Interview :: The Traditionist [7.7.09]

We shot some emails back and forth with Joey Barro from The Traditionist. We got his band name wrong the first two times we wrote about him. He makes sure to clarify. We silently apologize and think we should go to j-school. Most importantly, he's got one of the best records this year and you should be listening to him.

32feet: Being that your band is basically you and a rotating cast of musicians, describe the writing process. Is it collaborative or more unilateral?

The Traditionist (TT): I write all the songs on my own and that usually remains the core of the song...when recording Season to Season, only a couple of the songs had been played live before we tracked them, so those songs adapted in the live setting...I think that was the case for driftwood doll and a sleep be told...other than that, the instrumentation and orchestration of the songs developed in the studio...the core of the songs, like the lyrics and general arrangement, stays pretty much the same to what I originally write.

32feet: The record Season to Season is incredibly delicate in places. How does that translate when you play the songs live?

TT: Well, the translation live is dictated by the musicians who I am working with at the time...I have played all of these songs live at one point, and sometimes we stick closely to how they are displayed on the record...that is, if there are keys, synth, etc...I like to keep it gentle and specific to the record if we have the tools to do so...other than that, if the instruments are more limited, it has been cool to let it loose and see what happens with the energy.

32feet: The lyrics of the songs must be deeply personal. Do you find that fans and listeners "get" what the songs are about or are they developing their own reads and reactions?

TT: I like to think that both are happening...maybe each listen is different...I know for me, a song may have an intitial inspiration for why it was originally written, but every time thereafter, the song may change meanings and reasons for playing...I hope listeners like the possibility of an initial reason for why the song is there, but develop their own ideas for what that song may mean to them.

32feet: Can you explain a little about the background on "Driftwood Doll," maybe the most haunting song on the album?

TT: I've always liked the idea of looking forward...it is nice to remember things how you want to remember them sometimes, and not necessarily how it actually was...i think this song is a keyhole into that type of thinking..just to roll with it may be the best thing to do...it may come off haunting because i think that idea is not always the easiest thing to do, it does have the happiest ending though

32feet: Favorite venues or cities to play?

TT: best venue so far for me has been the great american music hall in san francisco...i've always had great times in Seattle, San Diego, Sac and Sf...i've been pretty specific to the west coast and l.a. and oc are little too familiar for me

32feet: Who are your favorite bands writing and recording now? And further back, who are your major influences?

TT: i usually reach back for my inspirations a bit, though my influences range from paul simon to radiohead...recently I've started getting familiar with gene clark from the byrds

32feet: Do you feel pressure to make a living solely as a musician? And at what point would you give up your day-job?

TT: no, I don't really feel any pressure about making a living with the music...i think if the money is there it is there and if its not, then I just have to do what I need to do to continue writing, recording, and playing the music...as far as quiting a day job, i'd probably cross that bridge when it's safe to cross

32feet: What should people absolutely know about your band?

The Traditionist: it's the traditionist, not the traditionalist

Listen :: The Traditionist - "I Know My Ocean"
Bonus :: The Traditionist - "No Self Portrait"
Bonus :: The Traditionist - "A Sleep Be Told"

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