Whether you want to call it folk, country, bluegrass or Americana, one fact with this kind of music is that there needs to be genuity behind it. Any appreciator of the genre can see an imitator stick …
Whether you want to call it folk, country, bluegrass or Americana, one fact with this kind of music is that there needs to be genuity behind it. Any appreciator of the genre can see an imitator stick out like a bad stain and they also can tell whether a song is real or just spatting nonsense. There isn’t a more real way for a band to start out than by busking on the sidewalks of various cities and that’s the story behind the Lost Dog Street Band out of Nashville. Since those meager beginnings during the start of the 2010s, the act has been very much in demand and they’ll be performing at The Strand Ballroom & Theatre on 79 Washington Street in Providence on January 26th at 8pm. Charlotte, North Carolina fiddler Matt Heckler will be starting things off.
Ahead of the show, I had a talk with guitarist & vocalist Benjamin Tod about a new album the band is putting out, his experience with crowdfunding, how he doesn’t understand how five piece bands can afford to exist and what he hopes people take from the upcoming album after it comes out.
Rob Duguay: On January 21st, Lost Dog Street Band will be releasing their sixth album Glory and it’s being viewed as a return to the band’s days when they were hopping trains and busking to get by. What made you want to get back to that raw feeling and vision with this album?
Benjamin Tod: In the three previous albums we had pedal steel and drums on occasionally, so I felt that it was a good time to strip it all down, take the drums out and take the pedal steel out. While performing live, we’ve never had pedal steel and it was more of us going back to our roots and having a sound that you probably would have heard on the street at some point from the past decade or more when we were playing there. The original sort of archetype for this album was Steve Earle’s album Train A Comin’, so we got back to production, started getting really focused on the mixing aspect and getting things really good and tight. I’m really happy with it.
RD: From listening to the single “Until I Recoup (Glory I)” it sounds really good so I’m excited to hear the rest of it. Where was the album recorded and did you handle all the production yourselves?
BT: I’ve self-produced every album that I’ve ever done thus far and it was recorded in Nashville at Anti-Corporate Music Inc. Headquarters. My good friend Dan Emery who is my manager and who runs my distribution and also my sound engineer, we’ve been friends since I was 14 and he kind of raised me, helped out with the making of it.
RD: Did you do any crowdfunding for the album like you’ve done with previous releases or did you do something different? What in your opinion makes crowdfunding work for independent artists these days?
BT: I did not do any crowdfunding for this album and I think we are kind of past that phase. The last one I did crowdfunding for was my solo album Heart Of Gold Is Hard To Find and that was really more or less set up as a pre-order type of thing. Essentially, the prices were set at what they would typically be set at. In fact, I think they were set a little bit cheaper as a pre-order, it was a couple bucks less than retail. Then I had exclusive items like prints of the original handwritten pages that I wrote a lot of songs on and there were some test presses available through that so it was more or less kind of like an option of specialty items and a pre-order.
Before that, it was extremely important to our development. It was a way for us to fund albums when we didn’t have a legitimate means to do it without a larger label. I think that’s kind of what’s opening up in general for independent artists to be able to fund directly through their fan base and be able to afford the production and recording of an album.
RD: With you on guitar & vocals, your wife Ashley Mae on vocals & fiddle and Jeff Loops on bass, do you feel that your lineup is more utilitarian and economical without having the need for other members and instruments to capture the sound you’re looking for?
BT: If I could fit them in the bus and I could afford it, who knows what I would do? It takes a special kind of magic to get a group of people together that can maintain sanity throughout a tour and also be able to pay, feed and make money yourself. I don’t know how other bands do it, I’m friends with hundreds of artists, coast to coast contemporaries, above me and below me and they have five piece bands. I don’t know how you afford to feed, travel and get put up for the night every night and be able to make a profit yourself. It’s a mystery to me so it is very much utilitarian if anything.
RD: I can totally see that. What do you want people to take from Glory while listening to it after it comes out?
BT: Well, I try to make music that helps people be better at being themselves. That’s what I strive for, I also view my music as a prescription for my own insanity and it turns out to be a prescription for other people’s insanity. The idea is always on an individual basis, I want to create music that helps people be better within their own life.