Interview with Porch Light Apothecary
What is your musical background? At what age did you first learn an instrument?
Our musical backgrounds vary quite a bit. Jason began playing drums in high school, learning a lot from a friend that was in a band at the time, and eventually spending a couple semesters in college as a music major. On the other hand, Brandon has played piano since he could reach the keys, prompting his father to subject him to lessons. The lessons didn’t really sink in until, after a few theory-focused teachers, he finally had a teacher that encouraged him to write around age 13. This opened a whole new door and then his world was forever changed when he got his first electric guitar and U2 songbook. Brent and Chris have also played most of their lives. Brent began playing guitar in middle school and started writing songs in high school. He wrote his first song about a senior girl moving away for college as a freshman in high school. Brent and Chris later discovered they
both spent a little time at the NC School of the Arts after high school.
Have you ever played in any other projects or is Porch Light Apothecary your one and only?
Again, our backgrounds vary, but we’ve all been involved in other musical projects for a long time. Brent comes from a successful solo career, having released three albums as Brent Jordan and having his music included in several documentaries and films, as well as having a song
featured on NBC’s hit television series, Scrubs. Brent has been very excited, though, to finally play in an actual band that are all in it together and not having all the attention focused just on him.
Jason spent quite a few years in the Mississippi-based bands Hogleg and the Puerto Rican Rum Drunks, experiencing a good bit of success in the southeast, including many festivals and shows at places such as Tipitina’s and the House of Blues in New Orleans. He has also spent time
playing with various other bands both back in Mississippi and in North Carolina. Brandon moved to Raleigh from Michigan with his high school bestie during his college years. Since arriving, they started and have continued an ongoing recording project under the Onlooker moniker, highlighted by having a few songs featured on the Haunting of Cawdor soundtrack. Their latest (2017) release was under the name All Fours. Brandon has also
recorded and played with Chapel Hill’s Erie Choir, as well as various other projects here and there. Chris is a classically trained guitarists and former guitar teacher that has played in various jazz
groups and other projects.
What are your thoughts on the modern music industry? Do you like the prospect of playlists
being the hot ticket in music discovery?
The music industry can be tricky these days and you really have to pay attention to the constantly-changing landscape to not get lost or passed by. I think its still a challenge for musicians finding a way to get paid for their music in this stream-crazed world we live in. On the flip side, though, its very easy for anyone to access your music anytime and, ultimately, that’s what we really want, for people to listen to and appreciate the music we’re working so hard to cultivate. In a lot of ways, I think it’s the same as it’s always been, though. At the end of the day, if you have a product people want to hear, work hard enough and are persistent enough, good things will happen. One thing I’m still trying to figure out is what is the next “best” medium to get your music out there in a physical form? I really love being able to tie artwork with an album and having something physical for people to purchase at shows and, hopefully, get a little deeper appreciation out of. I love vinyl, but it’s so expensive to produce vinyl records still, and if people are pretty much done with CDs… what’s next? One thing I will say, whatever physical form is used for distribution, I think you absolutely must include a download card with everything these days. As for playlists’ role in music discovery, I don’t know that I’m the biggest fan of that only
because I don’t spend much time listening to playlists often. I’m more of a full-album guy, but hey, if they get our music exposed to new listeners, I’m all for it.
What was the first CD you ever purchased with your own money?
Brandon has a quick answer… Pink Floyd, A Momentary Lapse of Reason (unless you count the sandwich bag full of change he traded for a DeBarge Rhythm of the Night LP at a record store in Battle Creek, Michigan in his younger days). For Jason, not completely certain, but probably Mazzy Star’s So Tonight That I Might See? Definitely something from the 90’s grunge era.
You just released an album. Tell us about it.
We did! We released our second studio album, ‘Weight of the Heart’, on August 31. I think this is our best work to date and we’re very excited about it being out there for the world to hear. ‘Weight of the Heart’ is a 12-song album we recorded in early 2018 at Arbor Ridge Studios in Chapel Hill, NC. The album was recorded and mixed by Jeff Crawford, who was just fantastic to work with. We were also fortunate enough to bring in a couple very special guests to help us out. Anne-Claire Niver added beautiful backing vocals to three songs and Autumn Brand played violin on Dark was the Night. Jeff also added bass on a couple tracks and vocals on one. The material for this album was developed during a very emotional time. Some members of the band experienced personal losses in their families during this time, on top of everything that has been going on in the world, and more specifically, this country. There has been a lot of weight present, but the writing process was very healing through all the turmoil. I think we’re becoming increasingly better about fleshing ideas out more, working with them, and trying to bring the emotion out of each song. We’re also becoming more and more collaborative in the songwriting process. Brent still brings most of the song skeletons or ideas to the table, but we’re working with them more and more together… kind of like we’re collectively molding the clay into the final product. We’re very pleased with how ‘Weight of the Heart’ turned out and the reception it’s gotten so far. Now that it’s out there, it’s time to start working on the next one.