Posts Tagged ‘Garret K. Woodward’

Americana Outlaws | Ray LaMontagne & The Pariah Dogs

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

Americana Outlaws – Ray LaMontagne & The Pariah Dogs

Contributing Writer – Garret K. Woodward

www.RayLaMontagne.com

Ray LaMontagne makes me feel like a teenage girl.

Screams of joy escape my lungs when I find out he’s nearby. All my friends grow weary over my constant babbling about him. If there were a life-size poster available, I’d probably buy one.

His music is just that good, just that ideal sense of wonder and comfort, making those dark days seem bright again.

For the better of a decade, LaMontagne (who reportedly heard “Treetop Flyer” by Stephen Stills and quit his job at a shoe factory to pursue music) has won over fans and critics alike with his smoky voice and poignant wisdom hearkening back to an era dominated by Neil Young, Joni Mitchell and Van Morrison.

Though a reclusive artist, he has a bright spotlight aimed in his direction. He symbolizes honesty, clarity and tradition, a perception few and far between in the studio and on the radio. With his phenomenal backing group, The Pariah Dogs, their latest release (God Willin’ and the Creek Don’t Rise) is a shooting star of style and grace across a musical industry congested with the smog of mediocrity and its own inconsequential priorities.

Moseying into Essex Junction, Vermont for a rare performance, LaMontagne found himself at odds with Mother Nature, who teased her unpredictable chaos throughout the day with severe thunderstorm and flash flood warnings.

The Midway Lawn at the Champlain Valley Exposition was a fresh vat of mud soup. Innumerable rain boots and Crocs made the hop, skip and a jump around the premises, drenched from weeks of unrelenting rain and improper drainage. Patrons sipped on hot coffee and cold beer in order to find some small piece of luxury amid the dampness.

LaMontagne emerged from the backstage darkness. “Hold You In My Arms”, like gravel wrapped in silk, silenced the raucous beer tent and left burning cigarettes dangling from astonished mouths (“When you kissed my lips with my mouth so full of questions/My worried mind that you quiet/Place your hands on my face/Close my eyes and say/That love is a poor man’s food”).

“Where does that sound come from?” a curious voice was overheard remarking.

Raindrops, teardrops and guitar notes trickled onto the cold ground. Like a farmhouse chimney in the winter, his calming breaths of lyrical magic (“For The Summer”) drifted into the crisp night air (“Can I come home for the summer/I could slow down for a little while/Get back to loving each other/Leave all those long and lonesome miles behind”).

“Thank you very much, thank you,” the aw-shucks singer modestly said after each selection.

The ensemble, resembling a gang of Americana outlaws in tone and appearance, is a well-oiled machine of grit, natural talent and playful ambition, pushing deeper into not only their minds, but also the psyche of those they play for and about.

Though hands held jackets tight against their bodies, gyrating legs in the audience splashed merrily in giant puddles ready to be classified as small ponds. Constantly yearning for the simple life, LaMontagne preaches pure freedom (“New York City’s Killing Me”), one that many often overlook or all too easily forget (“I get so tired of all this concrete/I get so tired of all this noise/Gotta get back up in the country/An have a couple drinks with the good ole’ boys”).

It’s not so much that Ray LaMontagne is doing something new, insofar that it’s about holding onto to something time-tested and aged to perfection. What he represents is sincerity and vulnerability, something missing from modern music that, like good whiskey, will only get better with age as not only he, but us, journey further down the desired path of righteousness and truth.

Lover Of All Things Beautiful | Interview with Fanny Franklin

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

Lover Of All Things Beautiful – Interview with Fanny Franklin

Contributing Writer – Garret K. Woodward

www.Myspace.com/FannyFranklin

www.OrgoneSpace.com

The crowd buzzed like a frenzied hive.

Though a curious stick or hungry bear didn’t provoke these busy bees, they were prodded by the ultimate tormentor- cabin fever.

With fat snowflakes tumbling from above, I strolled through downtown Boston to Copperfield’s, a venue within range of a wandering foul ball from nearby Fenway Park. The space is full of sweat, spilled beer, sticky floors and unrelenting smiles from those eager to checkout the next big thing to radiate from the stage.

And fate made sure I picked the ideal night to find my soul vulnerable to the unknown.

Huddled in the backroom like a boxer readying themselves to hit the ring, Fanny Franklin sat in a dark corner, hooded sweatshirt pulled over her head, gathering all of her strength, physically and mentally, only to pour it onto the listener until her tank was empty.

These people came here to see something special as she takes that word and twists it into something extraordinary.

Fronting the phenomenal funk/soul project Orgone, Franklin commands the stage in the footsteps of James Brown, Janis Joplin or Sharon Jones. Her steamy voice sends chills up your spine like a cold breeze. Her body shakes, gyrates and mesmerizes any who fall into her trance.

Watching her do what she does best, I was awestruck by the power and style bubbling from her small frame. Her talents and stop-you-in-your-tracks soul conjure the memories and potential I felt upon initial glance of Grace Potter, some five years earlier in the same city.

Now embarking on a solo journey, Franklin is currently putting together a slew of promising material reflecting her life, aspirations and rising career as a polished gem amongst the rockstars and pitfalls of an industry in dire need of pure, honest talent.

Garret K. Woodward: Who is Fanny Franklin?

Fanny Franklin: A mixture of a few things. I’m a teenager, an old lady, a lover of all things beautiful and an artist.

GKW: How would you describe your sound? Who are the influences?

FF: I listened to a lot of Michael Jackson, The Beatles, Janis Joplin and Motown growing up. Then I got into the whole modern era of the 80′s. When I got out of high school, I met the funk heads who led me to Parliament, Funkadelic and the black rock scene in LA, which included Fishbone, 24/7 spyz, Total Eclipse, Living Color.

GKW: When did you first know you could sing? Did you always want to be a singer?

FF: I’ve always wanted to be an entertainer, ever since I was a little girl. That was my first feeling, looking at a stage and saying, “ooo, I wanna do that” at the age of nine. The talent to be a singer/entertainer naturally had to comply with that little girls dream.

GKW: If your voice were an ice cream flavor, what kind would it be?

FF: Mint Chocolate Chip.

GKW: What do you love about the LA music scene?

FF: My job is to be out on the scene everywhere, so, when I’m home, I don’t really go out much anymore. But, my time on the LA music scene introduced me to all the amazing musician friends I have today. So many of them have gone on to do really big things, like my peeps Fitz and the Tantrums. I can say that anyone living in or visiting LA has the opportunity to see a variety of music on any given night, of almost any genre you could think of, and much of the shows are free. So, in that way, the LA music scene is alive and very accessible.

GKW: Where does that voice of yours come from?

FF: I had a few voice coaches when I was much younger, but mostly it’s been on the job training and absorbing. I went to cooking school, but it didn’t make me a better cook, it just taught me techniques. I think people are born with certain natural gifts.

GKW: What are you channeling onstage? What’s going through your head as you hit those high notes and climax of a melody?

FF: There are some definite moments of high vibration on stage when everything aligns with the instruments and the vocals. In those special moments I’m not thinking, but sharing in a moment. Just feeling.

GKW: How did your relationship with Orgone come about? Why did you decide to take a step back from such an incredible collaboration between you and them?

FF: Back in 2003, Orgone needed a singer to cover a version of “Funky Nassau”. A mutual friend, Dan Ubick (Connie Price and The Keystones), passed my number along to keyboardist Dan Hastie (Orgone) and he called me up. The session went well and they invited me to do some gigs. They had some cool covers they thought would suit my voice and we all got along, which is an important factor in moving forward with any group. From there, the relationship was born. My departure from Orgone happened for many different reasons, but mainly it’s time for Fanny Franklin to do Fanny Franklin.

GKW: Tell me about your new projects. What can we expect? How is this new chapter going to unfold and what are your hopes for it?

FF: I’m super excited about the music I’m writing right now. I can’t wait to put it out. It’s more personal whereas writing lyrics in a group is more edited to fit the group message. Writing for myself is about where I’m at now and how I want to express myself. I have faith that I will satisfy all of my desires as a singer and then some, which includes putting out amazing music and traveling the world playing that music live for people.

GKW: What are you thoughts on the current music industry? How do you want to be different, or contribute to the evolution?

FF: With today’s technology, the world of music is at all of our fingertips. We no longer are subject to what the radio wants to shove in our ears. We are free to explore any country, any genre at free will, and it’s amazing. My hope is that reality inspires people to do the art they want to do without compromise, knowing that it will be heard. Recreating the concept of industry to mean the world of music, not the world of making money over the true expression of the individual or collective group. If people feel forced to make music that they think will sell over what they really want to do, they are shorting the world of their unique vision and of the change that is possible. I just want to be me and spread the message that to be “the best you” is important, ain’t no one else fixing to do it.

GKW: How receptive have audiences been to your creation onstage?

FF: That’s a good question. I’m excited to see the reaction to my new project. With Orgone, my hope was that people would dance and party and have a good time, and that was generally what happened. There are many factors that play a part in how a crowd may react to me, or anyone for that matter. I know the day after New Year’s Eve, opening for the Roots in Reno, the crowd was understandably tired so they weren’t giving it their all. They were burnt, but committed to seeing the Roots and were glad to see a great opening band as well. The experience I plan to have with people, when I perform my music, will be different I imagine. We shall see.

GKW: What do you want the listener to ultimately witness or walk away with when they see you perform?

FF: A really good feeling, a feeling of excitement about his or her own lives and what’s possible for each person, truly. That’s the feeling that I get when I see someone like Sharon Jones or even watching old live footage of Nina Simone. It’s a feeling of connectivity that happens amongst human beings when they come together, all excited about the same thing, whether they know each other or not. And, from that, you feel inspired to do something wonderful.

GKW: How has your stage presence or confidence changed onstage over the years?

FF: I have always felt pretty right at home on the stage, like I was meant to be there.  But, of course, the pure magnitude of shows over the last two years especially has been a great space for me to grow. There is always more to explore when it comes to live shows and stage vibe.

GKW: What’s the craziest thing you’ve seen on tour?

FF: Watching and opening for the Reverend Al Green, who I never saw backstage, he stayed on his tour bus until show time, was life altering. I felt like myself and everyone else in that building had the top of their skulls blown off and there were beams of light being poured in through the tops.

GKW: What’s your state of mind right now?

FF: Positive. Focused on the goal of finishing my record and sharing my music with the world.

Long Way To Climb | Interview with The Bridge

Friday, February 4th, 2011

Long Way To Climb – The Bridge

Contributing Writer – Garret K. Woodward

www.TheBridgeMusic.com

Few and far between one crosses paths with an album that immediately provokes an honest reflection and blissful sentiment.

These are records the listener cannot run fast enough to share with the nearest human being, manically shouting and waving their hands into a frenzy, begging the anonymous stranger to take a glimpse at what splendor their ears can become easily acquainted with.

It is these exact symptoms that occur while perusing National Bohemian, the latest from The Bridge- a rock n’ roll entity quickly becoming a sought-after institution.

Molding southern rock, honky-tonk blues, freewheelin’ jazz, and moonshine bluegrass into a fortress of melodic potency, the sextet only seems to get stronger with each trip into the studio and subsequent trek across the country.

While Cris Jacobs (guitar) and Dave Markowitz (bass) split vocal duties throughout, it is also the solid foundation of Kenny Liner (mandolin/beatbox), Patrick Rainey (saxophone), Mike Gambone (drums), and Mark Brown (keyboard) that justifies the stop-you-in-your-tracks presence of a band thirsty for the industry respect they rightfully will garner as this year unfolds.

Garret K. Woodward: What is The Bridge?

Cris Jacobs: The Bridge is a little band from Baltimore, Maryland.

GKW: How would you describe the sound? Who are the influences?

CJ: I’d say rock and roll with a heavy dose of soul and Americana music. Kenny and I originally found our common musical ground with American roots music, bluegrass and folk stuff like Bill Monroe, Doc Watson, Norman Blake, and Hank Williams. We also share a love for classic rock bands like the Grateful Dead, The Allman Brothers Band, and Little Feat. Personally, I love soul music and blues, people like Otis Redding, Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, Bobby Bland, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Freddie King. But when we put it all together, we just like to write soulful songs and rock out.

GKW: What was the approach towards this record, compared to your last release?

CJ: The main approach we took was to record the band playing live as much as possible. In the past we’ve basically worked without time constraints and produced ourselves. We used to think that recording piecemeal style, one guy at a time, was the best way to capture performances because we had complete control and analysis. On the contrary, it actually just led to us overanalyzing and scrutinizing and not considering the synergy of the band as being the most crucial element.

This time around, we had only 10 days to record the whole album, which actually helped, because there was a sense of urgency throughout the process that really elevated everyone and brought out some intense and soulful energy in the performances. We didn’t have time to be perfectionists. Instead, we just had to dig in and take care of business and I believe the end result is much more real and natural sounding. It sounds like a band playing together rather than a bunch of pieces carefully placed together.

This record was also the first time we brought in an outside producer. We worked with Steve Berlin (Los Lobos) and really followed his vision for the entire process. Kenny and I sent him a bunch of rough demos of new material we were working on, of which he chose the songs he wanted to include on the record. After that, we had several rounds of discussions with Steve on arrangements and what needed to be developed more. He really challenged us in that way. We had never really had anyone critique or change our songs before. Certain ideas seemed strange or uncomfortable at first even, but in the end all made sense and really brought out the best in the songs. So, from the time we started putting the first ideas together, through the entire recording process, this was a completely different experience for us.

GKW: Who else worked on the project with you? Where was it recorded?

CJ: Pre-production was done at The Bunker Studio in Cockeysville, Maryland with our longtime friend and original sax player Chris Bentley, who has engineered and played on our last three records. We recorded the actual record at Jackpot! Studios in Portland, Oregon with Jeff Stuart Saltzman engineering. Jeff is one of the most talented people I have ever worked with. He has amazing recording know-how that really captured some amazingly different tones than we’ve ever had on record before. Our good friends Vorcan, who are two extremely talented painters that specialize in live music painting, did artwork for the record. They’ve joined us on tour many times, where they start a blank canvas at the beginning of our show and collaboratively finish a painting by the end.

GKW: What is your process when recording? Melody first, then lyrics?

CJ: I often come up with the melody first and then fit the lyrics in. I go for sounds first and foremost. Ideally, the song lyrics will write themselves within the sounds of the vowels and consonants that I hear in my head. Usually I’ll try to know the story or context before writing the lyrics, but sometimes I’ll just work the sounds into words and something will pop through that gives me a good idea for lyrical content.

GKW: How did the band come about? When? Where? Why?

CJ: The band came about very casually. About 10 years ago, I ran into my old buddy Kenny at the grocery store he was working at. We got to talking about what we’d been up to since we last saw each other in high school. He told me he started playing mandolin. I mentioned that I had been playing a lot and had been heavy into bluegrass and knew about a house concert going on that night with guitarist David Grier and mandolinist Matt Flinner. We went to the show together and had our minds blown, then went back to his place and hung out, picking for a few hours. I’m pretty sure neither of us thought we were on the verge of starting a band.

We started getting together casually for a few months and just playing for fun, eventually getting enough tunes between us to hit an “open mic” night. Then, one night, we invited a few buddies who played bass and drums over to the backyard, had a huge crab feast, put our acoustics down, and plugged in some electric instruments, recording an hour or two of impromptu jamming. Somehow it got into several people’s hands and next thing I knew people were telling me they “loved my band”. Soon, we got a gig and a bunch of people came out. Next thing we knew we had a band. At that point Kenny and I realized we had some special chemistry going on. We were having a blast, so we ran with it.

GKW: What are you thoughts on the current music industry? How do you want to be different, or contribute to the evolution?

CJ: I feel like technology and over saturation have had positive and negative effects. Anyone can record on their computer these days and easily distribute it on the Internet, which is positive in that it’s taking the control out of the hands of the big record labels that have ripped artists off for so long. And it’s really creating a buyer’s market because of the abundance of options and resources available to seek out music. The problem the artists face now though is how to actually make money off of their work. People have so many options readily available to them now, and can basically get music for free. So, concert tickets have always been seen as the saving grace for bands to make their money, but concert sales are way down as well. I attribute that to the economy and a change in culture. Concerts are thrown in with a slew of other options now for entertainment, whereas when I was a teenager it was the thing to do.

With all of the options and stimuli out there, attention spans are decreasing. The days of sitting down and putting on an album and listening to the whole thing all the way through, I fear, is over for the next generation. It’s all about iPods and shuffling songs and finding that next stimulus to entertain our instant gratification hungry minds. Engaging people enough to get a fair listen is becoming increasingly difficult. I think artists are going to have to get creative to get people’s attention.

At the end of the day though, music still should stand on its own merit and I do believe it will. The challenge is getting people to listen to it amongst all of the chaos. So, we’ll have to keep an awareness of that and really try to come up with creative ways to market our music. Models change faster than ever these days. I think the goal should be to stay ahead of the curve as best we can and hopefully create something that others can look to as an example. I wish I could say I already had the answer. For now, I’ll just try to keep writing good songs and playing a decent guitar.

GKW: How receptive have audiences been to your creation onstage?

CJ: They have been very receptive, especially in our hometown of Baltimore. We’ve been a band for over nine years and the music has evolved tremendously in that time. We sound completely different now than when we started, but still have many of the same fans. They’ve enjoyed the journey and evolution with us and have encouraged us along the way to change it up and keep pushing forward. It’s really the fuel for our fire to go out there and pour our souls out and be received so warmly. It’s what we do it for.

GKW: What do you want the listener to ultimately witness or walk away with when they see you perform?

CJ: Ultimately, I want them to have a good time and feel cleansed or lighter in some way. I’d like them to see us having fun and putting our all into the music. To watch someone put themselves out there like that, whether it be in music or sports or any other kind of art, is inspiring. I’m not up there to tell people what to think or to say, “hey, look at me”, but rather to kind of let them in on the same journey I’m on when I’m playing. I’m striving for that feeling of bliss and connectedness and inspiration and ultimately I’m trying to bring everyone in the room with me.

GKW: How has your stage presence or confidence changed onstage since the last release?

CJ: Obviously we become more confident the more we play. The band has been playing together with the same personnel for quite a while now and we’ve become very confident in one another and in the band’s sound as a whole. We’ve really honed in on our sound much more than ever before, and that brings a swagger and comfort to all of us that really comes through when we hit the stage. We know we’re going to go out there and kill it, even if someone is individually having a bad night. The band has become much greater than the sum of its parts. It’s knowing that which allows us to feed off of the energy as a whole and step out of our own personal insecurities.

GKW: What are your hopes for your music and touring in 2011?

CJ: I hope our new album touches listeners as much as it touched us when we made it. We feel more proud of this record than anything we’ve ever done and we hope people respond to that. Making the record was a huge learning experience for us as a band, as songwriters and as performers, and I hope we continue to feed off the lessons learned from that. And, as always, we hope to continue growing our fan base. We’re going to be getting in the van and traveling all over the country and hope to see more people in every city than were there last time.

Winter 2011 Tour Dates

February 4 | 9:30 Club | Washington, DC (w/ Tea Leaf Green)

February 5 | World Cafe Live | Philadelphia, PA (w/ Tea Leaf Green)

February 8 | Strand Capital Performing Arts Center | York, PA (w/ Tea Leaf Green)

February 9 | Westcott Theater | Syracuse, NY (w/ Tea Leaf Green)

February 10 | Higher Ground | Burlington, VT (w/ Tea Leaf Green)

February 11 | Paradise Rock Club | Boston, MA (w/ Tea Leaf Green)

February 12 | Highline Ballroom | New York, NY (w/ Tea Leaf Green)

February 16 | The Cabooze | Minneapolis, MN (w/ Galactic)

February 17 | Majestic Theatre | Madison, WI (w/ Galactic)

February 18 | Park West | Chicago, IL (w/ Galactic)

February 19 | Beachland Ballroom | Cleveland, OH (w/ Galactic)

February 20 | Mr. Small’s Theater | Pittsburgh, PA (w/ Galactic)

March 3 | Southgate House | Newport, KY

March 4 | Max’s | Bloomington, IN

March 5 | Trouser Mouse | Blue Springs, MO

March 6 | Bourbon Theatre Rye Room | Lincoln, NE

March 11 | Cervante’s Masterpiece Ballroom | Denver, CO

March 15 | The Canopy Club | Urbana, IL

March 16 | Canal Street | Dayton, OH

March 17 | V Club | Huntington, WV

March 18 | Dante’s | Frostburg, MD

April 16 | Old Settler’s Music Festival | Driftwood, TX

June 4 | Crawfish Fest | Augusta, NJ

Bell-Bottoms and Wigs | Roadside Mystic

Thursday, January 13th, 2011

Bell-bottoms and Wigs – Roadside Mystic

Contributing Writer – Garret K. Woodward

www.MySpace.com/RoadsideMystic

Often within the origin of unbreakable bonds forged through musicianship resides a unique circumstance coming to fruition from the strangest of places.

“We came about because of a project that we were invited to play in about five years ago called That ‘70s Band,” said guitarist Brad Hurlburt. “After wearing skin-tight bell-bottoms and wigs and literally seeing the band implode on stage during a double bachelorette party, we had caught the bug for playing live and developed a really solid friendship.”

Taking that friendship ball and running with it, Hurlburt, alongside Derek Lavoie (bass), Scott Renderer (drums) and Russ Cook (guitar/vocals), formed Roadside Mystic, a Keene Valley (Upstate New York) group finely tuned in the early styles of the Delta blues and backwoods melodies of haunting musical ghosts.

“Our sound is pure raw rock ‘n’ roll,” said Hurlburt. “We use tube amplifiers turned way up, vintage drums and a minimum of effects. Our influences range from the Mick Taylor era of The Rolling Stones, The Allman Brothers and Led Zeppelin. We also draw from a heavy base of country-blues artists like Mississippi Fred McDowell and R.L. Burnside.”

The quartet (which also molds itself into the acoustic side project Back Porch Society) evolved simply with a few passionate people playing music in their own time, in their own space.

“Brad and I both live in Keene Valley, and our houses are only about half a mile apart, so we spend a lot of time together,” said Cook. “Brad’s back porch became our home base. Once we had the chance to start our own project, we began to study as many early blues masters as we could get our hands on, including Willie Johnson, John Hurt, Elmore James, Willie McTell and the Reverend Gary Davis.

“Out of this eclectic mix, both of the projects were born, which have given us a chance to continue to explore both of our passions — acoustic blues and full-tilt electric blues-rock.”

Currently, the band is in the process of recording their first album at Bullfrog Audio in Vermont, a studio owned by Victor Forbes of Fine Art Magazine. The release date is tentatively set for next summer, with several live shows to be sprinkled around the region until that time.

“Our approach is a no-compromise attempt to make music that we love and believe in,” said Hurlburt. “We are motivated by the challenge of taking the project as far as we can with both the quality of our recordings and live shows. We try to make music that we are excited about, and hopefully, that will translate to our listeners. As a band, we thrive on the interplay between the band and the crowd and the energy that is shared between the two.”

Renderer looks at the project as a chance to make a difference in a diluted industry.

“The music industry in its current state is pretty sad,” he said. “Let’s get back to rock ‘n’ roll and listening to a complete album, start-to-finish, on a turntable. Digital downloading has sucked the magic out of music. We all love opening a real album and checking out the artwork, reading the liner notes, and, most importantly, hearing how a complete work flows from one song to the next.

“In our genre, taking from the past and making it relevant in the present is a time-honored tradition. We try to be a worthy link in that chain.”

Roadside Mystic will be performing at the Monopole in Plattsburgh, New York on February 25 and the Cascade Cross-Country Ski Area in Lake Placid, New York on March 26.

The New Deal | Interview with Darren Shearer

Thursday, November 4th, 2010

FDR, Laundry, and Sore Glutes – Darren Shearer of the New Deal

Contributing Writer – Garret K. Woodward [TheRFW.com/blog/Garret]

Falling through the cracks of the music industry, there are a handful of mesmerizing groups who seem to vanish into thin air after a breakthrough album or never-ending year of touring.

Peter Prince & Moon Boot Lover, RAQ, and Particle are prime instances of bands following a path of success, but, for reasons unknown at the time, veer off course and into the dark abyss until, finally, they rise from the depths and back into the public spotlight.

On the heels of their latest release, Live: Toronto 7.16.2009 (SCI Fidelity Records), electronica sensation the New Deal will resurface from hibernation and ride the rails on their largest and most ambitious trek to date.

The tour, which slingshots from Colorado to North Carolina, will showcase the trio sharing the bill with the likes of Toubab Krewe, King Britt, and Brothers Past.

With 800 performances and counting (over the last 10 years), percussionist Darren Shearer looks forward to another decade of improvisation and innovation.

What is the New Deal?

The New Deal was a series of economic programs passed by the U.S. Congress during the first term of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, President of the United from 1933 to 1938. It’s also three Canadians who wanted to play electronic music live and reclaim the dance floor during the heavily DJ-saturated era of the late 90’s. We were one of the first to do so and it is so amazing to see how many acts out there are creating with the same sensibilities now.

If someone had never heard of you, how would you describe the sound? Who are the influences?

Our sound is pretty much it’s own thing, but we started off playing down-tempo trip-hop kind of stuff but moved into drum and bass, Progressive house and techno as the crowds got bigger and wanted to rock the dance floor a bit more. We’re now definitely in an “electro” era, which I think could best be described as more minimal and funky than progressive house but with more bottled up intensity.

What does improvisational music mean to you? How does it affect your approach to the band?

Improvisation has always had a bit of a stigma or fixed concept in the musical world, associated with endless guitar solos or jazz free for alls. In the New Deal it’s never been about that. It’s always been about creating real songs, sets and shows, in the moment but not relying on the usual  “whatever happens is cool” approach to a lot of improvised music. It’s actually quite methodical and strategic. And the audience plays a huge role in what will unfold.  I’m constantly looking out at them and seeing where they’re at and where we should be.

How did come the New Deal about? When? Where? Why?

In the 90′s, we all played in acid-jazz and funk based bands and we’re just a bit sick of it as a genre. We were all listening to electronic music, Pepe Bradock, Banco de Gaia, Portishead, Eric Morillo, etcetera, and we wanted to do that live. I came from playing hip hop and breaks for years, Jamie had an amazing ability to spread himself over many keyboards and had awesome natural rhythm, helping him emulate sequences manually and Dan was very interested right away at taking the bass instrument to new places, sonically. So it just worked. Our first real gig was recorded in front of about 10 people and became our first record “This Is Live”. It’s been one of our biggest selling records to date.

What are you thoughts on the current music industry? How do you want the New Deal to be different, or contribute to the evolution?

Currently, the New Deal doesn’t really involve itself in the music industry per se. We go out and play our shows to our fans and make new ones via word-of-mouth. We’re not really reliant on mainstream channels to get our music out there. But that doesn’t mean that I’m a grassroots naturalist when it comes to promotion. We’re stepping into a new realm and putting together plans to take the band into a much broader audience and I’m very excited about that.

How do you stay relevant in the electronica scene, a genre often diluted and over saturated?

I think that the electronic music scene used to be way over saturated with music that was not all necessarily good, but it’s become a lot more refined and the audiences are a lot more selective and discerning now. I think that it’s stopped being this novel thing and has really moved into a stable place of growth. Wow, I sound like I’m reading a quarterly statement for a financial company. But the idea is pretty much the same.

How receptive have audiences been to your creation onstage?

Amazing. And they continue to follow us on this crazy journey that we started in 1998.

What are you feeling onstage? What’s going through your head? Where do you go?
I think about my laundry and what I will be watching when I get back to the hotel. Seriously, creating a great show requires a perfect balance between thinking ahead, being in the moment, and learning from the past all in a two-and-a-half-hour window.

You latest release is a live album from Toronto. Why that show? What do you remember about it that made it stick out?

Once in a while, we’ll reflect on a show that we thought was really good. And that doesn’t necessarily mean that it was the best show that night. Sometimes those shows don’t translate very well onto disc and you end up with something a little too intense for your morning drive to work. But our Toronto shows are a little more bridled for some reason, so this one worked well on record.

800 shows under your belt and 10 albums. What do those numbers mean to you? Did you ever think it’d go this far?

I had no idea. If you had told me that this little project that we started in Toronto in 1998 in front of ten people in a crappy bar in Toronto would be playing to hundreds of thousands of people all over the world 12 years later, I would have thought that you were talking about some other band. It has been quite amazing. And what I love the best is that the band continues to get better. As do our audiences.

What do you like or dislike about being on the road? What’s your dream venue to play?

The waiting around is the worst. That’s why they invented laptops. My dream was to play Red Rocks, and we did that last year. Next one? Maybe somewhere in China? Germany?

What do you want the listener to ultimately witness or walk away with when they see you perform?

I want them to walk away with sore glutes.

What’s on the horizon for the band?

Some new recorded material and continued sonic expansion from where we are now.

Thoughts on your next performance?
I hope I’m not late. That would be bad.

the New Deal – Fall 2010 Tour

11/03/10 Pittsburgh, PA – Mr. Small’s Theatre (w/ Two Fresh & Mimosa)
11/04/10 Scranton, PA – Eleanor Rigby’s (w/ Eclectic Method)
11/05/10 Charlottesville, VA – Jefferson Theater (w/Toubab Krewe)
11/06/10 Baltimore, MD – Bourbon Street (w/ Toubab Krewe)
11/09/10 Blacksburg, VA – Attitudes (w/ Eclectic Method)
11/10/10 Knoxville, TN – The Valarium (w/ Toubab Krewe)
11/11/10 Athens, GA – New Earth Music Hall
11/12/10 Asheville, NC – The Orange Peel
11/13/10 Live Oak, FL – Bear Creek Music Festival