Nick Loss-Eaton talks about Leland Sundries and The Foundry EP
Leland Sundries‘ The Foundry EP (2012 L’Echiquier Records) finds Nick Loss-Eaton and company heading South for some folk, blues and even rockabilly inspiration on their follow up to their 2010 alt-country flavored The Apothecary EP including: “Giving Up Redheads” (imagine if Lou Reed recorded a track with Sam Phillips at Sun Studio in 1956), the folk-blues of “Airstream Transmission” and the New Orleans trombone driven jazz of “Bywater Blues”. Loss-Eaton is a talented wordsmith, delivering his carefully crafted lyrics with dry wry sometimes nearly spokenvocals that are bound to draw comparisons to Reed and Cohen. I saw a version of the band (Leland Sundries Duo?) on their car tour of the Southern states when they passed through Durham, NC. With a couple less band members and armed with guitars, banjo, harmonica, megaphone, harmonica and megaphone (no, that’s not a typo-Nick wailed on his harmonica through the megaphone at one point) Nick and John Hildenstein nicely captured the essence of the EP with their stripped down low-key folkie blend of late night introspective blues coupled with Nick’s literary lyricism. Stream The Foundry EP here. My interview with Nick follows the “Airstream Transmission” video.
HB-Cool band name! Is there a Leland and Sundries is a word you don’t hear too often.
Nick-Thanks, Hal. Yeah, I deliberated over band names for quite a while. Some were taken and some just didn’t hold up well the morning after. Finally, I took a trip down south. I noticed the word “Sundries” on a number of signs in Memphis and I’ve always liked the connotations. Later in the trip, my friends and I drove down to Leland, Mississippi to spend an afternoon with the bluesman Eddie Cusic. It was a foggy morning but it cleared up and we spent a wonderful day exploring the town and then talking to him. He taught Little Milton how to play and he had some incredible stories about playing in the backwoods joints in the ’40s and ’50s. He even picked a couple of tunes for us. He was a gracious host. Might’ve been on the plane home when I stuck the two together.
HB-Could you name a few influences/favorite artists?
Nick-There are too many! I revere the folk and blues tradition, so I love Charley Patton, Howlin’ Wolf, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Son House, and some of those folks. Those old folk songs can be very strange and I love that: The Anthology of American Folk Music and all. The Band, The Stones, Cash, and Dylan are certainly cornerstones. Some favorites who are still out there are Clem Snide, aa bondy, Jay Farrar, Greg Brown, Elvis Perkins, and Todd Snider. I love a songwriter who can be funny and dark or can write from the point of view of an unreliable narrator. I’m also a huge fan of Sam Shepard’s writing.
HB-It was a treat to see you play at Durham’s Pinhook in support of The Foundry. You played WDVX’s Blue Plate Special which is quite an honor. Any other highlights (or lowlights) of the tour you’d like to share.
Nick-There are many! Some kind folks let us crash outside of Charlottesville, VA and we saw a night full of stars, a bonfire, and woke up to a mountain view. We played on some bills with a lot of talent and saw a killer bluegrass band, a great honky tonk outfit, and a gutbucket blues singer. The Blue Plate Special was definitely a major highlight.
HB-Could you describe your weirdest gig?
Nick-There are several to choose from. Might’ve been the ice cream parlor but I’m going with the costume shop in Grants Pass, Oregon. I’m traveling with a good friend who’s backing me up and playing his own set and we arrive in this town and there are giant banners across Main Street that say, “Grants Pass: It’s The Climate.” We never figured out what the question was, but the climate was quite hospitable. We show up at the venue and they’re a costume shop that also sells some cheesy novelty items and bongs. The place had a major goth vibe. They’ve got some local bands on the bill with us. The local acts range from two 15 year olds who had a lot of courage to play their second show ever to a local jaded kid who told us later that he had stayed in town to take care of his ill step-dad. The 15 year old duo had parents in the audience and we dedicated a Bob Dylan cover to the parents. The other perk was all the lemonade you could drink. It was pretty strange. Later on, across town, we saw a bar fight. But that was in a very different kind of place.
HB-You’ve opened for Todd Snider and he tweeted about your new EP (Nick-could you add some dates/timeframe). Do you have a favorite Todd story and did you hang out at all?
Nick-I have hung with Todd. Todd’s the great storyteller. I ended up at an aftershow party where a guitar got passed around and I took my turn, singing “Givin’ Up Redheads,” at least until I got intimidated and forgot the last verse! He’s a great guy and very humble for the talent that he is. I’m excited about his new album.
HB-I met you as a publicist when you were at Shorefire. How and when did you make the decision to move to the “other side”?
Nick-Well, after ‘The Apothecary EP’ came out and we got a great response to it and I learned a bit about touring, I decided to take the plunge. I don’t regret it.
HB-Thanks Nick and best of luck with the disc and tour!