Posted by: Necci – Jul 31, 2012
This week's music news is practically overflowing with quality tunes. Whether you're into bluegrass, post-punk, hardcore, hip-hop or everything, you're gonna be stoked.
photo by Bryan Sargent
First of all, Andrew Leahey (of Andrew Leahey and the Homestead) just moved to Nashville, though he stays connected to Richmond with the rest of his bandmates living here in Richmond. Leahey answered some questions about Nashville versus Richmond, working for Spin Magazine, and having 25 people in one's band.
When did you move to Nashville and why? What do you miss about RVA?/ What draws you to stay connected with the Richmond music scene? (Whew!)
I moved to Nashville in September 2011. I'd been working as a music journalist for six years, but I couldn't shake the idea that I was supposed to be playing music, not writing about it. Nashville seemed like a no-brainer. It's a great city, quite Southern in a lot of ways but also very progressive, very open-minded, very diverse. Absolutely everyone is a musician, which means you need to work very hard to stand out.
Richmond is my second home. I'm the only member of the Homestead who doesn't live there, so I wind up coming back to town a lot -- usually every six weeks or so. I love the music community. Exebelle, Goldrush, Mason Brothers, the Trillions, Farm Vegas, Long Arms, Animal Beat, the Atkinsons... those guys (and girls) are my close friends, and I feel like we're all going to take over the whole goddamn world one of these days.
How did you meet some of the musicians in the Homestead?
I've known Phil Heesen and Robbie King for 15 years. We grew up together, went to school together, played in the same teenage bands, attended each other's weddings, etc. In early 2011, I flew down to Richmond to record a bunch of Americana songs I'd been writing, and those two guys were my first choices for the band. Phil brought in Ben Willson and Kerry Hutcherson, two of his bandmates from Exebelle & the Rusted Cavalcade. We still needed a drummer to complete the lineup, so I called up Prabir Mehta and asked him to name the best drummer in Richmond. At his recommendation, I emailed Matt Morton, who was a complete stranger at that point, and asked him to listen to a demo of “Heart Off My Hands.” He loved the song and agreed to join. The whole thing happened very fast, and we only had two practices before we recorded the album -- which we did in three days.
Have you noticed a difference between a Nashville or Richmond audience?
Nashville audiences are very talkative. People go to a LOT of shows, so it's a very casual, social atmosphere. As the new kid in town, it can be a bit challenging to go onstage and convince everyone to shut the hell up... although it's a great feeling when you actually DO get them to quiet down, which tends to happen during big rock songs like “Penitentiary Guys.” The audiences in Richmond have been more receptive, and people often hang around after the show to introduce themselves. I really like that. It's nice to watch this whole thing grow, ear by ear, fan by fan, friend by friend.
What have you been listening to lately?
There's a great songwriter in Nashville named Rayland Baxter. He's got an album coming out later this summer, and it's one of those rare records where every single song is unique and simply fantastic. I've also been listening to a lot of Mason Brothers, Lucinda Williams, and the new Tift Merritt album, which I got in the mail last week. Tom Petty and Ryan Adams are my favorite artists, so their albums rarely leave my stereo.
What's next for Andrew Leahey & the Homestead?
We're in the process of recording an EP at the Orange Grove, which is a local studio run by our good friend James Mason (of the Mason Brothers). The plan is to release the EP sometime in October, after financing it with a Kickstarter campaign. The campaign started a few weeks ago and will run until August 9th, so HEY EVERYBODY, PLEASE GO SUPPORT US AND WE WILL OWE YOU OUR FIRST-BORN CHILDREN. I'm also doing a bunch of touring, including some solo dates, and I'll be coming back to the Camel on September 13.
What instrument would you like to learn to play if you had the time?
Something easily portable, like the violin. I'm tired of lugging around these heavy guitar amps and shit! Before learning another instrument, though, I should probably improve my skills on piano.
I saw that you spent some time as a music journalist. What types of articles did you write?
I still work as a music journalist, actually. I started at the Richmond Times Dispatch during high school and eventually landed an internship at Spin Magazine, which led to all sorts of opportunities, including a weekly music column for the Washington Times (which I've been writing since 2008) and an editor's position at AllMusic.com. It's the second-best job in the world. I've gotten to hang out with some of my idols, and I get a ton of free music in the mail, usually every day. I've been lucky.
I happen to know that the Grotto does not have a heating system and that you recorded there in February. How did you survive that and remain loose enough to record?
At that point, I'd already been living in Michigan for four years, so I was used to freezing my ass off. It was colder inside the Grotto than it was outside, though, and if you look at the pictures from those sessions, you'll notice that we wore a lot of hoodies. We drank whiskey too... some of us more than others. There was a liquor store across the street, as well as a bar, and we kept both of them in business.
Do you have any pre-show rituals?
No. I wish we did, because that would indicate some sense of consistency from show to show. Since the Homestead's lineup is constantly changing -- someone's always out of town, or getting married, or watching somebody else getting married -- it's become very common to have a new guy in the band on any given night. Exactly twenty-five people have played in the Homestead since January 2012. Twenty-five! I have a “main” version of the band, and it's the same version you hear on all our recordings, but I'm constantly shuffling new dudes into the mix. As a result, things are usually a bit chaotic before shows -- at least for me -- and I guess my pre-show ritual consists of writing down the setlist and making sure the new guy knows all the chords. I'm looking forward to coming up with a better ritual, though, like a chant or a complicated high-five or the ritualistic sacrifice of our keyboard player.
"Oh My, Miranda"
Gunboat is possibly the coolest new post-punk band you'll hear today. The band is about to release a cassette, and there is a preview track available for our immediate rock needs. "Mr. Computer" is a lively something for your head. The musicians have a pretty cool groove going before heading into Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue." They space it out a little, and suddenly "power-funk" doesn't seem like such a crazy notion. Catch Gunboat 8/9 @ Strange Matter with Cy Barkley and the Way Outsiders, Dino's Boys, and Southside Stranglers.
Haints in the Holler is a newgrass/folk band from Richmond, and the band is celebrating its upcoming tour with a 5-song self-titled EP.
8/2: Thursday Night Jams at the Moontower, Brooklyn
8/3: First Friday @ Pibby's Bike Shop, Richmond, VA
8/4: Rivermont Pizza, Lynchburg
8/6: New Brookland Tavern, West Columbia, SC
8/10 - Downtown Friday for the Arts, Petersburg, VA
8/11: Jonny-Z Fest
Sound Genesis has some of the freshest beats this summer. The new release, Pain, Pleasure, and Patterns, starts off with a half-chopped/screwed Jay-Z's intro to "Izzo (Hova)." ". . .You could have been anywhere in the world but you're here with me. I appreciate that." Then the song empties into a vat of smooth beats.
Ohbliv recently released LewseJoints, a five-song EP of sexy loops. Get yourself a cocktail on the rocks (even if it's in the afternoon) and throw this little lady in your boombox.
By Sarah Moore Lindsey (soundsofrva.tumblr.com)