Tag Archives: Folk

Interview / The Senators

Phoenix based group The Senators are a true gift to all indie folk/americana music lovers out there, touching hearts with their well crafted, engaging melodies and wonderful story telling.  Their sound carries great elements of a traditional folk and acoustic blues featuring a mixture of instruments like harmonica, banjo or trumpet.

The Senators master folk music with a real sense of tradition, musicianship and family connection but most of all, one that brings us a great pleasure while listening.

Jesse Teer (vocals, guitars) introduces the band to the UK and tells us about making of the band’s amazing debut album Harsher Than Whiskey/Sweeter Than Wine, plus stories behind their favourite tracks,  songwriting, Phoenix music scene and more.

How would you introduce yourselves and your sound to the UK audience?

We’re a five-piece from the desert of Phoenix, Arizona.  All of us grew up in AZ and we really think of it as home.  Lots more than just coyotes and cacti, there’s actually a pretty good music scene in bloom here, and we’re excited to be on the forefront of that.  The Senators are Jesse Teer (vocals, guitars), ‘Rooster’ Teer (bass, harmonica), Joe Bitz (trumpet, keys, guitars… all the instruments), Bryan James (banjo, lead guitar) & Jason Yee (drums).

We’re really drawn to that gritty old Americana sound, the stuff that was coming out of Memphis and Sun Records, old American acoustic blues and traditional folk.  You can definitely hear these elements as a foundation of what we’re doing.  But we don’t try to rehash… I think we’re writing music that’s pushing the genre.  It’s very exciting to have interested listeners in the UK… we know the folk scene is booming out there.

It’s been over a year, since the release of your debut album Harsher Than Whiskey/Sweeter Than Wine. How would you sum up the past 12 months?

This year has been a lot about learning as we grow, and it has gone by in a blur.   As a completely independent/DIY group we’ve recorded the majority of our second album, started touring regionally in the Southwest, played some great shows, met some fantastic bands and have made some great fans.

As much fun as we’ve had, there have been the obligatory growing pains.  The way we’ve responded has made us even closer and better as a group – I think you can hear that in our music and see it in our live show.  We’ve realized that what we do is about family, and that’s what keeps us going.

Is there a certain track on this record, you’d class as your favourite or one that has a special meaning or story behind it?

Two of them really stick out to us, but we’re pretty biased!  We’d love to hear what you think after listening.

‘The Sea and Its Floor’ was one of the first song concepts I had with the project.  I spent a lot of time drifting around before settling back down in Phoenix and beginning the project.  This song means a lot to me personally. It’s almost a homecoming song, about making amends and realizing the value of home and family.  I like being able to talk about something very personal like this using some very traditional imagery that’s universal and approachable to all our listeners.

‘The London Bridge’ is another one that sticks out. The old London Bridge (which was replaced by the London Tower Bridge) was actually purchased and transported to Lake Havasu City in Arizona.  It is a very odd thing to have sitting in the middle of a desert. I was driving from Los Angeles back to Phoenix and saw signs for the bridge, so I had to check it out.

I was working on a song dealing with distance at the time, and the idea of this old bridge sitting so far away from its original purpose.

We made a trip up to the bridge to shoot the music video for it; it’ll be out in the next month and we’re excited to share it with our fans.

What was the recording journey of the album like?

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We tracked the entire album ourselves and it was an adventure.  We have a great on-location setup, so we recorded in a good variety of places.  We learned pretty quickly what worked and what didn’t. The freedom involved in the process really gives the album character.

It was a departure from the normal recording process, and getting the album together brought us together as a group.  The songs were originally all co-writes between my brother Rooster and myself while he was out in Memphis.  We set out to work with some great musicians to fill out the concepts as we began to record ‘Harsher/Sweeter’, and we ended up finding our sound with them.

How do you normally work at your songs and how do you share the responsibilities for songwriting amongst you?

I write the lyrics and concept with an acoustic guitar.  I usually record the basics right away, so we have this library of newly written acoustic versions of a lot of our songs.   Sometimes I’ll chip away at an idea until its right, but often songs will sort of just present themselves in a finalized sort of fashion.   Those are always the best ones.  As a writer, it feels like I’m tapping into something either deep within or outside of myself when it just flows like that, it’s an eerily addictive sort of experience.   Then I’ll give the songs to the guys, and grow them from those acoustic concepts into a Senators song.  I love watching that process as it unfolds.

Who’s the first person you think of, that influenced you to make music?

We all have our own separate musical heroes, but Johnny Cash is the epitome that we all share.  We really respect what he did for music; he did it his way and had a legendary career. That resonates with us… we love the music and don’t mind if it doesn’t fit into one single box.

Our (Jesse & Rooster’s) father kept us really active with music.  Some of the first songs I remember singing along to around the house were hits from Zeppelin, Clapton, the Stones … great stuff from his youth.   I guess this really planted some seeds.

What do you love the most about performing live?

Being on stage and playing in the moment is the best of times for us.  We’re not just connecting and creating on stage, but we always try to make that same connection with our fans.  That’s what we aim to do, to make each person in the room a part of that moment which we can share.  It’s a moment that can’t be replicated and it belongs to everyone.  We think that’s pretty special.

What is the music scene in Phoenix like at the moment?

We get most of the national/international circuit bands here in Phoenix, and at that level Phoenix is a solid music scene.  For Indie or local music, the scene is definitely growing and it’s exciting to be a part of it.  Crescent Ballroom (Stateside Presents) is one of the meccas of the local music scene and one of our favourite spots to play in town; Frank Turner played at Crescent when he was in Phoenix.  We take the stage there regularly and always have a great time.   There’s a great fan base here that supports a very ‘revivalist’ genre: we have a few groups coming up in town that are really tapped into more vintage sounding blues, rock, folk, etc.

What’s your view on today’s music industry in general?

We like where things are going.  The industry is in a new place – it’s never been easier to get music out to listeners, and independent artists have a stronger voice than ever.

Are you working on some new material and planning some more releases?

Right now we are going back to re-track and re-master our first album.  We plan for the re-release of the album in October of 2013; we will offer the entire album (with a new track or two included) free to the world to download and share.  The more folks that are listening together, the better.

We have our second album (Battle Hymns) in final stages of recording while we are getting ready for the re-release of our debut album ‘Harsher Than Whiskey/Sweeter Than Wine’.  It’s tough to sit on new songs and ideas, we are secretly dying to share them with everyone.   Aside from music, we’ll have some new videos out soon, stay tuned!

Links – Website, Facebook, Twitter

Live Music / The Revival Tour 2012

Some of you my friends have heard of The Revival Tour, some of you haven’t, so let me tell you something about it and why every music lover should experience this wonderful musical event.

The Revival Tour is about a bunch of great musicians/songwriters hitting the road together and bringing people a real musical experience. It’s about sharing music in an old fashioned way,  a collaboration of great artists who come to our towns to remind us what real music is about.

Chuck Ragan (Hot Water Music), whom you’ll never miss on The Revival Tour, came up with the idea of this event about 5 years ago, and it’s had a great success in America, UK and Europe since, gaining more and more followers each year. There have been many great artists involved in the past, including Frank Turner, Dave Hause, Brian Fallon of The Gaslight Anthem or Dan Andriano of The Alkaline Trio…

But this years line up has been as outstanding as the previous ones. The Revival Tour came to Brighton and I was there, happily enjoying and absorbing each moment of it.  Chuck Ragan was joined by his good friends – Joe Ginsberg and Jon Gaunt, as well as an American singer/songwriter Cory Branan, Australia’s Emily Barker, Canada’s Jay Malinowski (Bedouin Soundclash) and Texan Rocky Votolato. Each one of these artists put on a beautiful performance and each one of them brought something original to this event. They joined each other on the stage, wholeheartedly sang each others songs as well as their own, and gave the audience an unforgettable and truly unique experience. Their humble and gracious approach to people was inspiring and it was really good to see, that there are artists out there, who care to come out and give us – music lovers, something to remind us why we actually love music.

True words written by Jonah Bayer: ‘There really is no other experience like the Revival Tour.’

The Revival Tour will be back in the UK in November, so make sure to check the links below for more info!

The Revival Tour Links – Website, Facebook, Twitter

Photos – The Revival Tour 2012 in Brighton

Individual Artists:

Chuck Ragan (with Joe Ginsberg and Jon Gaunt)

Cory Branan

Emily Barker

Jay Malinowski

Rocky Votolato

Windmills Interview

Windmills is a one man band formed in April 2011 by an experimental loop artist Cory Myraas. Based in Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Windmills keeps on creating a huge buzz for his unique and breath taking live shows. Playing electric indie folk-rock, this original and very talented artist shows us a different way of music making by creating the sound and melodies by looping, all by himself. Windmills’ debut album Keep Moving has been released at the beginning of this year and consists of 9 excellent tracks. Cory’s vocals blend perfectly with the music and the whole record creates a very special atmosphere you ought to experience.

Windmills is currently working on his new EP album. You can find out more about it in the interview below together with a discussion about his interesting music making process, live shows, debut album, future plans and more.

Your style of making music is very original. Could you describe the usual process of it?

The life of a loop artist is not quite as lavish and jam friendly as the usual suspects found in bands. It’s a long, or sometimes brilliantly short process in which one part is usually written or conceived, and the rest comes after countless sessions of trial and error. It can be quick and painless, or it can be hours of tweaking making sure each line works, the timing is all right, and the right parts are coming in at the right times.
I can pin-point each song I’ve written down to its genesis guitar line, from the opening notes of “Great Divide” to the bass line in “Creating Something Beautiful”. Every song starts with one line I can’t ignore; the rest is simply built upon it until a song is born.

What made you decide to create music in this particular way?

I played in a 4 piece rock outfit for a few years and when that ended I thought long and hard about what I wanted to pursue next. It literally took me 8 months, probably 6 and a half months of not thinking about music, and then the last month and a half of a kind of light-bulb moment in which I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I never considered looping as a solo act seriously until one fateful day of messing around with my pedal. From there I started writing feverishly and trying to figure out how to make it work and not be the same clichéd solo looper. My good friend Rob Raybould (who happens to co-produce and engineer my records) forced me to push myself to do something unique. I’m not standing on stage with a guitar and a loop pedal screaming and whining, I’m forcing myself to add together all the parts to make an entertaining and lasting memory//sound.

Do you remember your first live show as Windmills? What was the reaction of the audience like after hearing all that sound coming from just one man?

My first show as Windmills was May 28th, 2011. I was opening for 3 other bands and was so god-damn nervous I’m not sure how I managed to play. In the beginning I had written 5 songs, “Great Divide”, “We’ll Be Alone”, “Salt”, “Fire”, and “Rise”. Originally I had thought about releasing a concept EP as those 5 songs seemed to all be linked lyrically. Also at that show I hadn’t acquired a floor-tom yet so I was percussion free with the exception of the tambourine on “Salt”. I think the crowd expected me to be terrible as a solo act, they weren’t expecting looped vocals, reverse and double time loops, or anything really. I played “Great Divide” terribly, that’s what I remember. But shockingly after I played I had around 5 people asking for a CD. I was humbled to say the least, from there Windmills just… kept moving.

How much time and energy does it take you to put a song together or prepare for a live show? 

Oh man, good question. It’s a constant ongoing process I find. There’s a song on the new record that has gone through probably 4 different variations, countless hours of tweaking something as simple as a chord progression or literally adding 2 notes. Other songs such as “Great Divide” or “Kiss” were written in an evening, somewhere in the 2 hour ballpark. It’s really a balancing act. You know when you write something that is going to make it to the final cut, just like when you’re unsure of something it probably won’t make it past the jam room.
Preparing for a live show depends on the venue I’m occupying, if the venue is quiet and intimate, my set-list will be full of the more emotional, down-tempo songs that suit the environment, if it’s a bar/pub show I’ll throw in an upbeat cover and play the fast songs that get the audience involved.

Your debut album is called ‘’Keep Moving’’ and from what I’ve seen, you often like to use the phrase ‘’Windmills keep moving’’. What is your philosophy behind this?

Before there was the album I tended to end my Facebook updates with “windmills keep moving” and I think very quickly, and very easily, it became Windmills philosophy. With the imagery of a windmill or a group of windmills constantly in motion, to my own constant challenge to myself to “keep moving” and write songs that haven’t been heard, put together in new ways, looping vocals and drums to create a new one-man band performance. Even treating my live shows as performance pieces, the stage banter, the humour, it’s always in a state of movement or progression. The day you stop moving you die. When the decision to name the album came around I battled with the idea of a self-titled release of a release with a name and a purpose. Naturally “Keep Moving” fit perfectly.
On a side note a few people have asked why I’m called Windmills and not Windmill, and I’ll answer it here. A) Windmill just sounds terrible to me, and B) while Windmills is plural and I’m a solo act, the idea of looping vocals, guitars, and drums in a way that no solo act could pull off without the pedals and set-up I use gave birth to the S. I’m very much a full band in a solo act.

Are there any tracks on this album that are more personal to you than the others and if yes, can you tell us why?

Every track on “Keep Moving” has come from a place of personal experience in the last few years of my life. That said, I know there is a melancholy tone on some of the tracks, and words like “break-up” have been used. However, I try to write songs that take elements of my life and creatively exploit them. I would never write a break-up song about a specific girl, because then you’re giving away the power of that emotion. Instead I focus on the collective joy of new-love, the collective heartbreak, the collective new beginning.
The track “Corona” is extremely personal, and breaks the rules I’ve just stated above. There’s a very special place in my heart for that song, just like there’s a very special place in my heart for the girl who inspired it and continually inspires me.

Windmills trivia: The chorus line in “Great Divide”, “and she thinks she knows me but she hasn’t got a clue” was inspired by the MTV Show “Diary Of…” specifically, “You think you know me, but you have no idea… diary of Christina Aguilera”. The creative process, she is bizarre.

You have recently mentioned working on a new record. How is that progressing?

I’m currently in the tracking process of a new 5-track EP set to be released this fall. I can tell you I’m ridiculously excited for this follow-up. I can tell you the songs have matured and have more purpose. I can tell you I’m adding more to this record in terms of instrumentation, textural effects, effects, and ambience. Whereas “Keep Moving” was ideally as close to my live sound as possible, this record will be more advanced. I’ve got some new, older influences for this record. I can tell you that the EP has a title, and the cover art has been chosen. But you’ll have to wait to find out what it is/what it looks like…

What kind of music do you listen to in your free time and are there any artists/bands you draw your influences from?

My musical influences are wide and cover everything it seems. In terms of my song-writing I draw inspiration from the likes of Andrew Bird, Aidan Knight, Sting, and Timber Timbre. The birth of the double-time loops, or the reverse loops comes from Minus the Bear. One of my favorite bands in general. I also love the moodiness of Interpol, or the juxtaposition of cheerful music with dark music a la The Smiths. Johnny Marr is a guitar inspiration, and Morrissey is Morrissey, you can’t say much more than that. The reason I play guitar is because of John Frusciante. My favorite bands jump from contemporary to older artists almost as frequently as I can write new music. I’ve been listening to a lot of Brian Eno lately, and a lot of St. Vincent. Somehow that works.

Have you ever been to the UK? And is there any particular place or festival you would like to play in the future?

Sadly I have not made it to the UK, the closest I’ve been is France and the Netherlands in person, and the English Premier League from the comfort of my couch. It’s one of those places I know I’ll make it to eventually, sooner than later. There are countless festivals, especially in the UK that I’d love to play, but for now I’m on a constant look out and drive to enter all the festivals I can in and around BC. It’s hard because I’ve only been Windmills for just over a year, but my ideal goal/dream is a European tour, small intimate venues and living rooms, and build the fan base internationally. I’ve had so much love sent my way from the UK, Europe, and all over internationally that I need to give some of it back.

What would you like to achieve with your music in the next year or so? 

It will be hard to top this past year of Windmills, so much has happened with the release of “Keep Moving”, being given a FACTOR Canada grant in March, and playing the amount of shows I’ve played. This next year I really want to “keep moving” in that uphill direction, getting the new EP all over the interwebs and everywhere in between, hopefully getting more album reviews, and playing as many shows, festivals, and events that I can. I’ve got a music video set to come out sometime in the near future, and I’m thinking of a possible video project for the new EP, or some sort of multimedia experience to accompany the new record. Time will tell.

Links – Facebook, Twitter

Click on the image to listen/buy album 

Dreamy Indie/Folk: Fossil Collective

If you like gorgeous indie/folk  music full of emotion, then Fossil Collective is for you.

Taking inspiration from great artists like Fleetwood Mac and Neil Young, these multi talented instrumentalists from Leeds will touch you with their beautiful melancholic guitar meets piano melodies and perfect angelic vocals.

Compared to artists like Fleet Foxes and Bon Iver, Fossil Collective add English quality into their mesmerizing music.

Their gentle but memorable sound and lyrics will bring piece into your musical soul. Their artistic, fantasy like videos add a special feel to the dreamy like music that has some would say, quite sad but powerful appeal.

Expect a lot more in the future from these magnificent musicians. They are gaining followers really fast! 🙂

You can get a free download of their track Without a Fight (Dark Dark Horse Remix) on their Facebook page! Go and check it out! 🙂

LinksWebsite, Facebook, Twitter