Jason “Hex” Freeman has partnered with award-winning film director Craig Brewer (Hustle & Flow, Blacksnake Moan, Footloose) to release his debut album via Brewer’s BR2 Music Publishing. The ten-song LP is a menagerie of the swampy blues sound Freeman taught Samuel L. Jackson’s “God-fearing bluesman” character in Black Snake Moan. It is available on iTunes where it is a “New & Noteworthy” and can be streamed in full on Spotify or Kangaroo’s Soundcloud.
It’s surprising that there haven’t been more homegrown contemporary blues artists to spring forth in into the mainstream from Memphis in the last decade. The city is home to Beale Street, The Blues Foundation, and The Blues Hall of Fame, plus a plethora of musicians from ZZ Top to John Mayer have dropped in temporarily to soak up the bluesy soul of the city over the years. But there has yet to be a local breakout star to cast a shining light on the mid south's oldest musical tradition. That could change with the release of Hex & Hell.
The album is a marriage of groove-heavy blues and rock, a note-perfect juke joint soundtrack created with the help of some of Memphis’ finest players, including Amy Lavere and Khari Wynn(Public Enemy) on bass, Adam Woodard (Harlan T. Bobo, Jack O., Star & Micey) on organ, Krista Wroten (The Memphis Dawls) on violin, Jana Misner (The Memphis Dawls) on cello, Suzy Hendrix on sax, and Daniel Farris (The Coach and Four) on drums.
Don’t let the term “debut” fool you, though. Just as in most overnight success stories, this narrative is a long time in the making.
The Memphis-born Freeman, who has been called “ a walking blues encyclopedia and folk/blues wizard,” has spent the last decade honing his skills playing solo and with the jug band-inspired Bluff City Backsliders alongside current Sun Studio engineer Matt Ross-Spang. Freeman also wrote the score for MTV’s Savage Country and contributed tracks to the Brewer-directed and Academy Award-winning Hustle & Flow. Not to mention, Hex & Hell’s “Magic In My Home” was included in the remake of Footloose. In the last few years, Freeman has become masterful at coupling sight and sound.
For more on this amazing performer, check out an excerpt from Meanwhile in Memphis.
You never know what kind of musical genius you’re going to happen upon on a Saturday night in Memphis. We ran into Hope Clayburn last week at The Cove playing to a packed house for a fundraiser for a local music documentary, Meanwhile in Memphis, which was directed by her Soul Scrimmage band mate Robert Allen Parker. Clayburn is prominently featured in the documentary, and the North Carolina native has come to see Memphis as her musical home.
The Soul Scrimmage ensemble has had a revolving cast of players over the years; the current line-up includes guitarist Robert Allen Parker Jr., bassist Khari Wynn, trumpet player Victor Darnell Sawyer and drummer Paul Taylor. The band is an eclectic mash-up of jazz, R&B, reggae and Afro-pop, and they throw a dance party like you would not believe!
Clayburn kicked off her musical career while attending college at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. Her first band was called Baaba Seth and has been described as a “world beat-styled jam band” and is credited with turning Clayburn onto African music.
After graduation, she went north and joined New York area-based band Deep Banana Blackout. Clayburn became a full-fledged professional musician and ended up recording several records with the group and spent the next half-decade on tour.
Clayburn kept touring after the breakup of Deep Banana Blackout and ended up spending several years on the jam band circuit, sitting in and guesting with the likes of Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Gov’t Mule, and DJ Logic. Eventually, Clayburn decided to take a break and go back to school to finish her nursing degree. Her sister, a doctor with the Church Health Center in Memphis, suggested a move down south.
Now, when Clayburn isn’t leading her flock during one of her soul sermons, she works as a nurse in the trauma unit of the Regional Medical Center at Memphis, treating victims of car accidents, gunshot wounds and a myriad of other unfortunate bodily injuries.
Check out a video of Clayburn and her Soul Scrimmage recording at Ardent.
Multi-instrumentalist Paul Taylor is often regarded as one of the best musicians in Memphis. A sought after session player and solo musician, he’s dabbled in a little bit of everything over the years. Currently, he is leading his band The Merry Mobile and on occasion filling in on drums with Hope Clayburn’s Soul Scrimmage. He grew up the son of local musician Pat Taylor and has had music infused in his psyche since he was born. He spent his teenage years hanging out with other second generation players like Steve Selvidge and Cody and Luther Dickinson, eventually forming DDT with the sons of Jim.
He also spent several years being a member of Amy LaVere‘s group (as featured on the MTV series $5 Cover), and playing with other local legends like Shelby Bryant, bloodthirsty lovers, and Antenna Shoes. He has released two solo albums, 2007′s Open/Closed aND 2009′s Share It!, on Makeshift Music.
He spent the last few years touring with worldwide acclaimed singer/songwriter Chuck Prophet, but his primary focus these days is definitely The Merry Mobile. You can catch him live every Sunday night at The Buccaneer. Check out more about one of our favorite Memphis musicians in the Meanwhile in Memphis documentary.
A surprising thing happened back in 2006, the year that Snowglobe broke up: they made another record.
Well, sort of.
The album, Oxytocin, was released nationally and was the 9th most added record on college radio in May of that year. Touted as a solo project for Brad Postlethwaite, but still released under the name Snowglobe, the idea was to have the other members follow suit with their solo directed albums. A record release show happened at The Hi-Tone but was billed simply as Brad Postlethwaite.
Although Snowglobe had a loyal following and was considered on-the-verge, Postlethwaite felt the pressure of approaching the end of his twenties and realized that making records wasn’t exactly paying the bills. So he told his band mates that he planned to stop touring and return to the University of Memphis to prepare to enter their Ph.D. program. In the eyes of co-leader Tim Regan, Postlethwaite was in essence quitting, so Regan, who very much wanted the band to continue, quickly found a replacement in Luke White of the Coach and Four. However, before the addition was even announced, drummer Jeff Hulett decided that he had also tired of the road and planned to begin working on a solo project. Regan packed up and moved to Knoxville, and as far as anyone knew, that was the end of Snowglobe. But according to Postlethwaite, he never realized that he was quitting the band.
“I was very confused as to what was actually happening with Snowglobe because I wasn’t able to continue with the way things were going,” he says. “There was this kind of all or nothing thing going on; I had to be able to drop everything I was doing or just not be in the band.”
In addition to the break-up of the band, Postlethwaite landed at a crossroads in his relationship with his long-term girlfriend. With two major parts of his life in limbo, he found himself with a lot of free time on his hands. So, he began writing songs and working on old Snowglobe songs that had been left off previous albums Doing the Distance and These Land Brains. He was still friends with everyone who had been in the band and naturally they fell back into the same patterns of playing together. Before the band broke up there had been an idea tossed around of each member directing a solo album under the Snowglobe moniker. Postlethwaite began accumulating so much material that he decided to reintroduce the idea.
In the end, although the record clearly says Snowglobe on the cover, the definition of what Snowglobe was to become had to be redefined. In addition to Hulett on drums, bassist Brandon Robertson and trumpet player Nashon Benford, a wide array of Memphis musicians pitched in on Oxytocin. Luke White played guitar; Aaron Sayers played drums, Jonathan Kirkscey added cello, Mark Edgar Stuart and Chang Li switched off on double bass, J.D. Reager sat in on drums and guitar, Anna Acosta played the violin, and John Whittemore added some pedal steel guitar.
“I’d go into Unclaimed Recordings, and it started off that whoever was there would play on the songs,” says Postlethwaite. “At one point every drummer I had ever worked with was in the room so it as very awkward trying to decide who was going to play on it. The band was still changing drastically, but I still decided to keep the name.”
The outcome was the most cohesive album Snowglobe had ever released. Postlethwaite’s songs had always been more orchestral pop than the indie rock output of Regan, and they flowed more evenly without the change-ups in songwriting. With a plethora of instrumentation including flute, euphonium, violin, cello and even saw, the record is lush and layered, upbeat and melancholy as it explores Postlethwaite’s relationship not only with his girlfriend but with his family and friends. The album was named after a hormone referred to as the “love” hormone.
“Oxytocin is this hormone that kind of, well they don’t know exactly what is does, it’s not like a hormone can make you love someone, but it’s involved with sex, with child bearing, with social memory…” Postlethwaite explains. “They have experiments where people have been giving Oxytocin nose spray, and it makes them more trusting, but most of the experiments show that the hormone is directly related to monogamy.”
So, the man who was left with nothing the year before, not only reconnected with his band, but he was also able to sort things out with his once girlfriend and current wife who acted as muse for many of the songs on the album. The only thing missing was Regan.
“I wanted him to be involved, and for him to participate and be part of the band as he was,” says Postlethwaite.
Regan and Postlethwaite did end up smoothing things over, and three albums have been released under the Snowglobe moniker since Oxytocin, and there is already another record recorded and waiting to be released.
Even though Regan was left reeling from the irony of the situation, he moved on and formed a new band called Antenna Shoes, which coincidentally was backed by fellow Snowglobers Bedford and Robertson, along with White, Paul Taylor on drums and Andy Grooms on keys. The band put out an album on Shangri-la Projects before Regan moved again, to Austin, TX this time, to join indie darlings, Oh No Oh My. But it seems Snowglobe will always be close to Regan’s heart.
The band has had many reunion shows over the past five years and continues to make music together today, most recently headlining Rock for Love 6 this month.
Too Much Love, the critically acclaimed debut from the mysterious Harlan T. Bobo, was originally supposed to be titled The Fall of the Bobo Empire. It’s a step by step walkthrough of the breakdown of his romantic relationship with Memphis artist Yvonne Bobo. Imagine a gravel-voiced Beck recording an album with all the elements of both country and soul, and meeting somewhere in the middle. Hailed by The Memphis Flyer as the best record to come out in the decade of the aughts, the success of the album caused lots of interest in the 40-ish singer from parts unknown.
Bobo is notoriously closed-lipped about his earliest years, only relaying a funny story from his childhood involving a tree, a ukulele, and a sock monkey, preferring to perpetuate his mystique. When describing himself in his teenage years, it’s hard to determine if he is being sincere or pulling your leg.
“I wore a dashiki, had long hair and was a big fan of Malcolm X at a time when Molly Hatchet ruled the earth,” says Bobo. “I got beat up a lot; I was very much into the hippie civil rights movement long past its prime.”
While he doesn’t often give up his place of birth or his given name, he will admit that at some point he went to college and studied art, which makes sense with the consistent inclusion of props, murals, paintings and the like in his live shows. Any given performance might include Bobo dressed as a clown, angel or Christmas tree.
It was not until the period when he lived in San Francisco in the late eighties that he becomes more forthcoming. After spending some time living on the streets, racking up a significant criminal record and a nasty heroin addiction, he registered with the local police as a drug offender and ended up in a half-way house. He was able to convince the authorities to allow him to go out at night and make his living playing pedal-steel guitar in a drag band that played spooky country music in local bars. It was in one of these bars where the Ballad of Yvonne and Harlan began.
“I was making a mechanical monkey from egg beaters and chicken skin, I would cure skin off chickens, and sew it, and it was named Bobo. And so Yvonne was sitting by herself looking at a candle, and I invited her to my table as a friendly gesture,” explains Bobo. “It turned out that her last name was Bobo, and so was my monkey’s. So I offered to show her my monkey.”
A month later they were on their way to Mexico to get married. However, an unfortunate accident involving a barbecue grill and Yvonne’s ankle made the couple rethink their hastiness. Instead, Bobo renamed himself in tribute to his new love and followed Yvonne to Waynesboro, TN where she started a woodworking apprenticeship, and he went about setting up a recording studio.
“I was ready for a different kind of adventure and Yvonne was full of adventure,” says Bobo. “We lived in a shoebox in the middle of the woods for a year and a half. I had taken an old shack and tried my best to turn it into a recording studio with the worst equipment you could buy at a flea market, I was trying to give it up (music), but it was always still there.”
Eventually, Bobo did give up and quit playing altogether.
“Playing just didn’t seem vital to me – just musically there were a lot of people, I mean there was a lot of shtick going on, I should talk, but there were a lot of people trying to become rock stars.”
After Yvonne’s internship had come to a close, the couple moved to Memphis and Bobo took a job at Memphis Scenic building installations for play and movie sets. It took almost three years of soaking in the music of local musicians like Jeff Evans, Jack Yarber, and Nick Ray before Bobo decided to throw his hat back into the ring and give music another try.
“I stalked Nick Ray when he worked at the thrift store” confesses Bobo. “His stage presence was very rock and roll without being ridiculous, and he was certainly putting on a show.”
After meeting Shawn Cripps at a party, he was invited to play with him and Ray in The Limes. This led to his inclusion in the Ray fronted band and his eventual reputation as the go-to bass player for everyone in the close-knit midtown music community. It was during this time that his relationship with Yvonne began to crumble. While they found themselves in a perpetual state of limbo, Bobo discovered that his out-of-sync relationship gave him something that he hadn’t felt like he had ever had before: a story to tell.
“I had always written music but never written lyrics or sang – for some reason, I just never felt that I knew what I wanted to say,” says Bobo. “Then I went through an extended period of doing everything I was afraid of and singing and writing songs was part of that.”
So, in 2002 Bobo began documenting his complicated relationship with Yvonne in song.
“I put it under my bed for about six months and wouldn’t let anybody hear it because I didn’t like it,” says Bobo. “It was hard to hear myself. Eventually, it just trickled out to friends who asked to hear it and so I would burn them a copy and make them a cover.”
As Bobo received more and more positive reaction to the music in the fall of 2003, he decided to try to sell the album in a few local record stores like Goner, Shangri-la and Last Chance. He continued to burn each CD himself and make individual covers. The record stores could not keep the albums in stock and after around 700 handmade covers, he determined that the record had taken over his life and he might need to seek some outside help.
“I think I lost my eyesight making those covers,” laughs Bobo. “I have to wear bifocals now.”
Goner Records released Too Much Love in the spring of 2005. A simple internet search pulls up countless websites citing it as one of the best records of 2005, classifying it as a “classic” and “masterpiece.”
A new record was recorded called “I’m Your Man” and Bobo stayed loyal to his muse. While Yvonne and Harlan are no longer romantically involved, he insists that they are family and
even spent some time working for her, their lives staying intrinsically entwined for some time, even though the couple became romantically involved with others. Bobo’s fascination with loyalty has always seemed to propel him.
“When I tried to put myself in other relationships that had potential, but it was my unwillingness to separate myself from Yvonne that’s caused 75 percent of my failure,” admits Bobo. “Part of the whole problem with love is that we start out thinking that it's something that is supposed to make you feel good, but it’s not a lollipop – it's a bleeding heart in a beaten bag, it’s meant to teach you a lesson, it’s gonna take you through life, it’s not just gonna pacify.”
Since the conversation happened a few years ago, Bobo has been able to move on, becoming married, having a son and moving to France. But you can still catch him playing the occasional solo show in Memphis, like the packed house he played to a few weeks ago at Otherlands.
Even with his newfound purpose, Bobo still continues to struggle with demons from the past and what he feels is a lack of humanity among men. While his songs may chronicle the sadness that comes along with failure, he still believes in the power of relationships and considers himself an optimist.
“I would hate to believe that the value of loyalty doesn’t have any validity to it, but it may not,” laments Bobo. “I do feel like a failure in my relationship with Yvonne, but I’m the comeback kid.”
Jack Yarber is a name that music snobs throw around like some sort of rock and roll currency. He may be “Memphis’ most influential active rock musician.” Known to his most dedicated fans as simply Jack O. (a moniker he held while serving tenure with local legends The Oblivians), Yarber still lives up to the theory that in Memphis you can hardly be taken seriously as a musician if you play in less than three bands. Yarber has been or is a member of Johnny Vomit & the Dry Heaves (a high school punk project that also featured future Squirrel Nut Zipper Jimbo Mathus), new-wavers the End, ’68 Comeback, Tav Falco’s Panther Burns, The Compulsive Gamblers, The Oblivians, Knaughty Knights, South Filthy, The Cool Jerks, The Limes, Loose Diamonds and the Natural Kicks. While most if those bands exude an ultra-cool underground vibe, Yarber’s introduction to rock was pretty similar to most guys in his age bracket.
“When I was a kid I liked comic books, and that got me into Kiss and through Kiss, I discovered The Beatles and The Stones,” says Yarber. “I just wanted to play guitar or drums, and I even picked up the sax for a while, I’m not a master at any instrument, but I’m OK on some.”
Yarber moved to Memphis in the summer of ’87 to play music with his cousin. The cousin ended up returning to Corinth, MS while Yarber decided to stick around. It was a chance meeting with Greg Cartwright that led to the formation of The Compulsive Gamblers, a band that seems to receive a lot more respect in hindsight than they ever did when they were actually together.
“It was weird the way I met Greg, we put an ad in the paper, the Memphis Flyer, looking for a drummer for our band, and this guy showed up, and I told him that the band had broken up and he told me I ought to meet this guy Greg, and then about two years later we started calling ourselves the Compulsive Gamblers,” explains Yarber. “We did two seven inches and recorded a bunch of songs on home recordings, we recorded in Easley, but we never really had an album. Our CD came out after The Oblivians started playing, before that no one was really interested in putting it out.”
The Oblivians, still Yarber’s most well-known band, was formed in 1993 and included Yarber, Cartwright, and Eric Friedl), with all three members performing on drums, guitar, and vocals, switching during shows. They were well known as a staple in the garage rock movement of the ‘90s.
“We never really had a set plan, but I didn’t think we were garage rock like the Woggles, I thought that we were more aggressive garage rock – it was just rock and roll to us.”
But even with sold out tours in the States and Europe, their DIY aesthetic kept them under the mainstream radar and off the radio dial.
“The first European tour was a highlight – we started off in Holland and went to Germany, France Spain, and Belgium, we ended up doing a couple of gigs in England. We were being treated like rock stars, with free everything, we were trying to drink it all and eat it all – by the time we got to England, our shows weren’t getting listed, and we couldn’t find the promoters, it was back to a reality check.”
By the late nineties, the thrill was gone, and the members all went their separate ways, Cartwright started The Reigning Sound; Friedl started the Goner Records store and label, and after a couple of solo records Yarber hooked up with Scott Bomar and started The Tearjerkers. Bomar eventually became more involved in film scoring, working on both Memphis-filmed Craig Brewer productions, Hustle & Flow and Black Snake Moan, and starting his musical collaboration The Bo-Keys. Eventually, the band evolved into a project solely based around Yarber penned songs, currently known as The Tennessee Tearjerkers.
“Jack is one of the finest songwriters around,” says Bomar. “He’s one of the biggest unknown rock stars in town. I am a huge fan.”
The first Tennessee Tearjerkers album, Bad Mood Rising didn’t go over too well with former Oblivians fans.
‘That was my mental breakdown record – cause I didn’t know what I was doing and thought I might as well just document it” says Yarber. “People thought it was too classic rock and had too many slow songs.”
Then came Don’t Throw Your Love Away, which made a much better impression, landing in the number one spot on the Memphis Flyer’s Top 15 Local Albums of the Year. It’s the sort of attention that Yarber is still not used to.
“I just think people thought it was not so crazy – but it’s still not exactly what I had in my head, I think The Flipside Kid was closer to what I really wanted,” he says. He followed that album up with 2009′s Disco Outlaw and 2011′s Rat City.
While Yarber has definitely been paid more in lip-service than he ever has in royalties, he still isn’t phased. He’s played with every legit musician in Memphis and has toured to high acclaim all over Europe, and guested on about a million projects.
“I kind of look at it like there’s no insurance plan, so I pretty much know at this age, if I were gonna do something else, I would have turned around and done it years ago,” says Yarber. “I think about getting out of it sometimes, but then before I know it I’m playing in three bands. I tried to work five days a week, but I like these hours better.”
Jack Yarber (aka Jack Oblivian) is a featured artist in the new film Meanwhile in Memphis.
We were really excited to welcome young up-and-comers Kids These Days to Ardent Studios this afternoon. The 7 piece band met while still in high school and have been making music together now for close to two years.
KTP, as they call themselves, blend soul, funk and hip hop to make smooth melodies that make you want to sway along to the rhythms – but they’re keeping their options open when it comes to defining the genre of music they play. Influenced by everything from jazz to indie rock like The Pixies, they are definitely ardently trying to defy definition and make their own way through the mass musical landscape.
Amy Lavere is happy to be back in Memphis, the place she has called home for ten years. The bass-thumpin’ singer-songwriter just landed back in the Bluff City after two months of playing to sold-out crowds across the U.S. as part of Lucero’s Ramblin' Roadshow & Memphis Revue and opening for breakout star Seasick Steve all over Europe.
The star of MTV’s $5 Cover loves touring, but she’s excited to be back at home in her cozy Cooper-Young neighborhood while she recharges her battery and gets ready to head back into the studio to record a new album in February. And how does the tiny, bright-eyed chanteuse like to spend her downtime? At her favorite restaurant, of course!
“The first thing I want to do when I get back to town is my favorite restaurant circuit, and Tsunami is always first on my list,” says Lavere.
Tsunami has been a midtown staple for over ten years and is known for owner/chef Ben Smith’s delicious Pacific Rim cuisine along with its use of local organic ingredients, not to mention the colorful cast of local regulars that populate bar. Just months after Tsunami opened in July 1998, it was voted Best New Restaurant by Memphis magazine. It has managed to maintain one of the top three spots in the categories of “Best Seafood” and “Most Creative Menu” in Memphis magazine’s readers’ poll every year since. The cuisine has become so popular that the restaurant has even warranted its own cookbook, the aptly named Tsunami Restaurant Cookbook.
Over drinks at the crowded bar on a Friday night, Lavere waxes philosophical about her time on the road and how good it feels to be back in Memphis. While she loves experiencing life on the road, meeting new people and eating in a new city every day, there’s always something comforting about being home. And whether she’s seeking a perfect glass of wine with friends or the perfect meal to mark a special milestone, Lavere does it at Tsunami.
“As a starving artist, Tsunami has always been my special occasion restaurant, I even had my first record release party here. The neighborhood is so rich with characters and I love the philosophy that Ben Smith has about food, he tries to use organic produce as exclusively as possible, and they even compost, and that’s not the most prudent thing to do.”
While Lavere’s music has gained a worldwide following, she is also known far and wide for her tours of Sun Studios where she has worked for five years. While she was in Europe on tour last month, she was floored by the number of people who approached her because they had taken her tour at Sun.
‘The magic that happens there absolutely resonates in the hearts of music lovers all over the world.”
Sun Studios, of course, is the legendary recording studio opened by rock pioneer Sam Phillips that kicked off the careers of music luminaries such as Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, Charlie Feathers, Charlie Rich, and Jerry Lee Lewis.
These days it is one of Memphis’ most popular tourist attractions, hosting thousands of visitors every year and well known for its colorful tour guides, most being musicians themselves.
“There’s not a lot of turnover which says a lot about the way the business is run and the way they treat the owners treat the people that work for them,” says Lavere.
As our conversation about food, music, and Memphis comes to a close, Lavere shares with me what she might have done if a career as a musician had not been possible.
“If I hadn’t been a musician I would have been a nutritionist/architect/chef/wine connoisseur/tour guide.”
Other than architect, Lavere seems to have all the bases covered.
Four years after their self-titled debut album was released in 2004, Mouserocket is back with their sophomore effort, entitled Pretty Loud, which is set for release on Chicago’s Tic Tac Totally Records on April 29th. The band started as a collaboration between former Big Ass Truck and current Vending Machine member Robby Grant, and the ever-prolific Alicja Trout, who has put out records with Lost Sounds, Black Sunday, and River City Tanlines. Mouserocket's new album will be a vinyl release with a CD of the music included in the packaging.
Backed by Hemant Gupta on bass, former Big Ass Truck drummer Robert Barnett on drums and Jonathan Kirkscey on cello, Mouserocket is a perfectly named outfit that blends the loud-quiet-loud melodies that made bands liken Nirvana and the Pixies all the rage back in the ‘90s. These days the band would probably be more comfortable with recent comparisons to bands like Television, Sonic Youth, and Yo La Tengo, while their Myspace page claims the band’s influences are home recordings, thrift store keyboards, Love, Devo, German Shepards, Claire, Fender amps and Motley Crue.
Motley Crue should be genuinely flattered.
While many musicians find it hard to locate the time to be in one band, Tim Regan is thriving as a songwriter in three. He joined Snowglobe in the late 90’s after returning to Memphis from college at UT Knoxville. After two albums, a fair amount of regional success and a slew of day jobs to keep him occupied between gigs, in 2006 he was offered the opportunity to join Austin-based Oh No! Oh My! as a touring member and was eventually asked to join the group full time (we hear it was his dance moves that won the band over). So, he took a hiatus from Snowglobe, made Austin his home base and went on tour. When the tour ended and both bands were still figuring out their next move, Regan went into Young Avenue Sound and made an album.
“I had a lot of songs, and I wanted to put them out. It was something I had been working on anyway, and the opportunity presented itself. With Snowglobe I had a sh**load of songs I needed to do something with and they could have worked with Snowglobe, but they might not have so I pressed on” explains Regan.
Luckily, when it came time to put together the backing musicians for the project, Regan did not have to look far.
“I went around and pretty much picked the best musicians I knew, and they just happened to be my friends,” he says.
Those friends include three Snowglobers, Nashon Benford on horns, Luke White on guitar, and Brandon Robertson on bass, and Steve Selvidge and Paul Taylor on guitar and drums respectively, all fantastically revered musicians in the local Memphis music scene.
“I actually did not join the band; I was already in it before it started. Tim just expected me to play with him, and I had no reason to say no” says Robertson.
The themes of the new album, Generous Gambler, set for release on April 1st from Shangri-la Projects, are often forlorn and introspective, engulfed in dense orchestral psych rock. But Regan assures us that he is as happy-go-lucky as anyone could be.
“I really hope the songs come off downtrodden because that’s what makes me feel uplifted. Happy songs make me feel constipated” he laughs. “I feel comfortable feeling sad, I’m not sad at all, but it makes me feel awesome, I put on the Smiths or the Cure, and I feel awesome.”
“The whole theme I’m trying to write about is based on a Richard Brautigan poem called, “It’s Raining in Love.” It’s the purest thing I’ve ever read in my life – like when you like a girl a lot, and you end up saying stupid shit – it’s so perfect.”
Other influences include Kirk Vonnegut, Henry Miller, Mark Danielewski, Hunter S. Thompson, and whoever writes those Choose Your Own Adventure books…
“I think I get more creative ideas from literature than music, music blows my mind every day, and I’m supposed to top that, I read way more than I listen to music and I listen to music always, ” he says.
Now that the record is set for release next month, Regan, who is currently on tour with Oh No! Oh My! in Europe, plans to drag the band he calls the best he has ever been in on the road for as much touring as possible which will include playing in Austin during SXSW this month. He is also working on new albums with both Snowglobe and Oh No! Oh My! His strong musical work ethic should keep him on the road for much of the next year. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
“I love being on the road. I love everything about it, I love taking people's houses over for the evening, I love meeting new people, I love coffee houses with internet access. I love when I go on tour you always have the coolest thing to do that night in town; people are super cool to you, and when you’re not doing it sucks, but that’s what books are for.”