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INTERVIEW: The Lowest Pair

How would you classify your music?

Kendl:  I’d call it roots americana, or I like to say “city folk front with a backporch sound”.

Palmer: Americana and Folk might seem vague but I think they are accurate.  It’s music written by Americans about our experiences and observations and interactions grown from our understanding and interaction with American music styles.  I think other, more specific, genres we get classified into such as old-time or bluegrass are inaccurate from the standpoint of traditional understandings though they are accurate in the context of the natural evolution of all American music genres through time.

Who are some of your top 5 musical influences? 
Kendl:  I’m not sure about influences, but I really admire:  Bela Fleck, Gillean Welch and David Rawlings, Iron and Wine, Bonnie Prince Billy, Lucinda Williams

Palmer: This would likely change yearly, monthly, daily.  But right now, off the top of my head; John Hartford, Gillian Welch, Milk Carton Kids, Foghorn, Pharis& Jason Romero.

What do you want fans to take from your music?

Kendl:  Connections, grooves, thoughts, love, energy, authenticity.  A sense of mountains and highways, and beauty.

Palmer: Anything that helps, but not more than they need.

4. Can you tell us a bit about your latest album? When will it be released and how does it differ from your previous work?

Kendl:  We released two new records in May, “Fern Girl and Ice Man” and “Uncertain as it is Uneven”.  These are our fourth and fifth records and we’ve been playing music together for almost three years.  We recorded our first record “36¢” right after we had started playing music together and we’ve been at each others side playing and on the road for most of the time sense.  Our performances have gotten a lot tighter and I think we’re starting to feel braver about exploring new sounds together.  At first I think we really wanted to earn the trust of our audience and make music that we knew had an accessiblity to it.  With the focus still being first and foremost on the song, I think we’re starting to focus also on broadening the kinds of sounds we can make together.

Palmer: These albums are the two latest chapters in our story, part auto-biographocal part fictional narrative. It’s just a glimpse into what we’ve noticed and experienced through the windows what we were able to catch, what stuck, and what made the cut. Both records were released simultaneously in May.  They differ from previous albums naturally in that we are continuing to grow and explore as musicians and writers.  These two albums differ intentionally through efforts to explore new sounds in the studio via amps, noise makers, guest musicians, and working with a new producer- Erik Koskinen.

What do you love and hate about the Music Business?  

Kendl:I love the connections with other great artists and with wonderful people that honestly have art and music at the forefront of the motivation for being a part of it.  I hate the parts that encourage compromising your art form for a broader appeal.

Palmer: What I love about music as business is that there is a large enough community of fellow music-lovers to support artists who are willing to work hard and make the necessary sacrifices.  Music is terribly important to people, both the conservation of traditional music and the innovation of new music, the same, keeps people moving, saves lives, is a tonic and catalyst for community building, etc.  It’s everywhere, more pervasive than most of us could even notice if we tried.  Both thankfully and thanklessly so.  Which segues nicely into what I “hate.”  Which really is just more of a pet peeve.  There are elements of both the industry and community  which I think Gillian Welch sums up pretty well in her song “Everything is Free.”

What is the best concert you have been to? What do you like most about playing live?

Kendl:  Some of my favorite concerts that I have been to and was shaped by were punk shows by the river in Little Rock, AR.  So many lively great kids driving across the country, puppets, and costumes, and people dancing, such great energy and inspiration.  I love good festivals too, the Telluride Bluegrass Festival or Rockygrass in Lyons, Colorado…mountain festivals always make me feel good.

When it’s good, I like the energy exchange playing live.  A good audience really can kind of make the music coming out of us really feel like a sharing experience.

Palmer: Unfortunately, sincerely, I don’t think I could answer the first question honestly.  I’m not sure I’ve ever even thought, while in the moment, to call a concert experience the Best one.  There are so many variables that make that tricky- a concert could be powerful, fun, captivating, inspiring, etc.  But to the second question- the energy exchange.  When you can feel the magic working between the players and between the audience, and everyone involved in the experience is involved in the experience. As it goes; If you can stay present in the moment, everything else just falls away- and some moments, like these, are very easy to stay present with, it’s like a gift and it’s everyone’s birthday. Those are the moments that make all the sacrifice and effort worth while. To me, that’s why we do this.

Is there a song on this latest CD that stands out as your personal favorite, and why? 

Kendl:  I’m really proud of the songs “When You Dance the Mountains Shake” and “Stranger”.  I feel like they really capture what I was hoping to capture.

Palmer: I’ve been really enjoying performing “Stranger.”  It’s usually the song i look forward to most on our setlists this year.  As far as what I’m most proud of on the record, i’d say “Keweenaw Flower.”  I feel like it was a successful channeling tradition into the remedy I needed at the time I wrote it, so that’s pretty neat.

8. How have you evolved as an artist over the last few years? What made you decide to come back into the music business?

Kendl-I’ve just kinda kept at it, I never really had a back up plan.  It’s been how I process my story and how I tell stories, and how I get to travel and share stories.  I was lucky to meet Palmer who was on the same page with goals and lucky that our sounds mesh so interestingly and beautifully.

Palmer: I’m not sure I understand the second question, but here is my attempt at both:  I entered into the music business because I was sick of living a life that didn’t make sense to me.  I felt, all to often, like I wasn’t accomplishing anything.  Making a living playing music allows me to exist within the babylonian context (with which I’m so comfortable, where my friends, family, lovers, vices, favorite sandwiches, books and movies live) while also being able to work toward something. Some things, mundane, arcane, spiritual, inspirational, physical skills, and philosophies, what ever I need to move forward.  To be clear, this sentiment is in no way a judgement of other people’s life choices.  I knew people who absolutely loved doing what we were doing when I was doing it with them.  It was just hell to me and i am so grateful I found scratch in time to still start from there.

If you could meet, play a gig, co-write a song, have dinner, get drunk with any band or artist (dead or alive) who would it be? 

Kendl: John Hartford

Palmer: John Hartford

10. So tell us what’s next?    

Kendl:  The highway, we have lots of festivals this summer and a busy touring schedule.  We have a few different ideas for the next albums, but are trying to stay focused on these ones for the touring season.

Palmer: Keep on moving, keep on working. Gatta do something, so I’m sure its going to happen. (What Kendl said.)

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, play guitar, music geek, movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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