You grew up in Pittsburgh, right? How long have you lived in Austin?
Yes, I’m from Pittsburgh. It’s a great and largely undiscovered city. I have a lot of family history there, as well as fond memories. It’s still a part of me even though I’ve been in Austin for almost 13 years.
When did you start playing shows? Were you in any bands in high school?
I played bass (sometimes guitar -as-bass) in some bands with friends in high school. I didn’t really write songs though at that point. I started playing [solo] shows in the fall of 2005 with my first being at the old Church of the Friendly Ghost on Pedernales Street with Jana Hunter and Jay Crossley. It was actually an old church. For all the shows I went to there, the pews combined with the music created for me an almost religious experience. It’s an honor to have started
out playing there and I’m glad COTFG is still here and doing great things.
It’s easy for me to romanticize a certain era in the Austin music scene, especially within the folk community we were both a part of from 2004 to 2006. Was there anything about that era that felt different to you? How would you describe that to someone who wasn’t there?
It’s easy for me to romanticize that era as well. I feel like I joined it a little on the late side. I suppose it wasn’t exclusively just a folk thing, but there were fun shows at DIY house venues like Natrix Natrix, Jesse’s Bed and Breakfast, and Rancho Relaxo. It was a supportive and talented community to be getting my start in. I would describe those shows as intimate but lively. Drunken and sobering. I feel like there is a sense of community like that these days here in Austin, and that it is growing in a positive direction, not just at DIY spaces, but in more traditional venues as well. It’s a feeling as well as a collection of great bands/people.
You’ve had releases on several Austin labels over the years, your most recent being Israel which came out in 2012 on Monofonus Press. How did that come about?
I was playing with Black Gum and we had released a tape and 7-inch with them. I asked them to help with the tape I was working on and planning on bringing with me on a short tour of Italy. Much to my luck, Monofonus were into it. Morgan Coy of Monofonus, also helped make my favorite (and only official) video of one of my songs.
Your songwriting seems focused on getting the lyrics right. How long do you typically spend working on a song? How do you know when a song is finished?
Some of my songs take years to write. I get an idea or a lyrical moment. I either lose it and (maybe) reremember it, or hold on to it until I’m ready to use it, which yeah, sometimes takes years. I’d like to say that it’s because I’m patient, but really I’m a procrastinating perfectionist who isn’t perfect. I don’t really know when a song is finished. It probably isn’t until I put it down on a recording, and even then.
One thing I like about music is that it is subjective and not immutable. However, for me, that can lend itself to indecisiveness. Either way, I’d like to learn how to write a little faster as it seems to save time.
A lot of musicians have left Austin and since returned. What do you think has kept you in Austin as long as you’ve been here?
Well, I get the wandering spirit from time to time, but Austin is a pretty easy and nice place to be. Although, lately, I’ve been getting the traveling bug. It says something that people keep coming back here. I can’t speak for everyone, but I’m glad for the ones that do come back. Yourself included.
Is music your main artistic outlet? What has kept you interested in it for so long?
I have done some comedy. Does that count as art? I’m not exactly sure what has kept me into making music. Not unlike comedy, music can be very therapeutic in both in terms of making it, as well as (I hope) the listening. Either way, for good or bad, it’s stuck with me for life.
You’re also a part of a band called Bad Blood. How would you describe that project?
Someone described Bad Blood as cowpunk. I don’t know what cow-punk is, but I’m not sure it’s that, but it’s cow-something with a little Texas swing included. It’s a project started by and featuring the songs of Seth Whaland and John Rose. Seth moved away, and I liked the sounds and songs so much I’m glad John wanted to keep it going. Now we just have to get Seth to move back.
What are your musical goals for the rest of 2015?
I’ve released something only every three years since 2006, so I think I’m due this year.
Tacos or pizza?
Pizza. No wait, tacos. No, wait again, pizza.
Dawn or dusk?