An interview with one of my close friends that introduced me to a lot of the music I listen to now. Definitely a huge musical influence on me, with perhaps a different value scale for appreciating his music. An interesting look at the perceived community of the scene.
James Isbell: i've talked to steffen a bit about this stuff, and it seems that you got him into josh ritter...he recalls listening to harrisburg over and over in your basement which got him going
Andy: that's right, harrisburg and Wings
Andy: which i got from Seanman
James Isbell: really?! Seanman is the source of the Josh Ritter love with you guys then?
Andy: he heard it at the bozeman indie film festival
Andy: in a trailer
James Isbell: wow...that is so bizarre
James Isbell: when was this? long before animal years?
Andy: yeah, i think spring semester senior year
James Isbell: i think i recall hearing you guys play Me & Jiggs around then
Andy: then i got hello starling when it came out, i think, fall semester freshman year
James Isbell: it didn't completely grab me but I did like it
Andy: yeah, the time frame's a bit fuzzy
Andy: but definitely a fan by Xmas freshman year
James Isbell: maybe all the lewis and clark?
Andy: oh yes
Andy: and "and I'm just waitin for the whiskey to whisk me away"
James Isbell: ha...mispent youths right?
Andy: or wellspent
James Isbell: well...i know that you guys helped poster/flyer around boston for his show...how did you get involved in the scene?
Andy: either way, the well's not dry
Andy: i've known about street team stuff for a while
Andy: and about a year ago miles and steffen started doing it
Andy: and got to know the street team manager
Andy: and got a bunch of stuff signed
Andy: so we got in that way
James Isbell: do a lot of the street team people knowk eachother?
Andy: after Josh talked to miles after his show in january for a long time, the deal was sealed
Andy: Yeah, the message boards are pretty spot on
Andy: people car pool hours to shows
Andy: crash at other street teamers houses, etc
Andy: via the message boards on his website
James Isbell: ahhhh, would you categorize it as a community then?
James Isbell: there is that much interaction you think?
James Isbell: I remember the story about Miles finding that old lady for you guys to stay with in Sandpoint and maybe I haven't laughed as hard in years...but od a lot of crazy things like that happen?
Andy: i'd say that was unusually awesome
Andy: but definitely not unheard of
Andy: the scale at which it happened at sandpoint was the unusual part
Andy: but i wouldn't say its unusual for a street teamer to let a fellow street teamer crash at their place
Andy: via the show
James Isbell: that's fantastic
Andy: because when there's that deep seeded common interest
James Isbell: and this all is started basically from an interest in the music...and then via a virtual connection? would that make it an internet culture?
Andy: well, parts of it are internet culture
Andy: the message boards, definitely
Andy: and that is where some of it begins,
Andy: but the woman at sandpoint we met at the show because we were waiting in line to meet josh
Andy: and she was behind us
Andy: and she wasn't a streat teamer, to the best of my knowledge
Andy: so thats, actual rather than virtual
James Isbell: crazy story man....
James Isbell: well, so you got josh from seanman...how about Iron and Wine...what turned you on to Sam Beam?
Andy: seanman, too
Andy: in french class, senior year spring semester
Andy: he played it while we used to study, because Madame Mends used to let us play music if it was chill enough
James Isbell: this is changing my whole world right now
Andy: and I&W is maxchill
James Isbell: seanman the source of all of my music
Andy: yeah, but he left it behind, really
Andy: cause his passion is more changing and new music
James Isbell: i see i see
Andy: rather than the niche that Jrit and Sam Beam fill
James Isbell: well...i know that you at least used to love Sam Beam...what about his music attracted you to him?
Andy: initially the sound
Andy: and the chillness of it, sleeptime music was the sugar on the pill
Andy: for me, at least, and i think that would be a common sentiment
Andy: but then once i began to listen to it more, and louder, the coherency of Creek drank the cradle as an album really did it for me
Andy: and then it became much more about the lyrics
James Isbell: and did that lyrical content stay strong for you at least for a while...say through Woman King?
Andy: yeah, i would
Andy: woman king started the movement that beam is still in right now
Andy: where he started moving away from imagery that was linear and coherent
Andy: and in woman king he started juxtaposing images
Andy: but i think it worked in that album, especially the song woman king
Andy: once it got enough listens, you got a coherent map through the lyrics that's gone in Sheps Dog
James Isbell: when you say juxtaposing images...it kind of evokes a notion of randomness for me...how did you feel about this transition?
Andy: well, juxtaposing images and randomness are different
James Isbell: so have you changed your mind a bit about the shepards dog? still hate that song about the Devil that Miles and Steffen love?
Andy: yeah, i do
Andy: juxtaposing images can create a big, broad picture
Andy: that wouldn't be created if you kept a solid, linear feel
Andy: juxtaposing "black horse fly, lemonade, jar on a red ant hill"
Andy: i think that's the line
Andy: that line, taken alone, doesn't make alot of sense
Andy: but when you get each time-slice image from the song woman king
Andy: like "garden worm, ash on a windowsill"
Andy: you can kind of make a connection between the two, even if it wasn't intentional on sam beams part
Andy: author intent with beam is a lot different than with ritter
Andy: and ritter moved in the direction of absolute coherency, where beam moved away
James Isbell: do you think that his intentions are still there? or can he just put a bunch of lines together with a chill sound and sell albums?
Andy: yeah, no coherency on shep's dog
Andy: i gave it a thorough 10 times through while i was in turkey
Andy: a couple of times with paper and pen in hand
Andy: trying to create a map of themes
Andy: but i think he's faking it
Andy: and i think by mentioning "dogs" so many times in the album
Andy: he's trying to trick the reader into thinking there is a theme there that isn't
Andy: especially made apparent by the last song in the album
Andy: which is just utter nonsense
James Isbell: hahah
James Isbell: might be my favorite
James Isbell: but i prefer numbers to words as we all know
Andy: it is my favorite on the album
James Isbell: but doesn't tie in with the record?
Andy: well, it ties in with the record fine
Andy: because the rest of the album is garbage jibberish, too
Andy: but has none of the amazing emotion evoking lines that were present in his "unknown early sessions"
Andy: like in the song "two hungry blackbirds"
James Isbell: i'm not familiar actually
Andy: good song
Andy: you want it?
James Isbell: i might have gotten it from one of you guys ages ago but i should check it out
Andy: yeah: the consistency of the lyrics on unknown early sessions, (its an album), is Beams best by far
Andy: other than portions of the first two albums
Andy: all the songs he did with calexico were from unknown early sessions
James Isbell: i thought that the consistency on Endless Numbered was pretty amazing
Andy: agreed, passing afternoon is a pinnacle of a "song in itself"
James Isbell: perfect...
Andy: that can exist without preface or explanation, all the while the more you get into it the more you get out it
James Isbell: steffen and i have noted the importance of authenticity in the music we both listen to...how does this figure in for your listening preferences?
Andy: hmm authenticity in what way?
James Isbell: maybe genuine to the character of the artists
Andy: interesting question, because one of my other favorite groups, The Silver Jews, is the apotheosis of non-genuine
Andy: they are the inconsistency that is present in Shep's Dog taken to the extreme, and therefore awesome
James Isbell: does it vary in importance depending on the genre?
Andy: well, Silver Jews is still pretty folky
James Isbell: ahhh i'm no familiar
Andy: but they don't try to sell it as something profound or coherent
Andy: well, they have lines like "When the sunsets on the ghetto all the broken stuff gets cold"
Andy: or "Holding up your trousers with extension chords"
Andy: while the singer is almost spoken word, and constantly off key
James Isbell: do you think Sam Beam just gets looped into that? i think he might be more comfortable touring with Phish or String Cheese just to jam
Andy: agreed, definitely at this point he is
Andy: and I think the power that Beam holds comes from intimate shows where his genuine-ness or authenticity can be explored by the listener
Andy: because it almost doesnt matter how genuine he is
Andy: as long as the listener believes him
Andy: and its hard to believe sam-as-phish
James Isbell: i agree that maybe that's where he shines...maybe because he's not the most talented musician...unlike Andrew Bird who could say whatever the hell he wanted and i would still think he's amazing
Andy: and when jrit took a turn away from the 'authenticity'
Andy: he did it in a pleasing, entertaining fashion
Andy: thats present all over historical conquests
Andy: even in the title
James Isbell: you think this last album is away from his style?
James Isbell: or maybe himself?
Andy: oh yeah, definitely
James Isbell: is it him growing though?
Andy: but its intentional and awesome
James Isbell: or do you think it's uncomfortable for him?
Andy: i dont know if i'd call it growing
Andy: hmm good question
Andy: since i dont think he's uncomfortable
James Isbell: I guess you would say...a stretch
Andy: maybe you could call it growth
James Isbell: maybe forced by his keyboard guy?
Andy: but not stretched like a screen, because i don't think its more thin
James Isbell: kind of pushed?
Andy: i'm not sure the affect sam kisserer has on josh
Andy: maybe not even pushed
Andy: lets say, laterally transposed
James Isbell: I'll take it....so you think it is a a step away from his former more authentic music....but not offensively so?
Andy: well, if you're equating authentic to autobiographical
Andy: then yes
Andy: and definitely not offensively so
Andy: because alot of his songs are ridiculously relateable
Andy: like "right moves"
James Isbell: how about authentic as original or maybe even inaccessible...does his music speak to that?
Andy: how so?
James Isbell: sometimes i feel like inaccessibility....the intensity or difficulty of listening to a particular genre....i'm not sure if i'm being clear here....can be considered a plus by insiders....maybe like a lot of radiohead....or mabye even harder punk or metal
Andy: ah, okay
James Isbell: do you think ritter's clever lyrical content makes it a more challenging and therefore pleasing listen?
Andy: well, i'll answer your question in two ways
Andy: first: i think ritter's accessability is key
James Isbell: melodically and emotionally?
Andy: his knew album has been called "MOR"(middle of the road)
Andy: man, both, really
Andy: i don't think he's exploring depths of the human soul
Andy: i think he's making clever, relatable rhythms and rhymes
Andy: but then again i probably don't represent normal people's feeling on that
Andy: since i just finished Paradise Lost for the fifth time
James Isbell: you always were the smarty pants
Andy: as to "being a plus for insiders"
Andy: i think theres merit to that
James Isbell: it definitely took me a lot of listens to get a grip on his content
Andy: but not with ritter, realy
Andy: i think with Sam Beam there was more
James Isbell: which might just speak to my lack of attention to lyrics
Andy: especially when people thought he "sold out" for the garden state soundtrack et all
Andy: but then he turned around and performed his masterwork for a no-where movie (in good company)
James Isbell: i thought that came out of nowhere
James Isbell: but amazing
Andy: and he killed his own darling when he said that -- "i just watched the movie, had a feeling about it, and wrote the song [trapeze swinger]"
James Isbell: i'll never forget how many times you played that in your basement
James Isbell: haha....oh Sam
Andy: i'm close to 3000 plays over all
James Isbell: disgusting/awesome
Andy: but still, that song has a relatability that completely eclipses his intent