Wednesday, March 9, 2011

10 Questions With...Joe Fletcher

Joe Fletcher was kind enough to take a few minutes to answer some questions for me.  He and the rest of the Wrong Reasons will be starting a tour with Lydia Loveless on April 15th.  He has also put up his fantastic album, White Lighter, for FREE download, for a limited time.  Everyone reading this should jump on that offer.  Please throw in a tip to support the band, it's the least you could do.

I know you’re originally from St. Louis, MO.  How did you end up in RI? 

My mom and I moved from St. Louis to Warwick, RI, just before I started kindergarten.  This is where my stepfather is from.  We stayed a year before moving to Pennsylvania and then South Carolina.  After a few years away, we settled back in Rhode Island.

I enjoy your songwriting it’s very visual. So who/what got you started in music and songwriting? 

My love of the electric guitar was what first got me going full steam in about 8th grade.  Appetite for Destruction had hit the streets and the kids at my junior high were going mental growing soft little mustaches and tearing holes in their clothes.  Before The Wrong Reasons, I was strictly an electric guitar player in Rock N’ Roll bands.  Somewhere around the end of the last band I was in, The Deterrents, I started working on my own songs and learning how to sing and play acoustic guitar.

Where does your music/songwriting influences come from?  You hear a little of everything in your songs. 

If I'm on a roll writing songs, they can come from anywhere.  Something I overhear or read or remember.  Literally anything.  Despite the music we do, I've never felt like I had to be limited to songs about trains, the devil, and cars.  Originality in my writing is important to me. 

How do you feel you’ve progressed from Bury Your Problems to White Lighter?

Personally, I feel like I am a much better singer.  There is something about it that feels more honest to me as well.  That may have as much to do with the way it was recorded as anything else.  It is a very natural sounding record.

White Lighter has a pretty all-star cast of musicians from the Providence scene.  How did that come about?  Did the Wrong Reasons go on break or were these people that you wanted to work with?  Just a little confused on why the guys didn’t play on the album. 

I didn't know those guys yet.  I started recording in April of last year.  Leading up to that, I didn't have that steady of a band.  I got in touch with some friends that were wiling to help, so I just started rehearsing these different songs with different people for the record.  During the recording, someone mentioned to me that bassist Joe Principe and drummer Dave Hemingway were not playing with anyone.  I got in touch with them and we started rehearsing on the days that I wasn't at Machines with Magnets mixing White Lighter.  They've been with me nearly a year now.  I am a lucky guy.

You’re doing a small tour with Lydia Loveless in April.  What are some favorite places to play?  Where would you like to play? 

We are very excited about the tour with Lydia.  We’ve been doing shows with her in Ohio for four years now.  Her first record since signing to Bloodshot will be out later this year.  Things are really looking up for her.

As far as favorite places to play, I love Nashville, Memphis, Austin, and St. Louis.  I would really like to get out to Northwest and California.  I just played a show in Portland, OR while on a short vacation.  I like their style out there.  Also, a European tour must happen at some point.

What do you think of the Alt-Country/Americana genre?  Do you think Providence is an unlikely place for such a strong Alt-Country/Americana scene? 

I don’t think much about genres and defining a band’s sound. If anything, the limitations of a genre too often confine a band.  I suppose we might be a bit easier to market if we just played honky tonk or just played country blues, but I would also be lying to myself on a daily basis about what I’d like to be doing.  I just follow my natural inclinations of how and what to play based on what I like to hear.  Personally, I find it funny how much magazine space has been devoted to things like “Whoa, this Deer Tick sure doesn’t sound like they’re from Rhode Island.”  Old country, folk, and blues records have been available to me in my local New England record shops for as long as I’ve been looking for them.  I can get in my truck and be in North Carolina by dinner time.  We’re not talking about some great distance.  I’m not sure what people from here are supposed to sound like.  The Pixies?  Sea shanties?  Who knows?  I think Providence is as likely as anywhere for talented musicians to get interested in and play a variety of American roots music. 

Who are some local bands that you like to see/play with?  Is there anybody that you’d like to play with, that you haven’t already? (Nationally/World)

Locally, I love Brown Bird, Last Good Tooth, and Keith McCurdy.  Some of my current favorite national acts that I would love to play with sometime… Bob Dylan, John Prine, Justin Townes Earle, Gillain Welch, Hayes Carll, The Avett Brothers…  this could go on forever.

What are the plans for you and the band in the future?  A new record?  More touring? 

Well, this record just came out in December.  I’d like to record again next winter.  We’ve got quite a few new songs already.  I am really anxious to record with current live band.  As far as touring, after this ten-day run with Lydia Loveless, we’ll go back out in July for much longer one.

Any guilty music pleasures?

For better or worse, I'm not really too embarrassed by anything that I like.  It was been suggested that I should be ashamed of my love of George Michael's "Faith" record or the first 50 Cent record.  The unimaginative sometimes roll their eyes when I say "Purple Rain" is the best record I ever heard.  I am very comfortable with this fact.  I would rather listen to good pop music than another "roots" band that sounds just like the last one.

I'd like to thank Joe Fletcher again for answering my questions.  Please go see Joe Fletcher & The Wrong Reasons if they are playing anywhere near you.  It's a guaranteed good time.  Also, jump on that limited time offer of the FREE download of White Lighter.  I can't recommend it more.

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