Monday, September 20, 2010

Interview with Mel Washington of All Get Out (Guitar and Vocals):

All Get Out has quickly become one of my favorite indie acts with their well crafted riffs and personal lyrics. Nathan Hussey's lead vocals paired with the backing vocals of Mel Washington and Mike Rogers combine to form an incredibly versatile sound. I increasingly find myself swept away in their sounds that range from the softness of folk, to the raw intensity of many Brit-rock bands. While you are waiting for their new album to be released, please check out a few of my favorites including "Bring it Home" and "Water and God." You won't be disappointed. Boom, cliche.

How does All Get Out normally normally approach the writing process?
Washington: I don't know the way a lot of other bands do it and if our style differs, but Nathan will typically come together with a couple of pieces. These will include some lyrics, and some melody ideas. He will have some sections written, then we all come together and try to flush them out. That does change sometime, when it gets to the time to record. Sometimes it even gets re-arranged again, but as far as lyrics and melodies go, Nathan does most of that. Then we will write our parts and structure the song. For the most part that is how we went about writing the songs for this next record.
Did you approach the writing for the self-titled Ep in the same fashion?
Washington: Well, it was different in the fact that Nathan wrote some of the songs, including the guitar parts. We didn't re-arrange any of those songs. Those songs were what he wrote those songs to be, and we played what he wrote. In terms of working a song out, we really didn't know what we were doing. Now we are just getting old, and still don't really know what we are doing(laughs).
So would you venture to say that this new album is more mature from a musical standpoint?
Washington: I think so. Definitely from a musical standpoint it sounds more mature, lyrically it sounds more mature, but most importantly we are more mature(laughs). At least we want to think that we are.
How did you guys originally get hooked up with Favorite Gentlemen Records? Have you been with them since the beginning of the band?
Washington: Yeah. Our first Ep, "The Spitting Ep", was a Favorite Gentlemen release. The dudes in Manchester Orchestra run the label, we have known them for some years and they have been great friends of ours. It made sense for us to join that community. They were growing and had a lot to offer in terms of advice and wisdom on how to be a young band. They have taught us how to have a great work ethic. They haven't served us hand-and-foot. They have made us work hard, but have been there for us when we needed them. It is a great family to be apart of, because of that.
I have always admired how Favorite Gentlemen Records is set up a community. How close are you guys as a community?
Washington: Yeah. We have certain label events, where the bands get together. At the same time a ton of the bands tour together. We have toured with other Favorite Gentlemen like O'Brother, Manchester Orchestra, Kevin Devine and Winston Audio. When FG bands come to our hometown, we go to see them. Tonight, there will be other FG bands out to see us. We have even been known to meet up in other cities. We aren't just business colleagues, were are all friends for the most part. We call and check up on each other. It's a really cool thing.
How was playing SXSW this past year?
Washinton: It was crazy man. We played a number of shows, saw a lot of bands and did some weird exclusive things. SXSW is a good experience, but very hard at the same time. I think that some bands go out there thinking that they are just going to have the time of their life, and they get back and they are just exhausted. Probably the coolest thing for us was when were were doing an AOL live stream session, in AOL's bus, on top of a parking garage. Right behind us, across the street, Muse was setting up to play at Stubbs' BBQ. It was so cool to look out the window of the bus and there they are. Our band really like Muse.
How did you guys get hooked up with doing two Daytrotter sessions? What is the format for the session?
Washington: It was just out of the dark. I got brave one day, wrote them an e-mail saying "hey it would be cool to come and do a session," and they agreed. It is a really cool thing. Its a live studio and you record everything straight to tape.
So was it nerve-racking?
Washington: Yeah, because you have four hours to record four songs right(laughs). There is no going back and over-dubbing, its more like "alright, play the song and get a good take. Oh and hurry up." The dudes that run it are super cool and have always treated us well, and have shown us a good time. From the responses that we have seen, the sessions are excepted and many people enjoy them. We also have found out that a lot of people have found out about our band through the Daytrotter sessions.
Along those lines, how important is social networking All Get Out?
Washington: I think that it is a good thing, but we haven't quite mastered it yet. For example, Twitter has helped us out on tour when we have needed a place to stay. One time, we were playing a show in NYC and our tour manager put something on twitter. A guy named Jake answered and said that we could crash at his place. That was a year and a half ago, now Jake is one of my best friends. That's a personal thing though. As far as the band goes, sites like Facebook and Twitter are not only good for advertising, but it allows fans to feel that the band is tangible. We always want to keep that. We have "rock-star" friends, and they suck. To be tangible and accessible, our fans know what goes on in our lives. They know that I have an obsession with giraffes, and that it is weird. Social networking has helped us out a lot. When we released a two-song digital ep, Burn Hot The Records, for the first week we only announced it on twitter. We ended up seeing hundreds of downloads that week.
Are you currently working on your side project (Mel Washington Band)? Any releases soon?
Washington: Yeah. I recorded a record and will release it at some point. Right now I have been focusing more on producing other bands and artists. I am still writing a lot, I haven't taken the time or had the finances to really finish this record or record any more.
Do any of the other guys have side projects?
Washington: Yeah, it's kinda cool. Gordon has a pretty cool side project called "Mr. Earlybird," and I think that we are going to try and work on a record for him. Nate may have something up his sleeves, in terms of a solo project in addition to All Get Out, but probably down the road. I think the really cool part is that everyone in the band is really talented, and we are very blessed because it lets us bring a lot of different things to the table. On the record Mike not only plays bass, but contributes a great deal of the vocals. All the trumpets on the new record are Mike. Nathan wrote all of the organ and keys parts, on top of singing and writing lyrics. I was able to contribute by helping with all of the string arrangements and piano parts. I also did a lot of over-dubs for the record. Its good to have multiple talented people. I think that people will like Gordon's stuff, because its weird, different and kind of old man, southern music.
Who are some of your biggest influences, both past and present?
Washington: Growing up, I was big into Christian music. In fact, that was a career of mine, before All Get Out. I was highly influenced by this band in the U.K. called "Delirious?" I was always a huge fan of really big British-rock. For them to be a Christian band and do what they did as well as they did it always stuck out to me. Present day, lyrically David Bazan has always been a huge influence for me and also for the band as well. I am really into this band called Röyksopp right now. They are this electric band from Germany, and their stuff is really cool. And who isn't a fan of that new Mumford and Sons record(laughs)? Most of the stuff that we are listening to is our friends music, people we hang out with. We all have our spot for Blink 182. If All Get Out ever covers a song, it will be "Adam's Song." There is this Christian band called Project 86 that Nathan was listening to today. We all have our stuff that we listen to that most people will not believe. I think that when you listen to the record, you can hear some of the obvious influences like Brand New, Death Cab for Cutie and David Bazan. When you listen to Death Cab's "Plans," I don't think that their is a bad song on there. Lovedrug's "Pretend Your Alive" was a huge influence for me, guitar wise, in the beginning. Now, I am not sure who is influencing my guitar playing. Normally, its just getting in the room and whatever happens, happens(laughs). Growing up in a society that is inundated with mainstream music, some stuff just happens. On the new record, there is this song that sounds like a Bowling For Soup song. Just this one little vocal melody(laughs). You know, its hard to be an indie band and rag on mainstream music, because it is mainstream for a reason.

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