North Carolina's American Aquarium are having a very good year. Their latest album, Wolves, was released in February and has found the band - BJ Barham (Vocals/Rhythm Guitar), Ryan Johnson (Lead Guitar), Whit Wright (Pedal Steel), Bill Corbin (Bass), Kevin McClain (Drums), and Colin Dimeo (Lead Guitar) - with an ever growing popularity among critics and the masses alike. After a tour of Texas and ahead of their show in NYC at the Gramercy Theatre, front man Barham took the time to speak about success, sobriety and more.
Congrats on an incredible year and the release of Wolves, which had an incredible reception. Have your expectations been met?
Oh yeah. The goal with any record is to put it out and have it do better than the previous and for us this record kind of surpassed anything we ever thought would happen. Burn.Flicker.Die took it to certain level on the musical food chain and Wolves skipped us up a couple more notches on the ladder.
It was a very pleasant surprise that folks dug the record. It’s the first record we can say was critically acclaimed because everybody had very nice things to say about it. When publications that my mother has heard of like Rolling Stone and the Wall Street Journal are saying great things about your record and that I did good…. I think that’s when she started believing that I was doing okay. It passed my mom’s test and I think it’s definitely our best record to date.
It will definitely be on many “Best Of” lists at year’s end.
Going back a bit, what was it do you think it was about Burn.Flicker.Die that resonated with people?
Everybody has been at that point where they question whether they are good enough. No matter what your job is, no matter what occupation you chose, there always comes this moment ‘Yeah that’s what I’m supposed to do, but am I cut out for it?’ Being a musician is the same exact way. We hit a wall where we weren’t seeing any growth or seeing more people at our shows. We were literally playing for twenty people every night and after seven and a half years of that we started asking questions and wondering if maybe this isn’t what we’re supposed to do. We thought we were pretty good, but obviously nobody else did. Luckily, Burn.Flicker.Die changed everything for us.
Over the past 25 years, the Supersuckers -- Eddie Spaghetti (vocals), Marty Chandler (guitarist) and Chris Von Streicher (drums) -- have released more than twenty albums and toured relentlessly, bringing their badass rock and roll to their ever devoted fans. This past June, front man Eddie Spaghetti was diagnosed with cancer of the oropharynx which put a pause on their touring plans. Now, with treatment nearing completion, they are ready to head out on the road in February to support their recently released album, Holdin' The Bag. Recorded at the esteemed Bismeaux Studios, the album is a collection of songs with humor and heart showcasing cleverly written songs and well crafted melodies. Front man Spaghetti graciously took the time to talk in depth about the album, how he is doing and more.
First off, how are you feeling?
Oh I’m alright. I’m in the throws of radiation, so it’s been rough lately, but I am almost done with it and I’m looking forward to that.
The fans have really stepped up to assist with the cost of your medical care, raising almost sixty thousand dollars. That speaks volumes.
It’s been great and actually is the big highlight to this whole cancer crap. It’s kind of like dying without the dying is how I put it. The reason for it sucks, but seeing how much everybody cares and respects the legacy of the music I have put out over the past couple decades is pretty great.
Very much so.
Well, congrats on the release of The Supersuckers’ new album, Holdin’ The Bag, which is fantastic. You have mentioned that this album is one of the best records that you have ever made. What makes you say that?
Yeah it is right? We have no business putting out records this good so late in the game. I feel like a band who has been around as long as we have should be putting out crappy records by now.
I just feel like I’m getting better though. I feel like anybody who been doing something as long as I have should be good at it. If someone was a carpenter for thirty years they would be a damn good carpenter by now and for writing songs as long as I have, I should be a damn good songwriter. And the making of the songs, that’s my favorite thing about music.
Named by Billboard as one of the Top Ten Touring Acts, Jake McVey is the definition of a road warrior, playing 300 shows per year and earning new fans every step of the way with his energizing stage presence. His last release was 2014’s Best Days of Our Lives and he is preparing to release a new EP in early 2016. McVey kindly took the time to talk about his roots, his new single and what’s in store.
You attended school to become a luthier. Was that always the path you wanted or did you want to perform as well?
I had such a wonderful upbringing. I was very fortunate because I was introduced to music from a young age. My dad, who was a drummer, would take me to a blues club or to hear rock or country and my mom, who played piano, took me to symphonies or the orchestra. We wouldn’t make it to church every Sunday, but we would break out the records and listen to Johnny Cash or The Beatles; that was my church. I knew I was going to do music since I was very young and my parents were very supportive.
After high school graduation I told my parents that I was going to move to Nashville to try to be a big country star. They were like, 'Well, we believe in you, but what else?' So I went to Phoenix and learned how to build guitars [at the Roberto-Venn School of Luthiery]. I started up a successful business, but my shows were picking up and I wanted to be more on the artist side, so I decided to pursue music full time.
"Y’All Girls" with its uptempo, modern sound is your current single. What drew you to the song?
"Y'All Girls" is the brand new single from the new album we hope to have out the first of the year and I couldn’t be more excited. I did a lot of writing with Greg Barnill on the previous album and had such a good experience working with him. I told him that I was going to put some songs together for an album, but since I spend a lot of time on the road, I wanted something that would be exciting and fun, something that would bring the party atmosphere to venues. He mentioned that he had just finished writing a song that he thought would fit me really well. He sent it to me and it was exactly what I was looking for....and I think what the fans were looking for. It has an infectious hook and so far, it has resonated extremely well with fans and radio. I have been playing it out and it’s been nice to see people singing along and dancing to it.
Celebrated by Rolling Stone as one of the “10 New Country Artists You Need To Know,” Chris Lane ascended into the national spotlight in 2014, landing on many “Artist To Watch” lists as well as garnering a Top 5 finalist position in Macy’s iHeartRadio Rising Star contest. Lane started out playing club shows near his hometown of Kernersville, NC and then went onto open shows for Brett Eldredge and Thomas Rhett, and tour with Florida Georgia Line, Nelly, and more. Currently on his first-ever radio tour, Lane is gearing up for the release of his debut EP as well as joining Dustin Lynch on his nationwide Hell Of A Night Tour. In advance of a very busy fall, Lane kindly took the time to talk about the EP, his new single “Fix” and more.
Being that you were very into athletics, when did you know that you wanted to pursue music? Was it there alongside sports, or did it come later?
To be honest with you, all I really knew growing up was football and baseball. I loved singing along to the radio, but it was not something I really put a lot of thought into. It wasn’t until after college that I really started digging in and really learning to play the guitar. And it kind of took off from there. I started a cover band in North Carolina which led me into writing my own music and that led me to where I am now with Big Loud Records.
Numerous outlets such as Rolling Stone, Spotify and Taste of Country named you to their "One to Watch" lists. Is it exciting, do you feel pressure, a mix of both or something else?
It is very, very exciting for me even to be considered for something like that. I could never imagine anything like that happening to me when I was in playing shows every weekend in North Carolina, so it’s cool. I don’t feel pressure, I’m just excited to get the music out there, and hopefully people like it.
Joey Moi, who has worked with Dallas Smith and FGL, produced the EP. How did you connect with him for the project? Have you known him for a while?
It was a brand new relationship for me. It’s funny because I was on my way to South Carolina to play a show when the Florida Georgia Line EP came out. I was listening to it on the drive and just loved the sound of it. I kept thinking to myself “Man, I wonder who did this?” So I looked it up, saw it was Joey and wondered how somebody even gets a hold of someone like that to work with them. Now, probably a year later, I ended up here and he’s my producer.
Did you record the EP with him in Nashville?
We recorded it in Nashville on the bottom floor of Big Loud Records where he’s recorded all of the records with FGL, Jake Owen and others. I’m hoping I can have some of the same success as those guys.
In addition to the signature black cowboy chapeau that sits atop his head, Kinky Friedman wears many hats. Animal activist, outlaw, novelist, outspoken politician, cigar aficionado and singer-songwriter. After more than three decades without a new studio album, Friedman returns on October 2nd with The Loneliest Man I Ever Met, a collection of new songs as well as interpretations of older tunes from Zevon, Cash and Haggard. Ahead of the release, Friedman kindly took the time to talk about the album, touring and much more.
Your last album was released over three decades ago. What made it the right time to release a new one now?
Life gets in the way sometimes, especially if you suffer from the curse of being multi-talented. I have an animal rescue and am involved with a lot of other stuff that takes up my time, but Brian Molnar, the producer, really badgered me about doing a record. So if it doesn’t do well, I’ll blame him. We recorded it down here on the ranch which was fun to do; and really, I never thought it would sound this good. It sounds better than anything I’ve ever done and I think that’s attributable to Brian. Most of the cuts are just guitar, harmonica and vocal. There were very few moving parts: Joe [Cirotti] on guitar, some of the Jewboys, and Michael, the engineer. Mickey [Raphael], Willie’s harmonica player, also made an important contribution to the record. These guys decimated my liquor cabinet, but other than that it was really fun, and pretty easy.
There really is a quietness, maybe even a reflectiveness, to the whole album.
You’re right. It’s stripped down to the soul and it is rather opposite from where most of the trends are. Writing for today’s market must be weird; we all have cultural ADD and political correctness has done its damage, but this record doesn’t sound like the music coming out of Nashville for sure.