Fifth On The Floor - Sound In The Signals Interview

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To anyone not familiar with your band can you give me a little information about how you guys got together and decided to form Fifth On The Floor? What got you interested in starting a band?

At first, it was to explore country music, specifically pre-80’s country.  I’d never played country music live, and for the most part, neither had the other members of the band.  From the outset, though, we started writing.  Our experience in rock n roll showed through pretty quickly, but I think so did my and our interest in where country music was and, via our subsequent exposure to “underground” country, where it was going.  When we started writing, Fifth on the Floor evolved naturally into where we’re at today.

With your newest album Dark And Bloody Ground you worked with Givememyxxx.com to give away your album for a short time last year. Why did you guys decide to do that and how do you think that helped your band?

The album was actually released in March ’10, so by the time we gave it away on the XXX site, it had had a little life.  The idea was to A) say thanks to the folks who have supported us from the beginning, and B) say hello to the folks we haven’t met yet.  We are confident in the music, and we just wanted folks to hear it.  And it has undoubtedly helped.  Our exposure increased dramatically, and with that, so has our opportunities.

One song in particular I really like off Dark And Bloody Ground is “Distant Memory Lane” can you give me a little background on the song and what inspired that song?

Most of the sadder, countrier tunes that I write come from Hank Williams and George Jones.  I should almost credit them.  I try my damnedest to get in the mindset those men must have been in when they wrote, because the heartaches they went through, the trials they went through, that seems like a pit that I haven’t visited.  But more to “Distant Memory Lane” specifically, I had had an incredibly bad stretch of luck.  My Jeep got stolen, I was broke, my job wasn’t panning out.  So I picked up my guitar, and started writing from this perspective that had first shown up in “Last Night in Memphis”, from our first record The Color of Whiskey.  This guy, John Doe or whoever, is about as down as a man can be.  Nothing’s right in his world.  And his woman, which seems to be the one good thing maybe this guy has ever had, is gone.  Either dead or left, but gone.  And this guy, he’s physically moving on from whatever’s behind him.  Not running, more like drifting.  Living in that his heart is beating, but that’s about it.  That guy, that feels like being at the very bottom.  And writing that character can make ya feel better about what are considerably easier problems to deal with.

The end of that character’s story is in “January in Louisiana”, off of our upcoming third record.  I look forward to talking about that one with ya :)

You guys are from Lexington Kentucky which is an area I’m really familiar with. What is the country scene like in Lexington and how does it impact your music? 

The country scene in Lexington is for the most part strongly influenced by Nashville, by Top 40, by the more pop sound.  I don’t say that negatively, as a lot of these musicians are personal friends of mine and incredible talents.  But from the outset of Fifth on the Floor, we knew that was not “country” as we defined it.  A while back in an interview, Parsons said “Since when did country music start being about having a GOOD time?”  That nails it.  Country music is cousin to the blues.  The blues aren’t about being in your pickup with your best girl.  The blues are about no pickup, no best girl.  So we feel more at home treating it like blues. 

In Lexington, we’ve got a lot of friends in both the country crowd and the rock crowd.  The rockers think we’re rednecks, the country cats think we’re hippies.  Works for me.

I hear you’ve been working on some new music with Shooter Jennings. How has this music been coming along and when do you think we’ll hear some of the songs?

We finished tracking the songs at DeadBird Studios in Louisville, and mixed at Nitrosonic Studios in Lexington.  We’re in talks with some folks right now who are interested in the record, and when those things get worked out, we’ll be able to give a concrete release date.  Nobody is more anxious to get these songs out than I am.  I can’t tell you how proud I am of this record, and how blessed I am to have worked with all of the talent that helped us put it together.

What can people expect when they come to a Fifth On The Floor show?

Exactly that.  A show.  There’s no frame around our performance, typically no setlist, no real firm ideas on what we want to do.  Generally we look at the crowd, the venue, and from there we determine how the show’s gonna start.  From there, we try to keep it as organic as we can.  The audience plays a big part in that, just as much as we do.  It’s a blast seeing where that leads.

The only other thing I can guarantee is that Matty will wear his hat.  Few things are more certain than that.

I talked to Andy Vaughn this month and I asked him this so I’ll you guys as well. I see you guys frequent a few sites I do like Moon Runners, Saving Country Music, Outlaw Radio, etc… and I know you’re familiar with some of the drama around the internet and have been the center of it a time or two. What do you think of the current state of the underground scene and do you feel it is as divided as some people paint it?

No.  It absolutely is not.  The friends we’ve made on the road have been resoundingly positive and kind, be it artists or otherwise.  Leroy Virgil, incredible talent aside, is one of the best-hearted dudes out there.  Bryan Childs over at ninebullets.net is a pillar to underground roots music.  Rusty over at Rusty Knuckles has a spot in Heaven whether he wants it or not.  Without fail, these people want to talk music, and they do it positively.  I’m not sure where this negative voodoo starts and where it’s going, but I imagine bad shit will separate itself from good shit when you give it long enough.  And then it’ll be irrelevant. 

These folks at the shows, these people who invite us in their homes and cook us breakfast, our drinking partners across the country, those people don’t give a shit about negativity.  I reckon we should do the same.

What do you guys have planned for the rest of the year?

We’re honored as hell to be backing Shooter on several dates opening for Lynyrd Skynyrd on the West Coast in the fall.  The four of us are from small towns in Kentucky, and you can imagine how humbling it is to have an opportunity like that.  Shooter asked if we’d like to do these shows with him, and we said hell yeah.  Skynyrd’s fans are some of the most loyal fans in rock n roll history, and I’m sure they’re no pushover.  We’re looking forward to showin em some Kentucky shit.

In late October, we’re heading out for a short tour with Hellbound Glory.  For folks looking for a show, this’ll be it.  Dates at www.fifthonthefloor.com/tour.

Past that, we’re hoping to have the album out by the end of the year.  This record is the best thing we’ve ever done.  Stay tuned.

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?

Thanks for taking the time to ask em! 

Fifth on the Floor has been making music for six years.  The last year specifically has been one hell of a ride, and I’d like to personally say thank you to everybody who has sent a single ounce of positivity our way.  We are blessed.  Thank you.

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