Interview With RUSTY REID

Published on 5 February 2024 at 18:13


Your latest track 'American Villian' is out now. How has the reception been so far?

Hi, Our Sound, great to talk with you. Yes, the reception has been very positive, which is a bit surprising. I expected more channels and zines to shy away from it. And some have, for sure. But many more have waded right in and taken it on. It's cool that so many appreciate the message, but an added bonus that they like the production as well. So that works for me.

Based in Seattle, what is the scene like there?

The "Seattle" scene is really more like a "Pacific Northwest" scene because Tacoma and Olympia and Portland and Vancouver, British Columbia are all nearby. A lot of back and forth among these population centers, and the music kind of blends together. It's a healthy musical ecosystem overall. We've got strong blues and jazz and Americana vibes going on up here, and, of course, this is where American "garage rock" and later "grunge" was invented, so there are guitars and drums plenty still bashing around. It's not as competitive, or driven, as some other scenes I've witnessed. There is a lot of local pride in the importance and originality of our successful acts from the Ventures, the Wailers, the Sonics, Jimi Hendrix, Heart, Nirvana and the other 90s groups, Macklemore and Brandi Carlile more recently, and others. There's a lot of comaraderie and support, especially in the singer-songwriter category. In some places it seems like the goal is to make it big and get outta there. Here, very few want to leave. Everybody kind of understands that we are already in the best section of the United States. Paradoxicallly, that hasn't prevented some famous suicides, which itself lends a mysterious somberness to the generally fun-loving scene.

What other bands or musicians influence your songwriting?

A whole lot of them. I am a connoisseur of songwriters. Certainly the Beatles are the leading influence for me. Not that I've ever written a song like theirs, but the notion of never being a clone, even of yourself, every song is different, every melody and production unique and never before heard in the world, saying interesting things. I think, as a child, I absorbed enough Hank Williams and Buddy Holly to be kind of rooted in their type of story-telling and simple, but unique, melody. In my wildest dreams I could write lyrics like Bob Dylan or lyrics and music like Paul Simon. Then there's Jimmy Webb. Tom Petty. Stephen Stills and David Crosby. Andy Partridge and Colin Moulden. So many others comparatively unsung. For instance, I love the writing of Justin Currie of Del Amitri. That guy is severely underrated. I could go on and on about songwriters. They are a special breed of Earthling.

What was the writing process behind this new single?

Half of America was shocked and dismayed when this obvious charlatan was elected president in 2016. But most thought, "Let's give him a chance. Maybe he won't be so bad." And then he promptly kicked all trans people out of the military, and we pretty much knew this was going to go downhiull. We didn't know how bad it would actually get. We've never really had a super-villain in our national history. Well, unless you want to lump all the slavers and Indian killers together in a toxic ball. Sometime between his praise of Putin and love affair with Kim Jong Un, I realized this is the most evil major political figure in our history. He is our "American Villain." The lyrics to the song just flowed out from that phrase, and then I matched it up with a slightly older chord structure and melody I had been working on. Then the arrangement was mostly facilitated by multi-instrumentalist Daniel Ribeiro in Sao Paolo, Brazil. Daniel is playing those spooky slide guitar parts. And Brandon Davis, of Los Angeles, and Jack Williams, of Dallas, really nail the drums and bass respectively. I'm singing and playing the lead guitar bits here and there.

What can new listeners of Rusty Reid expect when listening?

They can expect a well-crafted song. I'm a songwriter, first and foremost. Secondly, a singer. And last and least, a musician (guitar usually, but sometimes everything). A goodly proportion of my songs are philosophical, political and/or spiritual (not religoius). I've written my share of personal relationship songs, but more and more I'm leaning toward universal themes and concepts. The meaning of life? The history of the universe in a single song? How to love Mother Earth? Why religion is not spiritual? Just how horrible is our culture? I've got you covered.

What are your plans for 2024?

So my back-to-back politically-charged singles, "The United States of Selfishness" and "American Villain" just came out recently. I consider them siblings, covering some of the same contextual ground, one looking at the overall harm that conservatism brings to our culture, and the other focusing on one particular individual and his cult. Promotion for those is winding down. Presently I'm re-mixing my 2019 album, "Head to Heart," which is my most important work in total. Every song on that album is philosophical, political and/or spiritual (not religoius). It's my opus. I call it a "Revolutionary Manifesto in Song." I've learned a lot about mixing in that five years, and felt like this album is important enough to try to improve sonically. I've also got about three albums of material more or less finished. I'll be releasing that in the near future, as well. Hope you can join me on this grand adventure into what is really important, what is really meaningful, what is truly beautiful, and what is not and that we should stop doing.


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