Showing posts with label Lady Gaga. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Lady Gaga. Show all posts

Oct 9, 2017

Dream Covers Volume I: Songs We Wanna Hear Get Covered ASAP

by Robert Dean

I think about cover tunes a lot. When a band decides to do a cover on a compilation record or add it to their live show, there’s a lot at stake. Is the band going to do the song straight up? Are they going to take some artistic liberties? Is the song the right choice for the band? There’s a lot to consider when playing someone else’s tune.

What got me thinking about this list was imagining if some of my favorite artists covered songs that in my head worked in concert with their existing sound and style. Cuz, let’s face it; there’s many times when a band picks a cover tune, and it’s complete trash. I’m constantly wondering what a band would sound like if they just tried this song, this one jam. 

Maybe I’m nuts, but here are my top songs I think artists should be covering right now:

Don’t Mess Around With Jim – Jim Croce, as covered by JD McPherson
There’s a familiar cadence of the groove between this tune and what JD continually pumps out. The breezy verses seem almost too perfect for McPherson’s solid rock and roll swagger. With the head bobbing tempo and slick feel, there’s so much soul and pure filth underneath this song, that JD McPherson could pull it out in spades. Plus, there’s a third verse riff where it’s just vocals and a super in the pocket drum beat that JD would be all over with that big, bright voice.

Remedy – The Black Crowes, as covered by Every Time I Die
Remedy is one of The Black Crowes sleaziest, blues-soaked tunes. There’s a sense of inherent vice and slick danger to this song. It’s full, breathy and is so slinky and over the top. Every Time I Die have recently been more of a metal band with a few mutated classic rock riffs thrown in, but should they ever wanna flex those muscles they were in the Hot Damn! Era, Remedy would be a great vocal fit, but also be a solid sing-along tune in respect to the chaos of their live shows. Because Every Time I Die have the musical chops to pull off a song like this, I feel like their ownership would be astounding.

Breathe – Pink Floyd, as covered by Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit
Now, this one might sound weird, but hear me out. Jason Isbell’s guitar playing is silky smooth. The backbone to Pink Floyd’s signature era was David Gilmour’s Stratocaster taking humans to new planets. Isbell is a songwriter, but he’s got some chops, too. Plus, The 400 Unit are quite the band, musically speaking. Coupled with Isbell’s ability to pour himself out and bring out those inner demons, he could harness something akin to the sounds of Dark Side Pink Floyd. When you think about it, it doesn’t seem so far-fetched. If you need further proof, listen to Isbell’s biggest bummer ever, When We Were Vampires – if you don’t hear lament and slow, steady blues, something is off with your ears.

Refugee – Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, as covered by Lucero
Lucero has a back catalog of a million songs. Most of which, Ben Nichols can draw up from the well in an instant mentally. But, one in a while, Lucero will break out their cover of Jawbreaker’s Kiss The Bottle. But, as the band gets older and establishes a much more weighted in purist rock and roll sound, Refugee is a tune that fits Nichols swagger, but also works with how the band works as a cohesive unit. That wide open riff matched with the song’s signature call and response works well considering Lucero’s On My Way Downtown isn’t too far off style-wise.

They did cover "American Girl" already: ~Trailer

Magic Man – Heart, as covered by Nikki Lane
There’s something low-key magical about Nikki Lane. She is sultry without putting it on front street. She could deliver on Ann Wilson’s vocal runs. Songs like Highway Queen aren’t too thematically different than the Heart catalog. This one feels like a natural fit.

Mannish Boy – Muddy Waters, as covered by Chris Stapleton
Another odd choice, but it works when you think about it. Chris Stapleton has a gigantic, powerful voice. What’s the most memorable thing about Mannish Boy? It’s the riff and Muddy’s ownership of the room, challenging all comers to step to his vocal prowess. Stapleton could master that song as long as he kept it true to it’s roots and go country.

Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker) – The Rolling Stones, as covered by Jack White
If there’s anyone who can handle the instrumentation concerning the original sound and spirit, it’s Jack White. He’s already jammed Loving Cup with The Stones, so seeing him tackle one of their lesser known, but die-hard fan hit songs would be a perfect match. He’s got the gear, the ability to play all of Keith Richards riffs and he’s a complete purist who’d relish trying to offer that same fierce spirit that the original Goats Head Soup warrants.

I Never Loved a Man That Way That I Loved You – Aretha Franklin, as covered by Lady Gaga
Look, Lady Gaga is one of the three best singers in pop music. That’s not even up for debate.  It’s her, Beyonce and Adele. Yes, I’m aware there are other badass singers with a serious set of pipes. But, I’d like to see anyone else take the Pepsi Challenge on nailing such a soulful icon track. (If there’s someone you think could wreck shop on this one, shout it out: @Robert_Dean, I wanna know.)
Anyhow, one of the best songs of all time. I’d love to see a killer vocalist take the track on and show off their skills.

I’m Your Captain/Closer to Home – Grand Funk Railroad, as covered by Margo Price
Here’s the wild card. Margo Price is a beast. She’s so talented it’s unreal. If there was anyone who could destroy the all-time jam, it’s Margo Price. Her band is insane and just so tight. When she did those Prairie Home Companion with Jack White we saw a layered, classic Margo Price that could straight murder harmonies and let’s face it. She would wreck shop on this tune. Someone send her people an email. This one would be dope.

Agree or disagree, tweet us or leave a comment. What are your dream covers? We want to know. 

Jul 31, 2017

It's OK to Love Lana Del Rey

by Robert Dean

Lana Del Rey catches a lot of shit. Like, acres of shit. People either adore her or hate her. There’s usually no gray area. Journalists love to hate her while trying their best to motherfuck her straight into the musical grave. Often it feels like one of the biggest issues with Lana Del Rey’s music is that she does whatever the hell she wants and that drives people who want to pigeonhole her insane.

From slow murder ballads to pop collaborations, Lana Del Rey has an enchanting sense of magical realism about her. She’s crafted her persona so well, that her career is much more of a pronounced art piece than anything Lady Gaga could dream up. Instead of living her life splashed across the pages of every music rag, Del Rey manages to keep us guessing on who she is and where the real her ends and begins. That’s the allure to her personality, it’s easy to fall in love with the sound of a soft piano and a sultry voice, letting you drift away into a dingy Hollywood nightclub where sleazeballs drink highballs, and the call girls lipstick never smears. That’s what Lana Del Rey creates with her music and frankly, it should be celebrated.

On her new record Lust for Life, Lana Del Rey taps into a swath of styles and personas but ultimately never stays from the darkness that trails her in whatever she does. Lana Del Rey isn’t a stadium act or someone who can bring the close-knit sense of foreboding into a theater with maximum impact. While David Bowie toured, he hated it, having preferred the walls of the studio where he could execute a sound that was perfect and true to his identity. Lana Del Rey is similar in that respect given that at even her most poppy moments, they still feel like they’re bred from the shadows.

What ingratiates listeners to Lana Del Rey is her dedication to lifting the veneer over honesty. Everything is listless and pure. Nothing is off limits, her mistakes, the world to which she exists, love, and sex. There’s a sentiment that Lust for Life her new record is her happiest, which is a falsehood if you dig into the record. Despite the happier beats on some of the songs, challenge yourself to listen to the words. Despite a more joyful sound, Lana Del Rey has pulled off the ultimate bait and switch: the songs might not feel as dark and brooding but what Lana sings is nothing short of a raw signature against the violence and despair married to her personality.

Lust for Life is a sordid collection of David Lynchian long, desolate roads toward the middle of nowhere in song form, but also sugary sweet moments that feel like the falling of the angels toward earth. Lana Del Rey is the thematic and kissing cousin of acts like Portishead or Massive Attack, just without the hipster hype. Get over the cultural backlash of her music and dig out her records. There’s a collection of songs that beg to capture the fragility of humanity, without pop accolades or with. 

Feb 24, 2017

If These Pop Hits Were Bro-Country

Ed Sheeran - Shape of You
Come over in that short skirt and holler at me
Those red cherry lips got me like wow
Take my hand, dance, to Luke Bryan on the jukebox
And then we go to the truck, and now I'm like what what

Chainsmokers ft. Halsey - Closer
So, hey girl, pull me closer
In the back seat of my Raptor
Migos rattling my Ford
Tribal tattoo on my shoulder

Migos - Bad and Boujee
Black top, truck stop (truck stop)
Turning in a field where the girls hot (hot hot)
Light up a bonfire, the party hop hop hop (hop)
Pass the Fireball, I want a shot (shot)


Lady Gaga - Million Reasons
Country girl in my Chevy, got one hand on the wheel
If you could see it my way, You'd let me grab a feel
Girl your fresh produce is always in season


The Weeknd - Starboy
I'm tryna get you in the right mood, yep
Riding cleaner than some new boots, yep
Those tan lines and eyes of blue, yep
Got me wanting to go screw, yep


Sam Hunt - Body Like a Back Road 
***no changes***
Got a girl from the south side, got braids in her hair
First time I seen her walk by, man I 'bout fell off my chair
Had to get her number, it took me like six weeks
Now me and her go way back like Cadillac seats

Feb 14, 2017

Why Y’all Need to Get Off the High Horse and Give It Up for Lady Gaga

by Robert Dean

Chances are, if you’re reading this, you’re into music way deeper than the average bear. You’ve got a closet full of band shirts, and when someone is looking for new music, you practically wet your shorts. We dig through crates for vinyl, schedule vacations around shows, and more than once, we’ve asked for concert tickets as a Christmas gift.

Music nerds bond like glue over our obsession, but it also drives stakes between camps of people: like those who argue who the best Black Flag singer was, or should Dio-era Sabbath be called Sabbath or Heaven & Hell? (Ozzy is Black Sabbath, folks.)

When you go HAAM on music geekology, pop music is a sticky subject. It took everyone forever to realize it, but Justin Timberlake is one talented SOB. If you love music, it doesn’t take a genius to admit that dude is a once in a lifetime performer. I’d go as far and say JT is our generation’s answer to Frank Sinatra. He’s got the chops, can write (Sinatra never wrote songs), can play, and most importantly can back up this argument. But, this ain’t about Just Timberlake. It’s about Lady Gaga.

As a species of dork who loves to argue about the finer tenants of Patsy Cline’s career, or way Sarah Vaughn is a lesser known treasure, we need to embrace the fact that Lady Gaga is awesome.

Look, I know you’re about to throw the computer or phone in the trash over my inflammatory statement. This is one of those times when you have to set aside the “fuck pop music hat” just for a second. In a world of trite garbage that’s as morally infectious as whatever’s on the radio, you’ve gotta give it up to Gaga. 

She’s named after a Queen song, did a Bowie tribute, absolutely destroyed an Oscar performance of The Sound of Music and has recorded a duets record with Tony Bennett. What’s Britney Spears been up to lately? 

 Is Lady Gaga’s pop stuff good? It’s not my cup of tea, but what is admirable, is the lengths Lady Gaga goes to foster inclusivity, to push the boundaries of what’s allowed, vs. what’s accepted in popular culture. While some folks get caught up on a meat dress, there’s something to be said about a performer who’s donated, and worked in the trenches to help kids find homes when they’ve been kicked out for their life choices.

Lady Gaga hasn’t played by the rules that her peers do, she’s like a relic from the 1980’s in her style morphs into things, and assumes personalities, but always remaining her own. She’s not swinging around in a chair, trying to hawk things ala The Voice, but instead, she went on tour and played dive bars to get her chops back up after a lackluster album. Lady Gaga didn’t get discovered because she was in a halter top and some exec decided guys wanted to fuck her, and girls wanted to be her – instead, she slugged away at NYU, and then dropped out to front a Led Zeppelin cover band.

While she made a lot of statements about social causes and led by the example of what artists should to do lend their platform to others, it was Till it Happens to You  that put Lady Gaga on a different plain than the rest of her pop peers.  The depth of that song, exercising demons in such a powerful way, left a trail – one asking if we weren’t paying enough attention to an artist who was visibly taking risks against commercial success. You just don’t drop a song about date rape and expect nothing to come from it. That takes guts.

Gaga should be on your list of saints because let’s be honest – she saved Metallica’s ass on the Grammy’s. When Hetfield’s mic when MIA – Gaga stepped up, sexy stripper dancing and all. She knew the song. Not, like a half-assed version, either. She knew the words, the cadence. Her favorite band is Iron Maiden – it can’t be a far stretch that jumping on stage with Metallica wouldn’t be a lifetime moment for her, amongst her many success. 

That’s what makes this conversation fun – Lady Gaga has transcended the normal arguments of style vs. substance, ability vs. showmanship. She’s a legit performer who’s idealistic, and honest about her flaws. If you haven’t already found a special place for her in your heart, now’s the time. You ain’t gotta like her songs, but there’s absolutely no reason not to admit she’s exactly what the world needs out of a pop star: respectful to the past, writes and plays her own songs, and acts like she’s the boss.

Sep 7, 2016

Kasey Anderson: Lean in close, he's got a confession

Lean in close; he’s got a confession

By Kevin Broughton

In one of the earliest issues of No Depression – I want to say 1998 or ’99 – Steve Earle remarked on how much he had missed in the world of music during his long, tragic descent into addiction. Rotted teeth, wrecked relationships, hocked guitars and finally, a six-month hitch in the Cold Creek Correctional Facility were what it took for Earle to bottom out, then rebound. When he emerged clear-headed a lot had changed. “By the time I had heard of Uncle Tupelo,” he said, “they had broken up.”

I hadn’t heard of Kasey Anderson till last week, and he’d been out of the federal pen for almost a year. An established fixture in the Pacific Northwest’s alt-country scene, Anderson – gifted songwriter, musician and producer – had seemingly limitless potential. Bright, articulate and affable, he’d been extraordinarily prolific in the music business by the time he turned 30. With much more, it seemed, to come.

His hellishly downward spiral to convicted-felon status had a definitive terminus: the clang of a cell door on his first night in the joint. When things started to go seriously south, however, is a little harder to pinpoint. It was probably around the time he got the big idea to do a concert and benefit album for the West Memphis Three, that trio of misfits wrongly convicted of murder in 1994, and a cause celebre among many show business types. (Including, um, the normally reclusive Eddie Vedder, who tends to shy away from fashionable social causes.)

There were two problems, though, with this big idea that became progressively more grandiose. First, absolutely nothing ever came of it. And, much more troublingly, Anderson raised nearly $600,000 from more than 30 investors – many of them friends – that he just…spent. It evaporated like it was never there.

There would be no star-studded lineup with the likes of Tom Petty, Pearl Jam or R.E.M. The Boss and Lady Gaga wouldn’t headline the album – some kind of duet that would’ve been -- that would never exist anywhere but Anderson’s mind. And when the Three were cut loose in 2011, the shot clock started on his freedom. He had created bogus email addresses and impersonated industry lawyers and tour managers along the way. “I told myself consistently that whatever was going on with me,” he wrote in a letter to the judge who accepted his guilty plea for wire fraud in 2013, “I could fix it on my own.” Turns out there was plenty wrong, and not just on the surface.

No objective person who hears Anderson’s story could conclude that he set out to run a grand criminal enterprise. But mental illness and addiction (“cocaine, whichever pills were around, and Maker’s & soda with bitters”) kept him from seeing the criminal in the mirror. To be clear, Anderson readily admits that being a bipolar addict/alcoholic is no excuse for his actions. He emphasized that all culpability is his and his alone, several times. But I think it can help make some sense of the situation.

When you run a con so widespread and for so much money, prison – as opposed to civil litigation and bankruptcy – is the inevitable conclusion, and it’s been a rough four or so years for the musician. I didn’t ask – and in retrospect he probably wouldn’t give it a thought – but I imagine one of the starkest ways the Internet can tell a musician he’s now irrelevant is the “years active” entry on his Wikipedia page.

To his credit, he’s emerged from the nightmare sober, very humble, and if not happy, then certainly in a place of relative personal peace.

We caught up with him after his shift at a friend’s Portland store, Animal Traffic  (“Work wear,” quips Anderson, “for people who don’t work”), and chatted musical second acts, possible paths to redemption, and the wisdom of not running up prison debts.  

You re-surfaced publicly a week or so ago at Saving Country Music, but you’ve been out of actual custody since last Halloween. What have you been doing the last 10 months?

I spent six months in a halfway house, which is where they help you transition back into the world. I’ve been on probation, and I work full time in a friend of mine’s shop here in Portland. And that’s pretty much it. I’m just trying to get my feet back underneath me and make some amends where I can, and get life back on track and try to be a human being.

I imagine the scheme that got you into trouble started to seriously unravel when the West Memphis Three got out of prison in 2011; have you had any contact with them since your release, and if so, did you offer an apology?

Not since my release, no. I saw Jason Baldwin when he got out; this is something I’m still proud of --though it was under somewhat spurious circumstances – the first rock show he ever saw was my band at the Sunset Tavern in Seattle.  So that was a cool deal, but it was hard to reconcile with what I knew was going on at the time. So no, I haven’t been in contact, though I reached out a little bit to [Seattle producer] Danny Bland and offered an apology and tried to make amends, though I haven’t heard back.

My M.O. when I got out was to try to do that part of the 12-step program, which is I’m going to make direct amends to those I can and to those whom it wouldn’t harm in some way. So I reached out to as many people as I could; if I heard back from some of them, great; if not, it’s understandable. Hopefully after a while they’ll see I’m living in such a way that’s conducive to making amends.

A casual yet cynical observer might see your 2012 diagnosis of Type 1 Bipolar Disorder as a way to dodge doing hard time, a close cousin of “Hey judge, I get it now and I’m going to rehab.” You alluded to your being “mentally ill” in a letter to the judge. Was there ever a time before the walls closed in that you thought, “Maybe there’s something seriously wrong with me mentally?”

There were times when other people close to me suggested that my problems weren’t just addiction but something else. But I had no real frame of reference because I spent my time in an industry where accountability is not the number one priority. And it wasn’t for me – and the folks around me – until the wheels started to seriously come off. But the diagnosis made sense, and I did try to use it as an excuse: “Don’t you see I wasn’t myself?”

But the more time I spent with myself and the more time I spent incarcerated, I came to the point where I am now, where I can look at my own life and see that addiction and mental illness certainly played a role in what I did. But that doesn’t help anybody who was victimized by me, either financially or personally in some other way to say, “Well you know I’m bipolar.” Because the response would be, “Well, best of luck with that, but where’s my money?”

In private conversations with those with whom I’ve made amends – because I haven’t talked much about this publicly – I’ve said, “The diagnosis is accurate but it doesn’t excuse what I did.”

Are you clinically medicated now for being bipolar, and is it reasonable to assume that the substance abuse up to the time it all fell apart was self-medication?  Also, are you treating it with therapy?

Yeah. I’m medicated and have been since Oct. 24, 2012, which is the last time I had any sort of substance or alcohol. In November before I went away, I took a little break from it when I decided it was a good idea to go to Los Angeles and live with my girlfriend, which turned out not to be such a great idea in the eyes of the court.

But yeah, I’m still taking 900 milligrams of lithium and 100 milligrams of Zoloft; the lithium causes tremors, so I’m taking 60 milligrams of Propanolol – which isn’t any kind of anti-psychotic medication, it just helps with the tremors.  And I also go to therapy, which is mandated by the terms of my probation.

In another life I was a criminal defense lawyer, so I’m curious about something. After your indictment but before plea negotiations with the U.S. Attorney’s office began, what was your expectation as to doing time? Did your lawyer let you know early on that there was a strong likelihood of incarceration?

I had two attorneys [from the Federal Public Defender’s office] and in our first meetings when we were sort of fleshing things out, I was a frustrating client because I didn’t know how much money I’d taken or how much I’d spent. One put a couple pieces of paper in front of me and said, “These are the people who say they’ve lost this much money. Is this accurate?” I said, “I mean, probably. If someone says I took money from them I probably did.”

When we started getting closer to entering the plea, they said, “Let’s try for a year and a day. That would be best case, so let’s be prepared for at least a year and a day.” Well, as soon as I (long pause)… I guess “absconded” is the right word, because I wasn’t really on the run, but I went to my girlfriend’s in LA and didn’t tell anybody about it…

I’d say that’s absconding.

(Laughs) Yeah, yeah, I guess that’s absconding, but it’s not attempted escape. But as soon as they got wind of that, my lawyer called me and said, “You can either get on a plane and fly home and self-surrender, or they’re gonna kick your girlfriend’s door in because they absolutely know where you are right now.” So I flew home that night. From that point on, there was no shortage of expletives thrown my way by my attorneys. They said, “We’ll do the best we can; you had a shot and now you don’t have that shot anymore.”

So the prosecutor at first was asking for 87 months; he really had a pretty low opinion of me and rightfully so, given the information he was working with.  And fortunately for me, he took another job.

Wow. That’s freaking lucky, dude.

Yeah, I know. He took a job in the private sector and another prosecutor picked it up and he was like, “I don’t know this kid from Adam, how about 46 months?” My lawyers said that was for sure the best we were gonna do; take the deal, we’ll go to sentencing with that.

There was no point in [my lawyers’ telling me], “We’ll get you off with some probation.” As soon I turned that corner and headed to Los Angeles my lawyer said, “You’re fucked.” That was pretty much it, she just said, “You’re fucked. You did this to yourself; we’ll do our job, but you had your chance and you blew it.”

There was never any thought to taking it to trial.

No, not really. The only way we could’ve done that was with the mental health defense…but for most of that time, I paid rent, I had a car, I played shows, I made records. You’re not gonna prove someone was intermittently insane over the course of several years. A trial wouldn’t have been fun for anybody. I didn’t want my folks or anybody to have to go through that. 

I want to back up for just a second. I’m guessing this wasn’t, in your mind, a criminal enterprise from the get-go. You didn’t set out and say, “I bet I can bilk a bunch of people by talking about the West Memphis Three.” As I understand it, one of the tendencies or characteristics of someone who’s Bipolar Type 1 is delusions of grandeur…


…and you get these grandiose impulses from time to time. Did you think, “I can do this”? Did it start out that way, and then maybe “Well, I’ve gotta have expenses to live on,” and you end up shuffling money around? Was that how this think evolved?

Yeah, that’s pretty accurate. It’s one of those things that’s a real point of contention for me, but it doesn’t do anyone else any good because the outcome is the same. 

I met with Danny Bland at South By Southwest in 2009 and we talked about it in earnest. We had a conference call with Lori Davis, Damien Echols’ wife not long after and talked about it with her in earnest. So it started out for me as a very real thing. But that ended – that’s as far as it went for Danny, that conversation with Lori. And I said I was going to raise the money.  And once I had the money, yeah, you’re right. I was living in Europe at the time and I thought, “If I go to Italy for a couple days and spend a thousand bucks, I’ll just put it back in there; I’ll just play a couple shows and put it back.” Then all of a sudden a thousand bucks is a hundred thousand bucks, then it’s $400,000, and I’m neck deep in it. And there’s nothing true about it anymore.

And all you can do is lie, and keep lying.

Yeah, exactly. Although it’s been brought to my attention by more than one person that if at some point I had just said, “Hey, guys, I spent that money, it’s gone and you’re not gonna get it back,” the outcome would not have been good, but it wouldn’t have been what it was.

You wouldn’t have been in the federal joint, I guess.

Probably wouldn’t have. Would have been more of a civil deal, bankruptcy, etc.

Did you have to do the elocution --verbal confirmation that you had done those bad acts – before you were sentenced?

Yep, sure did.

Were any of your victims in the courtroom at your plea or your sentencing? Did that have any additional impact, seeing those folks in person?

Nobody was there that I saw. I think – and I hesitate to speak for any of them because I haven’t been in contact with them – but once it became public that I was probably going to prison and it involved federal charges, I think a lot of them figured, “Okay, he’s probably going to get what’s coming to him and I can go back to living my life.” I have to imagine that a lot of them were pretty consumed with it until I cut off all conversation with them. Because no matter what sum of money was involved for each individual, they’re trying to get their money back. And there was probably no small amount of relief in knowing that the government had it.

Asking you “How was life in prison?” would be offensively stupid. But I’m curious (a) whether there was one particular moment when the reality of incarceration sank in on you; and (b) whether a Kasey Anderson jail song may ever be in the works?


That’s a thing, you know, jail songs?

Yeah, oh yeah. They do jail songs.

I would say the reality I was in prison was Night One, because I came in kinda late after being in court all day and they put me in a cell in the corner. I was at SeaTac, which is a holding facility for people of all different custody levels. You don’t really go outside, you don’t see the sun, the rec yard is in the unit. I had never been in trouble before. I went right to sleep, spent from the last 72 hours. I woke up the next morning and stuck my head out of my cell, and there’s a bunch of black guys watching TV. So I started watching, and this white guy grabbed me and threw me back in my cell and said, “The white TV is over here!”

Oh, wow. So this wasn’t Club Fed. I know it wasn’t Supermax in Colorado, but…

Well, the second year was pretty much like a community college, and more or less Club Fed. But that first year at SeaTac was…not like Supermax, but a high-security facility where you’re locked down a good part of the day, or mingling with people that have seriously harmed other people.

So that first day was, “Okay. I’m in prison now and this is how it’s gonna be.”

Do you have any Aryan Brotherhood tats, since you had to watch the white people’s TV?

I actually ended up not having to watch the white TV. I told the guy, “Look, I don’t want any trouble but I do like basketball, and it doesn’t seem like you guys have basketball on. So I’m just gonna go watch with the black guys.” He told me fine, but nobody would have my back if anything happened.  And that was the end of it.

It’s probably a lot harder-edged in the higher-security facilities. But when you’re stuck in the unit with everyone all day, there’s going to be some intermingling. And that was good for me, being able to sort of bounce back and forth. So, no, I didn’t pledge any sort of allegiance to anyone.

Did you ever get physically hurt by anybody?

No. I saw things happen, ah, mostly at SeaTac I saw things happen that weren’t pleasant. My experience in prison was if you just kinda cruise along and work your own program and don’t lie to people or rack up a bunch of debt, you’re more or less gonna get left alone.

“Rack up a bunch of debt?”

Well, like card games or betting on football; you can’t bet with money, so it’s like food at the commissary, chips…pretty much anything you can think of.  And I didn’t do any of that to begin with. But that’s where you see people get into trouble: Where they give people their word and break it, or they owe somebody a six pack of Pepsi and don’t pay it. That’s when there’s trouble.

Did you lift weights and get all buff?

Uh, I worked out. I played basketball. I didn’t hit the weight pile because I’m not a strong dude and didn’t have any desire to put weight on that way.  I did get in pretty good shape by doing cardio. Pushups, crunches, stuff like that. I didn’t go crazy

At SeaTac I played a lot of basketball. At Sheridan – the second year -- they had a music program so I played a lot of guitar. We actually put a little band together. And on all federal holidays we’d do a concert. That was cool to get plugged back into music in some way or another…there were some songs I had written and never heard how they sounded with a band, so that was a cool way to test them out. And these were good enough players; probably not the guys I would use in a studio, but they were capable dudes I could bounce songs off of.

How much writing did you do? Prose, I mean. Is there a book inside of you as a result of this experience?

You’re not the first to suggest that. I did a lot of writing when I first got in, and looked at it when I got out and didn’t think there was a whole lot I can use.  I actually have been working on some prose and think I’m about a third of the way done with it and I’m not sure where it’s gonna go yet. I mean, it’s good to be clear-headed enough to actually be sidetracked by life stuff.  So I told my girlfriend the other day that I need to take an hour or two and just sit down and write, whether it’s prose or songs or whatever.

And you’re legit sober?  

Yeah, I am, since that date of Oct. 24, 2012. 

How do you feel, physically and mentally these days?

Physically I feel pretty good. I keep coming up with a clean bill of health; my girlfriend and my mother are furious because I still eat like a teenager. I still have that addict’s diet of a lot of sugar. They tell me I’m gonna kill myself, and I keep coming back with clean blood tests, so I’m gonna keep eating Sour Patch Kids till a doctor tells me otherwise. (Laughs) I’m not in as good shape as I was when I got out and I should probably get back into the gym. I probably feel as good as I have…but it’s so hard to tell. Looking back, I felt like shit when I was using, but you still think you feel good.  So I feel like I’m healthier than I ever was, but it’s hard to tell how much of that is just the subtraction of narcotics, versus any kind of healthy regimen.

The mania…I’m guessing it made for some really prolific songwriting.  Has getting sober tamped that down any?

It definitely made for some productive long nights that stretched into long days of working on something. So I’ve definitely lost something – with the lack of narcotics – the desire to stay up all night until a song is finished, or write three songs at the same time and finish them all.

Now it’s more, “Okay, this is a good idea; let’s get down what I have and we’ll go from here.” So I finish them when I finish them. It’s changed my focus. I was talking to a friend who had tried lithium but he gave it up because he felt like it really deadened his senses. He’s a painter, and it really affected him artistically. It hasn’t really affected me that way, I think, because I had a lot of really good teachers along the way who taught me to look at [songwriting] as a trade, and not some crazy, muse-inspired impulse. If you know how to rebuild an engine, you know how to rebuild an engine. It might take longer depending on the model or the circumstances, but you know how to do it.

And that’s really what I’ve tried to lean on; I guess I won’t know how well I’m doing at it until people actually hear the songs. But what I’ve leaned on in terms of satisfying my own creativity is, “I know how to do this.”

Based on some of the thoughts you shared with Trigger the other day, you seem resigned to pariah status, at least initially. Do you see any path to redemption, generally, and if so, what is it?

My path to redemption – such as it is – is what I mentioned to you earlier, and that’s making living amends. That’s far more important to me than being someone people come out and see or someone whose records get reviewed. And I think for right now, it keeps me a lot more grounded if right now, I don’t think about what my relationship with music or the music industry is going to be.

Obviously, if someone says, “Do you want to do an interview?” I’ll do it if it feels right. I’m not actively seeking publicity. I have a website and a Facebook page that I think has 150 fans. For me, that stuff will come if it comes. I’m at a point in my life where I’ve already had a lot of fun playing music. And I’m not old, but there’s still time that if something’s gonna happen, it’ll happen. But I need to start thinking about what the rest of my life is gonna look like.

For the most part, I’ll say that the people who were my friends when I went in were my friends when I came out, whether they’re involved in the music industry or not. But, who knows what would happen if I said to Isbell, “Hey, why don’t you take me back out on tour?” I imagine the tone of the conversation might change a good bit.

You toured with Jason?

Yeah, Jason and I toured in late 2011, maybe early 2012 and built up a pretty good friendship. And he’s been cool to me. I mean, we don’t talk every day…

So, you didn’t stick him in this deal…

No.  And he’s been like – and this is the way most people have been – he said, “You never did anything to me, dude, and the rest of it is not my business.”

Seems like he’d be a guy who’d give you a shot. He’s a pretty sweet guy.

Oh, yeah, and he’s definitely been encouraging. And I was in when his record went to number one. And I called him from prison and he didn’t pick up, and I thought, “Well, I probably wouldn’t have either.” And when I got out he said, “Look man, I didn’t know how to accept a prison call; I didn’t know it was you and I’m so sorry.”  He doesn’t have to be that way, but again, I haven’t asked him or anybody, “Hey, let’s do a show or go out on tour,” because I want them to know that my relationship with them is based on friendship and not some “social climber” thing.

And I don’t think I’m in position to ask people for slots on bills, or to listen to songs. If they want to hear them, they’ll find them. That’s the way music has always been.

Your talent is self-evident, and I feel cheated that I’ve only recently become acquainted with your work.  Do you have any general plan for a second act in music, or are you just doing the one day at a time thing?

Right now I’m doing one day at a time. Eventually I want to make a record for a lot of reasons, one because I wrote songs while I was in there, and I’ve written songs since I’ve been out that I think are really good songs. I think the world needs as many really good songs as it can get. I also really like being in the studio and working with [producer Eric] Roscoe [Ambel] and my other friends – some folks I had talked about recording with before I went in and wasn’t able to.

In terms of any sort of career, right now I don’t have any expectations; I’m not at a point where I can count on music to pay my bills or pay my restitution. I don’t know if I ever was, because it’s hard to know how well the records or tours would’ve been received if I hadn’t been using resources that didn’t belong to me. Right now this is just a way for me to practice gratitude; to be grateful playing music. I’m not drawing up a five-year plan in a notebook, though.

I downloaded Let the Bloody Moon Rise from your website today. Quite the bargain at five bucks. I feel like I’m stealing from you, frankly. But my email confirmation/receipt said it was order number 00009. Is that a true indicator of the current lack of interest?

Yeah, I think that’s about where we’re at.

Well I’ll just say this: With prices like these, you can’t afford not to buy.

(Laughs) That’s right! Yeah, that’s one that got released in some fashion in 2014, after I was already in. And that’s a deal where I did just such a disservice to that record and that band; I’ll go on record and say, “That’s a good fucking rock ‘n’ roll record.” That’s the sort of record I would have wanted to hear if I was a rock music fan in 2014.  But, that’s another situation where I let those guys down, and everybody’s moved on and doing their own thing, so you can’t do too much looking back.

And what’s the one thing you most want people to understand about you, right this minute? And I’ll add a caveat: I didn’t factor into that question the – whatever step it is of the 12 about making amends – so what do you think is most important right now?

Two things I said over the weekend…I was playing a show at a winery, and it was a really fun time. And I was talking to John, my friend who owns the place, and he asked me sorta the same thing.

I said, “I do want to make amends wherever I can, and it’s important to me to live that out.” The other thing is: I haven’t forfeited the right to write songs and to be good at writing songs, and I’m going to do it. I was without my freedom for a couple of years, and I’ll probably be paying restitution for as long as I live, and that’s well deserved. And if you think I’m an asshole or don’t like the songs, that’s fine. But I’m gonna keep writing and playing, whether it’s in my basement or in front of a bunch of people on stage. So the degree to which anybody is cognizant of the fact that I’m doing it, get comfortable with it. 


Kasey Anderson is a man who’s has been down and kicked plenty, with more likely to come. We don’t ask for much here at FTM. But his music can be found at his site’s store, and I’m asking you – as a personal favor – to go there and download a digital album for five bucks. Five bucks, people! And oh by the way, it’s freaking quality music. I’m serious. So thanks.  -- Kevin

Photos from Wikipedia and Kasey Anderson's Facebook page

Feb 29, 2012

In the Year 2030 #7

The 20th season of The Voice sees Blake Shelton still making drinking jokes; the late Cee-lo Green replaced by his son Dee-lo; that Adam guy still leering at Christina Aguilera's now belly-button level cleavage.

Chad Brock headlines the Country Thrownout Hip Tour with openers Jeff Bates and Andy Griggs.

Thomas Rhett's son (Rhett Akins' grandson) Thomas Akins gets a publishing and recording contract, completely by talent and in no way because his dad and grandfather were in the industry.

Martina McBride spotted drunkenly playing quarter slots at New Orleans casino, wearing a "Dirty Grandma" t-shirt.

Country music experiencing a revival thanks to the "neo-fake-outlaw" movement which credits Eric Church as its godfather.

Impressionable teen listens to Brantley Gilbert album backwards - goes on to cure Herpes, invent tornado-proof mobile homes.

Hank IV signs with Curb Records; stricken from father and grandfather's wills.

Country rap now its own genre with independent Billboard chart. Cowboy Troy runs cutthroat record label loosely modeled after Suge Knight's Death Row.

Lady Gaga photographed by paparrazi entering a Target dressed as somebody who used to be famous.

Casey Donahew Band, biggest selling country group in history breaks up. Melinda Donahew blamed.

Taylor Swift wins CMA Lifetime Achievement Award but is unable to mug the "Taylor shocked face" due to years of botox injections.

Justin Moore becomes a proud grandpa for the first time, frequently sitting on his new grandson's lap to read him stories.


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