What inspired you to first start making music? And how did you come to be in your current incarnation? Or if you prefer, a brief bio about you.
My family moved to Houston when I was 10, and shortly after my sister took me to my first rock show and I was hooked (blink-182, Bad Religion, and Fenix TX). I didn’t know anyone in Texas, so I buried myself in music. I spent most of that year borrowing my siblings’ CDs, and trying to listen to as much music as possible, and begging my parents to buy me a guitar. I’ve been obsessed ever since.
This current project is the result of me writing music for myself in my spare time. I’ve spent most of my career playing guitar for various artists, and never really saw myself as a front person. I was really proud of some of the songs I was recording, and decided that I had nothing to lose by releasing them.
Provide us with some info about your latest release…
I stole this from the EPK:
For his sophomore release on Rue Defense, Blake Hickey took Cowboy Dinosaur on a journey. At first, loosely structured as a modern-day parallel to the Oregon Trail (echoed in the album artwork), Ford the Fjord finds Hickey chronicling his experience of moving across the country until finally settling in Portland, OR. Beginning with the feeling of being stuck and unhappy in his current setting, each song pushes toward the final track (aptly named after his adopted home) with a number of stops along the way for fruitful introspection. Dealing with issues of depression, grief, and social anxiety, Ford the Fjord is a personal record that serves as an artistic illustration of one man’s journey toward the future.
Which ones would you consider your main influences both music-wise & non-music-wise?
Music I would say Blonde Redhead, Smashing Pumpkins, My Bloody Valentine, Radiohead, Blur, and Stone Temple Pilots are some of the main ones. All of those got me interested in different elements that I’ve tried to add into my music over the years, be it huge walls of sound, lots of pedals, a combination of clean and dirty sounds, discordant sounds, etc.
Non-music wise I would say my family. My brother and sister are really the ones that got me interested in music and shaped where my influences went initially. They were constantly letting me borrow CDs, and telling me about cool bands I hadn’t heard of. Then my parents were absolutely the most supportive parents you could ask for. They bought a ton of gear for me throughout the years, came to countless gigs, and listened to untold hours of me practicing when I was younger, and I’m not sure they ever once complained. I would get the occasional request to play a certain song, but mostly just support, and them telling me how proud they were. I really hit the jackpot there.
In what way does your sound differ from the rest genre-related artists/bands and why should we listen to your music? In other words, how would you describe your sound?
I spent almost a decade running a pedal company, so I have an unhealthy obsession with guitar effects, and figuring out ways to create unique sounds on guitar. I’ve been told that I use guitars in recording like other people use synths. Other than the soundscapes, since I am doing this for fun instead of trying to make a career out of it I don’t have to worry about making “radio ready” hits, and it gives me the freedom to just make the music I want to hear.
Please name your 3 desert islands albums, movies & books…
My Bloody Valentine – Loveless
Blonde Redhead – 23
Radiohead – OK Computer
I know it’s lame, but I actually like non-fiction a lot more than fiction, so probably three biographies of musicians, or historical figures.
Do you prefer studio or performing live and why?
I love playing live occasionally, but I prefer studio work. There is just something I love about spending hours in my basement, toying with settings, and trying to get the coolest sound possible for a specific part.
Is there any funny-unique story you would like to share with us, always in relation to your music ‘career’?
The best/worst show of my life has to be a show that my old band in Nashville played one winter. The drummer got horrible food poisoning and spent hours before the show in the bathroom, and I threw out my back bending over to open a flight case. If I sat down my back would seize up, so I spent hours before the show just pacing behind the venue. There were no laws about not smoking indoors, so the entire venue was full of smoke to the point that I couldn’t breathe. After the show, some guy cornered our singer and bass player in a supply closet and told them he worked for a major label, and talked their ear off for over an hour while the rest of the band loaded out without them, and couldn’t figure out where they were. I still have no idea if he actually did work for a label, but seems highly unlikely. After all of that my back hurt too much to sit on one of the seats in the van, so I had to sleep on the floor behind the last row of seats, cuddling some of the cases. Since it was winter, there was a freezing cold air in my face the whole five hour drive home. When we finally got home as the sun was coming up, I got my things inside and went straight to the ER to have them look at my back. As I write this all out, I really do miss touring. These are the stories that really stick with you forever, and we still laugh about. A real life farce.
Which track of your own would you point out as the most unique and why?
From this album, I would probably say “Go to Sleep.” It started off as me just playing with layers of guitar effects, and wasn’t intended to be a song, so there initially weren’t any drums, and I added in the electronic drums after the fact. It’s very different from how I normally write songs, but I’m really proud of how it turned out.
Would you like to share with our readers your future plans?
My future plans are pretty similar to what I have been doing. I’m always working on new music, and I’ve got plans to try and release at least an EP or an LP during 2021. I’m also rehearsing some of the old songs so once we’re through COVID I can start playing some shows around Portland some day. I just want to keep constantly creating and moving forward.
Free question!!! (Ask yourself a question) you wish to answer and haven’t been given the opportunity…
Favorite piece of gear?
Kemper Profiling Amp. This thing is the only reason I have been able to create albums so easily. I made “profiles” of my amps at a friend’s studio in Nashville, and every guitar tone on my albums is recorded direct out of the Kemper. This has allowed me to record at all hours of the night, while people are home, while living in apartments, etc. while sounding like I’m recording my personal amps directly through my friend’s vintage Neumann U87 and API pres.
Curated by: Christos Doukakis
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