Exclusive Interview with The Porter Draw
The Porter Draw:
Ben Wood (banjo)
Russell James Pyle (guitar, vocals)
Joshua Gingerich (guitar, harmonica, mandolin, vocals)
Dandee Fleming (bass)
Joey Gonzales (drums, percussion)
Why country music ?
~ Josh - I grew up on country, folk and bluegrass music. It's what I know. I remember traveling across the country in my family's mini-van listening to tapes of Emmylou Harriamblers and the Nash Rs, Dolly Parton Emmylou and Linda Ronstadt's Tiro album and Dan Fogelberg's Bluegrass Album, and Wille Nelson. While I didn't know it at the time, this music became foundational to me as I returned to Country Music.
~ Dandee - I grew up listening to old country. I remember driving around with mom in an old beat up pickup truck just killing time listening to music. It only made sense that sooner or later I would give country music a try. Having the opportunity to make music with 4 amazing musicians really helps out too.
~ Russell - I didn't grow up listening to country or bluegrass. I grew up in a Northeastern city and listened to hardcore, punk, and metal before truly discovering country music through Social Distortion and Johnny Cash. Punk and hardcore provided an outlet for the anger that comes along with youth. Country provides an outlet for the existentialism that comes with age.
~ Ben - I found country to be the most tied to the music I loved. And I never had the voice for blues. My dad raised us on folk,blues,r&b, and early rock.
~ Joey - Growing up my family listened to different kinds of music. As a younger musician I was mainly focused on rock and popular music. My best friend's graduate advisor asked me to sit in on drums with his bluegrass band for a few shows and I've been wrecking bluegrass bands ever since.
If everything would be possible (waking the dead included) , which two people should sing the ultimate country duet?
~ Joey - I would like to hear a young Linda Ronstadt sing a nice break-up song with Lyle Lovett. I'm not sure if that would be the ultimate country duet, but I bet it would be good.
What song you ever recorded means the most to you and why?
~ Josh - Athens. Because it's both sad and happy. Most of the stuff I write is pretty dark. This one has some light at the end of the tunnel.
~ Dandee - My mind changes on this one all the time, it reallytheporter depends on my mood. Right now I would say Out On the Highway. The images in the song remind me of growing up in the southwest. Just looking for something and someone to share it with.
~ Russell - Bitter Pill or Farmer's Prayer. They mark a more serious and political turn in my songwriting. I wrote those songs with the goal of writing something that had more important things to say and I think I achieved that.
~ Ben - Abalone means the most to me. It's the oldest song I still play and I think I really nailed my concept. It's like it was written for the band before the band ever existed.
~ Joey - "Before You Go" off of California Widow always makes my chest flutter a bit when I hear or play it.
Who would you like to write a song for you?
~ Josh - Steve Earle
~ Dandee - Bob Dylan
~ Russell - Drew Kennedy, a singer/songwriter from New Braufels, TX that I love and count as a good friend.
~ Ben - I'd love it if Dave Rawlings wrote me a song.
~ Joey - It'd be cool if Willie Nelson wrote a song for us. We'd probably sell millions if Blake Shelton wrote a song for us. He seems to have the magic touch right now.
Whisky wine beer or water?
~ Josh - Beer
~ Dandee - Beer
~ Russell - I'll have another round of all three, please and thank you.
~ Ben - Most likely beer
~ Joey - I enjoy a good Pilsner but I like wine too.
How would you like to spend a day with each other when you were not allowed to make music or to talk about music?
~ Josh - Eating BBQ
~ Dandee - Im going to go with Josh on this. A good old fashion BBQ is always a great way to spend time with friends. Cold beer, good friends and BBQ slow cooking on a grill.
~ Russell - Ben and I would be watching baseball together in complete silence while the other guys grill up the food outside.
~ Ben - I think we'd make an awesome softball or football team. My best day with the guys would be sticking it to The Saltine Ramblers (sister group) in some athletic contest.
~ Joey - I'd like to hang out having beers and talking about politics and philosophical topics with these guys.
What is the question interviewers never seem to ask you and...you wish they would? (Please provide your answer as well.)
~ Josh - If you were a superhero who would you be and what kind of music would you play?
The incredible Hulk, and I'd play in a SMASHmouth tribute band.
~ Russell - "In your opinion, how can we reduce the national deficit while continuing to fund so-called entitlement programs such as Social Security."
The answer to that question: "I don't know. GO OBAMA!"
~ Ben - What was the last awesome dish you made?
I made an absolutely killer Greek salad. Cut the cucumber thin as noodles, it was awesome.
Describe the ultimate recording studio (not the technique but the facilities)
~ Josh - I would love to record a live album in the old Ryman Auditorium. That would be my studio of choice.
~ Dandee - If we take time and money out of the equation I think the ultimate studio is one that provides us space as musicians to experiment and work on our songs. It would have a laid back feel with a large room for full band takes, isolation booths and lots of amps and instruments to play with. There would also be space for us just to hang out and talk. Preferably close to some amenities for the multiple day recording sessions so we could get away if needed.
~ Russell - It's free and sounds really good.
~ Ben - I'd really love to record in a room in a really busy place full of two way mirrors. So I could people watch and they couldn't see me.
~ Joey - I'd like to record in some of the old studios just for the juju in them (Muscle Shoals, Sun Studios, Electric Ladyland, Trident, etc.)
Johnny or June ?
~ Josh - Johnny for music I want to play. June for music I want to Listen too. I think there needs to be more voices of women in country music, particularly strong voices like June.
~ Dandee - Johnny. I gotta blame my momma for that one too.
~ Russell - Johnny. Ain't no use to sit and wonder why, babe.
~ Ben - June. She's Americana royalty.
~ Joey - Johnny if I had to make a choice.
Are you still nervous before going on stage and if so, do you use any "rituals" to calm you nerves.
~ Josh - Yes, but nothing that Whisky can't fix.
~ Dandee - I do get nervous for some shows. I usually just try to get to the venue early so I can load in and relax for a bit before we have to sound check or play. That and a cold one and I am ready to go.
~ Russell - Depends on the show, but generally no. Even when I get nervous its gone within 5 seconds of the first song.
~ Ben - I still get nervous when there is really something at stake. A little bit of alcohol always helps.
~ Joey - I don't notice if I get nervous but I know I do get excited every time I step on stage.
What was the most memorable day in your musical career and tell us why.
~ Josh - The CD release of our first album in Albuquerque. The amazing fan support from our community helped me realize that we were really on to something that people wanted. I was honored and humbled.
~ Dandee - I still remember opening the box of my first album. The feeling of success opening that box of cassette tapes was over whelming. It was the culmination of lots of hard work and I remember that feeling every time we open that first box of each new recording. ~ Russell - Road to Rich's Festival, 2012, w/ The Porter Draw. That may be the most fun I've ever had playing music in my life. There's a recording of it floating around out there in the ether.
~ Ben - We played a really large HonkyTonk in Abq. Started a cover of Steve Earle's 'Copperhead Road' which was, unbeknownst to us, a hugely popular line dance. I turned around after the intro to see about 300 people dancing in unison. My jaw dropped, but nobody noticed as banjo players are notoriously slack-jawed.
~ Joey - I'll agree with Ben. That was something I had never experienced before.
For more info about The Porter Draw you can go to:
Answers given on March 3, 2015
Photos By Wes Naman