Andrew, the name of your solo debut “Homemade” is well chosen, you recorded the twelve songs at home and played all the instruments yourself. How important was it for you to control the whole creative process?
I don’t consider anything I create to be “important”, haha… It really was just a moment in my life that I was fortunate to capture. I have these little moments from time to time where my inner radio seems to turn on and a fire is lit beneath me to write and capture songs. It really got me through the initial covid times and kept me sane. And like a good song, the name for the album came out naturally without any thought. Both Terry (Colemine/Karma Chief Records) and I knew this was to be called Homemade. It was the only name for the project.
Did you have a specific concept in mind for the album or did it come about naturally after collecting a number of songs?
The collection really took on a concept of its own without much thought put into it. The first song I recorded for the album was “Promises I’ve Made”. Which I fully recorded on the day Emitt Rhodes died. It set the pace for everything. That’s the one that really set the dials for the album. It felt good. And I just kept going.
How long did you work on the album?
I think the writing and recording lasted, probably, about a month or so. And then the mixing took a few weeks because I like to step away from a recording after I do it so I can come back with fresh ears for mixing. But overall, not too long. It was all very fresh. I try not to put too much thought into things.
How much did the COVID pandemic influence the recording process?
Quite a bit. It was a way for me to keep things normal in my life and keep my head straight while the world was closing down due to the pandemic. I was escaping from everything in the basement. Ignoring everything and staying positive.
What were your sources of inspiration while making these songs?
Positivity was my main source of inspiration. A lot of hatred and misinformation was blowing up here in America and still is. It’s hard to see so many people, at this time and age, being so uncaring and discriminative towards others. I felt like all I could do, as myself, was to escape and create something positive.
The mixture of Fab Four and Beach Boys harmonies enriched with psychedelia elements and a good portion of Americana sounds seductive and at the same time very nostalgic. What fascinates you about this music era of the 60s and 70s?
Everything. That kind of stuff in just imbedded inside of me. That’s what I spend my time listening to and studying. There isn’t much new music that excites me the way that the older albums do. But at the same time I don’t really view it that way because music is timeless. It’s all relative. I go through phases all the time but the longer I create songs I’ve realized I need to set aside my phases and let myself shine through. And that’s what’s inside of me I guess… a little bit Beatles-y, a little bit hillbilly, haha…
Hand on heart, do you have a favorite song on the album?
My favorite track on the album is “Our Dream”. I put little to zero effort into it. It isn’t about anything in particular. It just came out. I think all the parts are one take. It sounds artsy and dark to me. I forget it’s even on the album sometimes, it doesn’t necessarily stand out, and when I hear I’m like “oh yeah, this is a cool track!”
Andrew, you’ve been in the music business for many years, amongst others as a member of Thee Shams, Buffalo Killers and as touring guitarist for The Black Keys. How would you describe your development as a musician and artist over the years?
Well, I believe it starts with a love of music. And admiration of others’ work. I think over the years it’s just been about learning who I am and what I can do. Learning how to be yourself is the biggest trick. Learning to allow yourself to play how you play and not over correct yourself. Your imperfection is you vibe 100%. And I’m chock full of imperfection.
You grew up in a small town in rural south-western of Ohio, what music influenced you in your youth? What kind of records were playing in your parents’ house?
I grew up on a healthy diet of Neil Young and Rolling Stones blaring out of my Dad’s enormous stereo speakers. He’s a bit of a rock n roll historian and I’m so grateful he taught me how to play and encouraged me to express myself on a guitar.
When did you first start writing your own songs?
I started writing songs when I was 14 years old. I had a little band that played all the other kids at school’s birthday parties and whatnot. I can remember the drummer saying “why do we only play cover songs?” And I just started trying. I remember when we had our first original song down, we’d play it over and over. It just felt so great. I guess I’ve been chasing that feeling ever since, haha…
Did you know early on that you wanted to become a professional musician?
Absolutely. I had watched my Dad and my brother and sister play in bands. So I knew it was obtainable. I never viewed as something that’s “just too difficult” or anything like that. I felt like it was in my blood.
What’s next, Andrew? Are you planning a tour to promote the album? And can we maybe see you on European stages soon?
Absolutely. Currently scheming of ways to get out and perform safely for those who’d like to see me play. I’d love to perform overseas. Times call for a new approach I believe. So I’m gonna try and make things more special and intimate.
One last question: Imagine you had the opportunity to spend an afternoon with Paul McCartney, Brian Wilson or Neil Young. Which artist would you choose?
Oh god why are you doing this to me? Haha! I suppose, since Paul is friends with both Brian and Neil, I’d spend an afternoon with him. In hopes that he’d introduce me to my two favorite artists of all-time, Brian Wilson and Neil Young.
Andrew, thank you very much for the interview!
Thank you sir!
Photo: Whitney Pelfrey