Interviews

Interview: Noah Gundersen’s Restless Heart

Noah Gundersen

In 2014, Noah Gundersen released his first full-length album. The record in question, Ledges, was a masterclass in contemporary folk music, loaded with confessional lyrics, acoustic guitars, and fiddles. By all accounts, Gundersen seemed like a traditionalist.

In 2015, Gundersen quickly followed Ledges up with his sophomore LP, the spiritually fraught Carry the Ghost. It was still a folk album, but Noah was fleshing things out, adding fractious electric guitar and other elements of full band instrumentation into the mix. It was clearly the work of a young songwriter who was yearning to grow.

Between the fall of 2015 and the early winter of 2016, Gundersen did two tours in support of Carry the Ghost. The first was a full-band endeavor, presenting the songs on Ghost as they were meant to be heard. The second was a solo tour, where Gundersen played songs from both Ledges and Carry the Ghost on acoustic guitar, solo electric guitar, and piano. It was a stark, intimate presentation, and it showed off what made Gundersen so special: his vulnerable, fragile voice; his songs that could work well no matter how much he built them up or stripped them down; and his honest, forthright lyrics.

But something was wrong. Gundersen was having a crisis of faith—not the same crisis of religious faith he wrote about on Carry the Ghost, but a crisis of faith in his own art. When I saw Gundersen on the solo tour for Ghost, he was pointedly reserved. He bantered with the audience occasionally, but during the songs, his eyes were cast toward the floor or closed entirely. And at the end of the show, when a condescending moderator led a Q&A session and suggested that Gundersen was “so young” and “couldn’t have possibly experienced what he sang about in his songs,” Noah seemed at a loss for how to answer—at least politely. When the Q&A ended, Gundersen headed quickly for the stage door.

Interview: Brian Sella of The Front Bottoms

The Front Bottoms

Brian Sella is a notoriously sweet guy. So sweet, in fact, that he doesn’t even correct me when I refer to his band’s new single as “Raindrops” rather than its correct title, “Raining.” When I ask him if he still gets nervous playing shows, he replies, “Oh, totally!” When I inform him that I’ve been doing interviews for three years now, but that I was still nervous to speak with him, he laughs.

“Oh, don’t worry about it! You’re a professional. That’s what you’ve gotta tell yourself.”

In the context of The Front Bottoms’ discography, Going Grey reflects Sella’s current “vibe,” a word he uses frequently in our conversation. As he’ll tell me, the band learned that an “anything goes” attitude in the studio can result in plenty of band and fan favorites. In this way, Going Grey is an expansion of the polished-yet-experimental sound of their 2015 powerhouse, Back on Top. It continues to analyze topics such as mortality, relationships and getting older – oftentimes within the same three-minute pop song.

Interview: Keep on Dreaming Even If It Breaks Your Heart: The Renaissance of Will Hoge

Will Hoge almost got the dream.

In 2015, the independent Nashville-based recording artist seemed poised to win the country music lottery. He and his band had been picked by a major radio conglomerate as a spotlight artist, to be introduced on a mass scale to radio listeners nationwide. Looking back now, Hoge says the slot was virtually a guarantee of a top 10 record in the country music sphere. “This is exactly what the program is for,” the radio group told him and his band: spotlighting new artists or independent acts and helping them find a home in the infamously commercialized world of country radio.

For Hoge, being picked as a next big thing was the realization of a long-held dream. He’d released his first record—as part of the band Spoonful—in 1997, before going solo with 2001’s Carousel. What followed was a series of well-liked and respected records that melded country, southern rock, and heartland rock into something that sounded like a twangier Springsteen. For 2003’s Blackbird on a Lonely Wire, Hoge got scooped up by Atlantic Records, but the album failed to take off and it was back to the independent musician game after that.

Still, Hoge kept trucking and was eventually rewarded for his persistence. In 2012, Eli Young Band recorded a version of “Even If It Breaks Your Heart,” a song from Hoge’s 2009 record The Wreckage. The song was the opening track and second single from Eli Young Band’s Life at Best album, and it ultimately reached number one on the Billboard country chart. Suddenly armed with a number one song to his name, Hoge landed his 2013 track “Strong” in a widely syndicated ad campaign for Chevrolet Silverado. The song charted modestly on country radio, but it was enough to convince Hoge that if he really tried to play the game, he might just be able to make some magic happen.

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Interview: Misterwives

Misterwives

The indie pop band Misterwives just released their sophomore full-length album Connect the Dots. It’s a technicolor shot of adrenaline to the music industry and quite simply one of the most fun listens of the year. Just before their explosive set at Firefly Music Festival, we got a chance to sit down with Misterwives’ Mandy Lee, Jesse Blum, Etienne Bowler, Marc Campbell and Will Hehir, to discuss a variety of topics. In our discussion, we touch upon how some politicians have a tendency to hide immoral action under party politics, why the music industry is a tough place to work, and just how many drummers is too many drummers in a band.

Interview: Emarosa (Video)

Emarosa

Emarosa are stronger than ever and lead singer Bradley Walden is as impressive vocally as he is a showman. His vocals bound around almost as much as he does across the stage, on top of the stage, and in the crowd.

Since releasing 131 last year, fans have anxiously been awaiting a rumored EP of remixes. The band are taking a break from the craze of Warped Tour this summer to work on the remixes. In my latest interview the band also mentions they will begin recording in June. They have no preconceived notions going into the studio. Songs could go jazz, gospel, or full-on MJ (more so?).

Interview: Pierce the Veil (Video)

Pierce the Veil have been going strong for ten years now. The band is comprised of singer Vic Fuentes, guitarist Tony Perry, bassist Jaime Preciado, and drummer Mike Fuentes. The band has endured exactly zero line-up changes. This is a testament to the bond this fun-loving four piece has. While some old bands are back doing ten year album anniversary tours, Pierce the Veil are playing songs from their first album A Flair for the Dramatic on its We Will Detonate Tour.

This new interview is a retrospective of sorts. In under twenty minutes the band discusses their inception, their side projects, sources of inspiration, their song writing process, and what’s next.

Interview: Angelica Garcia (Video)

Angelica Garcia has a voice wise beyond her years. The twenty-two year old was uprooted from her Los Angeles home when her family moved to Accomac, Virginia. The Garcia’s moved into a two hundred year old gothic brick home, whose spirits clearly had an affect on the burgeoning singer-songwriter.

Angelica Garcia embraces the solitude to write and record demos for what would become her debut album Medicine for Birds. The album delicately meshes Americana and blues though tales of bad dating (“Orange Flower”), growing up (“Little Bird”), and dealing with otherworldly spirits (“The Devil Can Get In”). Garcia’s demos featured shoebox drums, harmonica improv, and creaking doors. Her next album will focus more on the singer’s Latin roots.

I had the chance to talk with Angelica for a new video interview.