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INTERVIEW: Russell James Pyle

Hi Russell, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Pretty good. I’m quite busy preparing for my month at Big Bend National Park. I’m spending a lot of time making lists of things so I don’t forget them. It’s a pretty remote area and I won’t have much chance to get out of there once I’ve arrived.

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “April Song“?

I wrote that song last spring on a gloomy April morning. New Mexico doesn’t hold much gloom; even when it rains the sun is shining through the clouds and outlining the raindrops as they hit the ground. It’s wonderful. There’s a road called Rio Grande in Albuquerque and it winds along the Bosque, or the banks of the Rio Grande, into the North Valley. My wife and I love to make that drive in the mornings or at dusk when spring is at its peak. This song is about that feeling I get just thinking about those moments with her, listening to great music and laughing and smelling the air.

Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

Not really. It’s an amalgam of experiences that I’ve had witnessing springtime in this amazing state. My previous answer explains it better.

Any plans to release a video for the single?

Absolutely. The video is done – it’s a found-footage video and it was a lot of fun to make. I think it is a good visual companion to the song.

The single comes off your new EP Seasons – what’s the story behind the title?

SEASONS EP is a collection of my “month” songs. I like to joke that I’m not too creative with my song titles, and that’s evident with this collection. I wrote each song in the corresponding month. April Song is meant to capture the feeling of a crisp morning; the other songs are meant to capture the moments those months have inspired.  It’s definitely a concept EP, but not something I really planned. I liked the idea of being inspired by the change of the seasons, and the differences in my experiences based on what the month is like.

How was the recording and writing process?

I wrote April song in late April this year and took the time to let it grow into itself while I was on the road. Playing it live throughout the summer allowed me to get the dynamic figured out, and I went into Frogville Studio in Santa Fe with producer Bill Palmer mid-August. We completed the track ourselves and really went for a dream-pop feel. I’ve been quite inspired by a lot of the late 80’s/90’s shoegaze bands and Bill really tapped into that. Frogville is a great place and Bill has set up a huge analog rack collection. He really shaped the sound and captured the mood and feeling perfectly. There are like, 4 plug-ins on that track. Everything else is old school. I love it.

What seasons get to inspire lyrics on this record and what aspects of each did you get to explore?

There are songs representing each season on this record and there wasn’t much deliberation on where to throw my focus. Some songs come quickly; some take time to flesh out. All of these songs came quickly, their inspiration hitting very much in the moment. The names of the songs reflect when I wrote them before anything else. I’d like to write some more “month” songs, but I’m going to let them happen to me. Maybe a SEASONS 2 EP is coming some day.

I think the most interesting track on the album is August Wind, which I wrote while on tour in Colorado. Musically, it’s the simplest on the album. Lyrically, it’s the most complex. There are a lot of layers to that song: personal, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and it’s all very vague within the content. That was a really fun song to write and it means an awful lot to me. I look forward to getting feedback on it.

How do you feel about being the centennial artist for the Big Bend National Park?

Oh wow! What an honor. I’m absolutely humbled by the selection and I honestly didn’t see it coming. I can’t wait to get down there and absorb the land. What does it have in store for me? What changes lie ahead? Where will it take me? All of these questions are quite exciting to think about. My expectations are tempered, as they always should be, but I allow myself some pretty elaborate daydreams at least 5 times a day.

Man, I am a national park geek for sure. One look at my Instagram (@russelljamespyle) and you can see that. I’ve been to over 30 national parks and monuments this year alone. I’m proud that the National Park Service is celebrating their centennial and can’t believe that I get to participate in this monumental year.

Conservation of our public lands is vital to our survival. This is a message that is close to my heart. When we see what is happening at Standing Rock, and the how the Trans-Pecos Pipeline is destroying the landscape in Big Bend, we have to understand that it is not happening miles away, it is happening to us. There is no duality between humans and the natural world: we are part of it. That which happens to the land, happens to us.

Any plans to hit the road?

Always. In December I will be heading across the Midwest and playing a few dates on the East Coast before heading south and recording my next project in Birmingham. I’ll take a couple months off late-winter and hibernate in Albuquerque before hitting the west coast all of April. And of course there’s always the summer tour. 2017 is going to be another busy year. You can track me on the Bandsintown app.

What else is happening next in Russell James Pyle’s world?

Wow, how much else could be happening? I know that I’m gearing up for a really busy run over the next 3 months, so I’m just treasuring the time at home with my wife and our two dogs. I’m looing forward to writing more on mental health for The Mighty and my own blog The River’s Bend. My wife and I will be working on a book about mental health and marriage eventually, so hopefully that will get started soon as well. Big Bend is giving me an opportunity to explore all of these creative avenues, so we’ll see which one gets the most focus. After the music, of course.

Russell James Pyle Online:

Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / SoundCloud / YouTube

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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