How did you all first come together and start making music?
Alex: “I met Michael Selverne, our producer, at a songwriting competition that I was hosting years ago. Jessica Tomasin brought him. Instantly, I loved him. He wanted to make a record with me, and we made our first album as a band together 'Gentle Spotted Giants' four years ago. I had already been playing with Kyle, our electric guitar player and at the time both Lyndsay Pruett (violin, Jon Stickley Trio) and Jackson Dulaney (lap steel). Pruett got really busy with Stickley and couldn't play with us very much. Dulaney didn't play on 'Gentle Spotted Giants'. But in the four years since, his lap steel playing has become a clutch part of the band. Also in the four years since the first album, I've gotten to continue working with Bill Berg, our drummer, in both live shows and recording. We became friends along the way and love connecting about art and life. He and his wife Kaaren are painters and travel a lot to do plein air painting. So we have plenty of fun stuff to talk about. Rachel Gramig, we've been singing together for so long. She's one of my best friends and have seen each other in many different life chapters. Long hikes, tight harmonies, lots of house shows. Often as soon as I'm writing something new I can hear her.
This second album is really potent for us because we know each other much better now. 'Sleeping on the Woodlands' is not only a work of music but also a work of friendship and discovery.”
How would you describe your music to those who have not heard it yet?
Alex: “That's a challenging question. Honest, it's honest.”
You recently released your latest single “Woodlands." Can you tell us a little about the song and the inspiration behind it?
Alex: "Woodlands is for those who are on the outside, that are on the periphery, who have been, in some way marginalized (due to injustice, prejudice and ignorance). The song is to say, you may surely be on the edges, forgotten, ignored and not heard but those who have been sidelined are really the most important. When I wrote the song, it was winter in western North Carolina where I live. The mountains had new snow and a crispness about them. A few friends and I drove to go for a hike on a remote trail that follows a clean fast river. I walked in the back behind them, our foot steps making fresh tracks in the snow. It was late in the day and the beginnings of dusk were coming in around us, deepening shadows. I was looking around at the young green snowy hemlocks and the sycamore, which leaned over the creek with their strong smooth gray and white camo trunks and dry winter achene dangling from the thinner twigs, unfazed by cold winter. The words just came to me there on that walk for some reason.”
“Woodlands” is the lead single off your upcoming EP Sleeping on the Woodlands – what can we expect from this EP?
Alex: “The EP 'Sleeping on the Woodlands' represents a little portion of the musical work we've been doing over the last four years. For me, it's a powerful and honest album. I couldn't be more proud and grateful to have been able to do it and get it out.”
What was the process like making the EP? Was it any different from projects you’ve created in the past together?
Alex: “The recording process was magical. The band had been playing together for years, which was different than the last album when we were still getting to know each other. We have been wanting to record for a long time. Finally, with the help of our fans via IndieGoGo, we got to be in the studio. Echo Mountain Recording and our friends there are the best. There was a large winter storm to hit the region during our session. Michael, Jessica and Julian (our producers and engineer) were dedicated to the project, knowing how much it meant to us they made arrangements so that we could sleep there if need be. Bill Berg, our drummer, who is in his 70s, rented a 4 wheel drive. The commitment to the project was really inspiring. We had a meaningful session. It's mostly live tracking including lead vocals, with very little over dubs. We flew in Rachel from Denver a few weeks later to track harmony. Normally, we do harmony side by side so that was different. She had a scheduling conflict and couldn't be there for the main session.”
Is there anything else we can expect from you in the near future?
Alex: “We would really like to put out another EP soon and play and create more music.”