For any of you that have seen our Live from Stubbs video podcast series, you are familiar with our format. Our guests include CMOs, book authors, innovators and other movers and shakers in digital. We ask them about business, music and BBQ. Our original vision for the show was to also include musicians as part of the series. Well, that day has finally arrived and we are honored that legend in the making, Lord Huron, was our special guest.
BUT… this time around, we decided to focus on the music in the video formats and kept the interview in text format for you all to read. We do have video of the original if you would like us to share it with you privately but in the meantime, we hope you’ll enjoy the interview and more importantly, four songs that the band played for a small audience at historic music venue, Stubbs BBQ here in the live music capitol of the world, Austin, TX.
Aaron Strout: Hello, welcome to a very special edition of Live from Stubbs, we are here at Stubbs at the inside stage today and were really excited to be here with the band, Lord Huron. We have Ben Schneider who is the lead singer, founder of the band and guitarist. We also have Mark Barry who is the percussionist and producer and then I am joined by special guest today, Jim Rudden, CMO of Austin-based Spredfast. I am Aaron Strout of W2O Group and we’re going to have fun today talking to these guys about their music, some BBQ, and what they’re doing these days to engage their fans.
Jim Rudden: I’d actually like to start with the art… I read online that a good way to think about Lord Huron is as a visual art project supported by music. Would you agree with that characterization or how do you all think about it?
Ben Schneider: If you want to enjoy the music, that’s cool. But there are all these other elements that you can kind of dig deeper and get into if you’re so inclined. Beyond music, there’s art to look at, there’s videos to watch, there’s other ways to engage and live inside universe if you can.
Aaron: Mark, you joined the band about three years ago. What did you think when this guy said… ”Here’s my vision”
Mark Barry: We grew up together in Michigan and I’ve always known him to be such a creative guy and he put the first EP together and played it for me while I was in Nashville. I thought it was crazy amazing so I called him up on the phone.
Ben: Yeah, he was session musician in Nashville and luckily had a pretty flexible schedule. I had been offered a couple of shows but didn’t know any musicians in Los Angeles really because I wasn’t in that world; I was more in the art side of things, at first. So he was the only guy I knew to call… the only one I knew that had the skill to help me get this thing going. He helped me get the band together and found some really great musicians right off the bat, thanks to him, and we’ve been at it ever since.
Jim: I want to go back to the experience you mentioned. You know Aaron and I come from a digital media/ social media world so we’re fascinated by some of the things you guys are doing. In particular, the post cards, can you talk a little bit about the genesis of that idea and how it’s played out… maybe what’s next there.
Ben: Yeah, you know a lot of people started to lament the loss of physical copies of music. You know a lot of people think that’s gone because nobody buys albums anymore in that way. The reality of it is now there’s a whole other sort of playing field we can use which is the internet. For me, it’s just another way to expand the universe that we’re trying to create. Every little bit of content that we can get out there and express our point of view and our aesthetic and hopefully get people excited about it… we take that opportunity.
Aaron: You’ve opened for Dave Matthews Band, you’re opening for Alt-J now, you were on the Leno Show, and we heard that your song was on the show Nashville’s premiere the other night. This has got to feel pretty exciting. How do you guys take that in? What do you make of it and how do you keep grounded in all this coolness?
Ben: We’re just moving so fast that its hard to really gauge. All that stuff you’re talking about is great but we don’t even think about it that much because we just keep going.
Mark: Since we’ve been playing music together since we were 12 or 13, it’s what we’ve always wanted to do and now it’s happening…so we’re just riding with it.
Jim: So have you evolved a specific song-writing process?
Ben: We’re still sorting it out to be honest, since it started with just me, I tend to be the one that starts all the songs and gets them sort of into shape at first and then I share it with the guys. Mark helps me arrange stuff and all the guys contribute different parts so it’s really just a work in progress. We did that one record and before that it was just me doing the EPs by myself so we’re kind of just letting it grow naturally and be what it wants to be. There’s no set prescription for how any of it works, at this point.
Aaron: That’s cool. Inevitable there’s always a favorite song and then there’s the song that you really feel passionate about. Is there a song that you guys have written recently that either may be popular or not that really speaks to you?
Ben: A song like “She Lit a Fire” which wasn’t a single at first but we noticed people at shows were really responding to it. That was a cool feeling. That was one of the first times where I saw someone singing the lyrics in the audience. That’s a surreal feeling- first time you see that it’s very odd.
Aaron: What do you guys listen to? What’s on your iPhone or your MP3 player these days?
Ben: There are definitely some common influences for us. I think all of us are pretty big Paul Simon fans… you know the classic American stuff like Bob Dylan. Everyone listens to a lot of country and we let that all in but world music is big too. I know Miguel is really into Indian music and I’m into African and Middle Eastern stuff. I think what’s been cool about this project in particular is I haven’t allowed myself to deny any of my even somewhat guilty pleasures. I just let all of the stuff that I like influence the music so I think that’s been one of the reasons why its been success. We’ve just accepted all of that, not trying to be cool or anything just try to make music that we like.
Aaron: Well and I think you’re being somewhat timeless if you’re able to do that, right. You’re not pinned to a particular “oh this is what was hot in 2013”…
Ben: Hopefully not. And we occasionally get lumped in certain genres that are happening right now that in some ways I see the connection and some ways I think wow “we seem totally different from that” in my mind. In an ideal world, people are listening to music without any pre-conceived notions at all but I understand those things help us. I’m sure they’ve hurt us in some ways but getting anyone to listen to the music is really all we want people to do.
Jim: We’re here at Stubb’s BBQ, one of the capitols of BBQ in Austin, TX. You guys have been out on tour there’s St. Louis BBQ, then there’s Memphis BBQ, then there’s Texas BBQ…. do you have any favorites?
Ben: I’ll take it any way I can get it to be honest. I do like Texas BBQ… every now and then I feel like a dry rub or St. Louis stuff too… but I think Texas is my favorite.
Aaron: Want to thank you guys both for being here today. We have Mark Berry and Ben Schneider of the band Lord Huron, we have Jim Rudden who’s the CMO of Spredfast, Aaron Strout of W2O Group. This has been a blast and I look forward to keeping an eye on you guys.
If you would like to watch the entire four song set, check it out here. Special thanks go out to my colleague, Michael Westgate, for getting Lord Huron to agree to do the interview with us and local video production company extraordinaire, UPG. They are awesome.