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INTERVIEW: Silver Lake 66

Silver Lake 66 press portraits, taken at Corkscrew Wine Bar in Portland, OR. Photo by Jason Quigley

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

Hello! We have been great! Thanks for taking the time to interview us:)!

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Blue Earth County”?

(Jeff) Sure! “Blue Earth County” is the lead track on our new album, Ragged Heart. Some of the details I had in mind when writing the song are the difficulties of the music business, trials and tribulations of life in general, and ultimately finding my place in the world. The song starts out with with me sitting in the hot sun in my ‘73 olds convertible (my daily driver), top down, sweating away on La Brea Ave in LA wondering what the hell I’m doing. After nine years in LA,  we packed up and headed up the 5 freeway and to check out Portland. In the chorus, I sing about finding your blessing – What I mean by that is the importance of finding your place, and your tribe or ‘family’. We are fortunate that we did find our new ‘family’ in Portland!

Also, incorporated into the song is a look back at my early days, growing up on the farm in Minnesota, listening to my favorite album ‘Derek and Dominos’ ( I wore out that record!).  BTW- the break at the end of the song- we drop into a four measure blues shuffle- this is a little tribute to the song ‘Key to the Highway’, one of my favorite songs from the Derek and the Dominos record.  I can still sing every word by heart.

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

(Jeff) Actually, multiple events over a number of years were the inspiration behind the song. Blue Earth County reflects on our travels and the pursuit of finding one’s place in this crazy world. Specifically, it follows my journey from the midwest as a kid, traveling to LA, and moving up the coast to find my place in Portland.

Any plans to release a video for the single?

(Jeff) Yes! We are working on a video for “Blue Earth County” that we hope to release at the time of the album release on April 5th.

The single comes off your new album Ragged Heart- what’s the story behind the title?

(Maria) The title comes from track #2 from the album. The song is called Ragged Heart. That song speaks to the idea of a heart that has been through alot, and is a somewhat beat up, ragged around the edges, but is still beating strong. A quote I recently heard sums it up nicely (paraphrasing here) – “If the heart is beating, there is still a chance”. It speaks to resiliency and hope.

How was the recording and writing process?

(Maria) The writing process took place over a couple of years . . .really since our last album. We usually each write our songs, and sing the songs that we write. The one exception is “Hard Thing to Do” which Jeff wrote, and he suggested that I should sing it – which turned out well as I really enjoyed recording the vocals on that tune.

The recording process was similar to our last cd. We worked with most of the same musicians, although we did have a string section on one tune and horn section on another, that was a new and fun experience. We had Bryan Daste (who engineered, played pedal steel, and arranged the horns and strings)  co-produce this album with us as well.

How Gillian Welch and Emmylou Harris has influence your writing?

(Maria) I think they are both fantastic and have been listening to their music for years, so I am sure that some influence has seeped into our writing. Also, the influence is probably evident in our sound – especially the vocal harmonies and interplay between Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, but also Emmylou and Gram Parsons.

What role does LA play in your music?

(Maria) We really cut our teeth in LA. One thing was that the musicians we met while living were so very good  and we were both very inspired and motivated to refine our skills as musicians. We learned so much about music and life during our nine years there! We experienced a lot of difficulties while living in LA and that probably made us better songwriters!

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

(Jeff) There is always plenty of material swimming around in our heads just reflecting on the trials and tribulations of life, not to mention the gratitude that we both have for being able to play music. We listen to people talking and grab bits of life around us; sometimes you just need a little phrase to get you started.

Any plans to hit the road?

(Jeff) Yes, we have quite a few gigs coming up in the Pacific Northwest, plus a West Coast tour in Mid March and a few dates in the Midwest in June.

What else is happening next in Silver Lake 66’s world?

(Jeff) We are looking forward to traveling and playing as much music as we can! We are already writing more songs, some of which may end up on the next record.  Oh, I always seem to have one too few guitars so I am constantly trying to remedy that situation!

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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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