INTERVIEW: UK Country Artist Swamp Doctor

Hi Swamp Doctor, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Hi, all, I have been well, managed to survive lockdown and quarantine and sitting in the garden replying to emails, maintaining a virtual existence as well as getting out and about for business and pleasure. London quiet and a fraction of pre pandemic activity, signs of life reappearing slowly. Faced masked citizens reminding me of Tokyo’s commuter hours of past, less people, same anonymity.

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Goodbye to Nashville”?

‘Goodbye to Nashville’ was co- written with Jeb Loy Nichols who came up with the Goodbye bit while references to beer etc are mostly mine while the trash talk mostly Jeb. A fun dig at musicians struggling to make it in Country Music’s heart.

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

My manager and record company came up with the Nashville trip in late February 2020 so we flew via Chicago on United Airlines, 25 passengers on a plane for 250. Something was clearly wrong as news of a pandemic in China spreading grew more alarming.

How was the filming process and experience behind the video?

However, Nashville was swinging, full tilt, so we were able to film on the streets and clubs without restriction. With a search on google maps I found nearby Shelby Nature Reserve which had a genuine swamp with the iron bridge railway crossing the Cumberland river at the entrance. Rusty and worn I was convinced it was unused until we heard the whistle blow and an endless freight train appeared. Wondrous!

The single comes off your new album ‘Swamp Doctor’ – what’s the story behind the title?

The album is self-titled, the Swamp Doctor, a debut for an eclectic mix of funk, country, rock and swamp. From the streets of London to the Louisiana bayou and back. I like to think there’s something for everyone. It’s taken a while, but worth it, I hope.

What made you want to build this album of tracks spanning your entire career?

I have been writing and performing since young and have accumulated a catalogue of unpublished, but popular live songs. The audience reaction is a great guide to which songs would translate well to record and others that need more work.

Was it easy to pick and choose? What were some of the elements you were looking at?

Silver Fox Records offered the chance to publish. Executive producer, James D. Ingram, selected the best for recording and guided the production closely for quality control and post production. The ten selected all made it to the album, and an extra bonus track on the vinyl was an afterthought but welcome classic country food song, ‘Smokin’ Chicken Joe’s’.

How was the recording and writing process?

Some came easy, others, ‘Eva Maria’, not so much. At times you have to admit defeat and start again, and with Eva it took the third attempt before James was happy.

What role does the UK play in your music?

The one cover was of James’ song, ‘Oh Jesus’ which fits perfectly with the mood, an ominous, threatening Leonard Cohen vibe. Love it. We chose the others according to popular demand with common themes of loss, heartache and food. Which sums up London for the past few months and my songwriting for the past many a year.

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

My lyrical inspiration often starts with a passing comment, an overheard complaint or family nonsense. Drawing on writer heroes, the Louvin Brothers, Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Tony Joe White, Tina Turner and Paul Simon among many to set a mood, capturing a sound which evokes an old time feeling with a modern twist. ‘Hustle Goning On’ is funky 70’s style with lyrics still revelent today, adding Chris Hedges monologue at the end which sums up contemporary thinking on where we are, where we’re going.

What else is happening next in Swamp Doctor’s world?

I am currently busy writing the next album, half new material, half oldies but goldies. I have 7 songs mostly finished and pressuring James for more dark songs to compliment. There is currently an abundance of material and social upheaval to document, with little sign of let up. Organising rehearsals for online performance and hopefully live shows when able. Checking out new music on the radio and internet. I would like to thank Lonely Oak Radio and the independent stations for all the plays and mentions keeping the Swamp alive with the sounds of the Doctor’s musical tonic for troubled souls. Regards to all readers and listeners from the Swamp Doctor xx

You can view the video here  

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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