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INTERVIEW: Russ Still and The Moonshiners

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

I’m doing fantastic thank you. I say that I’m doing pretty good for the shape I’m in. In reality, at 58, I’m blessed to be in great shape and loving life.

Can you talk to us more about your song “Promise Land”?

Promised land is the first single off our record, Still Cookin. The song is somewhat autobiographical with bits on my perspective from my experiences in music and life in general. We call it a country rock song, but it’s got elements of rock, jazz and the thing The Moonshiners do when we make music.

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

Initially, there was no specific inspiration except the need for a new song.  As I got into writing it, the song became sort of an overview of life in music. The first versus is about how tough life can be in the music industry and how a lot of hard work often doesn’t yield much in return. The second verse is a little tongue-in-cheek about the travel and how you have to be careful about who is getting you from one place to the next. In many cases, you can’t trust band members to get you where you’re going. Cam does all the driving. I don’t think she trusts anybody else behind the wheel! The last verse is more introspective comparing my early years as a naive musician hoping to make the big-time to the realization that that’s probably never going to happen (but that’s OK I’m totally enjoying what I’m doing). Some people say things always work out in the end, but as I’ve matured I recognize that how “it” ends is not necessarily how I want it to be, but it always works out just like it’s supposed to.

Any plans to release a video for the track?

We haven’t done any videos from this record other than live performances. There’s a lot of work and expense that goes into a video. I’m not convinced they make much of a difference. That said, if we make a video it would probably be for Glorine’s which is about an old shack down by the river where I used to party in high school! Or, Going Fishin’, which as it turns out is not about fishing, at least for fish.

The single comes off your new album Still Cookin’ – what’s the story behind the title?

The title for the record came from a suggestion by a friend of the band, Wade Sapp, a great singer songwriter in his own right. We keep everything we do based around The Moonshiners concept. The last record was called White Lightnin’Still Cookin is a nice play off my last name and the fact that we’re still making music. It could also be related to the fact that The Moonshiners are still making moonshine!!

How was the recording and writing process?

The writing process is constant. I’m always taking notes on my iPhone, working in my Word files and putting things together. As I write, I’ll do my best to complete a rough draft of the lyrics, chords, melody and structure. Although it’s playable, it’s nowhere near completion. I’ll go back many times to tweak or rewrite lyrics or change chords or melody. When the recording process starts, I sit down with our producer and refine the songs even more. He always has great ideas to enhance the chord structure and putting in some cool breaks. I’m often re-writing lyrics up until the final vocal take. It’s fun and rewarding, although I enjoy having the songs completed so we can take them out and start playing them live.

Would you call this a departure from your previous material?

I’m definitely a work in progress. White Lightin’ was much more country. Still Cookin is moving towards the rock/southern Rock music that I grew up on. When I really started getting serious about writing I had thoughts that maybe someone would like a song and record it. At this point I’m not thinking about that so much, but rather writing songs that I enjoy. That gives me a lot more freedom to write what I want to write without worrying about what others think.

What aspect of hope and redemption did you get to explore on this record?

That’s a heavy question! I’ll say that I believe redemption is found in daily living by trying to do the next right thing. Hope comes from having enough experiences to know that things always turn out just like they’re supposed to whether it’s how I want them to turn out or not. Having said that, I guess the whole record explores hope and redemption at some level or another whether it’s implicit in the songs or not.

Any plans to hit the road?

We’ve been out a little bit and want to do more. We work full time at regular jobs so going out for extended periods isn’t possible at this point. Although, if the right opportunity came along it would be great.

What else is happening next in Russ Still and The Moonshiners’ world?

We’re playing the gigs that come along. I’m tightening up some new songs. In fact, we played through a few of them the other night at rehearsal. Having new songs means we’ll be headed to the studio soon. I don’t like to set deadlines because the process always takes longer than I predict, but I’m guessing we’ll have a new record out before the end of the year.

Russ Still




Twitter – @rbstill2

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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