EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: J. RODDY WALSTON & THE BUSINESS

By: Maria Ciezak
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

If you’re a fan of rock music, or just good ass music in general, you need to get on board with J. Roddy Walston & The Business. Their new album, Essential Tremors, sits comfortably among the best of 2013.

MARIA CIEZAK: First of all, I want to tell you that Essential Tremors is one of the best records I have ever heard. So this first statement is a simple congratulations.

J. RODDY WALSTON & THE BUSINESS: I thank you kindly. Very nice of you to think and say that.

MC: I read that you guys were able to use your own stuff this time around on recording in Georgia, as opposed to at Sound City on the last record. In your opinions, did that make a huge difference?

JRW: In some ways it did. We still used a lot of Mark’s gear on this record. It was just nice to have the option to use our gear. Sometimes just knowing you can do something is as comforting as doing it. Billy played his own guitars for 99.9 percent of stuff and that was definitely more comfortable for him.

When you tour as much as we do, your gear is beyond familiar and other stuff can just throw you off in a serious way.

MC: What usually comes first with you guys — the music or the lyrics? Or does it vary?

JRW: Yeah, it varies. Sometimes it’s just a riff you stumble on, other times it’s a whole melody with lyrics that you came up with in your head while driving on a vacation. I don’t really understand song writing as a method. I just have an instinct that says it’s done, it’s good. Of course, there are the other guys in the band who also need to think that and have their own instincts. So the songs get beaten up pretty good.

MC: I’d have to say my favorite tracks on the record are Take It As it Comes and Same Days. But of course, I want to talk about the success of Heavy Bells. Did you guys always know this would be a single?

JRW: I always loved that song. The very end vocals were an improv thing I did late one night. I called Billy immediately and said I think this is the biggest payoff in a song we have ever written. But that recording is actually the demo, the studio version didn’t come out right.

That song wasn’t going to be on the record. I was freaking out. I called our manager and he sent the demo around again with the idea of just remixing it and everyone said that feels right.

MC: I have to talk about the video. It’s hilarious, and I feel like it describes you guys in a nutshell. Who thought of the concept? And can I play you all in wiffle ball?

JRW: Anytime you wanna feel the heat, you are welcome to challenge us to a game if wiffle ball. You should know that we are better at that game than music.

The video I had a loose concept for and then the director Matt Wignall and I brainstormed on it a bunch. Then the band had some input. It was a group effort for sure.

MC: One of the many reasons I respect you guys so much is that you are true, raw rock. I find more and more nowadays that bands are afraid to rock. So many bands sound alike — would you agree with that?

JRW: Yeah, rock and roll is hard to come by. It’s really hard to be a rock and roll band and still be artistic, creative and sincere. I think there are bands that want to go loud and fast, but they stumble on things like being ironic or complete rip offs or just the fact that what they are doing is cheesy. The path that we have chosen is not wide, easy, or clear.

MC: You guys are also about to embark on a tour, I believe tomorrow, October 23rd. I will be in attendance at The Bowery Ballroom in New York City. This will be my first experience of Live Business. I have heard such rave reviews. Anything fans, like myself, can expect on this tour?

JRW: We actually have been touring since September 5th and it seems like no matter how long it’s been we are getting no closer to the end. [Laughs] I don’t know what to tell you to expect. I never know what to expect. I think that is the best part of live music. We rarely have a set list. We have zero production, so there are no rules. We don’t have to hit the lighting marks or be a slave to elaborate backing tracks etc. I know we put it all out there every night. The biggest variable is the audience… If they give us something serious back, it’s like powder keg ready to explode.

MC: After a sixth release, what would you say has changed the most in the music business since you guys first started out making music?

JRW: The Internet and people having become lazy because it’s so easy to find music. People don’t have to search and scramble for anything. That’s probably why it’s less valuable.

MC: For anyone who isn’t yet convinced to purchase your new record, can you sell them for us?

JRW: I honestly have no idea how to supply you with that answer. If I knew I guess I would be shouting from the rooftops and be a rich man.

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