Showing posts with label Austin Collins. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Austin Collins. Show all posts

Sep 6, 2010

Texas Day 4

Thanks to uh... somebody (sorry, it's been so long I forgot who), for the idea for the Mark Chesnutt cover.

Aug 24, 2010

Austin Collins: The FTM Interview

Austin Collins is a funny, friendly guy from Texas who writes earnest songs about life and the relationships and regrets we all experience. His writing is sometimes cryptic, sometimes poetic, sometimes straight as a shot of whiskey, but always heartfelt. His 2010 album Wrong Control, produced by Will Johnson of Centromatic, is one of my very favorites of the year. Recently, FTM and Mr. Collins went back and forth with this deep look into the mind of a serious artist.

FTM: And your name is? And you hail from?

A: Austin Collins. I’m from Austin, TX. Which is in Texas.

FTM: Huh, that's ironic, wouldn't you say?

A. Not really, but it's moronic that you asked. Are you on the pot?

FTM: Who does interviews from the toilet?

Next question: Are you trying to take Ryan Adams' place?

A: Not so much take his place as become Ryan Adams. I like the idea of being Ryan Adams. No one would say “nice to meet you, Ryan from Ryan” or give me any guff. Because if they did cock off to me at a show or something I could throw them out. If that didn’t work at least I could watch Grey’s Anatomy with Mandy Moore – I mean my wife, sweet Mandy, my wife.

FTM: When I first heard "Roses are Black," I thought you were a Ryan Adams wannabe. Now that I've met you in person, I know it's true. Comments?

A: Yes and yes. I’m saving up to take care of this once and for all:

Pretty good deal – you get a lot for your $139

FTM: When is your album of stupidly constructed hard rock songs with terrible lyrics coming out?

A: It’s out. You've talked about it on FTM. Thank you for noticing the extra effort I put in on this one. I really tried to squeeze as many terrible lyrics into the songs as possible. I find writing weak, trite songs extremely rewarding.

FTM: "I am a house without windows, you inhale my lead-based dreams" is one of your more memorable lyrics. Do you like emo?

A: I have a special drawer in my closet that houses my collection of rare razor blades and eye-liner. Also, once I had a dream where Conor Oberst and Rivers Cuomo were fighting over who was gonna take me out to dinner and a movie. This was only once and it was in fact JUST A DREAM – Not a hope or a goal.

FTM: Whatever. What are Rainbirds?

A: a damn fine sprinkler

FTM: Does Drew Kennedy make you carry his guitar case?

A: I think a better question is “aren’t you glad Drew Kennedy makes you carry his guitar case?” The answer is heck ya I am.

FTM: You're an enjoyer of nicotine. It's beyond me to imagine inhaling something that might cut a few months or years off my life. Why do you hate yourself?

A: You were smoking when we hung out. You asked me to roll you a cigarette. I rolled you a cigarette and you smoked it. I remember you saying “Man, Austin, I love inhaling something that cuts months and years off of my life.” In fact, I remember you sprinkling Copenhagen on your dinner in lieu of salt.

FTM: Umm, that was my guest contributor Lenny you met, not me. Next questions.

You have a voice that could easily fit into "mainstream alt-rock." Why not start a Nickelback-style band and try that route? Everybody wants a '79 custom Corvette in the driveway of their Miami summer home, eh?

A: Honestly, I can’t bring myself to grow a goatee – which seems to be a prerequisite for being awesome in those type of bands. Your goatee looks great though, Lenny.

FTM: You're a family man. How many kids do you have?

A: 15 kids and a bunch of dogs, a house full of chickens and a yard full of hogs.

FTM: You're a pretty handsome dude (no homo). What does your wife think of all your groupies?

A: So far so good. She still believes that all my groupies are guys (no homo). But ya I get my share of lady callers on the road. You know all the time. Well, sometimes. Ok, well this hot chick came to my show last weekend. Ok . . . I saw a female in the parking lot outside the bar – it ended up she was cutting through to go to the dollar store next door.

FTM: You said some awful shit about Texas when I met you, err, when Lenny met you. Wanna apologize?

A: Texas is a state, and a fine one at that. I think people should write songs about it – even base their whole artistic concept on it. Me and the sprinklers are looking into this right now.

FTM: What does "Wrong Control" (the name of your newest album) mean?

A: You know when you’ve gone out and been over-served? You come home and try to turn the TV on so you can watch the Girls Gone Wild infomercial and eat taquitos? Of course you can’t turn on your TV or find out who the hottest girl in the USA is if you’re punching the button on your garage door remote.

FTM: Who are some of your influences, other than Fall Out Boy?

A: Tony Danza, Color Me Badd, Genghis Khan (that guy didn’t take shit from anybody)

FTM: Where do you see yourself in 2 years and 8 months?

A: smoking a cigarette somewhere in Mississippi.

FTM: What's your favorite Soulja Boy song?

A: No contest – “I Got Me Some Bapes”

FTM: What do you think of the current state of commercial country music?

A: It’s pop. There’s no sorrow and lots of highlighted hair. Honestly, I can never get enough Rascal Flatz

FTM: Have you met/will your please do a duet with Bettysoo? This would make me very happy (the second part). The first part I don't care so much, just make the second part happen anyway.

A: I’ve known Bettysoo for a while actually. And we have done some duets live. I’ll see if I can dig up a recording for you.

FTM: I'll hold you to it. Okay, now for the lightning round. Jay or Jeff and why?

A: Jay. He never berates fans and he’s the underdog.

FTM: Stones or Beatles and your favorite cheese:

A: Stones. Muenster.

FTM: Garth or Tim (McGraw) and yes you have to answer it...?

A: definitely Garth.

FTM: Quizno's or cherry?

A: not cherry

FTM: But it's pie dammit. Quizno's or cherry pie... come on, America is waiting...

A: ok then, Arby’s

FTM: Uhh okay. What's your handicap?

A: slurring

FTM: Oh that's too bad, I meant golf.

A: oh, then beverage carts

FTM: What is your favorite Slayer song?

A: Dead Skin Mask maybe???

FTM: You're no Ryan Adams.

A: I’m only $139 away though.

FTM: Would you like to take this opportunity to renounce Scientology?

A: No way. Tom Cruise is coming over to spend the night on Friday. We’re gonna rent a movie and stay up late doing our hair and telling secrets. I gotta stay strong for at least another week!

Austin's music is highly recommended to fans of Drew Kennedy, The Lost Immigrants, Son Volt, Ryan Adams, Whiskeytown, The Replacements and Blue Mountain. You can check him out here at his website. There are a couple of free tracks to download on the right side of the home page.

Aug 22, 2010

YouTube Gems: Austin Collins & The Rainbirds "Worn"

In anticipation of FTM's edifying interview with Austin later this week, here's AC & the Rainbirds at the Music Fog studios with "Worn."

Jun 8, 2010

Drew Kennedy Says People are Idiots For Not Getting the Josh Grider Trio

Drew Kennedy Says People are Idiots For Not Getting the Josh Grider Trio
(co-signed by Matt Skinner)
Subtitle: Trailer Gherms at "Pickin' in the Pasture"

Saturday night I lived the life of a rockstar blogger. Hung out with some of my favorite singers. Took pictures from right beside the stage as they performed. Bought Drew Kennedy a Flying Dog. Tried one of Austin Collins' hand rolled cigs (tobacco!). Ate fine barbecue after standing in line chatting with Josh Grider and bassist Chris Grady. Sipped cold ones long into the breezy southern night.

A picturesque lakeside pavilion was the setting for "Pickin' in the Pasture," an annual event held in rural Madison County, Mississippi. It was a family event with probably a couple hundred folks in attendance, enjoying pulled pork with all the fixings and fellowship with friends. Kids played, dogs roamed and beer poured (politely).

Any other get-together of this sort across the south would feature whatever C-list mainstream country singer the host family had ties to. There'd be piped in radio country over the speakers, before and after the concert. Somebody would probably be funneling Miller Light in the parking lot. Drool would pour from the corners of attendees mouths.

Nah, not here. This was some throwback bizarro world with good taste.

There was a pre-supper feature of the host family's kids/grandkids playing fiddle with mandolin accompaniment (well I might add) then singing a pretty rendition of "Angel Band." It was an unexpected and sweet way to start the night. If I didn't have the photographic evidence, I might not believe it actually happened. What was this, 1953?

As this was finishing up, I finally met Dean Drew Kennedy in person for the first time. Nice guy. He said that he, Austin Collins and Matt Skinner were going on first and that we'd hang out afterwards.

Next was prayer and line-up for some delectable barbecue prepared by Fireman John's competition cooking team. Mmmm. Spoke to Josh
Grider and his bassist, Chris Grady, while waiting in line. Nice guys. My first impression of all the singers this night was "damn they're tall." I don't think one of them is a hair under 6'2".

The trio Drew mentioned earlier took the stage first. They traded off songs like Drew's "Rolling Around in the Bed," Matt Skinner's "If I Were a Painting" and Austin's "Conventional Lust" and his kickass cover of Whiskeytown's "16 Days," helping out with guitar parts and harmonies on one another's songs. I wasn't familiar with Matt Skinner's work before the event, but his songs easily held their own, and his guitar playing shined. It was a revelation, to be honest. I've rarely heard
anybody shred on an acoustic, but Matt did. I made sure to pick up one of his CD's after the show - an EP from his band with Dub Miller called Eleven Bones. It rocks, by the way.

I'll preface this next rant/review by saying I think all the guys I just mentioned should be much more well-known than they are. Matt's guitar playing and grit should have him being the toast of dancehalls across Texas and the southwest and aiming for national recognition. Drew's unique, soulful voice ought to have college girls swooning and critics acclaiming his original sound across the nation (his songwriting should land him some Nashville cuts as well). Austin's darker, more rocking alt-country sound has him well on his way, but the fact that his current output is better than anything Ryan Adams or Jay Farrar has put out in years should have him showing up on a broader radar.

All that said, the biggest surprise of the night was the Josh Grider Trio. I've got Josh's Sweet Road to Ride and Million Miles to Go albums and I've enjoyed them a lot, but whoa... to say they sound better live than on record is like saying the Titanic (never mind its final port of call) was more impressive in person than on design schematics. Why isn't the Josh Grider Trio huge??

Instrumentally, they were tight as my granddad's wallet (by that I mean working well together - not overly rehearsed sounding) and their harmonies were otherworldly. The songs are as catchy as anything coming out of Nashville (but twice as smart) or Texas (but with less Texas references). Josh, friendly, humble and down to earth in person, is a magnetic frontman on stage. Throw in a little Jason Eady, a little Dave Matthews, a little Roger Miller, a little Merle and some of that indescribable "it" factor and you've got Josh Grider.

If he comes off a touch flat in the studio, he's as animated and fiery as you could possibly hope for when the bright lights are on. Maybe that's one of the issues that's held them back so far. The production of his albums (the two I've heard) is not bad by any means, but maybe a little sterile. A bit more of an "off the cuff" raw feel could possibly benefit future cuts. I'm no production expert (hell, I'm not even a novice) by any means, so take that with a grain of salt.

Drew Kennedy says people are idiots (for not getting JG3) and Matt Skinner's got his back on that. So, is the JG3's writing too smart for wide commercial appeal? Possibly, but i don't see where that's a huge issue when the songs are this lively and enthralling, whether you're listening intently or using them as background music. You can think or you can shut off your brain, JG3's good for either.
(Seriously, I think they're accessible enough that they could sell out ...a la Pat Green fairly easily, but I hope they never do)

A lot of their songs are danceable too. No offense to my buds in the opening trio, but it was mostly dogs on the dance floor before Josh and his brethren took the stage, but songs like "Crazy Like You" and "Sometimes" had the couples and kids out in force.

It's not for lack of trying that they haven't hit it big. Each of the other performers mentioned what hard workers the JG3 are.

Maybe it's lack of promotion. I know for most up and coming bands, touring IS their promotion. There's no ad budget, no viral campaign, no fan club. It's just them and their instruments, their songs and a dream. To that end, the Josh Grider Trio did a helluva good job promoting themselves Saturday night. They could have mailed it in for a crowd of less than 300, but they played like they were in front of 5,000. Thanks guys.

They left the stage to as much applause as you can squeeze out of a small crowd. The music didn't end there by any stretch of the imagination.

After the bulk of the audience had headed home, a core group of friends and family (and one blogger) moved to the front and the guys once again took up their guitars and drums. They performed deep, deep, deeeeeeep into the night (I left at 3:15 and Matt & Josh were still going!), tossing off covers ("Stay All Night (Stay a Little Longer)," Son Volt's "Windfall," a host of Roger Miller songs, Waylon's "Wurlitzer Prize" and others) and a few of their originals (Drew finally got around to playing my fave, "Cincinnati") and lots of jokes and tomfoolery. Josh's drummer, Jeff Botter, was the class clown of the evening, sipping bourbon, making up songs on the fly and dancing with audience members.

All had a grand time. I left with a few new memories and a few new friends. And a lot more questions about why America can have steak for supper at the same price, but would prefer a Whopper.

I hope you'll take the time to check out all of these guys (links above), because, to the man, they're all truly talented and truly good folks who love what they do.

If all musicians and songwriters cared even half as much, there'd be no need for Farce the Music. Thankfully, but unfortunately for all our ears, that's not the case.

*Thanks to A.M. for some of the photographs!

Jun 3, 2010

YouTube Gems: Austin Collins

From one of my favorite albums of the year so far, Wrong Control, here's Austin Collins (who I'm hoping to see this weekend along with Drew Kennedy and Josh Grider) with "Island."


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