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INTERVIEW: The Deep Hollow

Can you talk to us more about your single “Devil” and winning the American Songwriter award?

Sure. It’s been a while at this point – about 4 years now. That song is from our first record. Devil was one of the first songs Liz and I wrote together. (We were a duo for a short time before Dave joined). We had a few songwriting sessions and Devil was among the first 3 or 4 songs we came up with. Liz was always the real vocalist and she came up with those intricate intro parts. I remember working on that a lot, personally. It was challenging for me but worth it. When Dave joined the group and we added his vocal parts, and he added the slide guitar, it really came together. When we entered the contest, I don’t think any of us expected to win. Well I know we didn’t. I had entered into a handful of things with nothing really to show for it. When we advanced, that was cool enough. Then we won and it was quite a shock, in a very good way.

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

I mean, not really one event in particular. It’s just kind of about making decisions that you know aren’t quite right.

What’s the story behind the title of your new album Weary Traveler? 

It’s a lyric from one of the songs – Now I See. It also sums up one of the themes of the album, in a way. The album is kind of a snapshot of life, and we are all a little weary from spending a lot of time away from home.

How was the recording and writing process?

The writing and recording processes were definitely different things. All of the songs were completely written before we entered the studio.

As far as writing, it’s usually one of us bringing an initial idea to the group and then everyone polishing it up. And these days we text ideas more than we actually sit down to write. One of us will send anything from an idea to a pretty much finished song, then everybody just kind of knows what part they will likely sing (Dave sings a little higher than me and Liz sings higher than both of us). Some songs click with everybody and others don’t. We usually try new songs at gigs before we really rehearse them, and then talk about what might be improved upon. Really keeps everyone on their toes! This album is a little different than our debut in that there was a little more co-writing on our first record. Most of the songs on Weary Traveler were pretty much finished when brought to the group, then vocal parts and production were added.

A far as recording this album, we started with demos and built the productions off of the actual demos. It was a little backward compared to other recordings we have made, in that the entire rhythm section wasn’t the first thing to get tracked, which I think is more typical. But I think it worked out pretty well. On our first record, we didn’t have an actual drummer or bass player. We played everything ourselves on that one – everything from kick drum, shakers and tambourine to bass. For this new album we had our live bass player, as well as our drummer. So this album has a full drum kit instead of just auxiliary percussion essentially. A fuller, tighter sound for sure. We also had some fellas come in to add mandolin, strings and pedal steel on a few tunes.

What was it like to work with Gary Gordon and how did that relationship develop?

It was great. Gary is a real sweet and patient guy with a lot of experience. He also gets fantastic acoustic sounds. That was the biggest reason I wanted him to help us out on this album. He had helped make a couple of records with friends and songwriters we knew of and I thought they sounded great. Not every producer knows how to make acoustic instruments sound good, and do it efficiently. Since acoustic guitars are the foundation for our sound, we wanted to work with someone who knew how to do that. I’ve learned that it’s worth it to seek the help of a seasoned pro in terms of recording. Even if the initial expense seems nerve-racking, it usually makes sense when you factor efficiency into the equation.

How much did he get to influence the production?

Like a lot of good producers, Gary was good at letting us know when something probably wasn’t working. But he was also happy to try things he might not have thought of. This album was definitely a co-production. But as a musician, I know that I don’t always know when to stop trying things out in the studio. And that’s funny because I’m kind of a “less is more” kind of guy in terms of overall production. My favorite albums have really sparse productions. I think Gary helped maintain that “less is more” vibe while corralling a few musicians who occasionally got enticed by studio magic.

What role does your community / environment play in your music?

Well we all grew up in a relatively small town. I grew up in a town of just over 2,000 people. Growing up in a rural community like that kind of leaves things engrained in a person. I think that comes out in our writing quite a bit.

Where did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?

Oh, all over the place. Politics are definitely providing more inspiration for me lately. I’m not sure how an artist could keep from being inspired by that stuff these days. Religion is always a big source of inspiration for me, too. Love – or lack thereof – is always a source of inspiration. We are all married now, though, so lack of love doesn’t provide the amount of inspiration that it used to!

Any plans to hit the road?

Right now we do a lot of regional stuff in the Midwest. But we plan to hit the road more 2019.

What else is happening next in The Deep Hollow’s world?

We are just really proud of the new album and excited to release it. We will have a holiday single coming out soon, though!

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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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