How’d you get hooked up with Twang N’ Bang Records? They’ve got a hell of a roster.

Twang N Bang is run by a local musician / promoter named Patrick Hayes. I met Pat about 10 years ago when we were both playing in very different bands- I was mangling a fiddle in a string band and Pat was fronting a  group called Pennyjar (motto: “we’ve never heard of you either.”) We played a few incredibly drunken, disaster-ridden shows together and became friends.  In 2011 or so, Pat started organizing a twice-yearly festival that featured a mashup of local country and punk bands. It was called Twang N Bang Fest and I think the label idea was born when he started putting out compilation albums comprised of songs by the bands playing. Eventually I joined an alt/country/rock band called American Dirt and we asked Pat if he would record our first EP at his studio at the time, called “Cocks Lodge,” which is still the best studio name ever. We put out that EP and 2 full length records on Twang N Bang. When I started The Creston Line a couple years ago, Pat played bass for a bit and agreed to put out our first couple recordings. The TNB family is pretty incestous, actually- I’ve filled in here and there on lead guitar in Pat’s latest dystopian country band, The Dead Volts, and Brenneth is a pretty integral non-official member of the Turkey Buzzards. My buddies Dave and Brian from the American Dirt days have a cool thing going called The 40 Hour Work Week… it’s a fun group of depressed songwriters to be a part of.

 I saw that you are already recording some new tunes. When can we expect those to drop?

Probably sometime in the next 6 months to 2 years. Ha Ha. The material for the next record is mostly written at this point, and right now I’m busy demoing it, trying to figure out arrangements, etc. before we start recording. I record all our music in my studio, for better or worse, so sometimes I get stuck in the “I have infinite time” quagmire. All the new stuff pretty much deals with this huge battle with anxiety and booze that I’ve been fighting over the past year or so… I’m not sure if it’s a battle I’m winning or losing, but writing about it seems to help. It’s going to be a little weirder sonically than the last couple records, I think, a little more lyrically dense. I’m shooting for something between “A Man Needs a Maid” and “Grave Dancer’s Union.” Overall my goal is to put out a new full length record by the summer. We’ll see.

What’s an artist / band from your neck of the woods that folks in the midwest should be checking out?

Two come to mind immediately. The first is The Mutineers. They actually just bailed out for rural Washington state, but they’ve been good friends and a staple of the Central California music scene for a while. Killer husband/wife duo who do a sort of Pogues by way of White Stripes thing mixed with a healthy dose of late-era Vegas Elvis.

On the stranger end of things, I’m a huge fan of this band called Arthur Watership– and not just because Taylor and Adam (our drummer and guitar player) front the band! They are just great… really different. I watched them suck all the oxygen out of Hotel Cafe in LA one night and it was awesome. Audiences have no idea what to do with them… medieval style Viola DiGamba mixed with jazz/noise guitars, upright bass, skittery drums and some downright terrifying harmony work. It’s like watching Tori Amos tenderly hatefuck Nick Drake. I’m probably not doing a very good job of selling it… they are making a new record right now but they have some stuff on Bandcamp that was recorded in a bathtub.

I saw you and Brenneth grew up with one another. How’d the rest of the band come together?

Originally Bren and I were just doing a duo thing that we called The Shots, with him on pedal steel and me on guitar. We decided to put together a full band and cycled through a bunch of buddies who sort of stepped in to jam here and there, but by the time we recorded our EP in early 2016 we had a solid lineup that included Kirk, our current bass player, who I met a while back when I used to sit in on fiddle with his country band. Kirk cut his teeth working as a tape op and engineer in some old analog LA studios back in the day, and we became friends when he started helping me put together a studio at my place, primarily with the goal of recording my own music. At the time on drums we had a guy named Alex from a band called Goodnight Texas who I met when I was booking shows at a local venue. Alex’s twin brother Adam moved to the area around the time we were finishing up mixing the EP, and he started sitting in at some shows on guitar. He became an integral part of the band pretty quickly- he and Brenneth have pretty different lead styles, and both can shred tastefully, which is rare in my experience. It took about 10 seconds the first time he jammed with us for me to realize that it was going to be one of the great privileges of my life to have those guys on stage together playing my songs. After we put out the EP, Alex the drummer left to become a Triple A umpire (which is rad) and Taylor Belmore, our current drummer, took over the throne. She is, as the old joke goes, both a drummer AND a musician which makes her perfect for the band… she’s got a really nice sense of how the song should flow and adapt to the stage / crowd / alcohol level, which is something we’re far more interested in than playing stuff the same way every night. I met Taylor when she was recording some backing vocals at my studio with a band from San Francisco who later started a BB gun fight in my control room.

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You walk into a gas station for a beverage and a snack. What do you walk out with?

La Croix and a granola bar. I’m boringly healthy these days. Plus ramen noodles make my anxiety worse for some unknown reason. Brenneth is a chemist and tried to explain it to me scientifically once but I was lost and driving us through Portland and I don’t remember what he said.

Seems like your a man who appreciates a sad song. What songwriter(s) hit ya square in the chest when you listen to them?

Number one has to be John Moreland- that guy is just a master of the sad song. I got to open for him a few times, which was amazing, and the first night I found out that my best friend from childhood (and the subject of 1992 and Blood Brothers on our new record) had just shot himself to death. John opened with Blacklist about 4 minutes after I got the call and I just lost it. Then he played Cherokee.

Ryan Adams is a close second- I know I’m probably in the minority with this opinion but I think that both Demolition and 29 are fantastic records and both those are sad as shit. Also, The Eels make me feel lonely in the right way. I guess this list wouldn’t be complete without Jeff Buckley, though I can never tell if his songs are actually sad or if I’m just nostalgic for the time in my life when I was listening to Grace on repeat.

 When can we expect that Twang Pollution to hit the great state of Wisconsin?

Oh man. I’d love to make it out there this summer… We’ll see. Is there a way to do this without having to drive through Nebraska?

Listen to The Creston Line’s Latest LP “Vagabonds” here: 

 



 

Your recent release Visionland was recorded at Plum Creek Sound Studios.  How was the experience working with Israel Nash and Ted Young?

It was amazing. We spent a little over two weeks out in Dripping Springs, TX fully submersed in the album. We meshed really well with Israel and Ted and I think it shows.

I read that the album title came from an old amusement park that some of you grew up near.  I have a serious love for all things theme park.  What are some of your best memories of that park before it shut down?

Yeah, Visionland was a theme park in Bessemer, AL. Despite its many, many faults there were some good times had there. The Rampage (their wooden coaster) was pretty cool when it worked.

Visionland seems likes its gone down more of a psychedelic vein than your last LP.  If you all had to pick one person in the band as your spirit guide, who would it be and why?

Haha. I think we’d probably outsource that job.

Word on the street is you’ve done around 600 shows in the last three years.  What effect does all that time on the road have on you personally and on the music you create?

I’d say more than that. It’s hard to say how effected I am by it. Too far in it to know, I guess. It gives you a lot of material to write about, though.

Finally, what are you all listening to in the tour van lately and who gets to control the dial?

We’ve been listening to a lot of Gerry Rafferty, Faces, Kendrick Lamar, Wu Tang, Mel Tillis, and Blaze Foley. Typically whoever is riding shotgun also DJ’s. Keeps it fresh.


“Fine, Fine, Day” off their new LP Visionland

Interview: Extension Cord | Live photos: Frank Martinelli

1.) You just played a gig at Club Garibaldi in Milwaukee. How’d you like the city?
Honestly, it was our favorite city on the Midwest run we just finished. You can’t throw a rock without hitting a cool neighborhood bar, which is convenient because beer is the base layer of our food pyramid on the road. Everyone we encountered was incredibly friendly – especially the fans that brought us our first-ever taste of fried cheese curds. And it’s hard to imagine a better spot to unwind post-show than on the banks of one of the Great Lakes.

Word on the street is, you’re heading out with the Old 97’s on tour. How’d that come about?

We are, and we couldn’t be more excited. Coming from North Texas and making the type of music we do, the 97’s are pretty much our biggest heroes and influences. We sought them out for guidance early on, and have gotten to know a few of them a little bit since then. Earlier this spring, we were one of the openers for their second annual Old 97’s County Fair festival in downtown Dallas, which is where I think we really won them over.

What’s the band playing in the van on the road these days?  Is there a timeshare going on with the radio?

Fortunately we’re all pretty easygoing and have pretty diverse tastes. We call our trumpet player DJ Round-Up because he takes control of the radio most of the time. What’s on at any given time depends on our mood, from studying up on classics like Marty Stuart and Dwight Yoakam, reliving our youth with NOFX and Offspring, letting out some aggression with Metallica and Pantera, breaking the monotony of a long drive with some comic relief from Creed or Limp Bizkit. We have a big collection of cassettes, but there are a handful that never leave the van, among them Social Distortion’s “Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell,” Blink-182’s “The Mark, Tom and Travis Show,” Green Day’s “Dookie” and a George Strait box set.

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DJ Round Up

4.) Describe your live show in 5 words or less.

You’ll get drunk and laid.

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Jim Ford is the type of musician that must have walked into the studio and secretly left part of his soul on every track. You might not be able to see it, but you can feel it in all of his work. His songs have been recorded by Aretha Franklin, Bobby Womack, and The Temptations to name a few.  Listen to this tune with your eyes closed to visualize the sound of our time.  The arrangement along with the lyrics seem to guide me to a place I feel familiar with but have never been, a silent community of dissenters across our country.  Feel it, dig it and NEVER GET USED TO THE SOUND….

According to Halden Wofford & the Hi*Beams “just because you ain’t a sinner don’t mean that you’re a saint!” I concur with this statement, dig the story below. I found out about these ruckus raising foot stompers by going to a record store in Boulder that was in a few double wides. The people in the shop were good people and had an outstanding collection but Halden Wofford & the Hi Beams was the best thing I walked out with that given day! 

Watch the The Turkey Buzzards play a little anthem for all those good gals out there that take care of their hard living men. I would especially like to give a shout out to my weeble, love ya! Check out their full LP “Hobos Don’t Call It Camping’ to take in a few more stories these fellas have orchestrated for our listening pleasure.