Chris Stamey :: The Aquarium Drunkard Interview

It's hard to talk about North Carolina's musical legacy - or even indie rock in general - without mentioning Chris Stamey. As a founding member of the dB's, Stamey often played the chaotic, challenging flip-side to Peter Holsapple's shining pop and their music was all the better for it. After leaving the band following their second album, Stamey released a number of solo records in addition to working as a producer as well as eventually reuniting with the band to release last year's Falling Off the Sky. Last month, Stamey released his latest solo album, Lovesick Blues, on Yep Roc Records. Stamey guested on AD contributor J. Neas' weekly radio show on WQFS in Greensboro, NC this week ahead of a performance this Saturday in Winston-Salem. Below you can check out a partial transcript of the interview as Stamey discusses playing the new album live with a 20 piece orchestra, what it takes to get music out of your head and on to tape, his work with other North Carolina musicians and the origins of Yep Roc Records' name.

Aquarium Drunkard: You've got a new album out called Lovesick Blues, but you're also playing this Saturday at the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art as the seventh installment of their Crossroads series. I want to talk a little about that - it's kind of special. For people who have seen you live, this is a unique treat in that it's Chris Stamey and the Fellow Travelers which is a 20 piece chamber orchestra and rock band.

Chris Stamey: Well, I think about this like I shot a movie, and now we're putting on a play. We recorded this record with a bunch of the great players around Chapel Hill right now. They'd come in one by one and I'd already have a lot of the stuff notated, written out for them. Sometimes they'd just come in and let a guitar feedback for an hour and we'd pick our favorite parts. This is a pretty normal way to make a record; you invite your friends over, you write the music. But now that that's all done, we've written it out again for live performance. We're actually doing it with a lot of the textures that are actually on the record. The record has a lot of woodwinds, string, orchestral percussion, brass. It's not just the band, though there are a lot of guitars, too. We have a lot of string players - Lost in the Trees, if you're familiar with them. The Old Ceremony. There's a really great scene in Chapel Hill right now, and in all of North Carolina, really, of people who can improvise wildly and who can also read music. This will be the first time we've played the whole record live together, trying to come as close to the spirit of the orchestral textures on the recorded version.

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