By way of the Pacific Northwest, the Lowdown Drifters fit right in with the Texas country sound on their new album Last Call for Dreamers. The new album was released at the end of April and we got the scoop on the album cover, the band’s songwriting process and more. Check out our interview below with singer John Cannon and guitarist Ryan Klein below.
Are there any challenges in having multiple songwriters in the band?
Ryan Klein: I actually enjoy having multiple perspectives when it comes to writing songs, as well as having someone to bounce lyrics and melodies off of. The songs that John and I come up with often tackle some of the same issues but end up completely different so it can be interesting to see how even starting from the same place, we can end up with at polar opposite destinations sonically.
John Cannon: No it’s better to have the extra fodder for new material.
What country music artists do you listen to the most?
RK: The artists that I seem to come back to time and time again are some of the classics like Waylon Jennings, Billy Joe Shaver, and Jim Croce. I am also always looking to discover new music and over the past few years I can’t get enough of artists like John Moreland, Jason Isbell, Shane Smith and the Saints, Mike and the Moonpies, Sunny Sweeney, Cody Jinks, Lucero, and the Turnpike Troubadours. To me the common thread that ties all of them together is the songwriting and ability to relate to the characters in the songs.
JC: Waylon, Willie, Merle, for straight up old school country but right now my favorites outside of that are Tyler Childers, Lucero, Dillon Carmichael, and of course just about any of the Texas cats.
How do you see country music evolving within 10 years?
RK: To me the evolution of country music needs to start and end with the opportunities afforded to those who haven’t always been involved in music. There is a rich history and standard for what can be considered country music from the songwriting topics to the organic instrumentation. Anyone who creates music that fits the strict standard of country music deserves the chance to gain recognition and have the chance to be played on the radio.
JC: I hope it quits evolving there ain’t nothing wrong with roots country now. The stuff that’s getting pushed off as country isn’t country.. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s bad music cuz that’s preference but it ain’t country.
Are there any instruments you don’t play but wish you did? Why?
RK: My parents suggested learning piano when I was younger and I never did because I always wanted to play an instrument that you could play in a rock band. Looking back it would have been so helpful to have a better understanding of how to read music and understand music theory. I would still love to learn to play at this point as well as to get better at the mandolin so we could add it to more songs on our set.
JC: Steel guitar, mostly because it’s my favorite.
What was the best advice you have received?
JC: Write what you feel, sing from your guts and ignore the noise.
What advice would you give to yourself at the start of your musical career?
RK: You aren’t the big deal that you think you are, and there are no shortcuts to success. It’s all about time and effort.
JC: Start sooner and don’t be afraid to get outplayed by better musicians. The best way to learn is to play music with people that are better than you. Which I do almost every time I’m on stage. Ha
Where does most of your inspiration come from when songwriting?
RK: For me the lyrics almost always come before the music. I will get an idea from a book or a movie or a situation in life and generally start with a phrase. Then I build a chorus or verse from that and figure out how the song will flow lyrically. Hopefully during that process a melody emerges and from that I sit down with the guys and we create the music that goes along with the lyrics.
JC: Everything really, I don’t have a process so it would be hard to explain.
What do you consider to be the band’s biggest achievement so far?
RK: I think the biggest thing for us has just been a continual growth
JC: We are still playing and we still like each other and can’t wait for the next show
What defines country music that’s coming out of the Pacific Northwest? Is there a certain “sound” coming from the area?
JC: That’s tough to say but what I can say is it seems the fact that there is a country scene here seems to get overlooked easily.
Where did the album title “Last Call For Dreamers” come from?
JC: We had tried to come up with a title that said this is all we got tied up in this. Time and money and you name it. About the only thing we had a bunch of was songs.
How is the cover artwork come to be?
RK: When we started making the album we knew that we wanted the artwork to be an integral part of the experience with the album. We decided on the idea of a tattoo flash sheet because we would be able to include elements from all of the songs on the record and put them together into one cohesive piece. Every design within the cover is from a different song on the album and hopefully as people listen they will be able to recognize each song from the drawings.
How does the sound of your new album differ from your debut EP “Wood & Water”?
RK: Last Call for Dreamers is the natural evolution of both songwriting and music from Wood & Water taking all of our experiences over the last few years as individuals and as a band and funneling them into song. In between the 2 albums we have played hundreds of shows, had musicians come and go in the band, as well as all of the personal accomplishments and struggles that shape us as writers. We also were able to work with producer Malcolm Springer at the House of Blues Studio in Nashville and an amazing group of musicians that pushed the boundaries of what we were able to do and made the album more than we ever could have imagined.
JC: To me it’s night and day, we hired a producer and a legit one at that named Malcolm Springer that our great friend Darin Jones introduced us to. he has been apart of making some great big records. Ryan and I decided that we would let the process happen. Ya know we self produced the last one and I think we still have most of those CDs left. Haha but seriously I couldn’t be happier with how the quality of this record turned out. Malcolm ended up becoming a lifelong friend even though he pushed us way past our musical ability.