Where are you from, where are you now, and what keeps you around?
I'm from Oklahoma, born in Texas, but went to Kentridge High and have lived here in Seattle for the last 15 years so I feel about half from here and half not. I am fortunate to live here with some friends that I've known for more than 20 years, and I keep meeting more friends that are so goddamned wonderful that it makes it hard to think about leaving. It's the people that keep me here, Ballard has the best people working for it and drinking in it.
When did you first know you wanted to get involved with music and what made you decide to make it part of your identity?
Music was always a part of my identity. I played cello in orchestra at age 11. Took piano lessons too. At 16 I started playing guitar, no lessons but, started writing songs. I suppose that's when I knew I wanted to make music, the point when I could figure out how to play someone else's song and learn from it. My Dad had Beatles, Mozart and Beethoven records so that's what I listened to. Beatles during the day and classical at night. John Lennon and Kurt Cobain were my idols. I played music with a high school buddy of mine and we listened to so many great old records. I would stay up until 2am in high school either drawing comics or recording music. I used two boom boxes to layer parts of songs on tape. I had a little Stella acoustic guitar, and a shitty little keyboard that either me or my sister got for Christmas. My parents always had a hell of a time getting me up for school. But, they bought me a drum set and let me set it up in the living room. Drove my sister crazy. That was my favorite part of the day.
How do you approach writing a song? Do they come naturally or do you have a process? Are there any albums or artist that you draw inspiration from?
I draw inspiration from whatever I'm listening to. I think one of my faults as a songwriter is I've always wanted someone else's sound. Someone else's production. I don't mean to say that my songs sound like someone else's because I think they don't. I work hard to draw from my own heart when I write and if I think for one second that it sounds like someone else's material I toss it in the garbage or change it. I haven't allowed myself to be solely influenced by my condition and my surroundings and, that will be the day I write a song that is all my own sound. I think that's around the corner. I've been doing it for 21 years and I still have lots to learn. I have yet to put out a collection of songs that is just what I want it to be. I think I need to work alone to do that. That's something I look forward to. Being somewhere I know nobody can hear me and I can feel free to yell and play loud and see what comes out. Being alone is essential for finding your own sound. You gotta try even your worst ideas to find your best sometimes. I think music is the best when it's just yours first. Then share it with the band and let them bash it out and make it epic and most of the time it gets even better. One thing about the endeavor to being a songwriter is it's a lifelong trip. So, I've got time. But, that means I have to be patient, take a deep breath and let it go when I get anxious about having songs out there I'm not proud of. I can't complain about not having a successful record because I haven't written it yet.
The only process I have is seeing it through. I get all kinds of ideas all day while I'm busy doing something else and unless I can record them on my phone they slip away. Recently I got stoned and jogged Discovery Park and got a tune in my head that I thought was so good I hummed it to myself for the last half mile until I got to my car and recorded it. I gotta catch those little ideas like a puff of cotton in the wind and it's always hard work for me to turn it into a whole song. I know writers that songs just come to and if they shut themselves away for a few hours they have the whole thing done. It's so cool to watch that happen! Those are the real tortured souls. Born to do it. I can usually be satisfied with something if I have a bottle of wine and a little time but, I rarely have a whole song to show for it. I can't force it. I have to know when to put the instrument down and except that my time has run out. I also have to be patient and wait for the right time to pick it up again. I mean, you should pick up your instrument at least once a day but, it might not be the time you finish that song.
Artists that often inspire me to write better are - Tom Waits, Townes Van Zandt, Leonard Cohen, John Lennon, Jim Morrison, (if you don't think Jim is a good writer listen to "Moonlight Drive" on Strange Days and shut up).
What is your guitar/pedal/amp setup these days?
I've never wanted a lot of pedals on stage with me. I've never experimented with a variety of pedals, I leave that to the lead players. I don't play "solos" I play "instrumentals." I like to keep my sound consistent, therefore my set up is simple.
- Fender Vibrolux amp
- The Southland Harmonic Overdrive
- Old School Tremolo
- 80's Ibanez Analog Delay
Have you found that there are perks to being a musician?
How about frustrations?
Are there any projects that you are particularly proud of?
I am so proud of Evening Bell. I have never worked so hard on a band. I had my partner Caitlin Sherman to work with which was incredible. She is the best songwriter I have ever known and I got to write with her. I would wager that few people in this world get to create poetry and entertainment with their lover and then perform it on a stage with them. Your love makes it good, being vulnerable with each other makes it good and sharing ideas makes it good. It's a human connection different from most. I learned a lot from Caitlin and am a different writer because of her. We blended so many influences and found our sound in a handful of songs. However, I think if we had made a second record it would have been more our own sound than the first. I feel that music shouldn't be too much work. Unless you have a team of people working with you. I've had a band with a record label, booking agent, manager and that feels like you're really getting work done. Unless your bandmates are willing to fill those roles the songwriter is doing it all themselves and that's fucked. Most ambitious projects need a team.
How do you feel about the music community in Seattle, is there anything you want to praise or change about it?
The great thing about Seattle is that EVERYONE can have a band and the shitty thing about Seattle is that EVERYONE can have a band. There is such a groovy community here it's disgusting, and it still doesn't get enough done. This scene is beautiful. Full of beautiful music enthusiasts. Smart fuckin people who bore into the bins of used record stores and into the caverns of the internet that I've never been to and find things. I feel like ten years ago you couldn't sit down at a great dive bar in Seattle and not have a conversation about music, and not learn something from it. I will praise the fuck out of the Seattle music scene. I have learned so much from so many fuckers in bars here and guy and gal musicians here there is endless inspiration! But, that is dwindling. The bar tenders and regulars around here that are still stickin it out after 15-25 years can tell you some great shit to listen to but, they can barely afford to live here, or buy records. Working at a music venue I can tell you that it doesn't seem like people think they should have to pay for music anymore. It's pretty frustrating to have a group of people come up to the door guy wanting to come in and enjoy the music and the ambiance and once they hear there is a cover they walk away. It used to be different but, access to music is so different now. Nobody is getting rich in Seattle off of music. With a little public perspective we could keep a very supportive show-going population alive. There are 3 music venues in a 3 block stretch of Ballard Ave. That's amazing! While being inspired by this community, fighting for and winning support from this community, I would say that I wish musicians worked together more often. I think there could be a more organized community that could better inspire the weekend crowds to PAY to see a local band. This community raised over $26,000 for the Tractor Tavern door man Joel Dumois when he had a heart attack so there's potential. Badass community.
This city has had a scene so talented, discerning and inventive it's scary. I hope that can be one of Seattle's long lasting traits.
Maybe it will be.
Because that's my Seattle.
What can you be found doing outside of music?
Bar tending at Hattie's Hat, Conor Byrne, and moving furniture for my buddy's moving company Motivated Movers. That company name is silly but, I will say that they are the best guys you'll find in this city to move you. The owner Danny is a dear friend of mine. I have taking classes and been teaching myself to be a jeweler. Ive been known to procrastinate on a bar stool for a portion of a day. Some nights I just sit at home and listen to records with a glass of bourbon and a joint.
Are there any new projects that you are working on? if so, could you tell us a little about them?
Right now I'm working on getting together my favorite players to do a show with me. There is a lineup that I dream of that would be so fun to work with. I've got plenty of songs! Would also like to do a Bob Seger and Doug Sahm night with a 10 piece band including horns and backup singers. Maybe one of these days!
Time for the favorites
Well, Seattle has so much great food! I gotta say the first thing that comes to mind and it's Babar. The pho and vermicelli plates are so good and they have a full bar.
Favorite local(Seattle)artist at the moment?
My favorite Seattle illustrative artists would be Kyler Martz, and Jeremy Eaton. My favorite film artists are Ryan Jorgensen , Hayley Young and Ethan Hawthorne. My favorite comic artist is Seth Goodkind. My favorite local music is made by Arlan Lackie and The Crying Shame. I should also say Jimmy James of The Delvon Lamar Organ Trio is my favorite guitar player in Seattle!
I could write a HUGE list of local artists I love but I know I'll leave someone out and get shit for it.
Favorite not so local artist?
Favorite place to visit?
Well, around here it would be Roslyn or Longbeach. But outside the state I would say upstate NY. Beautiful country and beautiful people.
Least favorite place to visit?
St. Louis Missouri. My parents live there and I love them...but sorry STL. Sorry. You kinda suck. Chicago is only about five hours away babe.
Five favorite albums?
The Beatles "Rubber Soul"
The Rolling Stones "Exile On Main Street"
Link Wray "Be What You Want To"
Fleetwood Mac "Bare Trees"
Wilco "Being There"
Favorite TV show?
Favorite slice of pizza?
Favorite invention from the 19th century?
ROCK N ROLL
The Big Lebowski
I do not know what I'm doing...