Andy Vaughan And The Driveline - Sound In The Signals Interview

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You guys have a great new album out this year called Searching For The Song and it’s your second album and it has this really great kind of true country feel to it. Can you tell me a little about the recording of the album?
 Since recording our debut album “Long Gone” in early 2011, we have come a long way as a band.  Over the course of last year we really gelled as a unit, and worked up a bunch of new songs that we felt were very strong.  We wanted to get back into the studio, and we really wanted to be able to take our time with the recording and production to do the songs justice and make the best record we possibly could.  So we decided to use Kickstarter to raise the funds to give us a decent budget.  Our awesome fans, family, and friends came through for us and we hit the goal.  It was an amazing feeling to know how much folks believe in what we’re doing, and it also helped take the financial worries off of our mind, allowing us to give complete focus to the music.  Dan-O Deckelman, our engineer at Snake Oil Recording where we made the album, did an excellent job getting us exactly the sound we were looking for, and everyone in the band played their hearts out.  This is definitely the best thing I’ve done in my musical endeavors thus far, and I couldn’t be happier with how the album turned out.

What do you guys want to accomplish this time around with this new album?
 Well, from a personal standpoint, I really just wanted to make an album full of good songs, and I’m pretty satisfied with that.  I’m hoping that it’ll get into the hands of a lot of people who will enjoy it, and that it’ll mean something to them.  From the standpoint of the band and where it’s going, of course I hope that we can get some attention with the album that will help get us more well known, which will lead to more shows in more towns.  There’s nothing better than getting out there and playing live in front of an audience, and sharing the music we make with them.

You guys are an independent country act and rely a lot on album sales and touring to make the band work. To anyone on the fence about checking your music out what do you think sets you apart from some of the current country acts? Why do you think people should check your group out?
 A word that I tend to hear repeated from other folks about us is “authentic”, and that makes me really happy.  We’re not trying to be anything in particular, we just are what we are.  I don’t write songs to specifically sound a certain way, this is just what I write and how they come out.  Our music isn’t a reaction to pop-country, and we’re not trying to make a statement- we’re simply playing the music we love straight from the heart.  There’s a lot of music out there that just seems contrived because people are trying too hard to be one thing in particular, and we don’t really do that.  So in addition to the music being completely genuine, I think that also helps give a good bit of variety to our sound.  We’re influenced by everything from Western swing to Bakersfield twang to outlaw country and a lot of stuff in between, and you can hear all of that in our songs.  Also, people have a whole lot of fun at our shows.  We have a great time playing together, and that gives our performances a lot of energy.  And that energy seems to be contagious with the audience.  Everybody has a good time!

The album artwork for this new album really captures the vibe and it really makes the album stick out to me. Who did the artwork for this one and why did you guys decide to pick it for the new album?

Will Armstrong, one of my closest friends, is an amazing professional artist.  He recently started doing a new line of work called “The Tin Can Tourist”, where he does illustrations over top of a collage of antique road maps.  This stuff just blows me away, so I asked him about doing the album artwork.  I sent him a rough recording of the title track and talked to him about the overall album concept, and he had me meet him at a neighborhood pub to take a couple of reference photos of me at the bar a couple of weeks later.  What he came up with could have not been more spot on!  You hit the nail on the head saying it really captures the vibe.

What inspired you to start writing songs? Do you have a particular artist or song that really made you want to become a musician?

I started writing lyrics, albeit really terrible ones, in high school- the usual venting-of-teenage-angst kind of stuff.  I would get together with friends off and on to start a hardcore or punk or rock band, but nothing that ever went anywhere.  Then I started singing in a ska band in the early 90’s, and that was my first foray into real songwriting with chord structure, melody, horn lines and everything.  A few years after that band ended, I really started to pursue songwriting seriously and started honing my skills.  I was pretty much over my rebellious youth at that point, and the vast majority of what came out was country.  I’ve always loved songs that tell stories and convey a feeling by painting a visual image, and that’s the heart of country music.  I’ve also never been a fan of spacey lyrics or flowery, pretentious language.  The most heartfelt, soul-stirring songs to me are the ones that can make poetry out of everyday language, because that’s what comes out when a song is written from the gut instead of up in the head.  Merle Haggard is one of my favorite songwriters, and he’s a master of that.  So is Billy Joe Shaver.

As for wanting to become a musician, I have to thank my dad, Buzzy Vaughan, for that.  He’s a great mandolin and guitar player, and had a band called the Bluegrass Clippers when I was a kid.  I grew up around that music, going around to all the bluegrass festivals and gigs dad would play, and it made music a part of me.  I remember staying up as late as they’d let me while they’d practice at our house, and when I finally had to go to bed, I’d fall asleep on the floor with my ear to the heating vent so I could still hear them playing and singing downstairs. It’s stuck with me my whole life.  Dad played mandolin on a couple of songs on our first album, and on three tracks on “Searching For The Song”.  Not only does it sound great and add to the songs, but I can’t tell you how much it means to me to have him be a part of the music I’m makng.

We tend to frequent the same circles around the internet and I know I’ll see you comment on places like Saving Country Music or see your name pop up on Moon Runners, etc… There seems to be a lot of divisiveness between the places that cover independent to underground country music. What is your opinion on this and what do you think about the current state of the more underground country music scene?

The divisiveness and rivalries really bum me out.  I know that people aren’t always going to like each other and get along, and that’s just human nature.  But I certainly am not getting in the middle of someone else’s feud, and I really wish that folks could just work things out behind closed doors.  Unfortunately, the internet makes it so that things spiral out of control with stuff like that.  The impersonal nature of typing out something on a keyboard instead of saying it out loud to someone’s face makes it all too easy to say something you probably shouldn’t.  Plus, when it’s there on a forum, tons of people are arguing about something for days, weeks, or months at a time, whereas in the real world it would be a five minute shouting match between a small handful of people, or a fistfight that happens and then is over, done, and everyone moves on.  I don’t go to any of those websites to read about who hates who, who said what, or to listen to people bitch.  I just want to find out about good music.  As to the state of the underground country music scene in general, I think that it’s full of incredibly devoted fans, and the numbers are growing.  And there are a ton of great bands out there, they just need to the opportunity to be heard.  I’ll tell you, this music can really move people, even those with no connection to the scene.  Yes, the masses will eat up the junk food that’s force fed to them, but a lot of them really love the hell out of a gourmet meal when they get that too.  You just need to put it in front of them and give them a taste.

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?

No problem at all.  I guess I’d just like to say thanks for covering our kind of music, and helping spread the word about what we do!

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