we caught up with advance base for an intimate interview
question: We are loving your new Iris Dement cover of “Easy’s Getting Harder Everyday.” Can you tell us a little about the inspiration to cover this song? When was it recorded?
answer: Thanks! I’ve been an Iris DeMent fan since 2009 or 2010 when we were both booked to play back-to-back early & late shows at the same Northampton, MA venue. I showed up to load in & I heard her singing through the wall & I was just stunned by the power of her voice. I was too intimidated to introduce myself that night, but I bought her second album ‘My Life’ shortly after & “Easy’s Gettin’ Harder Everyday” was an immediate favorite. I learned the chords & it became one of my favorite songs to play whenever I was goofing around on piano. Last fall, I was talking to my friend Mike about Iris DeMent & mentioned my love of “Easy’s Gettin’ Harder” & Mike asked if I would record a cover as a surprise for his then-fiance, now-wife Meg, who is also a big Iris DeMent fan. So, I got out my 4-track & recorded the cover with Meg & Mike in mind.
question: What is a favorite touring memory? Did you write lyrics or stories when you were in your youth?
answer: My favorite touring memory is traveling through Australia & New Zealand with my brother Gordon in 2009. We hung out with kangaroos & ibises, watched yellow-eyed penguins on a protected beach in Moeraki & saw a recently caught giant squid carcass on display at Wellington natural history museum. It seemed like something wondrous & amazing happened every single day of that tour, & most of it involved animals. I wrote some stories as a kid, but mostly just for school assignments. I tried a little poetry in high school, but I didn’t write my first song lyrics until I was 19 or 20.
question: What are some of your favorite go-to albums to listen to? What is your personal favorite album you’ve released thus far?
answer: I go through phases with albums, but recently I’ve been listening to Roger Miller’s ‘A Tender Look at Love’ a lot, especially in the mornings when I’m drinking my coffee. I’ve also been listening to Archie Shepp’s ‘Blase’ pretty regularly. It lives in the little pile next to my record player, along with a compilation of Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou’s piano music, a George Jones & Melba Montgomery duets album called ‘Singing What’s In Our Hearts’ & some recent Orindal Records test pressings. As far as my albums go, I tend to like the most recent stuff the best. I’m especially proud of the ‘Live at Home’ LP that I released last year. It’s the closest thing to an Advance Base live show that I’ve released, & since I’ve been missing touring over the past year & a half, there’s something extra special to me about those live versions.
question: What has been the hardest part of your musical journey? Do you wish you could’ve done anything differently in your musical career?
answer: I love writing, recording & performing music, but sometimes I really regret making it my career. The commercial side of music is the thing that makes me want to quit more than anything else. I get a lot of satisfaction from sharing my music with the people who connect with it & whatever I can do to keep that connection as direct as possible is what I find rewarding. I’ve spent a lot of time being stressed out & disappointed that my “career” wasn’t going better when I could have been enjoying the good luck, kindness & generosity that my time in music has given me. It has taken me a long time to appreciate how lucky I’ve been. I also regreat not taking better care of my hearing. I probably shouldn’t have used all of those drink tickets, either. Alcohol is poison, & a little poison’s okay, but accepting booze as payment is a chump’s game.
question: What inspires you to be a great person? Do you have an ultimate goal for Advance Base?
answer: Jeez, what a question. I try to pick up tips on greatness from the people I talk to. When somebody does something extra cool & thoughtful, I think “whoa, I should try that.” When somebody does something something stupid or inconsiderate, I think “oof, gotta remember not to do that. My ultimate goal for Advance Base is to keep getting better at writing, playing, singing, performing & recording. I don’t have a whole lot of expectations beyond continuing to challenge myself.
you are so blessed to have witnessed such beautiful animals and landscapes with your brother on your 2009 tour, and we want to say thank you for the interview