Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Drinking In A Dry Town”?
A lot of the songs on the new album have reflections on growing up in the late 90s and early 2000’s. “Drinking In A Dry Town” comes out of that time also. There was a lot of public debate about gay rights and same sex marriage on the TV, and at the same time I was in that school environment where being different is really tough. I think tougher than I knew for some folks now that I look back.
Did any event in particular inspired you to write this song?
The song has a few real stories wrapped up in it… and I spent some time living in a dry county. They all seemed to come together over that idea.
Any plans to release a video for the single?
No, no video plans….
The single comes off your new album The Last Place To Go – what’s the
story behind the title?
There is a track on the album titled “The Last Place to Go.” When I was finishing up the record and listening back to all of the tunes, that phrase stuck out to me. There’s a theme that runs through the album of looking back from a destination and taking stock of how you ended up in that place. Unintentional, but it’s there…
How was the recording and writing process?
Great. I made the decision early on to record this record straight to tape and that gave a strong direction to the project. Most of the tracks were done with a full band performance in a live room. The microphone bleed really gives the recordings a special feeling and it also makes re-recording individual parts or punching in fixes impossible. What you hear when you listen to a track on this record is our best take from top to bottom.
Would you call this a departure from your previous work?
Maybe a shift. There is definitely more of a country sound present on this record. My two previous records were with an eight piece band called The Majority. Those records have great arrangements and a really big sound. This new album is definitely more intimate and spare. This is also the first record where I haven’t played banjo.
How John Prine and Gillian Welch has influence your writing?
I am a huge fan of their storytelling. Both John and Gillian get a lot across with a few words. It’s a skill I really admire.
What role does Chicago play in your music?
As a subject matter, I’m not sure how much Chicago figures into the writing. As for the music, the musicians I work with in Chicago are the best. They are talented, generous and hard-working. I’m not sure what I would do without them.
Was this always intended to be a really intimate record or it rather evolve into it?
That was always the intention. It seemed the best way to deliver the stories. I love a big band, but I think this was the best fit.
Where did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?
My grandfather passed away right as I was beginning to write songs for this new record. I was doing a lot of thinking about him and writing his story in “Long Long Line.” I think that set me to thinking about my early childhood. Several songs carry those thoughts.
Any plans to hit the road?
Little bits here and there…I don’t like to leave the family too long.
What else is happening next in Jonas Friddle’s world?
Getting started on the next one now. These things always take me years to get done, so as soon as I finish it’s time to get started again.