Sunday, April 26, 2015

Interview with Brandon Atwell (From early March 2015)

Here at Dodobird, I'm trying to get back to having regular updates and highlighting a lot of new music and bands for you guys again after slacking off for a while. The last real post I made was my Best Roots/Country Albums of 2014. On that list there are a number of bands and artists new and old that have appeared on prior lists of mine or are relatively well known within the Roots scene. One name though that might not be as familiar unless you're from the Midwest is Brandon Atwell.

Brandon Atwell is one of the most promising artists I've heard in recent years. He released his debut album, "Finally Something", in 2014 and has been killing it live both before the release and most definitely since then. I placed "Finally Something" at Number 2 on my Best of 2014 list and it would have been Number 1, if The Goddamn Gallows hadn't released a career defining album in "The Maker". Regardless, even at number 2, Brandon Atwell and The Broken Ground released the best Country Music record of 2014, in my opinion. Its raw, its real,...its from the gut. Its honest music written without marketing and demographics in mind, but rather a real need to express things through music that must be expressed. Real pain, real heartache. So with how much I loved this album and my desire to share it with all of you and spread the word on Brandon's music, I recently got together with the Kentucky native to pick his brain and get the inside scoop on his past, his influences, the new album and where he's headed. What follows is my interview with Brandon Atwell.

Let's start off with some background stuff. How did you first start playing music? And when did you first realize this was something more than just a hobby?

Brandon Atwell: 
I actually just started at 19, as a way to make time fly, in the Army. I guess playing for all the Joe's and them telling me that they enjoyed it, gave me the drive to see what other crowds I could get up and do it in front of. It was really all an accident.
I also was very intrigued by my grandfathers recordings, Alva Greene. He was from Sandy Hook, KY and a phenomenal old time fiddler.


Wow, that's interesting that you started so late, compared to most people. I know you were in Call Johnny Law, prior to doing the solo thing, was that your first band? How did that come together and what led to the group splitting?

It was my first band, or attempt at a band. I felt like the constant rotation of members wasn't what I was going for, and honestly I felt like some people, that eventually came along, was trying to take the image in a direction that I wasn't interested in. I really just needed to step back & find why I started playing music in the first place.

finally something cover art

Right on. So you released your first album, "Finally, Something" last year, can you talk a bit about the recording of the album?
Sure enough. Im extremely proud of that album. It embodies everything I wanted. Homemade and straight to the point. Me & my closest friends set around microphones until we even figured out what we were doing. It was all new to us, and while we busted our ass, we had a blast making it. I'd like to thank Ricky Hodge, Brian Burgess, and Bo Jesse for being the best friends a guy could have and making the pieces come together. They played a huge role. I also think the Tradional aspect rings through loud and clear.

It may sound silly to some. I don't know, maybe I'm not cut out for the business side of music.. That's fine. There's some damn fine hard working people out there that believe in what I'm doing and what I'm saying.. And thats more success then I've ever deserved. I just wanna keep churning out the tunes man.
Nice. Switching gears a bit, I know alot of your tattoos are music related, so as someone who has such a love of music and is also a performer, what are some of your favorite bands/artists and also biggest inspirations musically?
Oh man, Thats a long list. Growing up I was super into metal and punk stuff. Slayer is always high on the list of my favorite acts. My Mom & Dad listened to a lot of Bluegrass gospel, and Slayer was as far as I could get from that.. Which was what I wanted. I listen to tons of artist in the traditional country/bluegrass field these days. There's always a day for metal somewhere or another though. Some of my biggest inspirations are Jimmy Martin, Roscoe Holcomb, Lee Sexton, Hank Williams. I like it all when it comes to the old sounds. I've listened to Bocephus and Merle since I was old enough to crack a beer open; I'll let you guess what time that was in my life. I've just always been drawn to originality. I grew up in an area where new music was hard to find. Not a whole lot going on out this way, but I think I've faired pretty decent.

Favorite bands/artists : Hank Williams, Ralph Stanley & The Clinch Mountain Boys (Especially the Clawhammer album), Slayer, Roscoe Holcomb, Weedeater, Jimmy Martin & The Sunny Valley Boys, Tennessee Mafia Jug Band, Leroy Troy, if there's a clawhammer banjo with a band backing it I probably like it.

I notice you mention that you got into Metal, at least partially as a reaction against the music of your parents. I also grew up surrounded by Country but by my teens had jumped fully into Metal and Gangsta Rap but as I got older I rediscovered Country, Folk, Bluegrass, etc. With the current Roots music scene it seems to be a common thing that many were into metal and Punk and then later found or rediscovered American Roofs music. What do you see as the link between 2 styles of music that seem on the surface to be so different?

Personal belief - imagery. I don't see how ya could've ever had metal without bluegrass. Bluegrass/Country songs are typically driven toward the lighter side of life and metal is on the opposing (generally). I believe for years country boys were scared to make mention of being metal fans.. Thats what I think it boils down too. It was almost like a taboo.
Id also say those folks were brought up listening to the old stuff and metal and punk was they're outlet.
In recent years, mainstream Country has become increasingly influenced by Pop music and now even rap and becoming less "Country", of you will. Meanwhile, there has been a growing independent, more underground scene of Roots music that encompasses a variety of disparate styles from Punk and Metal musicians turned pickers, one man bands, Blues, Bluegrass, Psychobilly, Rockabilly, Folk, and Traditional Country. Where do you feel you and your music fit in to all this? And what is your opinion of the state of music, both Mainstream Country and the current Roots scene?
I guess I don't feel like I fit in anywhere. I just try my damndest to put music out, and put shows on that speak to common people. I'm not really to tickled with the state of either to be quite honest. I feel like in the mainstream ya got guys shakin' they're ass and making fun of a culture, but I also feel like you've got that in the "underground" if you will. I guess I've rubbed more elbows in the "underground" or "roots" scene. There's a lot of really good hearted people; and theres phony's all the same.. But you've got that in every walk. For me, it doesn't boil down to where ya fit in or what ya do if you're true to who you really are. Even if it isn't my style of music, I can't really bash it if it's who you are.. Just don't attack my thing.

With that all said, I tend to favor the underground side of the house.. Have you heard that mainstream stuff? I'll be excited once they get past shitty high school love stories and tales of the truck they never had.

Hahaha, nice. Earlier you talked about how you still work a regular full time job and playing shows is a vacation for you Would you like to eventually make music fulltime and tour extensively?

I really like the idea of it.. But if it don't happen it ain't gonna kill me. I know no matter how it turns out I'll get to pick with my good buddies back home and we can pick and record my songs and get em out there for people. Either way, I plan on getting my music to folks. I really like the idea of getting out there farther and covering more territory though. I think it'd be great. I look forward to seeing where it can take me.

Well man, I think we've covered a lot... I'll give you the chance to add anything you want, any thoughts, advice, complaints or curses?
Really im just thankful you thought enough to ask me questions about something I enjoy doing, and Im beyond thankful for the numerous other people who find enjoyment in it. It's why I continue.
Right on man. Well thanks for doing doing this and just keep doing what you do man.
Listen to the album online and/or purchase a copy right here...
Keep up to date with Brandon Atwell's music, upcoming shows, videos, etc here...
Brandon's Reveb Nation page...

All music and the album cover art is property of the respective artist,
in this case Brandon "Goddamn" Atwell
All live photos used were taken by Bethany Sweitzer
Dodobird 2015
Andrew Glen Sweitzer

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Submissions from Bands

Ive gotten individual messages asking before so I'll just make this post for the future, although also feel free to message me...

Any bands, artists, or labels who want me to review their demo, album, EP, LP, CD, etc, I am more than willing to do so just send me a copy... my address is
7789 E 700 RD
Martinsville, IL 62442

Feel free to include any other merch, money, illegal chemicals, etc as I am totally open to being bribed lol... I will check out digital downloads too but I MUCH prefer a physical format, even if its just a CDR... so yeah.. now send me some jams...

PS if you are in a band and need a bio or some other kind of write up thing, I can also do that for you and have done so in the past for other bands such as SS WEB, who's bio on their Facebook, Website, etc I wrote....

Top Albums of 2014 - Roots, Underground Country, Blues, Folk, Bluegrass, etc

Image of The Goddamn Gallows - The Maker CD

2. BRANDON ATWELL & THE BROKEN GROUND - "Finally, Something"
finally something cover art

3. S.S. WEB - "Skulls Will Sink"
S.S. Web | Skulls Will Sink

4. STURGILL SIMPSON - "Metamodern Sounds in Country Music"

Hellbound Glory "LV" CD

6. GRAHAM LINDSEY - "Digging Up Birds"
Graham Lindsey | Digging Up Birds: A Collection of Rarities & Others

7. URBAN PIONEERS - "Addicted to the Road"
8. JOSEPH HUBER - "The Hanging Road"

9. LOU SHIELDS - "American Relic"

Image of Fishgutzzz & His Ignorant Band CD

11. SCOTT H. BIRAM - "Nothing But Blood"

12. THOSE POOR BASTARDS - "Vicious Losers"

14. WILLIE WATSON - "Folk Singer Vol. 1"

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Interview with Henry Berger from S.S. WEB

Hailing from the booze-soaked, frozen tundra of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, S.S. Web fuses elements of Folk, Punk, Americana, Rock, and Country into a style all their own.  For the better part of 7 years S.S. Web has been plying their trade, honing their skills as musicians and songwriters. They self released their debut album, "North", in 2011 and released it's follow up, "1933", in 2013 through Wayward Parade Records.
Taking to the road like marauding pirates take to the sea S.S. Web has played countless shows from coast to coast, bringing the party and a glorious racket wherever they go, making new fans and friends at every stop. 2014 sees the band heading back out on the road, writing and recording material for a new record, and continuing to establish themselves as one of the premier bands in a burgeoning underground roots scene.
I recently spoke with the Henry Berger, the vocalist and guitar player in S.S. WEB and here's what he had to say....

DodoBird: Ok, So Whats the backstory on S.S. Web, how did you guys form and give us a brief rundown of how you got from there to where you guys are today?

Henry Berger: Davey and I have known each other forever and had been messing around with acoustic instruments for some a while. I was living with Kyle at the time, and Jon we met through shows of a previous band. We all got together one drunken night in 2007, and liked what happened. Originally it was me (Henry) on acoustic guitar and vocals, Davey on acoustic bass guitar, Kyle on acoustic guitar and Jon on the cello.
That was the way things were for probably about a year or so, then Kyle moved to Texas, and we asked Jon to leave the group leaving just Davey and me. It was a while before we actually found some more members that fit, we went through a new bass player as Davey had switched to Mandolin by that time. Tried out some folks on drums that ended up not panning out. Kyle moved back to Milwaukee from Texas and we decided we wanted him on drums, having played in previous bands with Kyle on the kit, I knew his style would fit. Our good friend Bryan who moved up to Milwaukee from Indiana to be in a different band that did not work out, ended up with the spot of acoustic bass because he is a rad guy to be around and we wanted his attitude to be part of this group. In 2013, Kyle moved to California with his wife, and we found Cris to be his percussive replacement. Having known Cris through friends, we thought he was a blast and he was a great drummer, however he picked up the washboard and started to do more percussion than drums, kind of accidentally. But that is another story. We have all played music for a long time and are very happy with what we fell into with S.S. WEB.

DDB: Where did the name S.S. Web come from?
HB: The name just came to us at an early practice. I think it was Davey who came up with it, Steering Ships With Empty Bottles. A few days later it just came to me that we could go by S.S. WEB for short, I figured people might not remember such a long name, but it turns out people screw up S.S. WEB all the time too.

DDB: You guys have released 2 albums so far, 2011's "North" and most recently "1933" last year, in 2013. What can you tell us about the writing process within S.S. Web and the recording of the albums?
HB: We are all very proud of both albums 'NORTH' and '1933'. They were the first full length, professional albums any of us had actually ever been a part of. The actual recording process and writing process of all of these songs was very fun and interesting or all of us. We all write at least a little bit, I usually end up sitting down and 'editing' the songs, changing words here and there or a sentence or two, to things I think either fit better or I think would sound better. I would say that I am the primary song writer, however everyone gets a say and everyone contributes.

DDB: So what's next for S.S. Web? Is there a new album in works?
HB: Our next venture is to record an album with our new percussionist Cris. We have not gotten to record with him yet but I am sure it will be a blast. His percussion has taken us in a slightly different direction musically, but I believe it is a step in the right direction. We are working on finishing writing a few more songs for this next album, and hope to have it done for our upcoming May tour, but we have to wait and see.

DDB: You guys tour quite a bit, so you must enjoy life on the road, what's your favorite thing(s)about life on the road? And are there any things you really dislike?
HB: My favorite thing about the road is meeting new folks, and randomly running into old friends. Being in a different spot with so many vastly different people each night. Of course being able to get to spend all that time with people I consider brothers on the road. Yeah we get tired of each other here and there but overall its the best thing you could ever experience. Also getting to see so many amazing musicians do their thing each night is something unlike anything else. I do not like how much time we waste though, driving forever or showing up to a venue super early with nothing to do. I keep telling myself to pick up a hobby that can be done anywhere but then I think I could be using that time to write more music, however I never do use it that way, maybe one of these days.

DBB: You guys have a very unique, original sound, How do you describe your sound when people inevitably ask "What do you guys sound like?"
HB: Our sound or genre is something we have struggled with explaining to people from the get go. We are not rockabilly, we are not what people think of when they hear 'folk' or 'bluegrass', and we are not rock or county either. Its just drinking music really. Young or old, rich or poor, if you are into the drink you probably will be into S.S. WEB.

DDB: I feel if you're playing music, especially in this day and age, if people have a hard time describing it or attaching a genre tag to it, then you're doing something right because so much as been done and so many people are content with mediocrity and just rehashing the same shit over and over. I truly believe you guys are doing something really unique and special. I also think Cris adds a really cool element to your sound, and as you mentioned, I am excited to hear a new record with him involved. Both "North" and "1933" are great records and the songwriting is killer, but it will be cool to hear a record that matches your current live sound with all that Cris does percussion-wise. I've seen alot of Washboard players over the years and most don't really do anything more than just your standard "clickity clak" with their fingers on the washboard, but Cris has added so many different little things like cans, and all sorts of little pieces to his Washboard that he really gets so many different little sounds and nuances from his instrument. Its just cool to see someone think outside the box and add his unique twist to something. Well, I'll leave you be for now and we'll see you guys on the road.
SS Web's Reverbnation page:
Wayward Parade's page:

Live photos courtesy of my wife, Bethany Sweitzer
Andy Sweitzer, Dodobird 2014

Friday, March 14, 2014

Interview with Joe Perreze (GODDAMN GALLOWS, PERREZE FARM, etc)

Joe Perreze has been an important part of the Roots scene for quite a while, he had pulled double duty playing Banjo in both Jayke Orvis' Broken Band and The Goddamn Gallows, before focusing primarily on The Gallows. Meanwhile he has also worked on his own Perreze Farm project plus he's an accomplished artist, doing much of his various band's related artwork as well as covers and various art for other groups. I recently spoke with Joe Perreze and discussed a number of things, from the upcoming Goddamn Gallows album, "The Maker", to Perreze Farm, Autopsy Tailors, and much more. Read the full interview below...

DODOBIRD: What's your basic backstory musically? How did you get started playing?

JOE PERREZE: I started when I was 13 playing bass in rock/post grunge bands. From there I quickly picked up guitar and got into the post hardcore and punk scenes playing around Montana to other angsty and misunderstood high schoolers. The Goddamn Gallows can thank this era so long ago for my screaming vocals. Out of high school two very important people came to the forefront of my life; my longtime friend Dan Austin (Spadeball Ink) and Darren Dorlarque (Farmageddon Records). Dan and I started a dirty delta blues band, Hangman's Hill, and were absolute sponges to the new universe of music Darren exposed us to. I moved to archtop Kay's and 1950's Harmony guitars, learned slide and open tunings and, I feel, really started a serious venture into music. Myself and Dan were big .357 String Band fans and moved to more bluegrass inspired music. I learned mandolin and clawhammer banjo. In 2008 I met Joe Frankland (Slackeye Slim) and played guitar and banjo with him, and broke into touring nationally. I also started The Perreze Farm at this time, as well a summer in Graham Lindsey's live lineup and a tour playing with Rachel Brooke (anyone remember the pre-Farmageddon Murder In The Mountain tours?) In 2010 Jayke Orvis graciously recruited me into The Broken Band on banjo where I officially quit any sort of straight job to pursue music. From there, in 2011 The Goddamn Gallows scooped me up and here we are.

DDB: So how did you come to join The Goddamn Gallows?

JP: I joined the Gallows by osmosis. The Broken Band did a lot of tours with them and from many nights of everyone being together I started hopping up onstage with the Gallows for a song, then a few more songs every night. When it came to recording 7 Devils they wanted banjo on the bulk of the album, offered it to me, we practiced for three days in Cleveland then headed straight to Nashville to record. It was a blast and I officially joined as a full time member. Very important note - Jayke wrote and recorded banjo for that album too. All the good banjo licks are his haha, I can't take credit for that.

DDB: Haha, nice. So now you and The Goddamn Gallows have a new album, "The Maker" recorded. Let me say that its amazing and I think its going to blow everyone away when its released, but anyway, it seems like you have a bigger presence on the album than you did previously. Did you have a larger hand in the songwriting this time around?

JP: I did. On 7 Devils I wrote banjo parts to songs that were already 90% done. For the new album I was there to help build songs from the ground up. All the songs were written to have banjo from their inception. "I Am Still The King" was an unrecorded Perreze Farm song and "The Maker" was an instrumental I had been kicking around for years. Also did some swapping with Mikey and wrote guitar lines for a few.

DDB: Nice, I've been fortunate enough to have the new album for awhile now, and I truly think its the best thing The Goddamn Gallows have ever done. I also feel that while it is very recognizable as The Goddamn Gallows, it sounds a bit different. Some of it is more aggressive and It also seems darker in some way. When you guys set about writing the album, was any of that intentional or was it just the way things came out? Also, for fans of the band who haven't heard any of the new stuff, how would you describe the album?

JP: It wasn't entirely intentional. We just started coming up with more aggressive and darker stuff so we ran with it. I think everyone was excited to get back to harder music, akin to the more punk based Ghost Of Th' Rails album. As far as a description of the new stuff...metal and punk music with breaks for ragtime and spaghetti western tunes. All with a layer of screaming and Mikey's sweet crooning. I think that covers it.

DDB: Haha, nicely put. So do you guys have a released date yet, for "The Maker"?

JP: I believe so, but it's still under wraps haha. SOON.
******NOTE: The band has since announced the album will be released April 2, 2014****

DDB: Haha, Fair enough, is it coming out on Farmageddon and are there plans for Vinyl as well CD?

JP: We're working close with the Farm family, as always. And we would love for it to hit vinyl! It will most likely happen; probably not right out of the gate though.
*******NOTE: The album is coming out though Farmaggedon, and they are currently taking pre-orders for the CD which will be out April 2nd, and for limited edition vinyl LPs which should hopefully be shipped out this Summer***

DDB: Sweet, alright let's switch it up a bit... You mentioned the Perreze Farm earlier, so far you've released 2 EPs, I believe, 2009's "Songs For The Birds" and "This is a Photograph By My Friend, He Would Have Liked To Have Seen It On An Album Cover". Would you care to talk about those 2 releases a bit?

JP: Both were written and recorded in Anaconda, MT. I had a lot more time to record then...a lot more time to develop every last nuance of a song. Those two releases and were really just demos that went too far; material that was meant for other bands I was already in, but I couldn't stop adding more instruments and layers to it. So The Perreze Farm was made and those ep's followed. All of the parts (banjo, percussion, violin, cello, guitar, mandolin, vocals, on and on...) were written in my apartment and were later greatly bettered by Joe Frankland (Slackeye Slim) and Graham Lindsey. They were really the backbone of the final recordings.

DDB: Are there plans for a new Perreze Farm release any time soon? And if so, would you prefer to do a physical pressing this time around or would it primarily be a digital download thing again?

JP: I would love to have another official release! I have enough material for a few LP's by now haha. I would probably do another digital release, I really like the option of the "donation download."

DDB: Well, we've touched on The Goddamn Gallows, and The Perreze Farm, you want to mention any other projects or ventures you got going, Autopsy Tailors, or anything else?

JP: Yes, my company, Autopsy Tailors, will be coming out with a new line of clothing/real cool stuff for spring of '14. Huge, HUGE thanks for everyone's support!!! I hear the new stuff is really dark and really rad. 7 Sins Sideshow has graciously opened it's arms to me to help with production, writing and fabrication for their show. Go out and catch us if we're in your neighborhood. Also my beautiful fiancé has a brick and mortar shop, Abernathy's, in Davenport everyone should give a look-see. They commission me from time to time for design and fabrication.

DDB: Right on man, well I think that's about everything I got for you man, do you have anything you want to add or anything else you want to say?

JP: I think that's it man! Thanks for being patient and even bigger thanks for doing what you do!!! Keep up the killer work man!

DDB: Hey man, no problem, I'm just trying to spread the word about cool music and maybe shine what little bit of a spotlight I can on bands and artists in the underground that I feel are important. So thank you man, and I'm sure we'll see you on the road in the coming months.

If you're unfamiliar with The Goddamn Gallows, make sure you check out all their previous albums, and be ready for "The Maker" when it drops in April. Its the best thing they have ever done and without a doubt one of the best albums of any genre I have heard in years. It truly establishes The Goddamn Gallows as THE premier band in the entire Underground Roots music scene and simultaneously shows that musically they have moved completely beyond any of the bounds of Genre descriptions and their inherent limitations. They are truly doing something unique and original. Also, check out both Perreze Farm EPs, as they're both rad and available for digital download from their bandcamp page with the name your price option, so even if you're broke, you got no excuse.

Perreze Mfg. Co. blogspot:
The Perreze Farm Bandcamp Page:
The Goddamn Gallows website:
Farmageddon Records website:
Autopsy Tailors website:

All live photos by Bethany Sweitzer, all artwork property of their respective owners, ie the band, label, artist, etc

Andy Sweitzer, Dodo Bird Zine, 2014