A: Been pretty well! It’s been a strange and eventful summer and we just got back from a 3-week September tour. Trying to spread word of the LP release of Willow. Heading back out in a week.
Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Blue Room”?
A: Blue Room is actually an older song, one of the first ones I wrote while living in Austin. It never found its way onto anything but I always kinda liked it. Once Willow came around, I was looking to pull a few “oldies” out of the box. I wanted to see what I could do with them. Blue Room was one of them. It ended up being a difficult song for me to mix initially, and after a good while we re-tracked it from scratch, just started all over again with it. Glad we did too, cause now it’s one I like a lot. The mix the second time around was almost effortless!
Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?
A: Not necessarily a single event, more like a place. The song is written for/about a friend of mine from college. She’s a brilliant soul. She used to write these incredible poems. And I’d feel so immersed in her madness sometimes, we spent a lot of time hanging out, being weirdos. And we talked a lot too, about things that impassioned us or frightened us. She wrote one for me once, so I guess I was returning the gesture in a way… She was a photographer too and had all these Polaroids of her in her bedroom from back home, a blue bedroom. The song is me sort of adapting some feeling I got from her writing and the music she was listening to while putting her inside that perfect place she loved so much.
Any plans to release a video for the single?
A: I would like to do one or two videos for Willow, but I’m not sure Blue Room will be one of them…
The single comes off your upcoming album Willow – what’s the story behind the title?
A: For me the willow is this image of beauty and strength, but also isolation. I think it seemed like a fitting image for this collection of songs. It has these bright, bold moments, but often stands alone and vulnerable to its environment. There’s this thing about the way a willow hides itself with itself. My own personal nature is not so different I guess. And Willow is definitely a more personal record.
How was the recording and writing process?
A: With the exception of older songs like Blue Room and Kitchen Sink, most of it was written in the winter and summer of 2013. Half of the record was written and demo’d during an artist residency I did in northern Michigan. I was holed up in this cabin all alone for a month. That was in the summer. It was beautiful. From there the recording process took awhile. I brought the songs back to Chicago and attempted to track them in the studio with the band. I ended up going back to the demos on a few of them and building the songs from that. And then the mixing… I got a bit ambitious at some points which eventually led to me being a bit insecure about how some of it was sounding. I was really on and off with this record for awhile. But I finally embraced what was there, got the songs mixed, and decided it was time to finally let it go.
How much did Fleetwood Mac get to influence this material in particular?
A: Hmmm not too sure. I mean they’ve always been an influence, as have many others from that musical period. I suppose Willow isn’t all that different from an album like Rumours. Not saying it holds up to that album in caliber, just the kind of record that it is. It’s a pop/rock record made during an emotionally tumultuous time. Full of tension but still somehow cohesive.
What other classics get to inspire the music on this material?
A: Around then I had found my way back to a number of classics. Neil Young; some of the darker stuff, Led Zeppelin (I think you can hear the Zeppelin influence quite a bit on the second and third parts of “Song of Leaving”). I got hooked on Big Star’s RadioCity aswell. You can hear the power pop of some of those songs in there too.
Where did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?
A: Restlessness, longing, heartbreak. It was one of those years…
Any plans to hit the road?
A: just got back from a 3-week tour, then heading back out in a week for another!
What else is happening next in Cold Country’s world?
A: Releasing Willow on vinyl is me doing something I’ve always wanted to do, and trying to figure out how to do it right, for me. But I’ve got another full length I’m ready to get working on. So the rest of the year following the release in November will be focusing on that. And I’ll be heading out west to work on the next record. We’ve got a handful of tour dates after October’s route as well, so there’s that too.