Be My Guest

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Right Away Great Captain

Andy Hull is easily one of the most recongizable names in indie rock these days. Be it for his work wih larger then life Manchester Orchestra to his duo with Kevin Devine in Bad Books to his true solo project Right Away, Great Captain! For the last of the three, I got the excellent opportunity to pick his brain for a few minutes. Known for taking his lyrics purely from personal experiences, the still very young Hull has written a countless number of full length records worth of material and we were able to discuss the music that seems to come easiest.

I caught him while on his first solo tour for this project where we talked about the differences between touring with full bands compared to solo. As well as what's coming up for Bad Books, his start in music and seeing some band we may know called Nickleback. Glad to see that he didn't exactly take a lot of influence from that experience! Read on for my exclusive and check out the band as they are going on a run of shows with fellow friend to, The Front Bottoms!

Obviously you've had your share of touring. You've toured with your other bands in the past. What are the three things you must have while on the road?
Um, good podcasts! Podcasts are really important. For a band tour, I don't know it's kind of tough. So I'd say yes, good podcasts, good playlists and cough drops. Cigarettes.
Then maybe how have these shows been going over so far wih the new record just coming out?
It's been awesome! You know I've never toured really with Right Away. I've only played shows, really one off dates over the years. So I was really interested in seeing how it was going to turn out. There's really no way to know how it's going to go over if you've never played it for an audience before. Really, really surprised and overwhelmed with it. I just feel really greatful that people are interested in a side thing that is important to me nonetheless. It's cool for kids to see this different side.
With the tours that you do, it's a little bit more high maintence because you're on a bus and you're playing these big venues. How is it to be kind of just you?
This tour is cool. I miss my friends you know what I mean. The dudes in my band but I think this is so few parts then on a Manchester tour. There's no elaborate set up. This has just been nice and when we get to these venues, normally we load in and all we need is a five minute sound check. It isn't a big deal and it's definitely less stressful. Then there are really nice things about having a bus too. Waking up in a city and not driving or whatever.
Then I want to say it's been about four years between the last two records for this project in particular. Maybe how long has this one been in the making? Do you kind of go back and forth inbetween projects, writing wise?
We put this record together, just meaning like the songs, in I think March of last year. We started to just gather them up and we just started going through all the songs. The songs that I had written. My producer Robert was really important for this project, for Manchester, Just really important in my creative process. He was kind of helping me finalize the songs. So we just kind of went through about twenty five songs or probably fifty songs. Then we got them down to fifteen or twenty. By the time you finish it, you feel like you're kind of late for something. It's like a project due or homework weirdly. To answer your question, last year.
Is there a big sonic difference on this record or is it pretty similiar to the first record, in your eyes?
Yeah, I think so. I mean the first record took us three days to make. The second one took us I think six days to make and this one took us four to five. So, eventually, for that second one we were just adding more stuff but that was kind of an experiment. It just felt like it needed to be very bare bones and just pretty and I didn't feel like I did it super stripped but I wasn't nearly at the point I am with songwriting. Where I'm at now. So I just wanted a record that was just kind of me and a guitar.
Maybe, obviously, all three acts that you are a part of have been around for quite a long time now. This is obviously something very different from what you are doing with the other bands. How do you think doing three bands that are very different has helped you as an artist? To have these outlets.
It's kind of like helps round out the spectrum. Like where Manchester is, it's a lot more high energy. It's a lot more of a physically exhausting show. With this, it's kind of more of a mentally exhausting show and I think those things kind of help each other in both sides of kind of what I do but I've never been against having like really soft Manchester songs too. So it just really has more to do with the story and narrative of it.
Perfect, then maybe a soft one to end. Do you remember the first record or cassette you ever bought then the first concert you ever went to?
Oh yeah I mean I went to really bad shows. I was a big church boy. I'm trying to think of the first like cool show I ever saw. I think honestly what's horrible is that I think the first rock band I ever saw outside of a church was my eight grade year and it was this festival in Atlanta. There was a young up and coming band playing on a side stage before all the good stuff and that band's name was Nickelback. That would be my first secular rock show.
Do you remember the first record or cassette then?
No, because it was really more stuff that I would just get from my cousin. Like I think my first real rock record was Weezer 'The Blue Album' but I was seven. It wasn't until quite a while later when I tried to buy rap CD's.
Then I would hope that you don't think Nickleback influences you but you never know. Do you think those first musical experiences influenced you at all, like maybe the Atlanta scene being so diverse. Do you think that influenced you at all?
No, because we really moved out of Atlanta in order to become a band. Nobody gave a shit about us in Atlanta because we were too young and we couldn't play bars. I don't blame anybody for it. It's just that we were too young so we had to kind of develop in markets that were outside of Atlanta and then once we started getting a little bit bigger Atlanta started paying attention. We just always wanted to be the best. We wanted to be better than other bands.
Then maybe what's coming up after you're done with this tour? Are you going to try and do a bit of both for the rest of the year?
Manchester has been writing. We're releasing a Bad Books record in October then a Bad Books tour after that and then Manchester is just starting on our next record. So it will be a busy year but not that much touring going on.
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Kevin Devine

Kevin Devine is one of the stand out singer songwriters for at least a decade. I tend to link him up with another well known artist Butch Walker. Both kind of flow under the mainstream radar. That's stopping now. Kevin is fresh off the release of his second full length record collaborating with Manchester front man Andy Hull for their project Bad Books. This interview wasn't for that project though. In our new interview, we dissected what is to come now that he believes he is at the end of the touring cycle for his last solo release 'Between the Concrete and the Clouds'.

A lot about this album is up in the air. It is unclear whether it will be one or two records to be released together. One being solo work, one being full band. We don't know whether he'll be signed to a label for it or if he'll release it independantly. What we do know is that if it's anything like what we've been hearing from him for years, it will be something beautifully done. Read on for our exclusive with Kevin!

Oh, gosh!
Oh, gosh! I did read that for you, this is the last tour for 'Between The Concrete and the Clouds'. Are you working on the new one? Considering Bad Books is putting out a new album.
Well, no. That's the short answer but the longer answer is I am figuring out what I want to do for the next one. I'm kind of figuring where that process is. What I'd really like to do is make two records because I feel like something that has been really nice, like this tour I'm doing solo acoustic and Say Anything and the headlining tour were full band. We did the full band in Europe and UK and then I did solo with Cursive in the UK. I also did solo in Australia with like Bright Eyes at festivals and stuff so what I kind of always wanted to be in a position where there was me and then there was me with the band. I think the expression is really different. What it is is really different. So what I would really like to do is make one record that kind of leans into each side but how we get there, like the material is not written and I have to write at least two records of songs still, and also to try and figure out what would go where and how we were going to write those things. I think that for right now, that's still got to happen and the Bad Books thing is going to be the focus for the next however long. I'm hopeful some time next year. So we're probably not going to have stuff in order for that till sometime next year.
Going to kind of wait?
I think so. I mean I also know that when I'm home, I'm going to be home for most of the fall, I'll probably start writing because I get itchy. So, it could come together. I would love it if it came together really fast. I just don't anticipate it. It's kind of a big project to take on. I think it might take some time but hopefully by some time. I'd like to have it announced and out and maybe being on tour for the next record by summer to fall of next year.
That's still fairly quickly.
Yeah, it's fairly soon but we'll see if those songs come. Which has not been a problem so far but you never know what's going to happen. That does happen sometimes. So we'll see.
Then it has been a while since you've been on solo touring in the states.
A full US one hasn't been in six years.
So how has it been doing this between Mewithoutyou and Buried Beds?
Good and challenging. So the nice stuff. Both bands are incredible. Very different kinds of incredible but both bands are incredible. It's socially been one of my favorite tours I've ever been on and musically, it's very rare that you like both of the other bands on the bill. As much as I like those bands and it's been like fun just dicking around. Just hanging out. A lot of goofing off and stuff but also a lot of depth to it. That experience has been great. Actually performing. I think it's been really good for me to really have to figure out how to be compelling and dynamic alone between two very dynamic and compelling bands. Some nights I feel like I've done alright and some nights I feel like when people are chatting, I've let it probably annoy me more then I should. But I think in general, I would say like eighty five percent of the shows and crowds have been great. It's been great to stellar. There's been some shows where half the room is talking and stuff but I also feel like because I've had my Mewithoutyou audience generally listening but I've also had my people at all the shows. Like kids are coming out just to see me play and I feel like what I'll take away from the tour is that this is someone else's show and on average, like three hundred and fifty to six hundred and fifty people come out. So if you can get up at some one else's show and connect with people like that with just your guitar, I feel like its a reminder that I can do both. I can really feel confident about that so it's been an instructive reminder for me.
Perfect, then I did talk to Andy about three weeks ago when he was on tour with Right Away down the street.
Did they play TT's?
No, Brighton Music Hall.
We were going to maybe do that headlining show in the fall with An Horse but it ended up being at the Royale. We were maybe going to play there. I've heard it's really good.
I love that room but he talked about how they are going to start doing their new Manchester record but that Bad Books is his focus right now. You guys have that new record coming out. You guys are both strong songwriters for your projects, really being the main songwriter. How do you think the songwriting differed for you when collaborating with Andy compared to what you're doing now?
It does. It's gotten clearer over the course of making a second record how it can differ and strengthen. I think for both of us, every one has got an ego and he's a very close friend of mine and vice versa. Anyone walking around has an ego but anyone who does something performance wise definitely has one. Everyone wants their shit expressed the way they want to express it. So I feel like part of the first record was learning how, for two people that have been the primary songwriters in their projects for forever, to receed and I feel like this record was so much more like executing. It's a lot more collaborative in nature. We workshopped some lyrics together on this record which is really new for either of us. It would be like where for one or two songs in particular Andy would be like 'I'm thinking about this' and we'd sit there and be like 'Well, what does this mean? What about this?' and there's some lines that we kind of arrived at through that. That was really different for either of us. Then in terms of the music itself, it was a lot more of the best idea wins. Rather then like my idea is the best idea. The first one was like minimal stress but it was almost like I was the boss on my songs and he was the boss on his songs and this time it felt a lot more comfortable. We were like moving pieces around in each others' songs and I think the record is a lot stronger as result of that.
Perfect, then like I said, it's been like four months.
Yeah, April, yeah. It's almost four months to like the day.
Yeah so it hasn't been that long but are you going to be focusing on Bad Books and then working on your personal new record?
The Bad Books record or my record?
Your personal because I know the Bad Books record is about to come out.
We're doing October 6th through the 20th and then we're maybe going to be booking some more touring for some of the spots we don't get to do on that one. For like the new year. Outside of that, the primary thing I'll be working on musically will be getting the new records together. Record or Records. I don't know yet.
I know you were talking about that in the past. Like maybe one..or two.
Yeah, that will be the plan. And what I did with the last one when I was home from tour was just kind of go into the studio four or five days a week for some indeterminate amount of time and whatever came out. Some of those things that came out no one would ever need to know and some of them became songs. I think I'm going to do something similiar this time because it's kind of nice to get out of your apartment and feel like you're going to a studio. I know some people make these like bedroom oddesseys and when I'm working at home, I'm just so easily distracted. So I think when I actually go to our studio and work there, it feels like I'm getting the briefcase and going into the office but we'll see. There are really loose plans. The biggest thing I'm figuring out right now is whether we're going to put the record out on our own because I think that we are but that's the biggest kind of goal.
Like deciding if you're going to go independant?

Yeah. Totally independant of any music industry involvement at all. Outside of like helping distribute through an indie and independant press and independant radio. I've tried five different record labels over six records and we've done like hardcore label, indie label, major label, band-run label by 'Favorite Gentleman' and then Razor & Tie which you'd call a small major or a large indie. Outside of the experience with Favorite Gentleman and some of the experience with Triple Crown, I haven't really been enamored with any of it and vice versa. Like Capitol certainly isn't shedding any tears by not holding on to the rights of my records. So I think I have a base now which I feel I can communicate with really directly and an audience that's really responsive in that way. So I'm hopeful that taking that plunge will work on our own. These guys just did that and it went super well for them. So that's the big question. If we do decide to go that way. Like pouring the concrete and setting it up. We're actually talking to these guys a lot about how they did it because it's been really succesful for them. In self releasing records. So anyway, more to come!
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