Gimme Your Answers: An Interview w/ Dry the River

An Interview with Matthew Taylor of Dry the River!

Dry the River are one of those bands where once a track of theirs comes on my player, I can’t skip it. They take you into a world of tranquility which you will not want to leave once your get a glimpse of their heart-warming music. Their guitarist Matthew Taylor took the time to have a chat with me over the phone about Shallow Bed, live experiences, dinner and plenty more!

AMBY: Well I’d like to start off by saying Shallow Bed is a spectacular debut album. What have been some of the highlights since its release earlier this year?
MT: The highlights have been we’ve been able to tour the US which has been really cool. We’re obviously just starting one now but earlier in the year we were able to tour with the Bowerbids and that was a lot of fun, they’re friends of ours and it was a great trip there. Since the record we’ve been able to play a lot of festivals over the summer and that’s been really, really fun and we’ve seen the crowds drive over the past couple of years since we have that record come out, it’s made the difference. We’ve seen a lot more people coming out to see us, it’s been great.
AMBY: That’s fantastic to hear! Now, which three songs would you say are quintessential to hear of off Shallow Bed?
MT: What about for people who have never heard the band before, maybe?
AMBY: Yeah, go for it!
MT: I would say New Ceremony, people told me the other day that that’s the song that people have much listened to and found the album over the internet somehow and so I’d definitely say that one. And Shaker Hymns for me is quite an important song for the band because that is the oldest song of Dry the River’s; it’s the first song of Peter’s that I actually ever heard. And that’s what made me kind of want to write music with him, so I’d love people to hear that one. And No Rest as well is quite an important song for the band, that’s one of the first songs we ever had and that’s always been the start, that song so that’s kind of important too.
AMBY: That song’s great!
MT: Thank you.
AMBY: No problem! And that brings me to the next question about the single first single, Weights and Measures. It displays a lot of great vocal harmonies, so how did you structure the arrangements on the song?
MT: It’s quite tricky- Because you said there’s quite a lot going on and we’ve got three vocals, we’ve got a violin and a couple of guitars, and there’s a lot of things battling each other. That’s kind of one of the reasons we chose Pete to take it to, to record the album because he’s very good at putting things in their place and making things work well while everything is happening, if that makes sense. It’s really quite an electric song so we wanted to embellish all of the parts, it’s quite a simple song, it’s really three or four chords, and all of the melody lines are simple.
AMBY:  Yeah, it’s incredibly tranquil.
MT: Well at the time we sort of thought that gave us license to put lots of stuff on! So there’s a lot of instruments going on, there’s pianos and all kind of key instruments and strings. It was kind of difficult to make it all work together but I think we owe a lot to Pete as a producer. In that respect, he kind of makes it work.
AMBY: Alright, and I noticed you recorded your album in Bridgeport, Connecticut in the states, opposed to recording back in England. Why did the group decide that?
MT: It was completely down to the producer rather than the place, we really wanted to work with Peter because we really liked the records he’d done previously with The National, Interpol, and things like that so we like the sound that he’s got. And fortunately enough for us he wanted to and was willing to work with us so that meant coming out here and the guys in the band love America much more than England so, it was a no-brainer for us.
AMBY: Definitely, and it’s probably a nice, new experience too.
MT: Yeah, absolutely! I mean there’s not a lot going on in Bridgeport, Connecticut. But being so close to New York, that meant that on the weekends when we weren’t working we could go into New York and play a show there. It was just a really fun time.
AMBY: And you’re about to embark on your North American tour! So tell me one of Dry the River’s craziest tour stories.
MT: Craziest tour stories… That’s a difficult question; I’m not sure what I’m allowed to say.
AMBY: Whatever’s on your mind!
MT: Oh really? One thing that’s on my mind is recently at a festival we kind of made an unlikely friend, Brent from Mastodon.
AMBY: No, really?!
MT: Yeah, honestly. We were playing the same stage as them, and we really, really like Mastodon, we’re also massive fans of them. And their guitarist kind of had the hots for my girlfriend! So he was hanging around with us, kind of making friends with us, and he went absolutely crazy. He ended up invading the stage at the drive in, and Scott was there as well. Their drummer was to do an interview in their dressing room and Scott and Brent were faced with a load of free beer that somebody had given us. They were in the dressing room and they smashed it up, they had tore a radiator off the wall and Brent was doing bad things with a fan, and it was, yeah!

AMBY: That sounds like quite the interesting experience!

MT: Yeah, it was weird!
AMBY: Well, if you could invite three people to dinner, whether it’s idols or well, anybody. Who would you invite?
MT: Oh wow, that’s quite a good question.
AMBY: Thank you!
MT: I guess I would invite someone from the music world so maybe, maybe Brent from Mastodon- he seems like a fun guy. And then Will Ferrell, I think he’d be good for a conversation at dinner.
AMBY: A couple laughs, right?
MT: Yeah you need some laughter right, at dinner- Don’t want it to be too dry. So Brent from Mastodon, Will Ferrell, I think they’d get on pretty well. And (speaks to Dry the River’s drummer Jon in the background) Jon, who would you invite to dinner? Who out of everybody in the world, who’d you invite to dinner?  I picked Will Ferrell and Brent from Mastodon. I’m just asking our drummer Johnny. Yeah, Bill Murray! We’d invite Bill Murray as well.
AMBY: A lot of jokes to be cracked at that dinner, eh?
MT: Yeah we had just played the Toronto Film Festival and we were lucky enough to meet him, and he was a very cool guy.
AMBY: Oh, cool!
MT: Yeah, a bit of a strange experience but a pretty cool experience as well. I think he’d bring a nice vibe to the table.
AMBY: Well very nice choices!
MT: Thank you!
AMBY: You’re welcome. And if you could choose to go anywhere, where would you go in a time machine?
MT: Oh wow, that’s interesting. I think I’d like to go back to like- saying the 60s is a bit lame, isn’t it? So I’d say, 1972. That’s when my favourite record came out, so from a music geek’s perspective, that would be awesome to be alive in that year.
AMBY: I completely hear you on that! And since we’re on the topic of records and you know, past music, let’s bring it to the present! Which trend in music right now do you find most annoying?
MT: I don’t know, I don’t really find that much music annoying. I think we live in a time where you can literally just listen to what you want to listen to.
AMBY: Yeah, that’s true.
MT: You’re not forced to listen to anything so I don’t really listen to the radio stations. So I don’t really get exposed to that much bad stuff, and I don’t want to slag anybody off; I’ve got a bad history of slagging bands off and interviews so you’re not going to get anything like that out of me today!
AMBY: Yeah, we listen to mostly British radio stations if the radio is ever on. You know, like Absolute Radio and such. Because our radio stations here don’t play most of the bands like you or British bands, so that’s what we do here!
MT: Oh that sucks, so you have to put up with some not so great stuff on the radio I guess.
AMBY: Exactly! So the next question is what’s your favourite song to play live at the moment?
MT: I currently really like playing No Rest, I’ve been playing that a lot.
AMBY: It’s a great song!
MT: We had released it as a single, so we’ve been getting some good crowd reactions when we’ve been playing that song so that’s a lot of fun. And there’s a big rock out at the end which I enjoy too.
AMBY: And are you planning on playing any covers on the upcoming tour?
MT: Covers… We have done in the past, we haven’t got one in the set at the moment but perhaps if the crowd cheered then that would be enough for us to come back and play a cover. We used to cover Down To The River To Pray,that’s an Allison Kraus song. And we covered Elvis, and it’s not in the set so people will have to request it.
AMBY: Just throw it out there!
MT: Yeah, yeah- exactly!
AMBY: And for our last question, tell me something about the band that nobody knows yet.
MT: Let me try to think of something reasonable to say… What’s something about us no one knows? (asks band in the background) I’m not saying that! No, we can’t say “we don’t like each other.”
AMBY: Is that what Jon said?
MT: Yea, Scott said there’s nothing that no one knows about us anymore. Everybody knows everything.
AMBY: Oh, okay!
MT:I just want to look like I like music, that might be something people don’t think of!
Dry the River are to play a gig this Tuesday the 25th at The Garrison in Toronto. So be sure to go check them out and have a good time! Also lend an ear to their track No Rest, it’s a splendid track. And last but surely not least, thank you very much Matt for giving me your answers!
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3iUHfAChgBA?feature=player_detailpage&w=480&h=300]
Alicia Atout

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