Friday, May 23, 2014

INTERVIEW: Jon Snodgrass (Drag The River)

Photo by Imelda Michalczyk

Your newest, self-titled album was three years in the making and came out after several years apart as a band. It is, in many ways, a great distillation of what Drag the River is – a kind of greatest hits record of all new material. What brought you back together and how did the album come about?
It wasn't 3 years. We tracked on and off for about a year. About 14 days in the studio tracking & mixing. It took a longer time than normal because we didn't have a label and we weren't in a hurry. We just wanted it to come out in 2013 hopefully.

You came up in the punk scene of the late 80’s and early 90’s and your work in Drag the River
presaged the popularity of punk-country crossover in a lot of ways, carrying on the tradition of bands like the Meat Puppets, X and Social Distortion. How receptive was your fanbase initially to the more roots-oriented material?
It wasn't a popular type of music at the time, it was different for a lot of folks. It went over fine. Any kind of music goes in cycles with popularity. It's true. So, you should just do what you do, I think.

I always liked punk music but the music I played with Armchair Martian wasn't really punk. I'm not sure that Drag The River is a real country band either. We call it "country & mid-western". More than one person has said something like "too rock for country & too country for rock" referring to Armchair Martian and Drag The River.

What is your writing process like? Do you and (co-conspirator Chad Price) each bring in fully-formed songs or is it more collaborative? In what ways doe your solo projects influence or shape what you bring to the band? (or is it simply a matter of writing songs and finding the most appropriate outlet?)
We try and have input in each other’s songs. Some more than others. When we play & sing together it sounds like Drag The River.

I imagine your songs are like children – it’s tough to choose one above the others. But let’s say you are asked to make a “Sophie’s Choice”; is there one that you are particular proud to have written or one that is particularly special to you?
I like the new ones more.

What are some of your musical touchstones, those things that you heard and loved and go back to? Who inspires you musically?
The Beatles & Husker Du.

You’ve been entrenched in music for the greater part of your life – what keeps you
motivated to continue to create?
It's the only thing I know how to do.

I know that you both have done sporadic dates in the past with your other bands (ALL, Armchair Martian) – is there a point where they will be an ongoing concern again?
A.M. is on 11 the whole time for 25 minutes. That's fun every once in a while, but DTR is a band that can play anywhere. It's real quiet and it's real loud and in between. It can be Chad & I or a full rock band. We can play a punk club or someone’s wedding. I'm proud of the dynamics & we can play 4 hours if we feel like it.

What’s next on tap for the band?
We just recorded a CCR cover. More touring.  I just compiled a list of new songs we can learn and record whenever.

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