All Around The Dinner Table - Sound In The Signals Interview

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First off thanks for the interview.
Thank you for the opportunity to share. I am humbled to know someone was already listening.

All Around The Dinner Table is your solo project and you are starting to release music. If I’m not mistaken you have been working on this project a while. How does it feel to finally be releasing some live songs and working on your two new albums?
It is hard to describe briefly what the last few years have been like. We lost my grandpa to pancreatic cancer and it has been one thing after another since including a failed business venture, health problems, and one of the hardest betrayals I could have imagined. With each crisis, my music was put on the back burner because I had to prioritize far more important things.

Looking back, my art has probably been crafted in a much better direction due to these interruptions. Does that make it worth it? It is hard to say. I would likely trade almost anything to go back and avoid these hardships. However, I am a believer in redemption and hope my music reflects that hope.

Living in the "here and now," I will tell you that it feels incredible to be playing music again. It also feels like the timing was right, one way or another. I wasn't really ready when I first imagined this project.

You are getting ready to release your first official single “In Lent.” Can you let our readers know the background to that particular song and why you decided to release it as the first single?
"In Lent" is a little different from the songs I will be releasing on my first couple of albums. I wrote it a couple of years back as a worship song, and played it for my church during a Lenten Communion service. It felt right to start there, to revisit that song and test the waters before diving in as a solo artist.

It was my first experience recording and tracking all of these different instruments. It was an entirely new feeling to record something that I created from the ground up. Usually I am contributing to the work of others, or at best collaborating. This was really different, but it felt good.

Last week we played the final mix for our church during Communion. Again we find ourselves in Lent, contemplating loss while heading into something new and worth celebrating. That song took me full circle. I am very proud of it and thankful for the journey.

You are working on two albums right now The Deacon, Carrol Renfrow and From the Mouths of Shepherds. What can you tell me about the two albums? How are they similar and how will they differ?
They will both be very personal works. The Deacon, Carrol Renfrow (most likely the latter of the two albums to be finished) tells the story of my grandpa. Most of these songs were written while dealing with death and loss, while remembering the man who taught me what life was really about. It tells a more cohesive story than From the Mouths of Shepherds, which explores themes of duality: primarily abuse and recovery, bringing death and brining life. There is not much else to say about these two albums yet, but I look forward to seeing how they develop.

Who are you working with to record the albums or are you working with different people on each album?
Jon Doss, a good friend who produced great records for Stellar Kin and Redfoot, helped me finish out my first song (his wife, Angie, even helped me with some harmony parts I wanted to try - they turned out beautifully). I recorded the tracks at first, but he was able to give it the mix it needed. My albums will follow a similar process. Jon has a great ear, and is a pleasure to work with. He is very creative, but not intrusive. That is a rare combination of gifts.

On Facebook you talk about releasing the two albums simultaneously. Do you have a projected release date at this point?
I wish. My goal is to release one before the year is over, but I don't want to rush them either. I will say that I will be working on these albums all year. Will likely release early verions of some songs as free downloads along the way. I plan to bring in many of my musician friends to contribute different parts, so we will all get to experience the evolution of these songs together, a concept I find exciting.

Of the live recordings you have available “Day of Our Reunion" is my favorite track. Can you tell me where your head was at when you wrote that song and what that particular song means to you?
It started out as a song about how much I love Bowling Green, KY. Then it became a song about how much I loved my wife, Sarah. Next it was a love song for life in general, for the earth and all the things we have been given (I believe) to love and care for. Due to the circumstances mentioned above, I began struggling with depression. Revisiting the song, I wondered what it would be like to lose all those things.

The song changed a lot over the next year or so and eventually explored the idea of complete redemption: no more pain and loss, no more failure or shortcomings. I long for it, but I know it's not yet time. I am left with a challenge to bring life now, to build up rather than destroy, and to hope rather than pine. That song changed me a lot.

Outside of this project you also have been in bands and currently play in bands as well as operate a label. What is the biggest difference between playing in a band like Stellar Kin or Redfoot to being a solo musician?
It was an entirely different experience. It was pretty special to step away from that mic after each take. I would get so lost in what I was doing, and it would hit me over and over that this is my music. Usually I am wondering if what I am contributing works with what everyone else is doing.

Do you plan to release the albums through your label?
So far, but I am open to opportunities and will probably send stuff around to see if there is any interest. I figure it would be good for everyone on Bad Apple Records if any one of our bands or artists received some well deserved attention elsewhere. I would keep running the label as usual. Well, hopefully better.

Being involved in music as long as you have and also in many different areas what do you find the most rewarding writing your own music, working with bands, or operating the label?
Wow, this is a tough one. I think for most artists I have worked with seriously, I identify with a strange disease that causes us to constantly try and create something. I am all over the map sometimes. I have been in a band that plays heavy music, and one that plays something closer to country. I have been a cave tour guide, worked in a factory, built porches and sanded drywall. Once I took a friend to lunch and tried to convince her we should start a soap making company. I keep telling another friends I should learn Photoshop and video editing and try to make some money on the side.

It is an illness, and it's not really about making money. Anyone who writes music and produces it on the indie do-it-yourself level knows that because there is really no money to be made. But you can't stop. I can't imagine I will ever stop trying to write music. I hope to go back to school and write books one day. I'll probably eventually go into ministry or counseling. Whatever is next, it will always be something, and it will always be treated as art to me. Hopefully it will always be art that reflects life. That is what I find most rewarding, when that connection really lands for someone and you can tell it means something to them. That is the closest thing I know to seeing God at work.

Lastly I was wondering if you could give me an update on what Bad Apple Records will be up to in 2011. Any big releases planned this year?
This year is pretty exciting! In 10 years we have released only 7 albums. This year may see 4 releases with our imprint! Why They Came's sophomore release, "Don't Eat From the Candy Tree," drops in a few weeks. I am currently recording my material as well as Jon Russelburg's debut, "Means to an End." Redfoot will be recording their sequel to "Winnowing Fork," this summer, tentatively titled "Axe at the Root."

I guess that about wraps it up. Thanks for taking the time to answer the questions. Do you have any closing comments you’d like to make?
Find All Around the Dinner Table on Facebook or visit www.badapplerecords.net to keep up with what I am doing. "In Lent' will be available as a digital download within a few days, if not already (depending on when this is published). I appreciate your taking interest in my little project. Good luck with what you are doing. I pray it is a good year for both of us!

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