Chatham County Line Interview
So first of all, can you tell me about how the band first formed?
It was probably 1999 when we first started up. Our banjo player Taylor had seen Dave and Greg in a band they still play in called Stillhouse, a sort of Country Rock group. They were having a party at Dave and Gregs house and Taylor had gone to see them play and came back and told me he saw this really great band playing some original music and this Country-Rock, Gram Parsons, Byrds vibe and we enjoyed that so we hung out with them, had a few beers and before we knew it we’re on the porch picking a few tunes.
When you were growing up what kind of music did your parents play to you and what are the bands main influences now?
You know my mum was a musician and my father’s side of the family was very musical. The house was filled with a lot of different music from Willie Nelson to Judi Collins, a lot of fun material. The musical bug in me didn’t start until my early teenage years, I think most of the guys were the same, we grew up in a classic rock background which we enjoyed and some of those elements come through. We started the band wanting to play traditional bluegrass music but it quickly became apparent that we enjoyed playing this original music more which takes influence from Blues and Rock and Roll, all kinds of music.
You mentioned original material there, I was wondering what your writing process was are you all involved in that?
Well we are but it’s primarily the lead singer, Dave Wilson, he’ll write the songs and then we’ll all get together and start working on the material and maybe make changes and add lyrics here and there so everybody weaves the musical quilt but Dave brings the basic ideas to the table. I do a lot of the instrumental writing so it’s a group effort but Dave is the main lyricist.
Do you ever have creative differences and how do you get over them?
Not so much because we all have a similar vision of what we want to do and the music we want to create. I mean obviously when we get together and craft new songs, like yesterday we had a big session where we were crafting new material, everybody has unique ideas and everybody gets a chance to try those ideas, sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t, we just work together. So there’s a lot of compromises but it’s never musical differences as such but we’re like brothers so we all get on very well musically as well.
You’ve just released a couple of new singles, can you tell me about them?
Well about a month ago we released the Wilko song, I Got You (At the End of the Century) and made a video for that one and we just released the Beck tune that we’d done for our covers record and a video should appear by the end of the month. That came about after playing it through the years at the different venues we’d done. A lot of the covers we do, we like to put an original spin on it and that was very appealing the creative process of playing it in a studio as its so different from the original.
Do you have a favourite original song to play live and a favourite cover song to play live?
Well you know we don’t do a ton of covers but we’re putting out a covers record just some we’ve played over the years. When we do play covers they tend to be obscure and we do it because they’re special and they’re not ones you hear on the radio, we dig for the deep cuts. When we’re over in the UK we love playing The Last Time by the Stones which we put on this record, that’s fun to play and the crowd love it. Original material I guess Wildwood is a favourite because they allow me to let loose on the fiddle and I get a kick out of that and my mum does too so that’s important.
When you’re on stage are you completely focused or do you let your mind wander, we call it your mid-gig thoughts?
That’s an interesting question because a lot of times we’ve got the material down and we’re very focused on playing it but each show we play we just make sure we have a blast and so sometimes it’s best to focus yourself in the moment. We play these songs all the time and we try and find new ways to approach them and it’s a very creative process in the live shows and that’s what feeds all the energy that we put into it. It works well with the crowd and works for us too so I’d say we’re very focused on that.
What’s next for the band and do you plan to return to the UK anytime soon?
I’m hoping we can head back that way in the fall or early next year, we try to go to the UK and Europe once or twice a year if we can and we’re working on some newer stuff, maybe a new record next year, we’re working on some stuff with Judi Collins. We’ll be touring soon as well.