The Kansas City / Sydney connection that is Stormcellar are a band who have made waves on the live scene with their soulful, collaborative and musically brilliant performances. With a huge tour planned for 2020, we caught an interview with the band to find out more about their journey so far. Here’s how it went.
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Hi guys – love the sound, thank you for the interview! As the story goes, you were stranded by an airline in Kansas City, and proceeded to record an album in merely a week, with local Blues talent. What made you choose to do that, and what was something you unexpectedly learned during that process?
Paul: Well , after a bungle between our travel agent and the airline we had a week to cool our heels. A blues DJ and journalist based in Kansas, put us in touch with various musicians and the owner of quite a well set up home studio. What we learned, was how quickly US blues artists finished tracks. Three 3 takes at most, the bulk of them second takes , as the first take was a rehearsal and arrangement setting. If you don’t get it down fast and fresh, it’s probably going to lose the excitement and magic.
We’d been working on some songs with the thought that we would record as the backing band behind other guest leads and the opportunity came together through a local contact and a lot of hard work. What did we learn? To continue to seek opportunity even while trying to get your bank accounts unlocked!
You’re going on tour soon – how many venues will you be visiting, and what are you looking forward to the most about getting on the road?
Paul: Probably about 10 or 12, as we have 4-5 nights to compete in the IBC, in Memphis , as well. But we’re bringing someone along to document the whole tour on film, to be made into a short film. So that will take a good chunk of our time too.
Looking forward to catching up with friends over there, playing in new places and returning to some we’ve been to before.
With so many creatives involved in the process, do you ever come to disagreements, and if so – how do you overcome that?
Paul: Well , everyone has a say if they feel certain things about the sound, arrangement and feel of the track. We try the best options and after a take or two , it’s usually pretty obvious to all, what is sounding good.
Each song usually evolves as each member adds ideas – some ideas stick and some don’t. In the process discussions can get impassioned sometimes but it usually gets sorted out pretty quickly. Ideas get tried out to see if they work – the ones that work stay in the song.
What do you like to do when you’re not performing, writing or rehearsing?
Paul: Myself, trying different bits of gear out, listening to different types of music, new and old, and looking for some new way to present original songs in our own way. A lot of blues hybrids are explored. That’s our thing really, not trying to duplicate the past. That’s already been done by the best, and that is a great source of inspiration, but we don’t treat it like a rule book.
A little of column A and a little of column B. Both are important to keep the engine running.
What’s the best thing about being in a band?
Paul: Creating the songs , recording them and taking them out on the road, and seeing what connects with people in the audience. I guess the travel can be good too, seeing new places. But touring the US and getting to meet and work with some of the real blues musicians is a real buzz. I learn so much working with them. More than you could learn than listening to a 1000 albums. It’s hands on stuff, you really can’t learn any other way.
The camaraderie that comes from the shared experiences.
What advice would you give to solo musicians who haven’t yet found their crew?
Paul: Build it , and they will come !
Consider what you want – being in a band is not for everyone. Consider what kind of band you want – one that executes your ideas or one where the sum of the parts is the thing that you are interested in. In either case, be patient – finding the right combinations of personalities and levels of musicianship may take time.
Do you perform any covers?
Paul: Yea a few have passed thru the set. Help Me, Hate To See You Go, One Way Out, On The Road Again, Statesboro Blues. We usually only do 2 in a 90 min set though.
Yes. Only a handful – we have focussed on writing our own material.
Which song from any other artist comes to mind if asked to name one you wish you could’ve written?
Paul: There are a few, but off the top of my head, Whipping Post by the Allman Brothers. It has it all. A masterpiece.
I don’t really think that way. Somebody else’s artistic achievements are theirs.
What’s the best thing that could happen for Stormcellar in the next few months?
Paul: Meet good people, write more stories and put them on a new album and a doco.
Someone steps up to help provide publicity and promotion!
What do you hope people get from your shows?
Paul: That we are tying to get stories to them, immersed in good music. And hopefully make a connection with them, so that they can use it as a healing experience, which we all need in these difficult and challenging times.
A sense that music is live and well. That this is a space to retreat from the chaotic world, relax and have a good time.
If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be, and why?
Paul: To remove the gatekeepers that stop artists reaching people. They know who they are, lol.
It is a great time to be part of the industry – there are so many ways to get your music out there. But this means that the sheer volume of music is enormous. One of the current challenges is the question of how to be heard amongst so much competition. What would I change? Easier access to larger audiences.
What do you have planned creatively for throughout 2020?
Paul: More recording , more writing , more travelling to new audiences and staying sane under adversity.
Keep working on new music; finding new places to play; have adventures!
What’s something about you that most people don’t know?
Paul: My mother was a great multi instrumentalist, so it’s all her fault.
Other than that my life is an open book. Just don’t read between the lines too much.
That I value my privacy!
If you could sit down to lunch with anyone at all, past or present, who would you choose – and what would you ask them about?
Paul: Tesla. I would ask him who the gatekeepers were that held him back, and held us back 200 years technology wise.
I would sit down with my grandparents and ask them about their lives when they were younger.
Is there anything else you’d like to say?
Paul: Only the Fox God knows ! And if you get that, you are truly riding the zeitgeist of musical hybridism.
Thankyou for the interview!
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