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.
After getting kicked out of college my freshman year, I worked a job cleaning dried clay slurry out of railroad tanker cars. They were what you’d call “one way” cars. We would fill them up, send them to Mexico, and they’d send them back to our processing plant in Tennessee. The clay residue clung to the liner, it felt like a mud cave down in there. Cleaning them out was a two man job. One person would climb down in the car with a firehose and the other would spot from the top of the car in case the hose slipped. I worked with a man who had a mouthful of chipped teeth. It was a tedious job and each car took around an hour to wash out. I remember sitting atop the tanker car on a spring day, bright yellow top flowers were blooming everywhere in the field beyond the gate. The guy I was working with was singing down the tanker, his voice echoed over the white noise of the high pressure hose. It was Friday and it was payday. I bought a white acoustic guitar that weekend.
Provide us with some info about your latest release…
Painted Light was recorded with no full-band rehearsal. I demoed the instrumental structure to 8 of the 9 tracks with our drummer Ryan Moore in a single afternoon. Nathan Junior and I figured out some supporting guitar parts but the songs were allowed shape shift in the studio. I ruptured my bicep a month after the initial instrument tracking. I shelved the recording and we finished it almost a year later. As is the way with bands, everyone else puts their own spin and feel on things. Mapped out ideas grew larger, like towns that populate and eventually connect, they become a city. It is certainly an understatement when I say that I am very lucky to work with the caliber of musicians that I do.
Which ones would you consider your main influences both music-wise & non-music-wise?
My main influence is leaving things up to chance more than genre chasing. Sure, in the end, all the songs have a collective identity but I love to paint songs into a corner and work from there. I prefer less options.
I stopped caring about trying to be different years ago, if something ends up being different then so be it. I’d rather be familiar to listeners without being predicable. Whether we admit it or not, most of us tend seek what we find familiar: food, drink, songs, even what we look for in other people. Painted Light is without question the most brightly lit record I have ever been a part of writing. Then again, that super pop element in the songs is also a Trojan horse. Lyrically there is a somber tone dressed in its sing-song nursery rhyme manner.
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?
Please name your 3 desert islands albums, movies & books…
The desert island question… I hope there is solar panels or windmills generating power on this island or we should just talk about books right? I’d pick Poetry 180 which is an anthology of 180 contemporary poems inspired by Billy Collins’s poem-a-day program with the Library of Congress. The World in Six Songs by Daniel J. Levitin is a contender too. A single movie or record is always a tough choice. Maybe my film choice would be How to Draw a Bunny: A Ray Johnson Portrait or WALL-E. A record would be a toss up between The Stones Her Satanic Majesties Request and Eno’s Here Come The Warm Jets.
Do you prefer studio or performing live and why?
I really love playing live but it’s such a “hurry up and wait” task. Sometimes it feels a bit futile. Truth be told, I prefer band practice to playing out, everything is set up and you just go until you’re done and that is that. What I enjoy the most is recording. Not counting studio sessions, I’ve recorded around 150 demos since last October. I’m a song hoarder.
Is there any funny-unique story you would like to share with us, always in relation to your music ‘career’?
My first band was in the early 90’s and was called Bedwetter. That band name alone could be the answer to your question. We sounded a little like Goo-era Sonic Youth. I met Dee Bratcher who became the singer for the band at a Grinning Plowman show. She was bikini wresting another girl in a baby pool filled to the rim with fake vomit, I think it was created from a mixture of buttermilk and oatmeal and left to turn in the humid summer sun. It smelled exactly like what it looked like. She was a bad ass and rode a motorcycle. The drummer from Wilco/Uncle Tupelo played drums on our recorded single which became popular on Nashville’s college radio station. Those songs are long gone now, it was the days of ADAT.
Which track of your own would you point out as the most unique and why?
The most unique track on Painted Light is the song Glitter To Rust which was cobbled together from Tripp Lamkins and Ryan playing while Larry Crane was checking mic levels on our initial day in the studio. I asked Larry to record it on the sly. I wrote lyrics and Sean Farrell came up with this seasick sounding synth line and Nathan played a swampy guitar lick. I think it sounds Captian Beefheart-ish and I think I’m alone in hearing that comparison.
Would you like to share with our readers your future plans?
Nathan Junior and I are heading to Memphis and Water Valley Mississippi in October to record some more songs. We are working with Bruce Watson from Fat Possum Records at Delta Sonic Sound in Memphis and with Matt Patton from the Drive By Truckers studio in Mississippi. His studio is Dial Back.
Free question!!! (Ask yourself a question) you wish to answer and haven’t been given the opportunity…
I often enjoy working with a rotating cast of musicians and fellow songwriters. I have players like Nathan Junior that I’m fortunate enough to have as a key part and foundation of Paper Cameras over the years and him being open to me inviting people like Michelle Anne Muldrow and Tripp in without a moment’s hesitation. Ryan and Sean are the same way. In years past, used to be way more precious about lineups, whoever sang this, who played that, then that was the sole life-force. But now I think if a song is well written, it’s about the song itself more than the exact line up. Studios are kitchens. Players, we are all just ingredients. The song becomes the soup, and once it’s done, you can’t unmake soup.
Curated by: Christos Doukakis
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