THE BUILDERS AND THE BUTCHERS
Why are there two percussionists playing on one standard drum kit instead of one?
You can get a lot more interesting drum patterns if you have four hands as opposed to a foot and two hands. And it just sounds more interesting and it just makes for a different approach to songs. We like being a rock band essentially, but with that weird percussion mix it makes it really cool.
Where are you guys mostly from?
Most of the band is from Alaska, we’ve had a lot of members change, but right now four out of five member are from Alaska. I knew almost everybody before I moved to Portland from Alaska and they all moved with different bands and we formed this band a little later on. The other bands were kind of winding down so this band kind of took hold.
Why did you move to Portland, Oregon?
We all moved to Portland kind of for music, but with different bands. You can’t really do music seriously in Alaska and you can’t tour so we decided to just be in Portland and give it a shot.
I first saw you guys play two years ago at The Fillmore with Portugal. The Man. It was an amazing show, but how was that experience for you?
It was great. That tour was great. We played awesome places and The Fillmore was a total dream to play there and we can check it off the list of things to do as a band.
What is your take on your new album, Dead Reckoning?
I think it’s different. The first record we did was completely unplugged instruments, and there wasn’t any electricity it was just folk instrument. The next record was mostly that again and just better produced, and this (Dead Reckoning) actually has a lot of electric instruments on it so it’s a little bit more like a rock record. That’d be kind of the biggest difference, and also we did it pretty much live in the studio to kind of get the energy of us playing together. So it’s not quite as hi-fi as the second record, but a little bit more honest as to how we play the songs. It was straight. We just recorded it, and it felt like too simple almost. It was really weird, but it was great.
Do you have a favorite track off the record?
There’s this song called “ Out of the Mountain” that’s like a soft song kind of toward the end of the album. That’s my favorite arrangement that we’ve ever done.
What were your inspirations for this album?
Well I wrote a lot of it after being on the road a bunch, so I’m sure those experiences, but also anything can inspire a song, and it’s so random. It’s like any book, movie, or just a phrase or whatever. It’s weird like there’s no one thing that I can personally do that I’m gonna go write a song today. They just come and I have to write ‘em. It’s not like a conscious thing so I’m not sure if there was any thing that inspired it, but I was reading a lot of books about stories of survival and when people get to the end of their thing and they’re like “uhh I’m gonna die” and they survive, and that’s super interesting. Like “what is that moment like?”
If you could tour or collaborate with anyone, who would it be?
Tom Waits. He’s kind of like God when it comes to songwriting.
What are your plans after the tour?
Well we’re making a record this winter so we have a ton of songs that we’re just gonna hammer out and record in May, I think.
What’s something that a lot of people don’t know about you?
I used to be a fish biologist before I started this band. That’s my professional career. I studied Salmon and all of those things. I worked for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service doing stream surveys and different things. So looking for Salmon in streams and stream restoration.
I follow the band on twitter and the last post I saw was a picture of Occupy Anchorage. What is your stance on the occupy movement?
I think it’s awesome. I think that people get hung up about what they’re saying, doing or like “Oh do they have a message?” but the fact that they’re just doing it is awesome and that’s what people are kind of failing to see. That people are actually taking time out of their day to go protest or whatever is really really cool. And that it’s spreading is cool. It’s a bummer that it seems like there is a lot of discouragement by arrests and people getting maced or pepper sprayed. It’s a shame that that’s happening. I agree with 95% of what they’re saying. I went to the first day of the big protest in Portland, it was great, and a lot of people had a lot of really good things to say.
Were there a lot of people?
Yeah, like 10,000 people.
Why do you think the occupy movement is important?
Because there’s obviously huge problems with what’s happening with the country. I mean, there’s always been problems, and that’s fine, but these problems are really really -just starting with the way the medical system is done and insurance and the way the banking is done- Every avenue where there’s like rich and poor there’s a widening disparity and the times where America is great is when the middle class is the most powerful, and right now you are getting squeezed if you are a middle class person. You’re becoming a more and more poor person. And if you look at like good societies over the course of history, it’s always the flourishing middle class. People have what they want and they have everything they need, or at least they have everything they need. At least they have those basic necessities and they don’t have to think “oh should I get groceries or should I go to the hospital?” That’s why I think it’s important.
I think that regardless of if it works or not, at least more people’s eyes are opened. That’s the important thing.
Hope you enjoyed! And I would also like to add a huge congratulations to Ryan! His wife is expecting to give birth to their first child in April. All the best to him and his family!