship, lyrical quality, and mixing. If an artist/band is willing to record and send out this album, they better make sure that it’s the best that it can be, not just because they want to have something out there for someone to listen to. I don’t want to hear your basement tapes with the neighbors dog barking in the background.

3.0 – You recently celebrated a milestone with your 100th AmericanaRockMix.com podcast, what inspired you to start doing them in the first place and have you been surprised by its acceptance and growth online?

Being from St. Louis, I grew listening to mainstream radio and not knowing anything besides what the radio tells me to listen to. Then as I got older, I started finding other bands that I really liked, but weren’t getting any radio play. I come from the land of Wilco and Son Volt. They sell out shows in St. Louis, but do they get played on the radio on  a regular basis? No, because they don’t fit the popular radio format. And so, I started to question “if these bands are so good, why have I never heard them anywhere besides my friends’ CD players”. So I started doing this tiny little, extremely unprofessional, make-shift, blah blah blah, show to put on the internet in hopes that someone, somewhere would find it, and love these bands as much as I do. Without trying to sound like a martyr for the music, I really did start it for the love of the music.

The acceptance and growth aspect blow me away. I think I’m a little detached from the extent of how far around the world this show goes. I get e-mails from all around the world and it never ceases to amaze me. Is the show popular? I don’t know. I know that bands like the show, but do the individual music listeners? Once again, I don’t know. And I’m ok with that. I know how many downloads and listens each show gets per month, and it’s exciting to see the numbers go up each month. But then again, they’re just numbers. And I’m not completely sure how relevant that should be to me. Not to say that I don’t appreciate those who listen to the show, because I absolutely do. If it wasn’t for e-mails and facebook messages that I get from people telling me about how they have a new favorite band or just bought a new album online because of two songs that I played on the show, I probably would have gotten bored a long time ago. It just feels good to get some verification that I’m not doing this for no reason.

4.0 – Genre tags like ‘Americana’ can help an artist reach their audience but can also have a negative effect in the sense that they may limit an artists appeal, is the term Americana Rock intended to expand that scope? 

The tag “Americana” can really detract the casual listener from checking out a new band. There are stereotypes and stigmas that go along with the term which have gained attention due to the “redneck” movement in country music. But because of those limitations that can be applied to “Americana”, I needed to bypass that with something that people can relate to more, such as the hugely ambiguous term of “rock”. Plus it brings a format to the show. I don’t want to do a show of ballads, that’s going to put people to sleep. A lot of people listen to the show at work, or in the car, or while exercising. They need something that will catch their attention. But, yes it’s meant to expand the scope of the show without sounding overbearing. If I really wanted to expand the scope of the show, I could have named it The Americana Bluegrass Folk Alt. Country Cowpunk Rockabilly Extravaganza Rock Mix.

5.0 – One of the attractions to the home-spun podcast format must be being able to promote the artists you dig with no constraints, would you ever relinquish that to an extent for a larger audience on radio or Sirius? 

The fact that it’s a home-spun podcast with no limitations for the artists or myself is a strong fixture in the format of the show. If I gave up any of that for any reason, it would no longer be “The Americana Rock Mix”. It would just be another generic radio show. Not to say that I wouldn’t gladly do a SiriusXM or terrestrial radio show. But it wouldn’t be The Americana Rock Mix as it stands now. Maybe a variation of that.

6.0 – As with any media outlet, quality control is your calling card; what is your criteria for featuring an artist on ARM?

I really try to emphasize to people the “ROCK” aspect of the show. If it’s not up tempo or there’s no driving force in the song, it doesn’t stand a strong chance to making it onto the show. But not every song can be a rocker. It’s also got to be a song that will get caught in people’s heads. People like songs that have a catchy hooks. And, like I mentioned earlier, good audio quality is a must.

7.0 – You recently relocated to the Gulf Coast of Florida, were you burned out on the St. Louis scene and what have you learned about the Fla. scene so far?

I grew up on the St. Louis music scene. And it was tough. There’s not a whole lot of support from people up there. And then when I moved down here to Florida, I realized how crappy the scene up in St. Louis really was. I just thought it was tough up there, I didn’t know it just flat-out sucked. The scene down here in the Tampa/St. Petersburg area is so supportive of their bands. And the support works both ways. The bands love to help out those who are will to help them out as well. There are organizations down here to help out the bands with shows and tours. I just wish there was someone, with enough heart, back in St. Louis to help them with that. They don’t know what their missing.

8.0 – Is there such a thing as ‘Midwesticana’?

I know that Uncle Tupelo kind of started the whole Alt. Country music scene back int the 90’s. And there have been a few bands to spawn from that, like The Bottle Rockets, Son Volt, etc. But if there is such a thing as “Midwesticana” then it starts and stops there with those bands.

9.0 – Any independent 2011 releases that you feel should be ‘must listens’ for major labels?

I don’t think that the major label is the way to go anymore. There are a few artists that have released some amazing records this year. And I wish them huge success, but I don’t know if I wish the for them to get affiliated with a major label. The major labels aren’t making the money anymore. It’s the DIY artists/bands. The ones that are really trying to get out there to get noticed and doing their own merchandizing are the ones who are going to be more successful, and won’t be trapped by the contracts of limitations of major labels. It used to be that the people within the major label organizations had the connections to people with more connections. But in the age of the internet, everyone knows everyone. The major label is an overrated middle man now.

10.0 – Are you at all surprised by the extent to which Americana music/artists are are featured in advertising today as a sort of ‘seal of brand sincerity’ and yet remains ignored by mainstream radio?

Yeah, I am surprised. And it makes me happy. It just shows that some advertisers out there have their finger on the pulse of what is good in music nowadays. Hopefully it’s not just some trend that will fade. We’ll just have to wait and see…

ROBBIE FULKS

Was there a single artist you wanted to be growing up?

Yes, a single artist in March 1972 and another single artist in November 1972 and….does everyone answer your very reasonable questions with touchy-artiste evasions and sloppy stabs at comedy? Because this is the approach that comes to mind. Evasion and hair-splitting and up-yours ridicule. This is a terrible attitude that is rooted in, I’m pretty sure, teenage overemulation of Bob Dylan. He was my biggest single-artist man crush between the ages of about 15 and 19.

Are there triggers in your life that inspire you to sit down and write?

It’s either a semi-verbal, humming kind of vocalizing out of the blue or it’s deadline-inspired obligation. Obligation 90% of the time.

Keith Richards often says “it all starts with Charlie”, what do you think he means by this and what do you look for in a drummer?

That’s a nice question. Comedy portion of the show over! He means that a music performance that features a drummer is never any better than the drummer, which has been proven true in my experience many times over (and at considerable cost). I’ve been performing music for thirty years plus a couple. First ten years, I didn’t play with drums; I was a folkie strummer mainly. Second ten years I played with a variety of drummers, mostly around Chicago, and as long as they had time within a few miles of metronomic they sounded great to me – really I just loved making noise and getting people dancing. Next ten years I played with an amazing drummer, Gerald Dowd. These last couple years, Gerald spends most of his work hours with Justin Roberts, and I’m somewhat back to folkiedom but I also play with a variety of drummers, as before – but this time around I’m in a better position to be critical. I would say that a good drummer steers the ship, but with subtlety. A good drummer in a steady-pulse situation cues off the other players and off the ingrained direction of the song to allow some play into the metronomic frame, without making the resulting fluctuations in time stand out. Maybe this only reflects my prejudice, because I write mainly steady-pulse songs and I don’t like them to sound metronomic but humanly performed. A good drummer isn’t a monster of ego, doesn’t grandstand before the crowd or boss the band around overtly. I think drummers who are singers tend to play a little better, on the whole.

4You obviously love country as a form but often use its traditional context and conventions as built-in humor, how do you explain this to purists?

I’ve not had to! People who are country purists like my stuff, almost to a man. Country has a strong funny-song tradition. Nobody who sees me play thinks I’m making fun of music.

Is there a general profile for the Robbie Fulks fan?

Rapidly aging and easily amused.

What is the craziest thing you have done to win over an audience?

I did all the usual things while afflicted with youth – wounding myself and others during performance, breaking instruments, spitting blood, crowd-surfing, etc. I think the only time I went too far was when I sent my guitar crowd-surfing instead of my body. It was in Toronto opening for Ben Folds Five, and the guitar was my father’s, an irreplaceable Martin 00018. The moment I unplugged it and passed it out into the audience, watching it quickly disappear toward the back of the room, my heart sank and I thought, “What in the world just possessed me?” But it came back in status quo ante shape. Audiences are your friends.

Your website (RobbieFulks.com) benefits from the personal touch of your personal blog updates, do you embrace this as another outlet for artistic expression or see it as an occupational hazard?

Embrace.

You have a history of covering seemingly unrelated songs live, what artists might fulks be surprised to find you count as key influences?

I’m a player who goes for emotion over adroitness most of the time, by instinct or personal limitation rather than philosophical conviction; and naturally a lot of the musicians I’ve looked up to are the same. So the handful of guys who rein in the extravagance and still make the emotion ring are special to me. Since those players watchfully guide me as I play instead of brazenly directing me or offering me phrases to rip off, maybe they’re surprising. Bill Frisell is one such, I feel him watching and trying to correct me pretty often. I was a New Grass Revival junkie during the 1980s, and Bela Fleck’s influence helps remind me, when I’m soloing, to stop thrashing and instead eye the fretboard coolly – just stay calm and make the brain work the fingers, let the listeners do some of the emoting. I mean, just every now and then.

Do you still enjoy the process of ‘a day in the life’ on the road?

For sure. What’s so great about sitting at home? There’s more to life than yardwork and housecleaning and kid-chauffeuring for Christ’s sweet sake.

What advice would you give to a young artist with something to say?

Spit it out, brash and bold! A normal life span offers many years for back-pedaling.

MATT MAGUIRE

1.0 – Are you happy with how your debut Larabee EP Expose A Little Wire has been received?
I am happy. I didn’t know what to expect when I made the decision to release the songs.  It’s been a pleasant surprise to have total strangers listen to the songs and react to them in a positive way.  I’m hoping more people will get to hear the songs as well.

2.0 – Did you have specific goals in mind for the release? There was no master plan for the release of Expose a Little Wire other than to follow in the footsteps of other DIY musicians.  It’s a tricky time in the music business because somewhere along the way people began to assume that music should be free.  So financial goals are difficult to assess.  The main goal is to put the music out and make a connection with people.

3.0 – Are there any plans for a full-length follow up to the EP? There are definitely plans for more recorded music.  I’d love to record a full-length album.  I will probably put out a single or another EP before a full-length because I have songs in the can that I would rather release than hold onto for too long.

4.0 – Do you have a philosophy when it comes to recording?  My philosophy on recording is to get a song to a point where you feel as though you could listen to it forever.  The most frustrating thing about recording is to put in the time, effort and money and come out with something that you can’t stand to listen to.  From a sound perspective, I like classic 1960’s and 1970s recording sounds and styles because on the whole those sounds have staying power.  There’s nothing sadder than to put on a 1980s recording that you loved at the time and realize that the 80s big drum sound ruins the track.  I wish I was more technically oriented so that I could have a better working knowledge of the recording process.  That’s something I need to work on going forward.

5.0 – Your video for “Little Liar” has a great old school vibe & look, how did it come about? Thanks.  I saw other videos that used old footage from various places and came across a neat website that compiled stuff that was no longer covered by copyright, so it was fair game to use.  In searching through the archives I found pieces of a film called “Coffeehouse Rendezvous.”  It was really cheesy but I liked the overall look and feel of it.  Parts of the film were originally shot in the Chestnut Hill neighborhood of Philadelphia, not far from my house, so I used those bits and pieces as a nod to my hometown.  Throw in an iMovie editing feature, and you have yourself a video.  There, I’ve given away all of my video creation secrets.

6.0 – When did you get hooked on rock & roll? what songs early in life left a mark on you most? Probably by age 5.  I am the youngest of five children and I used to sit in my room for hours playing my older sisters’ records – hairbrush microphone in hand.  That stack of 45s was full of Motown, Gary Puckett and the Union Gap, The Foundations, The Monkees and The Beatles.  From the stack of 45s I think The Foundations “Baby Now That I Found You” got a lot of play.  Seriously, how can anybody resist the “ba da da da” background vocals?  A little later I would say that Elvis Costello’s “The Angels Want To Wear My Red Shoes” left a big mark.  That song was really my introduction to The Byrds because of the jangly guitar sound.  Nick Lowe’s Labor of Lust album in it’s entirety is fantastic as is Please Panic by The Vulgar Boatmen.

7.0 –  Have your tunes always had a twang to them or did that develop over time? I think the twang developed over time, but I was always drawn to the twangy stuff by The Monkees did (Papa Gene’s Blues, What I Am I Doing Hangin’ Round), Dave Edmunds, Nick Lowe.  I also had some old Faron Young records as a kid.  I suppose that sound keeps kicking around in my head.

8.0 – Do songs come easy to you or are they labors of love that have to steep before being ready for prime time?  The songs couldn’t come any slower if I tried.  I wish that I could be one of those writers who can bang out song after song.  I am always amazed when I hear someone say that they went into the studio with 30 new songs and whittled it down to 10.  Once written, however, the song structure doesn’t tend to change drastically.

9.0 –  Is there anyone in your life, outside the band, that you trust as sounding board for new material?  I have a friend from high school, Gerry, who used to help manage my old band.  He’s listened to everything I’ve written since I started playing.  His opinion matters because he knows good music and he understands what makes a good song good.

10.0 – Dreaming late last night you got a call from ‘Mr. Bigg’ about a summer tour, what act are you going out in support of?  It would have to be Elvis Costello, but only because he was touring with the spinning wheel of songs from the entirety of his career.  So many great songs.  And because this happened in a dream, all of the fans at the show would become Larabee fans.

PATRICK McGRATH

1.0 – How do you compare 2006’s Wet Nurse To A Dirty Bag with the new EP, When Black Is Blue?

Wet Nurse To A Dirty Bag was a recording process that spanned almost two years for various reasons, both good & bad.When Black Is Blue, however, had 2 full days of tracking with a little extra off site tracking. The feel was spontaneous and organic. Musically they meld together being that my live show intertwines the two successfully. Wet Nurse To A Dirty Bag leaned more towards a grungier, darker, rock feel, whereas When Black Is Blue leans towards a more rootsy and, at times, quirkier side.

2.0 – It sounds like it came together rather serendipitously, or is that spin?

Ain’t no spin. It was pretty much a serendipitous affair. I had received a message from drummer, Randy Schrager, that he had a weekend free in between tours for Scissor Sisters and Jesse Malin. I then contacted producer, Eric “Roscoe” Ambel, and he told me the weekend in question was free at Cowboy Technical Services in Brooklyn, NY. After rounding out the rhythm section with bassist Jared Engel, we rehearsed twice and went in and cut the basic tracks live.

3.0 – How was it working with legendary producer Eric Ambel?

Recording with Eric Ambel was as enjoyable as it was educational! The professionalism in the studio was the real deal while the vibe was loose and comfortable.

4.0 – What lead to the decision to do an EP versus a full length at this time?

The decision was reached via money or lack there of. I wanted to record a full length and had more than enough material but the budget was rather blue collar.

5.0 – What track on the disc are people gravitating to most?

I would say most people are gravitating towards the title track, “When Black Is Blue,” with “Heavy Thunder” running a close second.

6.0 – As a folk story teller of sorts, do you draw from personal experiences or approach songs as mini-novels?

I mostly tell stories derived directly from my own experience with a few name changes and a little necessary fiction when needed. Although the mini-novel approach is apropos when developing a concept rather than a specific experience.

7.0 – How are the east coast tour dates going for you?

The east coast tour dates have been a cool mix of gigs. They’ve ranged from playing in front of a couple of hundred people when I opened a bunch of dates for the great, Mike Doughty, to driving 5 hours to Annapolis to play in front of 5 people. Both ends of the gig spectrum are good times and lessons learned.

8.0 – Do you prefer the solo dates or fielding a band?

They are two totally different animals that I enjoy but lately, due to a few new collaborations, I enjoy fielding a band.

9.0 – What guitars and amps are you playing on tour? is that important?

It is very important. I play a National Resophonic Junior and a Fender Stratocaster through a VOX AC-15. I play a Martin DM acoustic guitar.

10.0 – Ray Davies stops by for tea, summons you to pick up a guitar….you start playing – what song?

Hmmm? … Bizarre question. Perhaps “Afternoon Tea” in honor of him. I might wanna run my new tune, “At The Rock Show,” by him to see what he thinks.

JOHN FINN w/ ESQUELA

 

1.0   Being an ‘upstate’ band, is it easy for Esquela to identify with, or be even more influenced by, “The Band”? Well, a little of both.  I can certainly identify with them as for how they got started – as Ronnie Hawkin’s band The Hawks – where they played all over Canada getting their chops down.  That is what Esquela has done over the last year by playing out, doing as many gigs as we could and really getting to know one another and trust our musicianship.  As far as The Band locating to Woodstock, I can understand why they did so.  It is a beautiful area and fairly close to NYC .

2.0   Is there an ‘upstate’ scene today? I think there is.  The farther north you go from NYC, the more affordable it is to reside.  I believe you would be hard pressed to find a nice property for less than $1 million in the Woodstock area.  As with the East Village now gentrifying and the new East Village becoming Williamsburg & Bushwick, the same is true here in the Catskills.  There are more artists of all sorts working their way further north. The Andes Hotel (Andes, NY) is one of my favorite venues up here because they support the local scene, are always busy and they take care of the bands.

3.0   How did Esquela come together? Mainly, because of Keith Christopher, our lead guitar player.  I’ve known Keith for close to fifteen years, since he was the bass player in my brother’s band, Disciples of Agriculture, and I was their manager.  Soon thereafter, I started taking bass lessons from Keith and we continued this relationship and he and I would regularly team up in various other bands like TCR/Tony Clifton Revival where we only played CCR tunes with a Tony Clifton impersonator! We also played together in The El Mighty Chicos; Fate Denied Us Victory, Future Farmers of America, Pispoure and ultimately in Disciples of Agriculture. In most cases, Keith was playing guitar or drums and I would play bass. In 2008, Keith and I were riding back to the City after a gig and he asked if I wanted to hear a CD of Fela Kuti. I remember him saying “you probably won’t like it”.  But he was wrong – it was so good that I think we listened to the record two times through during the trip. Fela’s music was very inspiring.  I had just gotten an old version of Protools and I was messing around with it – started dropping down chords and beats and naturally brought Keith up to fill out most of the parts.  I had some lyrics that I had been fooling around with…started putting them together with the songs and the next thing you knew we had a bunch of songs.  My vocals were the scratch tracks and they just weren’t that good and I knew of this one really great singer in our area, Rebecca Frame. I brought her in to record as many as I could convince her to sing on. She liked some of the ones I sang on, so we left that and of course Keith did a great job on “Tin Horns”, so we left that one alone too. Once the record was coming together and Eric “Roscoe” Ambel was involved, Keith and I put a band together to play out.  We knew it would be us two and Rebecca and from there it made sense to add Matt Woodin on mandolin and rhythm guitar, because he plays with Rebecca in their band, The Honest Mistakes.  Richie Tousell is an old friend of Keith’s and they’ve played together a bunch over the years and the drummer who plays most of our gigs is Todd Russell who I grew up with.

4.0   How much guitar did Eric Ambel play on “The Owl Has Landed? Roscoe really did a great job at adding subtleties to the recording.  I believe he added guitar tracks to most of the songs – but ones that jump out the most are in “Richie” and “Here and Now”.  He also added a honky-tonk type piano on “Richie”. He added keys here or there; vocals; accordion; percussion, etc. – whatever he felt the track needed. Keith can play any instrument.  He would play the drums and make the drums sound like an instrument.  He added keys when needed and played the rhythm tracks as well as the leads. Backing vocals, lead vocals, tambourine; whatever we needed, he did it.

5.0   Are you happy with the way it turned out? Yes, especially after Roscoe finished with it.  He took the rough parts and made it all smooth.  Having never had done this before, I was very apprehensive and had self-doubt.  But by having Roscoe step in and be a part of what Keith and I started, really gave me confidence that this was a nice piece of work.  I am proud of it.  Granted, it may not be for all or not be the most complicated musical compositions – but it came from the heart and I think that passion can translate.

6.0   What are your favorite tracks on the record? I would say “Here and Now” and “Tin Horns” . “Here and Now” was written as a tribute to my Mother, who died in a one car car accident and it was a tragic and early end to a wonderful life.  She was an artist and was very influential to me.  In fact, the cover art, I did in 6th grade when she was my art teacher…on the back it says “A+ well drawn and well-placed on paper – the fact that the owl is small does not detract from the drawing because of good arrangement of other objects in picture – drawing small is your style”.  We had a gig last month in Milford, NY at the Hoedown in the Blowdown, and I introduced this song to the audience and for the first time I said what this song was about and how she had died in Milford, NY.  None of the band new this or what the song was about.  Half way during the song, I was in tears on stage.  That was a tough one to play through, but it was cathartic.  The band really nailed it that day.

I also like the way “Tin Horns” came together.  I had a rough draft of a beat and mandolin and some lyrics.  The next day Keith came upstate to my house and I told him about the song but I didn’t like the melody.  He thought about it and a few hours later he asked if I liked this melody.  He played it for me on guitar and I immediately started recording his acoustic over what I had.  He then played drums and even bass on the track.  My brother stopped by and whipped up two verses to add to the song and within four hours we had a rough mix of the song.  It was the definition of collaboration.

7.0   Any plans for a follow-up? Yes, after our next gig at Rodeo Bar on 10/3 – my girlfriend Wendy and I are expecting a little girl.  So the band is on hiatus.  However, I have another batch of songs in the hopper that Keith and I are planning on getting together for and laying down some rough drafts.  My goal is to release another record in 2011.

8.0   You host a private ‘Livestock’ event annually, how was this years festivities? ‘Livestock’ went great.  Someone asked me: “you’ve had this festival for 8 years and never have had a fight?”. When you think about it, alcohol and hundreds of people and no fights – it is a cool thing. That is the type of festival it is.  Usually whatever artists play ask to come back; Steve Wynn, Graham Parker, Jim Lauderdale, Marah, College Farm, Grainbelt, etc.. Maybe it is just the type of artists they are or the festival is cool.  This year Jason Ringenberg played as “Farmer Jason” which was a hit in the amphitheatre. He also graced the stage with Grainbelt and College Farm and did a few Scorchers’ numbers.

9.0   How did you get the Nickname “Chico”? Unfortunately, I am a NY Mets fan and have been since 1977.  In that era, the Mets were terrible as well.  So bad that SNL would mock the Mets and they did a skit with Chico Esquela (Garret Morris) who was a Hispanic ballplayer making a comeback at baseball at the age of 42.  Naturally, being an older brother who would pick on his younger weaker brother, Dan nicknamed me “Chico” and it stuck. Yes, I still follow the Mets.

10.0 Tell the truth, did you guys have to buy new pajamas for your “Hands On My Jammies” video? I’ll never tell!

ESQUELA: http://www.esquelatheband.com

NATE SCHWEBER


1.0  How was it recording with Eric “Roscoe” Ambel? Recording with Roscoe was a great learning experience. As a producer Roscoe demands a lot, but his results speak for themselves. It was a real challenge to step up to his expectations, and that caused a lot of growing pains. But it was for the best. I’d wanted to work with Roscoe for years, and since I moved to New York in 2001 I slowly got to know him; hanging out at his bar, the Lakeside Lounge, and going to hear him play. He’s one of those guys with the Midas Touch. Whether it’s his work playing guitar with Joan Jett or Steve Earle, his playing in bands like Del Lords, the Yayhoos and his own group The Roscoe Trio, or bands he produced like the Blood Oranges, the Backsliders and the Bottle Rockets; everything Roscoe touches turns to gold.  Roscoe sees projects on a macro and micro level. On the micro level, he’s got a great sense of what sounds need to be where; what parts of songs need guitar licks, what tracks need an overdubbed acoustic guitar with Nashville tuning, where a harmonica break fits, etc.. On a macro level, he’s always got his eye on the big picture like how to make the best use of studio time, the order that songs should go in, how to tell players to prepare and a whole lot more. My background is in writing for newspapers. I liken Roscoe to an excellent editor.

2.0  How does the new CD “Hello Disaster” differ from your debut “Heathens Like Me”? First and foremost, Hello Disaster was produced, unlike Heathens Like Me. It took four fun days to make the first record. It took three hard years to make the second. The first record is the sound of a band coming together, going into the studio and just bashing out the songs. The second record, to me, is the sound of a band busting apart. But the sound of the shattering is pretty glorious.

3.0  What’s up with the New Heathens? I don’t want to air dirty laundry, but some of those growing pains I mentioned led to us stopping performing out as a band midway through making Hello Disaster. We had been going pretty strong there for a couple years, hauling up and down the eastern seaboard in a big, purple van, but we hit the rocks in the studio. It was painful. It wasn’t how I envisioned it – and believe me, I had meticulously planned this project for years and worked my ass off – but I came to a fork in the road during the recording process where I could salvage one of two things: the band or the record. I chose the record. Note that the record starts out with five people wailing together in a room, and ends quietly with me by myself. That’s a good metaphor for how the recording process went. I find myself in the curious position now of trying to promote a good record by a band that isn’t really around anymore. I’ve been playing plenty of solo acoustic shows, difficulties of promoting a full-band record as a solo acoustic artist be damned. Don’t be surprised to see some “Nate Schweber and the New Heathens” shows soon.

4.0  What sort of music did your family listen to growing up? My mom is the partially-reformed pseudo-hippie of the family and she’s a huge music lover. Growing up she I remember her playing the Beatles and Emmylou Harris, who looks like her sister. She was the one who turned me on to the Rolling Stones and Steve Earle. My dad, a self-proclaimed “bean-counter,” actually has great taste in music, though I didn’t realize it when I was younger. I learned about Warren Zevon from my dad.

5.0  What was the first album you ever purchased? Aerosmith’s Pump. Power ballads be damned, if anybody’s recorded a cooler song than F.I.N.E. in the past 20 years, I ain’t heard it.

6.0  Does being from Montana originally have any impact on your style? I’m sure it does. Montana has wide open vistas and not a lot of people, so growing up I had wild, fanciful notions of what I wanted to do with my life and not a lot of people to tell me I couldn’t. I noticed a definite change in my mindset when I got to New York and found myself hemmed down at the bottom of concrete canyons all day (lo and behold some of those “fanciful notions” didn’t quite work out). Montana also affected my taste in music. The Pacific Northwest has a psychic connection with the south, I imagine because they are both big, rural areas where agriculture dominates. So things like country music and southern rock resonate up there. Growing up a weirdo, I figured out fast that a lot of the chaw-dipping, wrangler-wearing guys who cranked modern country in their pickups wanted to kick the shit out of me, so in high school I hated country music. It wasn’t until I got to college that I luckily fell in with a hip, bar-band scene who turned me on to country that was Stonesy, relevant, smart and cool, like Steve Earle, the Bottle Rockets, Todd Snider, Doug Sahm and the Supersuckers.

7.0  Did you have a band in high school/college? what did you call yourselves? what did you play? I sang in rock bands all through high school and college. Some names I remember include, “Blue Monday and the Cockroaches,” “The Spice Boys,” “Aces & Eights,” and “Moxie.”I played tuba in school band from fifth grade through when I graduated college. To this day the longest lasting and most popular band I was ever in was a German polka band that spanned elementary school through college called “The Hungry Five.”

8.0  Why did you move to NYC? I tell people that having grown up in Montana, I wanted to find out what life in a big city was like, and boy have I found out. The catalyst was I got an internship at Rolling Stone magazine in 2001. I came to New York to see what I could do in journalism and rock ‘n’ roll.

9.0  How do you approach song writing? That’s a tough one. A lot of my favorite songs are what I like to think of as “smart.” Like “Lawyers, Guns & Money” by my man Warren Zevon, it’s a wild concept for a song, totally original hook, fantastic riff and it’s funny. Zevon is a master at that. Same with Brian Hennemann of the Bottle Rockets, particularly when he co-writes with Scott Taylor. Their songs “$1,000 Car;” “Welfare Music,” “Zoysia” and a slew of others are new, smart, descriptive ways of looking at common things. So that’s always my goal when I try to write a song. I usually fall far, far short.

10.0  What do you prefer – writing, recording, or playing live?  It used to be playing live, because that’s all I did. As I get more experienced at writing and recording, I’m enjoying them more and more.