Monday, June 22, 2009

CB Q/A #2: Andrew Kenny

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get this posted in time for folks to read it before yesterday's in-store at Music Saves and live show at the Beachland, but reading it now, I think it would be even cooler for the folks who had the pleasure of seeing the show last night to check it out as they reflect on the awesomeness of their experience.

I'm only two lazy interviews (lazy on my part - the artists have been really thorough in their responses) in to this new feature, but I'm really digging it. Check out Andrew Kenny's answers to my questions below - the questions are very similar (identical?) to the ones that I asked Crocodiles, but the responses are different in several ways.

If you were one of the lucky ones at either performance last night, I'd totally be interested to hear your thoughts on the show. And, if you have an opinion on the covers question, let me know - I'll forward your suggestions back to the man himself.

1) How is it different working with the new band than previous artistic efforts?

This band started out a bit backwards because 'Magnolia' was completed before the live band was put together. So most of the differences stem from being thrown into a 3 month tour with a group of people that have never played a show together before. There's a lot of sitting down at the steakhouse, ordering beers, and realizing, "Oh you're a vegetarian? Wow since when? Since you were 13 that's really impressive. I think Outback has a potato and some appetizers that are pretty impressive too."

2) Other than other bands/musicians, where do you find your influences? I mean, is there a certain type of art or artist, idea, spirit, etc.

I don't know how much of an "influence" it is, but I think about my experiences with lab science and music a lot. The repetition. The long days. How your skill set grows and changes with each project. And the more different and challenging the projects are the more you're forced to learn. The politics and pressure from your peers to be original. After I finished this album, it honestly occurred to me that I was afraid to hear about some new band that composed all their beats by beating on a guitar top and I'd have to throw 'Magnolia' in the garbage. Or at least rethink the beats! It would be like working for a year to clone and describe a new gene only to read about it in a journal the following week.

3) If you were asked by a younger musician about to embark on his/her first tour, what advice would you give him/her?

Besides a few days here and there, I've been in a van for two and a half months so maybe I should wait to answer this! I'm afraid scare someone off! But really, my advice about touring would be the same as my life advice to anyone: (1) It's exactly as hard as you make it and if you don't really enjoy what you're doing you should find something else to do. (2) If you're unhappy, you are most likely the one making yourself miserable. And (3) keep a pen in your pocket.

4) Any pre- or post-show rituals you have found yourself following over the years?

When I was out with the Broken Social Scene the year before last, we warmed up our voices by singing together before the show every night. The Wooden Birds have carried that tradition on every night of this tour and I think it helps. Mmmm and hot tea.

5) What is the best thing about touring? The worst?

The best thing about touring is connecting with the people that listen to the music you make. As someone that loves music, I believe there's nothing like having a song mean something to you and looking into the eyes of the person that created it and seeing that it's real and that it means a lot to them too. It validates my own feelings in a way that nothing else can. I'm proud of the music I make and so it's a privilege to perform it for anyone who'll listen and everyone now and again you get to really connect with someone that way.
The worst thing? I miss my wife, Sheila. She's my sun and my moon and her patience with this addiction should earn her a sainthood.

6) What's your favorite song on the new album?

Lyrically, I like "Choke" and "Seven Seventeen" but I think "Believe In Love" is my favorite song to play live right now.

7) Any song out there you'd love to cover but just haven't done it yet?

I can hear the Wooden Birds doing a good version of "Always A Relief" by the Radio Dept. I'm going to work on a few covers this summer when I'm home. Any suggestions?

8) Last but not least, any previous Cleveland experiences worth sharing?

Oh man.. I remember the AmAnSet did a tour in the summer of 1998 and and our van battery kept dying. We bought a spare battery and charged it on stage every night while we played. Even though we spent the whole tour yanking a battery in and out of our van every night, I remember charging it up on the Grog Shop stage for some reason. Also, on the following tour, we stayed with someone we met at the show and it was hands down the nicest house we've ever been invited to. I think they were house sitting for the mayor or something like that. Honestly.

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