Music Issue 2012
Songwriters collaborate to become greater than the sum of their parts
Published: November 7, 2012
MT: Is it a hindrance to be labeled an acoustic artist, when you guys are well capable of rocking out too?
Duprie: Sometimes it is. I know that I can get up on stage and play. It doesn't bother me that much. Everybody's sick of doing three sets in a sports bar where nobody's listening to you. Now we're going out and trying these listening rooms. I love that. You can do what you want. You don't have to worry about having a set list. You can just get out your guitar and play.
Grace: I don't feel pigeonholed one bit. The Inside Outlaw collective has a wide range of talented players. It's true that I got my start in the bluegrass circuit. But as I am developing my own style, I branch out to a wider range of songs. Now I put four chords in my songs, instead of three. [laughs]
MT: Doop, both you and Matt Jones are huge Springsteen fans. What is it about the Boss that grabs you?
Duprie: It's just the truth. It's the closest thing to the truth that you can get. Coming from a working-class family, his music spoke to me since I was little. I remember older people playing his stuff when I was a kid and I still kind of got it. It's pretty cool when you can write something and it transcends like that to everybody. It gives me something to shoot for when I'm writing. You want to make sure that when you write, you're living up to what that dude's doing.
MT: What are the best dive bars and other assorted venues around town for you guys?
Duprie: We always play our night at the Corktown Tavern. We do a lot of stuff at the Comet Bar. We've got the Park Bar. Jerry, the owner, has been a huge supporter of what we've been doing since Day One. He's thrown money at people and done so much great shit for us. He tries to help us out.
Lewis: We do our thing at the Corktown Tavern, and those are the most fun. You're among songwriters who understand what you're doing.
The Ann Arbor-
MT: Musically, what do you all have in common?
Jones: We all walk the same. Kind of a lumberjack-gangsta limp. Mostly it's due to a plethora of back problems attributed to our day jobs, and the heaviness of our collective hearts. That's not musical though. Musically, we all kind of sprang from the same musical sinkhole, and I mean sinkhole in the best way possible. Misty had Kelly Joe Phelps, Bathgate had Richard Buckner, I had Misty and Bathgate. We were all a bunch of folkies in the beginning who would have been playing metal if we'd known how to assemble and manage a band.
Lyn: A love for many different kinds of music. I think we could all surprise you with what we listen to the most. Obviously, you know I love metal, but I also love bands like Phoenix and Coconut Records. I think I may listen to my own genre the least of them all, actually. Also, an appreciation for the love and support this community shows for its musicians.
MT: How does being based in the Ann Arbor-Ypsi area influence your music?
Jones: I have honestly never known how to answer the geographic question. I don't know if it has any influence at all. I look at the bands around me for guidance in terms of how they go about being a musician, their dedication level. But I think that is just support, outside of what we actually play. I have never been out on the scene much, in terms of gleaning musical ideas from others. I would glean free whiskeys off people all the time, but the music always came from my own head, and not the town around me. But then again, sometimes I'll debut a new song to someone and they will be like, "Wow, that's my favorite Misty Lyn-Chris Bathgate song."
Lyn: I can't say that it does directly. Perhaps a healthy competition ... or at least increased motivation when you see others succeed.
MT: What are the benefits of collaborating with one another?
Jones: How much more beneficial can collaborating be when you are doing it with two of your best friends? Nothing judgey, you can laugh at someone else's part if you want, you can tell someone to take their idea and fuck off. Bathgate and Misty have both laughed at my ideas from time to time. There is a song I have a recording of ... a very old one called "Springtime in Cuba." It's one of the first songs I ever wrote. It is absolute crap. I sing in Spanish on it. I have never been to Cuba. I don't know anyone who has ever been to Cuba. I have no idea what spring is like in Cuba. But I wrote this song like 10 years ago. I played the shit out of it. Supportive friends are real nice, but only those who can tell you when you just might want to rethink that seven-minute epic about how you saw the whole world in a leaf that you found right after you shaved your mustache off or whatever.
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