Friday, July 24, 2009

Interview with Atlanta's Winston Audio

Atlanta-based Winston Audio has had quite a year so far. The Red Rhythm released on Favorite Gentlemen Recordings was met with positive reviews and the band wrapped up a national spring tour with Manchester Orchestra, Fun and The Audrye Sessions, spurring more interest in their release. Their sound combines alt-rock grunge with some disarming southern rock. The band currently consists of Daniel Dewitt (vocals/bass), Dan Gleason (guitar/keys/vocals), Zach Brown (guitar), Michael Adkins (guitar) and Shane Lenzen O'Conell (drums).

They're heading back out on a southeast/east tour, starting with The Drunken Unicorn tonight in Atlanta. Vocalist/bassist Daniel DeWitt was kind enough to answer a few questions.

When I was living in Atlanta (3 years ago), there seemed to be this divide between, for lack of a better word, "Alt-Press" bands (Cartel, The Chariot) and Pitchfork bands (The Black Lips, Deerhunter). I'm not sure if that divide still exists, but I think you guys and the other Favorite Gentlemen artists fit in between there (and that's a good thing). Any thoughts about the Atlanta scene or that divide?

Daniel DeWitt: As someone growing up in a band, desperately trying to break into ANY scene that would have us, we definitely felt those walls. I think there was an "us or them" mentality to some extent. You were either a hipster band or an emo band. Those lines are more blurred now than they were, maybe in part because those genres are a lot less easily defined now, but I think there's also more of a community vibe in Atlanta these days too. You can credit Manchester Orchestra for that. In a business that's largely every man for himself, they've done their best to pull others up with them. We've certainly benefited from their success. I don't know if there are bands out there in Atlanta right now who feel like outcasts. I hope not. It's not a fun place to be. You can email me and I'll be your friend guys.

Similarly, in going to the University of Georgia (in Athens, GA), what were the relationships like between the bands/musicians actually attending the college versus the people who just came for the music scene? Was it hard to play out when attending there?

Yes. Very difficult. My experience was that the town was saturated with bands, and even when you could get a gig, it was playing for people who were only interested in partying. Forget about them caring about your original songs that they can't sing along to. Consequently, we didn't play much in Athens until after I graduated. It's much better now for us since we've been able to develop relationships with people in the bigger rooms, where people actually come to hear music, but it took a lot of Tuesday night bar shows at 1:00 am for us to get there.

I don't want to trash Athens though. I love it there and it consistently churns out good music. I just never stumbled across it firsthand.

I remember you guys posting two reviews up from the Athens Flagpole. The first one was about the EP and they totally hated it. The second one was very complimentary. What were some of the major artistic/personal/music changes between the EP and the release of The Red Rhythm?

We just kept moving forward. We recorded the EP after the current lineup of the band had been together four months. It was a completely different direction than we had been going before. But after that it's been consistent progress down a mostly-straight road. I think we've matured a lot since the EP but the groundwork for
Red Rhythm is all there. It's loud, aggressive, grungy, bluesy. For a record we made in two weeks in our friend's bedroom I love that EP.

It's funny you bring that up actually because after that terrible review of our EP came out I did some research on the reviewer and discovered he's a big Pitchfork fan. Go figure (nothing against Pitchfork fans. Promise).

You guys toured this spring and early summer with The Manchester Orchestra, Fun and Audrye Sessions. Was this your first national tour? What was that experience like? What's the main difference/hardest transition between going on a long tour and just hitting up a few regional shows?

It was our first national tour, yes. We had a great time. All the bands were solid, very laid-back, friendly. The biggest thing I was concerned about was how my voice was going to hold up. Somewhere along the way I was basically told that even if you've never lost your voice and you were in great shape, a tour that long was inevitably going to cause vocal problems. I got some bad intel. It was fine. I drank enough water every night to sink a ship in, but I was fine.

I much prefer the long tour to the short. It's easier to get into a routine and just do your job every night. I don't love being away from my family for that long, but it works better for the band. It obviously didn't hurt that, on this tour anyway, we were playing to mostly sold-out crowds.

It seems like there is a nice little niche being formed around the Favorite Gentlemen artists. Talk about that experience and that relationship with the label.

We got to be friends with Manchester Orchestra right before they released the Virgin record, so we watched all that stuff happen with them from pretty close up. Favorite Gentlemen was around before there was actual funding for the label, and they had asked us to be a part of, as they explained, this collective of bands that would help each other out, promoting each other, booking shows together, etc. Like I said earlier, we didn't really belong to any kind of scene at that point, and we loved all those bands, so we jumped at the chance. The label's great. It really is like a family. I think it's the single best thing that's happened to the Atlanta music scene this millennium.

Tour dates & live vid of "Hey Ann" after the jump...

Tour Dates:
Jul 24 2009
The Drunken Unicorn w/ Death on Two Wheels & The Glass Ocean Atlanta, Georgia

Jul 26 2009
Sluggo’s Pensacola, Florida

Jul 27 2009
Spanish Moon Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Jul 28 2009
Mango’s Houston, Texas

Jul 29 2009
The Parish Austin, Texas

Jul 30 2009
The Door w/ The Rocketboys and Dear Future Dallas, Texas

Jul 31 2009
Princess Theatre Columbus, Mississippi

Aug 1 2009
121 Studio’s w/ The Weeks and Signals Jackson, Mississippi

Aug 8 2009
Powerhouse - SRQ Festival Sarasota, Florida

Aug 14 2009
The Channel w/ All Get Out Greenville, South Carolina

Aug 15 2009
Homemade Genius w/ All Get Out Greenwood, South Carolina

Aug 16 2009
New Brookland Tavern w/ All Get Out West Columbia, South Carolina

Aug 17 2009
Jack Sprat w/ All Get Out Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Aug 18 2009
The Blue Nile w/ All Get Out Harrisonburg, Virginia

Aug 19 2009
Northstar Bar w/ All Get Out Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Aug 20 2009
Lit Lounge w/ All Get Out New York, New York

Aug 23 2009
Boulder Coffee Co w/ All Get Out Rochester, New York

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