Dayton musician, songwriter, guitarist and producer Rich Reuter joined D. J on Your Tuesday Afternoon Alternative on March 22, 2022 in Dayton, Ohio on WUDR Flyer Radio at The University of Dayton. He played live and chatted about his recent music, new EP ‘Endless Parade‘, his work on Nicholas Johnson’s Back Upstate record and his work on his next full length ‘The Captain II’. You can discover his music at bandcamp. We discussed his approach to songwriting, production and performing the music.
On Your Tuesday Afternoon Alternative this coming Tuesday — March 8th — we have a terrific electro indie pop artist, Serin Oh! We were fortunate to see her perform at the Dayton Battle of the Bands contest and were truly impressed with her stage presence, amazing voice and clever arrangements. It is fair to say that she had that audience raptured with her songs and effortless vocal delivery. She even persuaded the crowd to chant Korean to one of her songs. It was a fun, engaging and dynamic performance.
We immediately were struck by the thought that her music adds an important element to the thriving Dayton Music Scene! Born in Suwon, South Korea, Serin moved to Ohio with her family at the age of six. Growing up in church, she was surrounded by gospel music in her formative years. During her time at the prestigious Berklee College of Music she discovered her love for jazz and R&B, whilst also rediscovering her Korean roots through the lens of K-Pop.
Serin has started a musical journey in her effort to search for a sound that would allow her to express the duality and contradictions of her identity through her music. Serin’s goals extend beyond music to using music culture to create opportunities for other musicians and creatives who are often not part of music culture. She hopes to uplift ‘third culture kids’ in the creative world through her music, especially fellow ‘third culture kids and secret outcasts.’ Using music to forge connection is a welcome approach!
Tod Weidner is an institution in his home town of Dayton, Ohio. Tod is a visionary songwriter making music that drives a listener to tap their toes without realizing the impactful lyric until one has been hooked. Tod has led the incredible band Shrug for decades. The admiration for Tod’s music has been well earned from a songcraft that brims with a direct and honest rock and roll that veers across rock, indie, folk and more. Tod’s gift for writing catchy songs that open an honest dialogue is one of the most important characteristics of his music! While Tod has relocated to the Bay Area, his music continues the sonic journeys he started in Dayton.
Dr. J: What can you share with us about when and how you started writing music?
Lyrically speaking, I’ve been hugely influenced by my dad. He was a high school English and Literature teacher for over 30 years, and he passed on to me a love of words and how to put them together.
Musically Speaking, I started playing guitar in my sophomore year of high school, in January of 1986. I grew up in a rural area of Ohio, about 25 miles geographically and a thousand light years philosophically from Dayton. Underground rock (“college rock” as it was known then) was a thing, but it hadn’t really reached our sheltered little school to any real extent. We just had the radio – AOR or Top 40. If I had been more familiar with punk and DIY indie bands of the day, it may have occurred to me that I could write my own music as soon as I had a couple chords under my belt but, as it was, those radio formats instilled a feeling that these artists were untouchable superhuman beings descended down from Mt. Olympus, so the best we mortals could do was to learn how to play their music and- maybe, if we were good enough- join a cover band.
At some point around 1990, I began to realize that I didn’t have to play covers of other people’s music. The early “gateway drug” bands that lured me from the flashy ‘80s hard rock into more organic, underground stuff were Jane’s Addiction, Soundgarden, Mother Love Bone, Screaming Trees, Masters of Reality, Faith No More, and bands like that. I started coming up with riffs and developing them into truly dreadful early attempts at songs. Those bands led me to early R.E.M., Robin Hitchcock & The Egyptians, and other groups that had a little more “jangle” to their sound, and that was a turning point in my sense of songcraft. In 1993 I joined a short-lived Dayton band called Tim, which is where I first started contributing my own songs. After a year or so, I left Tim and started Shrug, and that’s where I really shifted into a higher gear. I was a sponge- I was devouring music as fast as I could find it, and learning about songwriting along the way.
Dr. J: What first led to your recording music? How do you approach production?
TW: When I was just starting out writing songs, my bandmate and I found this huge monstrosity of a stereo called a Sinclair Studio 100 at a close-out furniture store in Columbus. It was about the size of a window unit air conditioner, with a turntable, a tuner, and a dual cassette deck. The thing was, though, that it also had a setting where you could use it as a four-track recorder- the EQ sliders turned into faders, and you could record multitrack demos on it. My buddy and I each bought one, and I developed some extremely rudimentary recording chops, by trial and error. I haven’t listened to any of those cassettes I made for years and years; it would be somewhere between amusing and horrifying to hear them again.
How do I approach production? That’s a complicated question. It’s always evolving. My favorite way to do it is to get everyone in a room together and just play live. Let some happy accidents and mistakes happen- that’s where the good stuff lives. That’s not always doable, though. Sometimes space or noise limitations force you to build songs one or two instruments at a time, which gives you more control over the finished product and opens up the song to some interesting possibilities for experimentation.
There’s a time and a place for both approaches. Ideally, I like to let the song dictate the method. Having said that, I’ve been writing and recording demos alone on GarageBand lately, so building the song piece by piece is kind of the default mode for me at the moment, at least as far as pre-production goes.
The solo singles I’ve released so far and the ones in the immediate pipeline- aside from “The Boys of Summer” (which was done by myself at home) have been mostly recorded in a beautiful, big, spacious studio in Los Angeles, and I’ve been blessed to have some monster musicians on the sessions, so the lion’s share of the music gets tracked live, with vocals and some extra guitar overdubs added later. It’s a good mix of the two methods.
Dr. J: Boys of Summer is your most recent music, what led to the making of that song? What was the main influence on your recording this cover?
TW: It was serendipity- pure happenstance. I’ve always adored the original version, written by Mike Campbell and Don Henley. It’s such an evocative song about nostalgia, and it resonates with me more and more the older I get. I always thought it would be cool to cover it at some point.
So it happened that, this past New Year’s Day, 2022, I was at home, in my music room, with a few hours to kill, so I just started messing around with the song, kind of flying by the seat of my pants. I didn’t want to do a copy of the original; I never understand it when artists do that. What’s the point? I had an idea to keep it sparse- dark and skeletal, kind of turning the upbeat mood of the original into something that delivers the same sentiment in a more brooding way. Don Henley’s version is, in my eyes, sung by a successful alpha-type guy who’s reminiscing about an old flame. But he never really gets close to owning up to taking any blame in why the relationship ended. The narrator of my version of the song is a loser. He let the best thing that ever happened to him drift away, and he knows it.
I had no intention of doing anything with my version- it was just sort of something to do for a few hours. I sent it to my manager on a whim, because I knew he liked the original as much as I did. He really liked my version, and convinced me that we should release it. I have a song coming out soon that we really want all the pieces in place for, so releasing a version of a song that people are already familiar with makes a certain amount of sense from a business standpoint. We figured a cover would reach a few new ears to give us that much bigger of an audience when the “real next course” gets served up. How that goes remains to be seen, but the response to “The Boys of Summer” has been really great so far, so I’m already considering it a win.
I’m actually glad I recorded the song with no lofty goals for it to be released, because there’s a vulnerability in the vocal performance that probably wouldn’t have survived all the overthinking I would have done had I been trying for “a single”. “Quick, dirty, and instinctive” is the way to go sometimes.
Dr. J: The song ‘City of San Jose’ captures a remarkable constellation of musical influences. The song seems to have an almost 1970s feel. Is that a correct interpretation? If that is correct, did you intend to create a song that connects to that time period? If that is not correct, how would you describe the feeling of the song?
TW: No, I’d say that’s a very accurate assessment. Most of what I do is rooted in the music of the 60s and 70s, either directly or one generation removed, and most of my favorite artists were doing their best work back then.
Dr. J: How did the song ‘City of San Jose’ come together musically for you?
TW: The song is kind of a love letter to a section of the San Francisco Bay Trail near where I live. During the peak of Lockdown, it was a great place to get some exercise away from a lot of other people. I also came up with a lot of lyrics for this current batch of songs out there.
I used an alternate tuning on my guitar for that one- DADGAD, a tuning that a lot of British artists gravitated towards in the late 60s and 70s; people like Bert Jansch, John Martyn, and Nick Drake. Jimmy Page used DADGAD on a lot of Led Zeppelin tracks, as well. My original demo for the song was very much in the British Folk vein- a bit quieter, more pastoral. When we got in the studio to record the actual version it became much more upbeat, but I’m not mad about that at all. I like both approaches a lot, and the final version we did in the studio served as a good introduction to the world of “Tod Weidner as a solo artist.”
Dr. J: Where do you often derive inspiration to make music?
TW: Well, it’s a compulsion, really. Playing guitar is really the one thing in my life that never fails to make me feel better. If I’m depressed, anxious, or out of sorts, there’s nothing I like better than to just pick up the guitar and lose myself for an hour or two. It’s my form of meditation. More often than not, a kernel of an idea will pop up somewhere in the course of my aimless noodling. The “voice memos” app on my phone is overflowing with minute-long ideas that either eventually will or already have become full-fledged songs.
Lyrically, I’ve been really making an effort over the past few years to simplify. In the beginning, I delighted in using big flowery words in my songs just for their own sake. While there’s certainly nothing wrong with that, per se, I’ve been fascinated lately with the songcraft of people like John Prine, Johnny Cash, or Tom Petty: songwriters who can lay down a simple truth that everyone can relate to, but with a clever little spin on it that just makes it land like a bomb. There’s a deceptively fine art to that, and I’m always trying to get better at it. Fewer words, more impact.
Dr. J: How would you describe the music that you typically create? How has that process evolved or changed over time (especially as you think about your journey in the last few years)?
TW: My standard line about my music is “songs about Love, Loss, The Loss of Love, and The Love of Loss”. There tends to be a touch of yearning, or wistfulness, a bit of melancholy in most of my music- “Sad Bastard Music”, as some people call it. It’s not dark all the time, but I think most artists have a tendency to ruminate about things, at least the ones I gravitate to.
Moving to California from Ohio was already a big new chapter in my life in and of itself, but the prospect of starting a solo career with a new tribe of people also definitely represents a turning of the page. Dayton will always be home, and I thank my lucky stars that I got to learn how to be a musician and writer in such an amazingly fertile music scene as Dayton’s, but there comes a time when a nurturing, close-knit environment runs the risk of becoming an insular echo chamber-type situation. In all honesty, that’s what Dayton started feeling like toward the end of my time there. It was time to get somewhere new and try my stuff out on people who hadn’t known me for decades. It’s a healthy thing to do.
My dear old friend, and now manager, Jack Piatt, has always championed my music, and through him, I’ve gotten to meet and work with people out here from very different backgrounds than mine. Which is also a healthy thing to do. Nomad, the gentleman who has produced my first five singles, has a resume that includes- among other things- a long stint as Babyface’s musical director. So he has a strong background in Soul and R&B, and that gives him a much different perspective than I have, coming from a more-or-less strict rock background. The “me” from 10 or 15 years ago would’ve been very skeptical of working with someone like that. But, as I said, this is a major new chapter of my life and career. I told myself, “Tod, you’ve been doing things a certain way for over 25 years. If you want to continue in the same bubble you’ve been operating in, you might as well just go back to Dayton and record the usual stuff with the same people at the same places.” If I want to get somewhere new, it’s a good idea to take some new outside advice, be open to change, and let go of some of my innate urges to control every aspect of the situation. I decided to start saying “yes”, instead of, “I dunno, that’s not how I usually do it.” And I have to say- it’s been working out really well so far. It’s refreshing, and exciting.
Dr. J: What is next for you musically? How would you describe your thoughts at this point for your next project?
TW: The next single is coming out sometime in February, and I think it’s going to really surprise people who are familiar with my back catalog. I’m very excited about this track, and the people I recorded it with. That’s all I want to say about it for now.
The plan is to release a digital single at a rate of about one a month, and eventually end up with enough songs for a full, physical album. I’m still old school enough that I like to hold a record or a CD in my hand and read liner notes and whatnot.
I came out of Lockdown with about 20 new songs, and I’m as proud of them as any I’ve ever written; I really believe it’s some of my best work, and I am dying to get on the road and play them for people.
Dr. J: What is your favorite song to perform live? What is your favorite song to perform in general? What makes that song a current favorite in your performances?
TW: I don’t know if I have a favorite song to perform. I have favorite types of songs, maybe. I love playing a song that lets me stretch out and go somewhere on the guitar because, at the end of the day, I still think of myself as a guitar player.
And I love a song that I can crawl inside and live in while I’m singing it. I just want to play something that moves people. That’s the objective: to play with sincerity and move people. There’s not much point in doing anything else.
Dr. J: What is one message you would hope that listeners find in the unique nature of your latest music?
TW: Well, as I said earlier, I tend to lean toward the darker end of the emotional spectrum with my songs, but lately- with this latest batch of songs, especially- I’ve been making more of a concerted effort to include a little ray of sunlight here and there in the songs. With the last several years of trauma and uncertainty, I think Hope is a valuable, rare commodity, and people need as much of it as they can get.
Music, and Art in general, serves multiple purposes: it can provide a feeling of escape for the listener, a chance to forget their troubles and go somewhere else for a few minutes. That’s a lovely thing.
But Music can also be a hand to hold in the dark. It can tell the listener, “You’re going through some painful times. I know how you feel, I feel that way, too. Let’s feel that way together.” That can be a beautiful thing, too- letting the listener know they’re not alone. I know Music has gotten me through some dark days and nights, and if my songs can help someone in that way, then I’ve done my part.
Dr. J: As a musician, how are you adapting to the challenges of the Coronavirus?
TW: Same as everyone, I suppose. It depends on the day. I miss playing shows, I know that. I hope that, sooner than later, I can get back to playing a gig without worrying about people going home sick. I’m also very aware of the privileged position from which I’m speaking.; my wife has been working from home, and we’re getting by alright. A lot of folks don’t have that luxury.
The silver lining for me, as a musician, has been the enforced down time. As I mentioned, it’s allowed me to really buckle down and work and produce a lot of songs I’m proud of. I’m thankful that I have songwriting as a way to work out my fear, dread, and anxiety. Again, a lot of people don’t have an outlet like that.
I guess it comes back to what I touched on in the previous question. As a singer/songwriter during this whole mess, I have a responsibility to reflect the times, relate to the listener, and provide them with some degree of solace. All things considered, it’s not a bad job to have.
We want to extend our sincere gratitude to Tod for answering our questions and continuing to make some really excellent music! Click on the links throughout the article to visit his social media or to listen to various songs that were discussed! If any musicians or artists would like to participate in future ’11 Questions with…’ columns, please feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. All photos and images courtesy of Tod Weidner.
Indie rockers No One Sphere – Dave Mann’s post-Mittenfields project – is certainly picking up steam in early 2022. Later this month (March 18th to be precise), the group releases their debut full length ‘Isn’t Everything About Something‘ on the Broken Sound Tapes label out of Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
The album was recorded with Jarrett Nicolay at Mix Tape Studios in Alexandria, VA. To say that Jarrett contributed to the sound of this project would be a vast understatement. Jarrett not only lent his production skills to the effort, he played all of the instruments as well. Mann and Nicolay together crafted a unique sonic vision.
The band’s album captures the diverse musical influences of Mann’s kaleidoscopic and encyclopedic sonic grasp. The arrival of No One Sphere fills a need for an indie rocker that is not a statement about something, a song that is not pretentious or precious. The single Ceiling Fan manages to create a chantlike chaos of melodic deconstruction that is similar to the musical heart of Wilco’s experimental period. The slinky stagger of the bass line moves along a jazzy rhythm that would not be out of place on a funk record. The lyrics sway from meaningful self disclosure to deliberate non-sensical rhyming. In that way, the song feels akin to Wilco’s deconstruction era of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and A Ghost is Born. Yet the jangly indie rock center of the song has a Pixies-like gravity.
Ceiling Fan pulls from many classic independent influences in its barely over three minute length. Listeners hear elements of Wire, Gang of Four, mid-’90s era R.E.M., the before mentioned Pixies, Half Japanese and The Replacements.
If the music industry were a fair minded affair, No One Sphere would be at the top of everyone’s new album recommendations. You can follow No One Sphere on Twitter and Instagram. We also recommend that you keep an eye out on their YouTube channel!
RIYL: Wire, Gang of Four, The Pixies, Half Japanese, R.E.M., The dbs, and The Replacements
Samantha J. King joined Dr. J in the studio for Your Tuesday Afternoon Alternative on Tuesday, February 8, 2022. This was our sixth show of 2022! Sam talked about her approach to songwriting, where she draws inspiration for her music, her experience of working on music with Patrick Himes in the Reel Love Recording Studio and much more! Sam’s current song, Southpark released on January 7th and is available everywhere you can experience music.
You can watch more videos of past studio guests on this page or over at our YouTube Channel. Past episodes of YTAA are available on Mixcloud. If you have questions, comments or suggestions, please contact Dr. J on gmail at drjytaa.
This concept video for ‘Sweet Smell of Success’ from German musician Molly Nilsson‘s latest album ‘Extreme‘ just out on January 15, 2022 is our latest video of the day. The melancholy of this song is built around powerful guitars and a swirling mix that continues the evolution of sound away from the neo-synth of her previous music. The song holds a heavy ‘almost’ shoegaze feel. Combining elements of pop, indie, shoegaze and synth, Nilsson sings about a begrudging optimism delivered in her impassive vocals that deliver emotion without having direct statements about love, shame or anger. The chorus will become stuck in your head for days. Check out her other music on bandcamp.
Drummer turned guitarist Kim Ware has been making emotionally powerful indie folk rock since 2009’s Bring on the Tambourines! Her last full length, 2019’s Prose and Consciousness merged her sense of melody with layered songwriting that pulled the listener into a rich world of Southern culture, meditations on life and efforts to improve ourselves. Kim’s music often raises questions about how we make real lasting relations in our communities. Stand out tracks like ‘Three’, ‘His Name was the Color that I Loved’ and ‘Wants + Needs’ brought Ware’s mature songwriting together with music that allows listeners to feel the experience even if it is for all too brief a moment. Kim has continued to release new music such as 2021’s ‘capital R (single)‘ and 2020’s powerful ‘Stopped Making Plans‘ and ‘Things Will Be Better in the Morning.’ These songs demonstrate her commitment to intelligent musical discourse. It was a real pleasure to correspond with Kim about her music.
1. What can you share with us about when and how you started writing your latest song, ‘Stopped Making Plans’?
This song had some pretty weird origins that were both very intentional but also very accidental at the same time! I say that because it came to be thanks to an assignment for a songwriting group I’m part of.
We meet on Mondays; it was a Sunday afternoon and I thought, “I don’t have a new song to share tomorrow.” The prompt was “foreign languages” so I simply started by thinking about countries I’d like to visit. My mind went to Germany first; my husband is from there but I’ve never visited. I was thinking about how my friend Andy had also booked a trip to Italy in late 2019 but of course it didn’t happen.
Anyway, I sort of organized those thoughts to be more about plans falling through, and missing loved ones. In the case of the Italy mention, rather than focusing on Andy’s trip I very intentionally thought about Michele Gazich. He plays violin for Mary Gauthier, and though I don’t know him well I’ve met him at Song School in Colorado, and we’re friends on Facebook. Back around last February / March, before Covid had severely impacted the US but was taking its toll on Italy, where he lives, he was posting about what was going on. It was so frightening. That, plus my working for a major digital publisher at the time (which happens to be health-focused), led me to take all this pretty seriously from the very beginning.
It’s been such a mental and emotional drain. I kept thinking it might be something I’d write about but it all just seemed too big. Suddenly, approaching it this way (very indirectly at first) just worked. Once I realized what I wanted the song to capture (the trials of last year, with a focus on plans being cancelled), it came together pretty quickly.
I also feel the need to say before writing it I had just finished reading Viktor Frankl’s “Man’s Search for Meaning” for graduate school. In it, he focuses a good bit on hope, and imagining a future, and how important it is to our existence. That seemed to be top of mind – that the roughest part of all this, for me (a natural planner) was adapting to not making plans.
2. In the past you have had strong collaborations, did the coronavirus/Covid-19 situation change how you wrote and worked on the song?
Very much. In November 2019, the Good Graces played our release show for “Prose and Consciousness.” That was such a wonderful experience, like everything just came together for that show. Little did we know we’d only be able to play a couple more together. I would have loved to have included the folks who played that show with me on this song, but logistically that’s a lot harder to coordinate now. I also moved last summer, from Atlanta (where they are all based) to North Carolina, to be closer to elderly family members. The combination of Covid plus just being in a place where I don’t know as many musicians meant I felt very, very isolated. That’s definitely changed how I work on music now. I wrote the song alone, and then recorded my guitar and vocal tracks at home. I sent those to engineer/producer Jerry Kee, and he added everything else. We’re working on a full album this way. Though it’s not what I would have imagined had you asked me last year how I’d make my next album, it’s working really well.
3. ‘Stopped Making Plans’ is a song that explores the impact of the pandemic, police violence and other social issues, did you set out to address these particular ideas when starting to work on that song?
Not at all! As I mentioned up top, it didn’t start out being about that at all. But, it quickly turned into that. I just wanted to be very honest. Those are the things that took so much of my mental energy and empathy last year. So once I started going there, I couldn’t really avoid them.
4. Many of your songs have addressed the strength or weakness of social bonds – is that a correct interpretation of some of the lyrics and the feel of your music? If that is correct, do you intend to write about social bonds and connections or did the song evolve in that direction over time?
That’s so interesting, and really insightful. I put a lot of thought into relationships, I suppose. And not just a-b relationships, but like my place, my role in a given community. How we all “relate”. And connections – that’s definitely something I’ve been very focused on exploring, for years now. All that said though, I don’t think I ever intentionally write about them. I’m very much an in-the-moment songwriter. Something comes to me, and I try to follow it. Sometimes I can shape it into something that makes some sense, but as often it falls by the wayside, I guess to make room for something else. I’m studying to get my master’s in counseling, and social bonds and connections is a big focus there. So I imagine that will continue to come up, either directly or indirectly, in my music.
5. How did ‘Stopped Making Plans’ come together musically for you?
Once I figured out the direction and general melody, the vocal part came together quickly. That tends to be what happens for most of my songs. The guitar part was the challenge. I’d say my finger-picking skills are pretty novice. But I really pushed myself to give this particular guitar part a real “part,” a real presence in the song. Really I thought the recorded version would stay pretty minimal. So I worked really hard to figure out that guitar melody and actually be able to execute it. The bridge was particularly tricky! But finally I got it; it’s a lot different from my playing on most all my other songs which is typically either very strummy and rhythmic, or very very simple, repetitive picking. Anyway, as I mentioned above, once I sent it to Jerry he had a very different vision for it! At first I wasn’t sure about it, but by the end I really loved everything he brought to it (and I still have my original demo with just me – that’s posted on my Bandcamp, too – If I ever really feel like hearing or sharing that more minimal version).
6. Where do you often derive inspiration to make music?
I think of songwriting a lot like dreams. I’ve always thought dreams just “mean” whatever you decide they mean, and if you asked someone else, they might have a very different interpretation. To me, dreams seem to mostly just be a way of processing whatever has happened that day. Songs are very much the same. I process through them. I’m not sure I “figure stuff out,” but – when I get it right – I manage to put something pretty complex and challenging for me to even talk about into a 3-or-4-minute piece of art. That is just the coolest thing to me! It’s the single thing I love most about songwriting.
So I guess I’m saying I get inspiration from challenges – but it’s almost never intentional. My mind just always wants to solve problems, I think. Or at least take a complex problem and break it down into something simpler, more manageable. I think it’s my need to do that that inspires me to write songs. It’s my means of processing.
7. How would you describe the music that you typically create? How has that process evolved or changed over time (especially as you think about your journey from Set Your Sights (in 2017) to Prose and Consciousness (2019) to your recent music)?
I think it’s always been really personal and honest. That’s sort of the metric for me; sometimes I write for “side projects” and one of the things that makes it a Good Graces song vs. a song for one of those other projects is if it’s so honest that I’d probably be uncomfortable talking about it.
I think that’s been consistent, from my very first song back in ’07 or so. It’s evolved a lot; I guess it’s gotten a little more polished? And I’ve had a lot of different folks contribute to it over the years. They’ve all inspired and had an influence on me, the songwriting, and the final product in one way or another. I do think now I’m starting to veer just slightly from Americana and folk and maybe more towards indie and bedroom pop (which is a place I’m also pretty familiar with, I think my 2014 album “Close to the Sun” was more that sort of style). The southern influence isn’t going anywhere though, I think that’s unavoidable due to my vocals. But working with Jerry here recently, and him adding things like drum machine and keys, has made me realize a sort of different way to present the songs.
8. What is next for you musically? How would you describe your thoughts at this point for your next project after Stop Making Plans?
Jerry and I have about 16 or 17 songs we’re trying to get through this year. I think we’ve finished up 5 so far. I’d like to release a few more singles and then maybe around the fall or so start pulling everything together for an album. But that said, last year taught me to just sort of be more in the moment and not get too married to any one idea or method when it comes to releasing music. I recently launched a Patreon which I’m really enjoying – my focused is shifting just a little from “the next album” to “what am I making this week?” I will always love making albums though, and the format, it’s just that right now it feels like there’s got to be something more, or different from that, you know? One thing I’ve noticed is that I’m pretty burnt out on the traditional way of making and promoting music. It was getting so focused on likes, pageviews, followers, etc. That’s why I like doing things like Patreon. Sure, it’s great if the numbers go up. But for me what’s far more important is the connection I’m making through songs. If I’m even lucky enough to make one. That’s the greatest thing. I’m trying to focus more on little things that remind me of that connection.
Oh! I also recently launched a podcast that sort of talks about these things so I may as well plug that here! It’s called Quarantined With the Good Graces and you can find it on most all the podcast platforms. It’s an interview podcast and I’m releasing a new episode each Tuesday. At the moment, I’m focusing as much on that as I am my songs, and it feels really right to me.
9. What is your favorite song to perform? What makes it a current favorite in your performances?
It’s almost always “7-Year Sentence (Going to Hell)”. Back in Atlanta, I’d usually have a group of friends come sing the end choruses with me. It was a highlight of our shows, and really cathartic. I tend to sing that song louder and more emotionally than a lot of my other songs, and it always feels really good.
10. What is one message you would hope that listeners find in the unique nature of your latest music?
That we’re all struggling through this in our own way. If nothing else connects us, I think that does.
11. As a musician, how are you adapting to the challenges of the Coronavirus?
I’ve really been trying to immerse myself in my new life – my husband and I moved into my aunt’s old farmhouse at the beginning of this year. It’s right beside my dad’s peach orchard. He passed away a couple of summers ago, but being here, right beside everything that was so much a part of him, I feel really close to him. The other day I walked around the perimeter of the orchard; it was soooo cold! But during that time, I thought, this is exactly where I’m supposed to be, and exactly what I’m supposed to be doing in this moment. I guess that’s how I’m trying to adapt. By being present and focused on thethings that are important.
I left my day job at the beginning of the year (2021), so I could focus more on school and all this life stuff with the house and my family. So, I’m still sort of trying to figure out what my new life even is. But I’m also doing some things that I wanted to do but never had time to. I took an online improv class through Second City and I absolutely loved it. And I’m currently taking a songwriting class. That’s a little more like “work” for me, which is interesting. But I’m grateful to have a little more time to spend on that now. I’m viewing this time as a transition for me; I don’t feel particularly settled yet, but I feel like that’s starting to come more into view.
We want to extend our sincere gratitude to Kim Ware for answering our questions and continuing to make some really excellent music! Click on the links throughout the article to visit Kim’s social media or to listen to various songs that were discussed! If any musicians or artists would like to participate in future ’11 Questions’ columns, please feel free to email us at email@example.com. All photos and images courtesy of Kim Ware/The Good Graces.
This week we joined in the studio with some incredibly authentic Americana musicians, The Touchy Feelys! Their latest record Breakup Songs about Staying Together is available now! Andrea Dawn Courts and Jason Trout — collectively known as The Touchy Feelys — are incredible songwriters and vocalists. The ability to create meaningful songs about the pressures, pushes and pulls of relationships and make those feelings understood within a prism of release for each listener is a rare talent. To call these songs evocative is to give a slender acknowledgement to the portent captured in this record. Produced, engineered and mixed by The Wizard Patrick Himes at Reel Love Studios in Dayton, Ohio, this record captures a raw authentic feel when two voices collide together around a swirl of guitars, drums, upright bass, piano and more. Our good friend Mr. Himes did incredible duty on this record! Patrick contributed drums, guitar, piano, organ, banjo, mandolin, omnichord, xylophone, vibraphone and pedal steel. Yeah, he helped out a little. But no matter the brilliant cacophony, without excellent songwriting and emotional singing, even the best of intentions would fall flat. We are happy to say that is not the situation here. These songs are the real deal.
Whether Andrea Dawn or Jason take the lead, there is an inescapable realization that these songs come from a genuine and authoritative vision. The best moments for me are when they sing together complimenting their individual strengths. Andrea Dawn has voice that draws from great roots voices of the past yet turns her phrasing around into something quite modern and relatable. Jason sings each song as if it is to be the last song he ever sings. These songs should be heard. Any fans of country, folk, Americana and roots music would be well served to give this album a passionate listen. Standouts on the record for us at YTAA include the driving ‘Hard Time,’ the rollicking “If You Weren’t My Lover,” the propulsive “Left Me Lonely” and the pensive “On High Lullaby.”
We are looking forward to speaking with them this week in the studio! Join us from 3-6pm on Your Tuesday Afternoon Alternative on WUDR Flyer Radio.
Hello There Music Friends,
Today on Your Tuesday Afternoon Alternative we have new music from Kurt Lee Wheeler, The Lighthouse and the Whaler, Cat Ridgeway, Jason Matu, Chapell, Rise Against, Ghost Hounds, Bat Fangs, Moviola, The Color Fred, On the Runway, Oh Condor and much more.
This week we will be spotlighting several artists such as The Grief Brothers, Peter Hall, Burning Ferns and Bandicoot who are on the V4Velindre charity mixtape created by Kevin McGrath! We will be playing a #rearviewfrontview set of songs from The Connells. As well as discussing what it means to go to a music show in 2021.
So, join Dr. J & Flower for YTAA over at Flyer Radio
The 11 Questions with… column returns with guitarist, songwriter Nick Kizrinis! He graciously answered these questions about his latest music projects. We want to publicly thank him for taking the time to answer these questions!
Nick has been involved in numerous music projects. He first picked up a guitar at the age of 12 and one could say that he never really put it down. Some of his earliest music followed the creative playfulness of the surf rock guitar sound. The overlooked band The Mulchmen played an updated surf rock that captured the energy of that style while simultaneously exploring new musical terrain.
Nick has released some tremendous solo work including the incredible ‘Into the Loud’ that expanded on the guitar driven rock genre with a touch of pastiche and a heart full of passion. More recently, Nick has explored the textures of guitar driven melody with elements of jazz and swing in The Nicky Kay Orchestra. Work with several notable Dayton musicians like Paige Beller led Nick to an enthusiasm for adventurous lyrical expression. This led to the expansive latest record, The Distance. A musical work that stretches across rock, folk, Americana, jazz and more. That record includes the contributions of veteran songwriters and performers Kate Wakefield (Lung), Mark Patterson (Son Volt), Tod Weidner (Shrug), “Crazy” Joe Tritschler and Patrick Himes (Bribing Senators, Black Jacket Symphony, Reel Love Recording).
The Distance demonstrates Kizirnis’ remarkable skill as a guitarist and a songwriter. Bridging musical spaces that make for an emotional listening experience, the record reveals lessons to be learned about the affairs of the heart. The collaborative process that Nick undertook allowed him to move past any limitations of his own perspective and voice and give flight to songs that drew stories about life, love, loss and the discontinuity of connection that is universal to all of us.
The album begins with the emotional devastation of ‘The Beginning’ in which Wakefield sings powerfully about loss with lilt that has the impact of a million sledge hammers, especially when she sings ‘used to hold me as I slept at night, now I sleep alone’. ‘Way To Me’ counters with an almost hopeful quality that the path back to one another may be difficult and treacherous but is not and should not be impossible. And then ‘The Distance’ patiently takes the listener into the social dislocation of impending separation where the music and the lyrics wrap and twist around one another implying and delivering that sense of falling apart. And that is only the first three songs on this record! Listening deeply to ‘The Distance’ and not experiencing an emotion is simply not possible. The inclusion of a few covers on this collection of songs only adds depth to the ideas explored.
Built by many gifted players over several years, Kizirnis has created an album that bridges different tones, textures and colors that explore the dilemma of love, concern and connection without unnecessary drama.
Dr. J: What can you share with us about when and how you started writing your latest album The Distance?
Nick Kizirnis (NK): I started writing the songs for the album back in 2016 as a challenge to myself to see if I actually could do it. I’d written a lot of songs before, but most of them were actually instrumentals.
I started waking up at 5am every day to write, which turns out to work well for me (I still do it today). Once I had a good routine (coffee, write, more coffee) I found that the work of writing became easier, and then I found other times that I could take advantage of because I was ready. And it became really enjoyable.
At some point I realized that writing for my own singing voice was really limiting what I thought I could do with these new songs. I decided that my songs could be in anybody’s voice, it didn’t have to be mine. Suddenly that limitation disappeared, and everything started coming together.
Around the same time my friend Mark Patterson was in town and we decided to give the songs a try between his tours with Son Volt. Patrick Himes challenged me to just come in and record a song. At that point everything started to move forward very naturally.
Dr. J: You worked closely with several local musicians, especially Kate Wakefield, what led to your collaborations? Can you discuss your partnership with Kate?
NK: After deciding that I didn’t have to sing the songs, I started thinking about where else I could take the idea of removing limits I usually put on myself (that is do it mostly myself). I started asking other friends to come in and play guitars and other parts that I would usually do. I invited Patrick, Tod Weidner, Kate Wakefield and Joe Tritschler see what would happen when they interpreted the songs. While I was still playing a lot on the record, I intentionally took my hands of the steering wheel and listened to what everyone else came up with and let that guide the recording process.
I would work out the arrangements with Mark, then we would record demos of each song, get everything mapped out, and send them to everyone so that they would know what we were going for. And then everyone would come into the studio and recorded what they felt the song should be. It was a great experience to watch these songs evolve as we all worked together.
The band (or part of the band) would record a few songs, scheduled around Mark’s tours with Son Volt. Kate was also on tour with Lung during this time so she would record vocals and cellos separately. Between Lung and Son Volt, Mark and Kate have never met. Kate worked off my demos or the band’s rough tracks, using them as a reference to build out the melodies and harmonies. Regarding the cello, those parts were always thought of as mood/texture – same as the keyboards Patrick would play later. We ended up with a couple of songs, especially “The Distance,” where the cello and keys created a very heavy mood, which I loved – and which I had never planned for on the original demos. That was one of the many great things about the process. We would build these songs up and then opportunities would present themselves.
I want to mention here how amazing and generous everyone was, and how grateful I am for the help and support and their friendship. Patrick is an amazing multi-instrumentalist and studio magician and really know how to work with me through the process of making album. Mark taught me all about touring and running a band when I was a teenager, and through his years in Austin is this brilliant “song-writers drummer” … he helped coach me through the song arrangements and that alone was an amazing experience. Tod has been a friend and I’ve long admired his singing, playing and writing. Kate is my favorite singer in the world, and I think she’s an amazing cellist with a really unique voice and also a great songwriter. Then of course there is Joe who has been my friend and musical partner for years. Joe. The brilliance and “effortlessness” in his playing is so inspiring, and I feel very lucky to have played, recorded and travelled with him over the years.
And while I’m at it, I really appreciate Rachel Botting’s beautiful album artwork, Sean Haney’s precise mastering, and Scott Kinnison at ATOM Records who has been releasing my albums since 2000. To have that kind of support is truly amazing and I am very grateful.
Dr. J: ‘Tell Me Tomorrow‘ is a personal favorite, so I am curious about it. The song is catchy and very different than some of your previous music. What were you trying to capture with that song?
NK: Thank you! That song is different, maybe even from the rest of the album. I’m really happy with it. By the time I started that song I was knee-deep into songs about heartaches and heartbreaks, and of course this one was going to the same, but it’s actually about trying to on after a relationship falls apart. So it’s bit stronger – it rocks a bit harder (for me), and as you said, and for some reason it’s catchier. All of the other songs have people who are caught or left behind in their relationships, but this is the first one who is actually breaking free (actually it’s the second, I’ll let you guess who was the first). It was always intended to be the last song on the album, and it actually is IF you think of the last three as more of a coda to the album (which I do).
I did not know that Kate would add a mini-choir to the end of the song. That’s one of my favorite moments of the album, I love the way it works with Tod’s guitar solo. There are a few moments like that on the album where vocals, cellos, keys, and guitars work together and add textures that I’ve always wanted to hear (but didn’t know it).
Dr. J: ‘The Distance‘ also seems to addresses not simply physical separation but social distance. If that is correct, did you intend to address that theme? Is there a theme to the songs on the record as a whole?
NK: ‘The Distance‘ is a collection of songs about the loss of love, separation and emotional distance … but I never thought of the album as having a theme or concept. In my mind I was thinking about how albums by Roy Orbison, Gram Parsons, George Jones and similar artists collected these sad love songs and stories and presented them not as a theme but maybe as a soundtrack for the sad and lonely, maybe as they drive around late at night all alone. I’ve had people tell me as much, which feels nice – oh, not nice, I guess but validating.
Social distance is an interesting observation … all the songs on ‘The Distance‘ deal with relationships ending and people leaving, but also the emotional and social separation of partners and their interactions as they go through these ordeals. Not sure if that’s what you are getting at it, but it seems like everyone on the album goes through it in quite a bit of detail.
Dr. J: How did The Distance come together musically for you? What was it like to collaborate on a video for the song?
NK: I was looking for the chance to collaborate on a music video during the pandemic – obviously all plans were halted, we were all trying to figure out what to do. (Artist/Animator) Katie Marks reached out to me with a treatment for “The Distance” and I loved it. Katie went all out, creating 2,000 images, elaborate puppets and backgrounds, and an amazing storyline that really communicated the song in a new way. It was such a great experience for me and I hope folks will check out the video and Katie’s other work (www.katieannmarks.com) … and hopefully it’s a good example of what can happen when two people get together and trust in each other to make something really exciting.
Dr. J: Where do you often derive inspiration to make music?
NK: I’ve been listening to music since I was kid – at first it was Elvis, Johnny Cash, Duane Eddy, and then a crash course in jazz, blues and classic rock before I discovered punk. By then I started playing guitar, I was in a band, and I wanted to write my own songs based on all this music that inspired me.
At first it was the sounds that artists made – with their instruments, but later in the recording process. To this day it’s a huge influence. But as time passed, the stories that artist told and how they told them (through lyrics, voice, instruments, recordings, arrangements) really motivated me. I’ve always wanted to figure out “how did they do that,” and that’s led me to listen to many styles of music to better understand and to take away as inspiration.
Sometimes that can result in a very weird mix of inputs – imagine a mix tape with GBV’s “My Son Cool” and the first Trio Bulgarka album and Sleepwalk (Danny Gatton’s version). But I love it all. I love discovering new music and realizing that there’s so much I have yet to hear (and so much amazing music still to be made).
Dr. J: How would you describe the music that you typically create? How has that process evolved or changed over time (especially as you think about your journey across your various projects such as your earlier music – I am a big fan of ‘Into the Loud’, the Nicky Kay Orchestra, The Distance)?
NK: I have always been interested in playing different styles and exploring different sounds, and so I’ve never stayed in one place too long – I started in Ramones/Replacements punk rock, then Devo/CVB/Robyn Hitchcock/XTC – influenced indie/alternative, and it just kept changing from there, including alot surf instrumental, some rockabilly, and finally what I think I do now, which in my mind is a combination of all these things – but not directly.
I used to write with a band, within a style of a band. Now my main focus is on writing songs that I could perform on my own but could also play in record in other styles with different sounds. It’s a great feeling to not worry if a song doesn’t fit a style or genre for a specific band. I love having a band, I love having friends to work with, but for whatever reason when I get outside of a given group I am more creative and productive. Maybe that will change as I learn to be a better songwriter, which would be fine with me! I’m enjoying the journey, it makes me feel happy.
Dr. J: What is next for you musically? How would you describe your thoughts at this point for your next project after ‘The Distance’?
NK: I am very happy with how ‘The Distance’ turned out and how it was received, so now I am also asking myself “what’s next”? I thought I would just keep writing, maybe in the same style, and then the pandemic put an end to any expectations. I didn’t write for a few months, and when I did the songs were very different. That’s fine of course, who knows what songs will become, but it did make me start to wonder where I would go from here. Now I have enough songs to start work on another album, and while I don’t feel it will sound like The Distance, I do think there are sounds and ideas that will be a continuation, or a next step.
I’m challenging myself again – how can I continue to improve? What do I need to learn? Who could I work with to help me progress? It’s all really interesting to me, just to find out what I can explore as a songwriter. Last time I worked alone, then brought in a friend to help with arrangements, and then had more friends really take over the recording, although I was still there to direct. Where could I go from there? What else can I do to experiment?
Dr. J: What is your favorite song to perform? What makes it a current favorite in your performances?
NK: “Cone Back to Me” from The Distance is definitely my favorite. I’ve played it with the band, as well as solo (for the NPR Tiny Desk Contest, as well as live), and we are working on a video for it. It was the second song we recorded together (the first was “The Beginning”) and it turned out so well that I was really encouraged to continue working on the album. I’m very happy with how the song turned out, but really the experience of recording it was a great one. “Slipping Away” is another one, because I get a lot of positive feedback about it (always nice!), I made a fun video for it with Sam Manavis, Mark and I had a great time arranging it, and it just turned out right (I think).
Dr. J: What is one message you would hope that listeners find in the unique nature of your latest music?
NK: Well, this may sound strange considering most of the songs on the album are about the loss of love and the failure of relationships, but through the songs and the way we recorded them I hope the listener will hear that love and every happiness that brings is possible – even when we have some seemingly bad experiences and/or learn some hard lessons. Maybe some of these songs remind people of their own experiences and help them see that here they are, they’ve been able to learn and move on.
(I actually wish those experiences on no one ever, but hopefully whatever people do go through will help them get to a better place in their lives).
Dr. J: As a musician, how did you adapt to the challenges of the Coronavirus? Is that changing for your now as music events are opening up again?
NK: The big thing for me was recording at home and collaborating with other friends and musicians virtually. I had recorded songs but never anything I would think about releasing. I had the opportunity to record music for an animated short titled “Darryl” produced by Lydia Kladtis at the University of Dayton. I recorded guitars and sent the tracks to Kate Wakefield who added cello and vocals. We produced three short songs for the film.
That motivated me to record an (unreleased as of yet) acoustic instrumental EP following the same process. Once the record is finished we are going to create a second version with a friend that will be a percussion-based, completely remixed treatment of the same songs. All remote.
That went so well that I started reaching out to other musicians to contribute tracks to some new songs I have been writing. Soon we’ll take my tracks and theirs to the studio and merge them with new in-studio tracks.
I also recorded a song for The Breeders where we were in their home studio, but everything was being edited and mixed at another studio in New Orleans at the same time. It was a really fun experience.
So, I guess being quarantined led me to an opportunity that was always there but I never took advantage of. I’m excited about what else I may be able to do once I’m better at recording and collaborating with other people.
You can follow Nick Kizirnis on various social media including:
We want to extend our sincere gratitude to Nick Kizirnis for answering our questions and continuing to make some really excellent music! Click on the links throughout the article to visit Nick’s social media or to listen to various songs that were discussed! If any musicians or artists would like to participate in future ’11 Questions’ columns, please feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. All photos and images courtesy of Nick Kizirnis, Andy Valeri, Chris Cosenza and Jennifer Taylor Photography.
The modern folk-rock duo from Dayton known as The Nautical Theme have released their latest video from their recently released EP ‘Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed‘ entitled ‘Somewhere Just Ok (But Not Alright)’. The EP includes this new song, plus an older song and a Jimmy Eat World cover. The lifting arrangement carries lyrics that are profoundly felt and universally shared by all of us. Keyboardist, vocalist Tesia Mallory and guitarist, vocalist Matt Shetler formed the group in 2017. When you listen to them sing you will feel as if they were born to sing together. The harmonies between them can send shivers down your spine.
The EP can be found everywhere you stream and download music. We highly recommend grabbing the music from TNT’s bandcamp page! Those of us in the Dayton area can see them play St. Anne’s Hill Porchfest on August 21, 2021 at 4pm.
Returning after twenty years since their last record (‘Old School Dropouts’), The Connells have just released a lyric video for the title track from their new record ‘Steadman’s Wake.’ The song captures social commentary on the opioid epidemic and more. With a build that leads to a rousing chorus and stunning guitar solo, this song captures many challenges in the current zeitgeist without leading listeners to predetermined conclusions. If the rest of the album is as captivating as the early singles ‘Really Great‘ and ‘Steadman’s Wake‘ suggest then the band in on most solid terra firma.
The album releases on September 24th and we could not be more excited.