By: Casey Shafer
Adam Aijala, guitarist for the innovative progressive bluegrass quartet Yonder Mountain String Band, recently took time out to talk about recording new material with the group, the advantages and disadvantages of technology, and much more.
|Adam Aijala by Michael Kaiz|
Click here to see photos from YMSB's show at House of Blues on October 20!
JamBase: You guys just celebrated your 1500th show. I know it was supposed to be celebrated at The Harvest Festival and you had to cancel that performance, was the entire festival rained out?
It was more than rain (laughs), it was a bummer. We were really ready to play and we tried to figure something out but there was a river running across the front of stage. It didn’t work out quite how we planned. We got through 4 or 5 songs and had to shut it down. They had a meteorologist on site and he said, “you guys have to stop.”
They have meteorologist on site now?
Well, hopefully you guys can make up for it with the Strings and Sol festival coming up. That sounds like a really great time.
Absolutely, it’s going to be fun.
You guys just entered the studio for a release in 2013, Is Tom Rothrock working with you this time around?
No, not this time. It’s starting to become more difficult for us to all get together. Mainly because of children being brought into the world (laughs) and Ben moved to California. We decided that when we are not on the road, that equals home time, not, “Let’s go and make a record.” Obviously, we are going to have to make time for that at some point, but right now, our best shot of getting something recorded is doing it on the road. We cut two shows from the amount of gigs that we normally do in October to record. It’s very possible that this will be an E.P. We just want to get some new music out there. We don’t have a shortage of songs, if we recorded everything that is not on a studio album....we would have three [full-lengths].
For the most part, you guys self-release your music on Frog Pad, and since your last release there have been major changes in the music industry. Since you are your own label, are these changes something you are prepared for?
|Ben Kaufmann by Michael Kaiz|
I am all for technology. If we were a band that made all our money off record sales I might have a different opinion. I really feel like, the more your music is out there, the better. If people are listening to it and they like it, maybe they will buy something online or come to a show and buy a t-shirt. I think everyone in the band is on the same page. I just read an article about [the change in] how people in music or in the entertainment industry interact [with fans.] Where it is heading is something you couldn’t have predicted. You would have never thought ten years ago that you can directly interact [via twitter] with Madonna or whomever.
That is really interesting because social media has become this part of the marketing puzzle. From an outside perspective it seems that there would be pressure to always be self-promoting and talking about yourself on twitter and facebook. Has that at all become overwhelming?
Well, me personally...no. I still don’t have a facebook account and I was the last one in the band to get a cell phone (laughs). I love technology but I don’t like spending all my time on a computer. As far as there being pressure....
...Just that need to constantly promote yourself. If you don’t people might think that you don’t care. I mean, who likes to talk about themselves all day?
Well, let me correct you. This is the entertainment business and there are quite a few people who like to talk about themselves all day (laughs). Do you watch South Park?
|Jeff Austin by Michael Kaiz|
Well, there is an episode a few seasons ago where Stan was hesitant to get a facebook account because he didn’t want to feel pressure to interact. Randy (Stan’s father) would say, “ I just sent you a message, why didn’t you respond?” Or, “why didn’t you poke your grandmother?!?” So, I think there is that pressure that for everyone, not just an artist. If you start one [facebook account] and you haven’t been on in a while, people are like, “Are you okay, What’s going on? You haven’t logged on in a while.” When I moved away from home, and this was before cell phones, I didn’t talk to my parents for long periods of time and it was normal. Now people assume something is wrong [if you don’t get right back to them].
With your independent success it seems like some of the majors would have come out like a pack of wolves. Has moving to a giant record label machine ever been a serious consideration?
At one time it was. At this point, we will take this band as far as it will go, but we don’t want to push ourselves in any given direction. I would rather let stuff happen [organically]. We bust our ass no matter what and we always have. We have been slowly building this and I don’t know if the record industry is how to do it anymore. That is why all these old bands are reuniting to do reunion tours; they are making a lot of money doing it. It’s all about the live show these days; I don’t feel like anyone is really waiting for records to come out anymore. People ask me when we plan to release new material and I tell them a joke that Jeff told me years ago; we are planning to be the reverse Beatles, never release new music and only tour (laughs).
Click below for live photos from the October 20th show at House of Blues in Chicago