The Get Right Band out of Asheville, NC, will be releasing their 5th studio album on 5/23/2020. My only complaint is that it can’t come out sooner. With 14 tracks and an edgy vibe, these songs are keeping me dancing while the #shelterinplace order continues. This is all-in, maximalist rock n’ roll for grown up people (kids and adults alike) who know the world is falling apart, who know social media is rotting our brains, who know politicians are taking away our rights, and who know that art and beauty and music and love and action are the antidotes. Itchy Soul will make you remember the power of music. Grateful Web had a chance to chat with Silas Durocher about their new album, Itchy Soul.
GW: Hi Silas! Where are you hunkered down at today?
SD: Ashville, NC
GW: Are you holding up okay?
SD: We’re good. I mean, I don’t know… we’re okay.
GW: I know how you feel! Who is on your quarenteam? Who are you hunkered down with?
SD: My girlfriend and a couple of pets.
GW: A couple of pets? Thank goodness! I want to talk about the new album, Itchy Soul. My first question is why do we have to wait? Chuckles
SD: Yeah, just the way release schedules work, I guess. May 23rd is the date. We’re all set up with album release shows and tour and everything, which is looking like it may not work out… but we’re still putting out the album
GW: Well it is keeping me dancing even through your postponed tour. Ironically, the video for Wired, when did you film that? It’s footage of a girl dancing in her bedroom which seems like it was made right now but…? I’m shocked at how everything on this album is such a sign of the times
SD: We filmed that over the holidays at Christmas time with my niece. That’s my niece who is starring in it. I filmed her while I was home visiting family in Maryland over Christmas.
GW: The lyric, “Authority hates me” with a girl dancing in her bedroom, and then to close with a blissful moment all alone in a field… gave me goosebumps. How did you do that? Did you know? Did you sell stocks? Just checking… 14 tracks on this album that run the gamut of genres, indie rock, alt-rock, folk, a touch of punk rock. Which track did you collaborate with Marc Maron on?
SD: That was However Broken It Is, Track 9. Yeah. It is all the words from his podcast, we put it together and sent it to him. He dug it and got his permission to put it on the record
GW: That was an easy collab for him then nice! I see I see, and then there was a call to action for Climate Change, which track is that?
SD: Future Blood
GW: Oh yes, my personal favorite was Pulled Up Root. That is the one I am dancing in my bedroom to right now. The lyrics, “bruises on my bruises, I’m used to it!” are great for getting a little aggression out.
GW: I don’t deal with sadness very well so that’s a nice lil gem to pull out in times like these. It’s got a little surf rock, a little punk rock… Tell me the story of how you guys came to write a rather aggressive album like this.
SD: It just developed naturally as a reaction to where the world is at and where our country is at, of course, this was well before coronavirus. We’ve been feeling a heightened sense of awareness of all the struggles and suffering but also we as people, the three of us, myself, Jesse, and Jian, are pretty upbeat people. We like to focus on the positive and see the best in things. We wanted to filter and combine those two things essentially. So Pulled Up Root, what you’re saying is basically perfect. It is a song about really dark heavy hard emotions, about the world pummeling you, but in an upbeat, high energy, danceable punk rock vibe to it. Even though we’re dealing with really heavy topics, we hope that the actual gut experience of listening to it is uplifting or at least…
GW: Oh yeah! When the response of “I’m Used To It!” comes through, it’s very empowering.
SD: Yeah, so I think it just kind of happened naturally from writing these songs over the past couple of years and seeing where the world is at.
GW: Can you tell me more about the recording process of this album? Something about most of the process was done outside of the studio?
SD: Our drummer JC Mears had the idea to work outside the studio a while back. I thought it was a little crazy at first because we didn’t have the equipment or the skills at that time that I thought would be necessary. He raised a really good point about how we could afford ourselves a lot more flexibility with experimentation. This is our fifth album, our fourth studio and we’ve put out live albums. We’ve been increasingly drawn to thinking about production and thinking about recorded music as a separate art form.
GW: It is
SD: Recording live… but one of the big limitations being an indie band as we are, is money. It’s so expensive to be in the studio. For our last studio record, we worked at this beautiful studio in Ashville, Echo Mountain, with an engineer, Julie Dryer, which was great, but it was super expensive. There’s only so much experimenting and trial and error you can do when you’re paying a bunch of money by the hour. That’s where we were like, let’s take some control, take some time, where we can experiment, we can go down the rabbit hole where these things may or may not…work out to be...
GW: Get Weird!
SD: Yeah! That’s exactly what we did. Drums are the hardest thing to record because they’re so loud, you really hear the room. You hear the sound echoing off the room, so we went to the same studio, Echo Mountain, with that same great engineer, Julie Dryer, and recorded all the drums. Then we went into my music room/ office at home and recorded the entire rest of the album
GW: No way!
SD: We were all on our own. We borrowed some equipment, bought some equipment; we did a lot of youtube tutorials. We’ve all been at it for 15-20 years so we have learned a lot along the way from other engineers. Of course, the technology now has developed to a point where you can make a record on your laptop. That was really cool to have that freedom of experimentation. Also, there is something about having your hands on the actual knob of control because as I said we’ve been looking at production and it gets to a point with an album like this where production effects and things like that are such a big part that actually becomes part of the songwriting. It’s tricky when you have the engineer as a middle man between you and the effect. For example, I might say ‘Can you turn up the echo on the vocals’ or ‘I want it to echo longer’ then halfway through you want it to echo longer. Sometimes you just gotta put your hands on the controls and try some things and experiment with some things. That was a really exciting, liberating process for us to really dive into that. It slows the process down but I think the end result is a lot more expressive of our artistry and our muses.
GW: I think it’s specific as well. It’s very subtle things that you now have control of if I’m reading you right.
GW: So speaking of experimentation, tell me about the album’s artwork. I didn’t download the app to look at it, but it’s pretty stunning as is. How does that work?
SD: It’s funny, I discovered on the internet, when we were starting to think about cover art, I discovered this whole world that I hadn’t been exposed to of online artists on Instagram. The hashtags they were using, lead me to this artist that goes by Seamless - on Instagram, it’s got an oo on the end @seamlessoo. We just loved this piece of art he had made which was this woman with a rainbow bursting out of her head. That really looked like what our album sounded like so we asked him if we could buy it. We bought it, put it on there. Then a friend of mine had gone to an art gallery that was doing augmented reality art which I never even knew was a thing. I saw her post this video of it, essentially you hold your phone up to it, the app recognizes it, and it triggers whatever you set it up to trigger. It’s a little hard to explain. I totally recommend you try it. Essentially, art comes to life. It starts making music
GW: Do I have to wait until May 23rd for this too?
SD: No! It’s up and running now
GW: Ok, cool! Exciting! Speaking of art, to lighten it up a bit, here is a fun question. If you could design a COVID-19 postage stamp, what would it look like?
SD: Hmmm… a really psychedelic depiction of the actual virus comes to mind. Like some kind of wild depiction of what the virus itself looks like, a cool way of making something beautiful out of something so destructive.
GW: Right? It could be natural. Nature is beauty. nervous laughter So what live streams are you listening to right now? My newsfeed is filled with so much talent. Are you tuning in right now to any favorites?
SD: Sure, I have mostly been tuning into friend’s bands and local bands. I just watched Eleanor Underhill, a local artist who did a great live stream. We have some friends in a band called Whiskey Rebellion in Nashville that has been doing some live streams. I haven’t really been watching much in the way of bigger artists. I do stay up on NPR’s Tiny Desk concerts. They’ve been having some great shows.
GW: Yaaaaas. Have you checked out Bob Weir & Wolf Brothers Tiny Desk? I just got the chance to interview Mikaela Davis from that. Have you heard of her?
SD: Oh yeah
GW: Of course, it’s only 20 minutes long so I need more.
GW: Ok, well I know there is a lot of anxiety with the impending world of the music industry once we emerge from all this. I would love your thoughts on that. To say you’re watching more local acts, I find myself doing that as well. I think, as much as I hate to, that indie music will have a hard time coming out from under this. Do you have any quick thoughts on that?
SD: Yeah… One thing I’ll say that gives me some confidence in the future is that the Get Right Band… We are a well-oiled machine. It’s just the 3 of us. Me and the bass player have been best friends and bandmates for 22 years. The “new guy” in the band joined 8 years ago so… We know each other very well. I’m not too worried about being able to pick up and hit the road immediately. We’re still working on promoting the album. I’m not too worried about that. What I am worried about however many months that we’re not on the road. Like every indie band, we make money from playing concerts and selling merchandise at those concerts. I haven’t actually crunched the numbers but I’m fairly certain that is 99% of our income. We get several dollar checks from streaming music
GW: Why does everything come down to the 1%?!
SD: It is that way though! That’s the crazy thing to see 99% of the business is lost. We’ll just have to see how long this goes on, how bad things will be…
GW: Yeah. My day job is working at a theatre. There is this beautiful theatre, built in 1926 that houses so many beautiful moments, sitting empty right now. It breaks my heart. The marquee says “We survived the Great Depression. We will survive this too.”
SD: That is crazy
GW: Yeah. Well on that note, do you have an inspirational thought or quote or something to share with us to help us through these dark times?
SD: The album started off with a James Baldwin quote. It’s funny, as many times as I’ve heard it, I’m not sure if I’ll quote it exactly but, “No religion, no politics, no party, is more important than the Human race.” I think that is such a beautiful sentiment and that is why we started the album off with that. James Baldwin is such a brilliant and human thinker and writer. He is a good source to turn to for inspiration.
GW: Absolutely! We are all in this together. I am super excited, not sure if I’ve said that enough, for May 23rd and the release of Itchy Soul. I hope that will be the album I can be at the bowling alley with friends listening to it by then. I just want to be around people again. And show them this album!
SD: I hear ya!
GW: Itchy Soul, a perfect cure for the stir-crazy soul. Silas, thank you so much for taking some time with us today.
SD: If you need anything at all, reach out and I’d be happy to help.
No doubt The Get Right Band will hit the ground running and we're excited to see them play live asap.