The State Of Music: Part 1: Arkansas - Listener

Welcome one and all to the music feature which might eventually kill me. The State Of Music is going to feature one independent or unsigned band or artist from each of the 50 states of the aptly named United States of America.

I am not sure how often these posts will go up. My first thought was weekly, but that is nearly a whole years worth of work and I can get bored just making a cup of tea. So for the first few weeks I am going to wing it until I get into my groove.

Regular visitors to this site will realise I like a preamble. I apologise in advance for this, thus creating an even longer preamble that you are already bored of reading. Lets get on with it.

Arkansas: Listener

BUY ALBUM (BANDCAMP)  Download $7 (£4 approx) CD+Download $10 (£6 approx)

You know when you hear a band that starts to creep into your conciousness when you are not even thinking about music? Well for me Listener are that band.

Upon first listen it sounds like a cross between Tom Waits and Isaac Brock from Modest Mouse. Actually when I first heard it it sounded like someone rambling along to music. As we all know from my introduction, that would appeal to me greatly.

It's not until you really sit and listen to what is going on you will hear there is a deepness not instantly recognisable within the lyrics and the vocals are not that of a schizophrenic drunk but of a very talented poet with a brilliant ear for rhythmic patterns within his delivery. Once you add vocalist Dan Smith's southern drawl into the mix this becomes possibly one of my favourite albums I have heard this year.

The selection criteria for that list has two main factors

1) I listen to it continually even though I get through perhaps an album or two per day 2) With my rather limited musical ability I think to myself "I wish I made it.

Wooden Heart, Seatbelt Hands and You Were A House On Fire are my stand out tracks. Why not listen to them below before checking out my interview with the band.

CMM: Welcome to Choose My Music. Shall we start with a quick personell check of the people in Listener and who does what?

Listener: We are Dan Smith and Chris Nelson. Dan makes the words, and Chris makes the music.

CMM: How long have Listener been together and how did it all come about?

Listener: We've been around for about 9 years.....but the past 4 with Dan & Chris together. Dan used to do Listener by himself before that, and with other friends on different tours.

CMM: Is Listener a full time thing for you or are you supplementing it with work elsewhere?

Listener: it is something that has been able to allow us to tour full-time.

CMM: When I first heard Listener I couldn't think of one band that I could think of who are doing what you do right now. How would you best describe your music?

Listener: We call it Talk Music.....basically rock and roll and poetry put together.

CMM: I imagine your live show is quite intense. What kind of audience do you attract?

Listener: All kinds of people from all kinds of places and interests in music and poetry and genre.

CMM: I'm aware of the fact that you play live a fair bit and that you are currently touring around Europe. How does playing Europe differ to playing the United States?

Listener: Mostly everyone that comes to our shows in Europe speak English, which is a plus, but we play in front of about the same amount of people in Europe as we do in the states, there's not too much difference. Well, usually in Europe we don't book support bands, and lots of people still come out, it's a weird thing....but it seems like the folks that come see us or other shows just want to come out to see a good show, and then relax and go home....there's not a need to stack a night up with 7 bands.

CMM: There was a report published here in England recently stating there is a decline in live music audiences here. How is the live scene in America?

Listener: It's pretty alive and well as far as I know. Maybe for some bands or if you are starting out it's dwindling. I don't know, audience numbers come and go. If you want to make music you should just do it, and be honest and if friends and people come out then that's pretty awesome.

CMM: When we first communicated it was clear we could have picked 4 or 5 states to feature Listener under. One thing I am interested in discovering in this process is how your surroundings have an influence in your music. Do you find this is the case or do your influences come from elsewhere?

Listener: Sure. Influences are from all over. I grew up in a small town, and didn't have a lot of outside musical influences...very few anyways, and I just used my imagination and wanted to make some music.

CMM: You released your Wooden Heart album just over a year ago, what has been the reception towards it?

Listener: I think pretty good.

CMM: What does the future hold for Listener?

Listener: You just never know, we like to take it one tour at a time, and I know we have some rest coming up, and another US/Canada tour later this year opening for a band called The Chariot. Then we'll take some time off and write new music, work on other projects, rest and not tour for a bit.

CMM: And finally, where can people reach out to you on line and get hold of your music?

Listener: www.iamlistener.com is a good place for that.

Dom