The Still Sound on Iowa, Dallas Green, and classic country
Photo via artist
The Still Sound, aka Alex Arthur, is extremely modest -- almost to a fault. The Ames, Iowa transplant came to Minneapolis to study audio engineering, but has quickly had to learn about the music industry through business via putting out an album independently. With his new album, a gentle, careful, refined, and simple collection, Something About Life & Death is inventive, without having to reinvent indie-rock.
Gimme Noise spoke with the young artist to get some insight on his new album and asked what advice he had to give other musicians trying to break into the business.
Alex Arthur- Vocals/Guitar/Songwriter
You're from Ames. What brought you to Minneapolis?
I came up here to go to school and just for something new and different. What's the music scene like in Ames?
It's pretty hit or miss. There aren't a ton of local bands that aren't some sort of bar band. I always love playing at home though, because the shows always end up being a good time.
Where does the name the Still Sound come from?
I was really uncomfortable with having my name in the band name so I was searching for a sort of pseudo name. In the beginning I just posted something on my Facebook asking for ideas, and a good friend of mine told me that when they listen to my music everything just becomes still and soothing. She had something along the lines of it being such a still sound and it just grew from that.
You have a lot of classic rock flavor in your songs. Your voice and music remind of me of Dallas Green of City and Colour. Where do you think this came from?
Honestly, in the beginning he was a big influence to my music. When it came to taking this music seriously, I knew that I had to find my own flavor and own niche though, so I started listening to a lot of what would influence the sounds I was striving for. During the writing for this record I listened to a lot of older music like blues/R&B artists like Ottis Redding, Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, Bill Withers and stuff along those lines. I also listened to a lot of older era country and rock n roll i.e. Johnny Cash, Elvis, Buddy Holly, Hank Williams etc.
How did you meet Scooter Nelson, and how did you come to choosing him to work with on this album?
He was originally one of my teachers. I did a vocal performance class with Mary Jane Alm one-on-one and she recommended that I work with Scooter on this record. We had a few sit-down discussions about my vision for the record and what I wanted the outcome to be, and we both just clicked and were really on the same page in all aspects. After that he decided that we should recruit Dik Shopteau to engineer the record, and I had worked with him before in a few classes so I knew it was going to be a great time.
What was the writing process like for Something About Life & Death?
I wrote all the songs and recorded demos in my room at home. I have a little set up at home, so I was able to demo out every instrument/vocals and the general idea of the production that I wanted on the final record. The rest was just taking it into the studio and having different ears to hear things that I couldn't hear being so close to it. Working with Scooter and Dik was great because not only are they great at what they do on the recording side of things, but both are amazing musicians as well.
Any favorite tracks off the new album?
I would have to say I don't really have an absolute favorite, because I think each of them has things the other does not which makes them all really fun to play. I would have to say that "Through the Night" is probably the closest to my heart though because this record was really about the effects and things I went through losing a close friend to a freak accident and that song in particular is pretty much just me singing to my friend and the things I constantly think and feel.
Any plans on releasing a full-length album soon?
Not really, no. I'm just taking things one step at a time right now. We are still pretty new, and I don't want to get ahead of myself in any way.
You're a new artist yourself, but do you have any advice for budding musicians looking to make music their career?
I would say the main thing I have learned is more business than music, but always be humble and watch your attitude. Every person that you meet at a show,meeting or just anywhere could be that connection and networking thing that could take you where you want to go. No one wants to be around an egotistical narcissistic person.
What can we expect at your album release show?
We are going to play the whole new record plus some. Honestly, the two other bands that are playing are just phenomenal, and I'm really excited to watch them both play. It's in a more intimate venue, and it will just be really fun to finally share a lot of these songs with people for the first time.
The Still Sound will release Something About Life & Death at the Beat Coffee Shop on Friday, December 14, 2012 with Foreston and Hope Country.
AA, $6, 6:30 pm
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