Nov 11th 97
MUK, Giessen, Germany
Real Audio File (1,7 MByte)
I was unprepared for the interview and it's a pity that I didn't know too much about the band beforehand. Therefore the questions are pretty general.
Q: What's the difference between the German and the American audience?
A: David B.: I have to say personally that they are very appreciative about what we're doing, the German audience, they much more appreciative....they're really into what we're doing. And we feed upon it, we had a great time.
A: Andy: It's more of a listening crowd a lot of them know our songs, you know, I mean, people know our songs in America, but here people ask for specific songs, they'd come with their favorites. So it's nice, that they are there to hear what we're doing.
Q: Can you explain what kind of music you are making if you want to explain it for the German audience. How would you call your kind of music? We say also insurgent music, americana, nodepression, alt.country and so on. What would you say to explain it?
A: David E.: Rock'n Roll.
Q: That's all?
A: Andy: I'd call it accoustic rock'n roll, lyric-driven, but obviously some to it is not accoustic
Q: Not Country Music?
A: Dave B.:I don't think we are country, we're country-influenced rock'n roll. But if you say country, people think 'big hats' and ...
Q: What do you think about Garth Brooks?
A: Dave E: Garth Brooks is not what we are listening to. That's not the music where our influences comes from. He's got a nice hat.
A: Ted: We were happy that he is successful it's just not what are we doing. It's just a different thing.
Q: What was your musical influence, older bands, and contemporary bands?
A: Dave B.: I was influenced recently by the English bands, guitar players, of course, the Jeff Beck, Jimmie Page people. But I'm also a kind of support player. So I was like Mike Cambell of the Heartbreakers. He's a great guitar player.
Q: I heard a little Pink Floyd tonight?
A: Dave B.: Yeah, David Gilmoure, you know, I listen to a lot of things and I just kind of
subconsciously pick it up. I sit down and learn licks, per note per note. I subconsciously put it away and I pull it up from time to time and surprise myself.
Q: Dave, if today some other band would come up to you and offer you $ 500 for one night, would you play with them and be the lead guitarist or would you prefer to stay with the Rainravens instead.
A: Dave E.: Every man has his price. (laughing)
A: Dave B.: I have to say the Rainravens are the priority, but if by chance we're not working and we have some time off I think that goes for everybody we sit in and play with other people. Just for a change, it's healthy I think and it keeps everybody stretching out a little bit here and there. Right now I have to say the Rainravens ....I have to say that because I'm sitting here with all of them. This is where my heart is right now.
Q: Ted told me the same before.
A: Ted: Yeah, the shared experience of being in a real band where everybody is really a member of the band, it's not like we're all working for one other guy. We love each other as friends. We love to play together. We've been together three years. The reason why is because there's a shared experience in the creation of these songs. Andy writes the lyrics. He's a great lyricist in my opinion. Dave is a great guitar player and Dave is a great bass player. We worked so well together that while we do enjoy other peoples music and we do enjoy playing from time to time with other people there's something very special about a shared experience that you don't get from being hired by somebody else and that's very common in Nashville and in other cities you'll see a lot of bands with a lot of hired players and they stand on stage and they seem to be bored with the music. They don't even care about what they're doing, it is just a job. This isn't just a job, this is our life. We want to care about it the way that we did when we started.
Q: And how about the Blues? What part does ist play in your life?
A: Ted: Not so much the Blues. I think we're a little happier than the Blues. I mean, it's not an easy life but it's not so hard as to say that it's like the Blues. We enjoy what we do, we love what we do.
Dave E.: Who said you have to be sad to play the Blues?
Dave B.: The Blues was created to take the hardship out... the Blues was created to lift people out of their hardships and their sorrows. It was a way to get over that.
Dave E.: I think a lot of people when their start playing the Blues because the chord progressions are easier, it's a common ground. We'd all kind of start doing some basic Rock'n Roll, Chuck Berry, whatever, Muddy Waters, just kind of grow from there. So I think it's in there somewhere.
Q: We had an interview with Jay Farrar and we asked him what he does when he gets the Blues. He said he'd play hockey. What do you do when you feel down?
A: Andy: Well, I don't know, I don't really write from that point of view. When I get really depressed I don't want to write. So I have to get out of it. I usually write when I'm in a more neutral place. I don't really generally sit down and write a song and get over it. Sometimes we do. Like 'So far gone' I wrote in one night from a really bad weekend I was having.
Q: How long does it take you to write a song?
A: Andy: It takes me a long time. It takes weeks, sometimes months. Because I let them sit for a while. I work on them then I let them sit for however long, maybe work on something else. Because I think if you go away from it you work on it subconsciously and get ideas rather then try and make it all happen at one time. I think it can be better if you work on it really hard and then you back away and just let the subsconscious work on it. The shortest one was 'So far gone', which was one evening but it's very rare. ''Dim Light, Small City" - five years. Because I just didn't make it a priority. It was just sitting around for a long time. Usually between one night and five years (laughing).
Q: Terms like 'highways', 'neonlights' or 'heartaches' are used in many country songs. Is there for you a difference when you sing about these things and when, for instance, Garth Brooks does it?
A: Andy: I think there is a difference. Maybe it's a matter of credibility...
A: Dave B: ...integrity...
A: Andy: ... yeah ... Like Lowell George, could sing a song like 'Missing you', a real simple song. It's not contrived. I think a lot of these country guys ... it's all set up to make you feel a certain way, it's like pulling strings.
A: Dave E.: I think they use it in a more the superficial manner to try to appeal to as many people as possible, to try to sell as many albums as possible. I think when Andy use terms like that it's more depth to it.
Q: Andy, you're voice sounds a little bit like Jeff Tweedy's. Is it difficult for you to be compared to him?
A: Andy: Whenever people say it it's fine with me. I've been singing probably a lot longer than he has. I like his music, but I wasn't really influenced by it. I grew up listening to songwriters like Jackson Browne and Bruce Springsteen. You know, when I heard Springsteen I started singing further down in my throat. And Tom Waits ..., Tom Waits is one of my very favorite artists. When I heard those guys I started pushing down in my throat. Townes van Zandt, John Prine and all those guys. I like the Wilco album, I like the Son Volt album, but it wasn't really an influence, because it's been pretty recent and we've been playing quite a long time.
Q: Is there another contemporary band that influences you right know?
A: Andy: A lot of songwriters mostly, like Eric Taylor, Bill Morrisey, Terry Clarc and Van Morrison from Ireland ... the Rolling Stones have always been an influence.
A: Ted: It is generally easier for people to compare you to somebody that they already know because that person is already been marketed and they are big and they are famous and so it easy to compare to another band, easier than to say: 'Well, Andy sounds like or this band sounds like ...' And you can say 'harmonies', you can say 'guitar', you can discribe the sounds, but it's so much easier to say the name of a band and don't want to say the name of a band, because I want you to think of us as being the one that someone else sounds like.
A: Andy: I think it's ok, though, because if people like Wilco and somebody says we sound like Wilco, maybe they will come and see us.
Q: You are not copying them ...
A: Dave B.: No, I never heard Wilco until after I read a review of our album and somebody said we sound like them, so: 'Who are they?'. I didn't know who they were.
A: Andy: I think we've developped our own sound. I'm confident of that, because the sound we have in Rainravens is four people, four specific people, and if one person was not there it'd be different, it'd be a different sound.
Q: Another question: How did Gram Parsons and Hank Williams influence your musical development?
A: Andy: Gram Parsons, of course, we are into that, I mean, I am, and Hank Williams ..., yeah, I didn't really grew up listening to him, but I appreciate him. I'd say neither one of those guys are my main influence, but I ... have the records.
Q: You don't play a song by Gram Parsons?
A: Dave B.: I stole a lick from 'Oooh, Las Vegas', you know, the little ... (hums the guitar lick) for 'Welcome to Nashville', it's a little breakdown.
Q: What is Austin, Texas, to you?
A: Ted: It's home. It's a really good feeling, too. We can go out and see the world and play music, but we have this very special place to call home, where springwater comes up and is fresh and you can go swimming ...it's a place where it is comfortable, it's a creative place.
Q: A last question: What do you know about Germany?
A: Ted: For us, really, what Germany means is that there is a man named Edgar H. at Blue Rose Records. And that's our connection to Germany. He brought us here. He put our record out, the first one and now the second one. That is what mostly Germany is about for us that there is a man over here who likes what we do and he's helping us to share it with the world.
Q: Thanks for the interview.
copyright 1997 by Hans Settler
Radio RUM 90,1 MHz
Rainravens unofficial site by Bernhard Rosa