Roy Davis talks about “We Are A Lightning Bolt” (Milltown Records)
Roy Davis and the Dregs’ alt-country flavored Deadweight (2008) was one of those nuggets that make listening to all the “free” music worthwhile. With We Are A Lightning Bolt (2010) Roy has stepped outside that comfort zone and recorded an album of personal tunes dealing with matters of the heart that aren’t quite so easy to classify. Davis balances a handful of full band Dreg tunes (“Head To Bed”, “You Don’t Have To Fall In Love”, “Barbara Lang” and “Stranger’s House”) with some equally effective tracks that are essentially high quality demos. The minimalist approach works well and is complimented by Roy’s vocals that are sincere, yearning and often vulnerable resulting in a mood that recalls stripped down YHFish Jeff Tweedy with a dash of digital Bright Eyes mixed with the analog folkier side of Ryan Adams. You can stream We Are A Lightning Bolt here and all of Roy’s discs are available for purchase at CDBaby. Is late night music a genre? It should be. Get yourself a drink, turn off the lights, turn on “We Are A Lightning Bolt” and watch the storm roll in.
Roy took some time and we did a brief email interview about his new disc. Enjoy!
HB-Hello Roy, could you mention some major influences/favorite artists?
RD-The latest CD’s I’ve bought and loved are: Ben Kweller On My Way and Changing Horses, Immortal Technique Revolutionary Vol.2 (I don’t listen to a ton of rap, but this album is totally cool, super confrontational lyrics which I love), Pedro the Lion’s it’s hard to find a friend (also David Bazan solo records), The David Rawlings Machine (I was hoping for a new Gillian Welch record…this is close, but not quite), Bright Eyes digital ash in a digital urn, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club beat the devil’s tattoo The ones that I love and will always come back to are Pedro the Lion, Bright Eyes, Ryan Adams, Gillian Welch, Aretha Franklin (oh man), Drive-by Truckers, Shuggie Otis, Rolling Stones. And Prince.
HB-We Are A Lightning Bolt is a little darker, a little more folkie, a little less alt country than Deadweight. Several of the tracks sound like late night demos and you’re just pouring your heart out (and I mean that as a real compliment).
RD-WAALB is definitely a bit darker. I think it’s less affected, meaning instead of arranging the tunes into country songs, we just tried to let them be as natural as possible. And you’re right about the late-night-demo vibes…Jon Nolan, the engineer, was super cool about opening up his studio to us. I had a key, and spent about a week in their by myself, just demoing the songs…a couple of which ended up being cool enough that we decided in the end to keep the original demo tracks.
HB-You’re back in Maine but I know you did some traveling over the last year. Where did you go and how did that mold We Are A Lightning Bolt?
RD-Yeah, last summer I did some traveling. I started out going with my guitarist, Travis Kline, to Nashville. In spite of everyone saying “Don’t go!” and “Nashville is evil.” we had a pretty good time. There is lots of cool music happening across the river, in East Nashville. Downtown is sort of a nightmare. But anyway, we were there for three months and had enough, so I took off for Wyoming, where I lived for the rest of the summer. I took a little break from playing shows and worked as a fly fishing guide. Jon was mixing the record while I was out there. Then I left Wyoming and went to Omaha, where the record was being mastered by Doug Van Sloun. He does the Bright Eyes stuff. And I came back to Maine in October, and have been playing regionally and planning a tour schedule for this summer.
HB-Any plans to tour in support of the disc? Solo or with a band?
RD-We’ll be on the road for June, July, and August. I’ll start out with the band for the first few dates, and then take off to finish the tour solo. I’m heading all over, New England to the mid-west, then out to the west West.
HB-Talking of touring. Favorite road food?
RD-As far as road food goes…I’m usually happy as long as I can afford to eat. But I am on the search for the world’s best chicken salad sandwich. Someday I’ll find it, maybe this summer!
RD-Well, I haven’t played too many weird ones. A few weeks ago, I played at a ski resort in Colorado. They were having a big festival with Yonder Mountain String Band and the Pete Kilpatrick Band (my pals from Maine). They flew me out and I stayed in a nice hotel for 4 days…and I played for 45 minutes at a bar after big outdoor show. Everyone was jazzed up and no one listened. But I had a great time anyway, because I was in the mountains! Ha. So that was kind of weird…a lot of effort for such a small show!
HB-What have you been reading?
RD- I’ve been reading a lot lately, actually. Kurt Vonnegut is my current favorite, I just got through a few more of his. I’ve almost read them all now. I just read a couple Hemmingway books, The Sun Also Rises and For Whom the Bell Tolls. I really like William Kennedy…he wrote a series of books about depression-era Albany, NY. Kind of humanizing the criminals and sympathizing with characters that people mostly despise. Reminds of Drive-By Truckers music, actually.
HB-Bands that you’ve probably never heard of but should definitely check out are……
RD-There is an incredible band called Tree By Leaf. They are based out of Liberty, Maine, where I grew up. It’s a married couple…Garrett and Siiri Soucy. They play small shows and don’t tour. Too busy raising their kids to try to be professional musicians, I guess. But…Garrett is the best songwriter I know. Also, Pedro the Lion if you haven’t heard them. David Bazan is Pedro the Lions singer, he just put out a great album called Curse Yours Branches.
HB-Thanks Roy, best of luck and I hope to catch you live in NC this summer!