Thursday, December 06, 2012

10 Questions with Sassparilla

Sassparilla is a roots rock/pop act from Portland, OR.  The band’s latest album, Magpie, was recently released on Fluff & Gravy Records (read my review here).

This interview was conducted with guitarist/vocalist Kevin Blackwell via email from November 26 – December 3, 2012

For more information on Sassparilla check out their official websiteFacebookTwitter, ReverbNationCD Baby, and Last.fm pages.

Photos borrowed from Sassparilla’s website.

Dave:  How did the band get together? 

Kevin Blackwell:  We all worked at a factory putting little plastic floaty eyes on Christmas reindeer. It was seriously mind numbing work. I think the lack of creative thought caused us to look for something else to channel our energy into. Over a beer after our cooperate flag football game we came up with music. Waaaay better than reindeer. Although the reindeer pay more.

Dave:  You recently released the album Magpie.  What’s the story behind the record?

Kevin:  All the songs on magpie were written from stories told to me after shows, before shows at bars. I'm really appreciative of the folks who come to our shows. I would call them fans but that seems too pretentious or impersonal. I feel the folks who come see are are more than "fans." They are comrades in arms...co-conspiritors. These are the folks that allow me to do the thing I love the most. The folks that inspire me to write and play. Magpie was written for them and with their stories in mind. I am aware of how pretentious this sounds, but it is the truth.

Dave:  How did you end up working with Fluff & Gravy Records?

Kevin:  Fluff and Gravy is a brand new label in Portland with awesome vision and a great family feel. The family idea is really important to us. It seemed a natural fit. Our manager Alex Steininger from InMusicWeTrust put us together. It’s a great match. Chad and John are great guys, musicians themselves and huge music aficionados. I trust them.

Dave:  Magpie is your second release of the year.  At the beginning of the year had you planned on putting out two releases in 2012 or did you have a lot of songs that you really wanted to get out there? 

Kevin:  The records weren't really released in the same year. We had been selling The Darndest Thing for awhile on our own before we were picked up by InMusicWeTrust who released it officially and nationally. So, on paper it looks like we had two releases in a year. In reality The Darndest Thing had been out awhile. However! If I had my choice, we would make several records a year. We have a TON of material and ideas.

Dave:  Do you have any specific type of songwriting process?

Kevin:  I like to write the progression first and then sing gibberish to find a melody. The lyrics come last.

Dave:  What are your favorite places to play and bands to play with?

Kevin:  Oh man. It really depends on the town. There are so so many great places in the NW. We really love the Doug Fir, Mississippi Studios in Portland...The Sunset, Tractor and High Dive in Seattle, Sam Bonds in Eugene...the list goes on and on and I would really hate to leave any club out. I can't think of a place we didn't like because again it really comes down to the folks that attend. They set the vibe for the room.

The same goes for the folks with play with. There are so so many good bands right now and we have made such good friends with a lot of them.  Scott McDougall, Hillstomp, Langehorn Slim, The Reverend Peyton, Casey Neil. I can take up three pages of your publication talking about the folks we love to play with.

Dave:  How is the music scene in Portland?

Kevin:  A hot bed. I feel like Portland has earned its place in the music world. Right up there with New York, Austin, Nashville and Seattle. It is really unbelievable how many talented folks live here. Any night of the week you can catch a top shelf band playing for a ridiculously low cover. It’s shameful but awesome at the same time.

Dave:  This is a High Fidelity inspired question.  What are your top 5 favorite bands/artists, albums, movies, television shows, and books/authors? 

Kevin:  Woah. Five of each?  Let me see...

I love Shovels and Rope, Scott Mcdougall, Robert Belfour, Deer Tick and Tom Waits (Tom Waits is my hero).

Movies...I really don't have the attention span for movies. It took me a month to see Dances with Wolves. I think that may actually be the last movie I saw. It took everything it had out of me. That was like 10 years ago.

I love the cable television shows...American horror Story, Boardwalk Empire, Walking Dead, Sons of Anarchy.

Books...I just read the Passage and the Twelve by Justin Chronin. I love anything Stephen Ambrose...I am a huge history buff. Especially about WWII. I don't know why. I LOVE the Lonesome Dove books...but my all time favorite author...hands down is Cormac McCarthy. I've read everything of his at least three times over. I can't wait till he writes something else.

If I could have three wishes, one of them would certainly be dinner with Cormac McCarthy and Tom Waits. Imagine the conversation those two would have.

Dave:  What’s next for the band?

Kevin:  Well, we are in negotiations with Fluff and Gravy for the next record.  They have agreed to put it out and so we are working on a timeline. I want to do something like Ramshackle again. More raucous/raw again.  It would be fun to do again. We have stretched out legs out...now it's time to go back to our roots.

Dave:  Any final thoughts?

Kevin:  I would hate to have my final thoughts right now cause I'm planning to live a lot longer. So if you don't mind, I'll hold on to them for right now. Thanks!!!

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