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The Statesboro Revue are a recent discovery of mine, and I for one am really enjoying their blend of genres yet still country sensibilities. They have the ability to craft really great songs with depth and emotion, and are a more-than-satisfactory soundtrack for any day, season or situation. Texas-based and led by impressive vocalist Stewart Mann, I sat down to interview Stewart to find out a little bit more about the band, their new record ‘Ramble On Privilege Creek’, and his story.
Hi Stewart! First of all, can you sum up the Statesboro Revue and the music in a couple of lines? Soulful, heartfelt, and genuine rockin’ roots music that's tinged with the storytelling aspect of country music as well as the raw, bluesy approach of American rock ‘n’ roll.
What makes you different?
My singing and songwriting approach and overall production style is my attempt at establishing a unique sound/style without straying too far from the very music that inspired me to get into music in the first place.
Your latest album is called ‘Ramble On Privilege Creek’. Tell me about this title, where does it come from, and what made you choose it?
This is my brother and I's first record together and our grandma (Nanaw) lives on Privilege Creek near Pipe Creek,TX. Our great-grandfather was in a band called Emil Mann and The Bluebonnet Ramblers and we thought what better way to pay homage to our roots than to include different characteristics about our family. I'm now in a family band, which is a pretty cool deal.
Tell me about the writing and recording process for this album. How did it come about, what inspired it, and how does it differ to previous albums?
The writing for this record occurred over a period of about 3 years, so my brother and I had a pretty vast and diverse catalog to choose from when it came to picking 12 songs to put on the record. Writing-wise, speaking for myself I started really listening to more of the rootsy, Americana music I listened to growing up, which at the time was considered rock ‘n’ roll. The Eagles, The Allman Brothers, Elton John, even artists like Taj Mahal, Howlin Wolf, and Van Morrison came back into the mix after a couple of years of just collecting dust in my record collection. As for the actual recording, we took a very organic, well rounded approach to the overall sound. We wanted earthy, warm, real music with poignant, relatable lyricism, and wanted to make sure the instrumentation did an adequate job of presenting the most important thing about a song…the song itself. If a song can't be a great song with just a voice and a guitar then something needs to be changed in my opinion. We're not out there making house music or heavy rock ‘n’ roll, we just want to play groove based music that people can relate to, most of the time anyway.
Favorite track on the album?
I'd have to say ‘Wildflower’ is probably my favorite song on the record mainly because of how hard it was to get it right and the various things we added (harmony, shaker, harmonica, etc) last minute. I love the overall easygoing, peaceful, loving charm of the tune.
How do you think your strong identity as a Texas band affects the music you create?
I think we'd be foolish to say that we're not influenced by our predecessors. There have been SO many artists come out of Texas, in SO many genres, that it's really cool to not have to look far when trying to find various inspiration. So much talent, and 90% of that talent goes unnoticed.
With that in mind, what are yours and the rest of the band’s musical influences?
his question could take days to answer….our influences range from Van Morrison to Otis Redding to Marshall Tucker to Led Zeppelin, The Black Crowes, The Rolling Stones, Willie Nelson, Ray Charles, The Meters, and even a little bit of Nickelback. Haha, I'm totally kidding about the Nickelback thing, they're in my top 3 least favorite bands of all time.
You’ve also done things outside of the Statesboro Revue, including auditioning for The Voice last year. Tell me a bit about that experience, and how did it feel when you never got your chance to perform for the coaches?
Oh man, the experience was amazing, a paid month long vacation to LA. That's the way I look at it. Was it hard to put in that much effort, and force the band to basically sit back and wait for me to finish it up? Absolutely. I was literally in a holding cell of sorts with my parents and other contestants around me. I had been through hair and makeup and had done a run through of my song. The producer comes in and tells 35 of us (out of the top 120) that the teams had been filled and we were all being sent home. I got absolutely wasted that night and wound up terrorizing my hotel room. Jokes on them!
You also had the starring role in Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story. Any other plans or projects you’re undertaking solo?
The Buddy Holly deal was one of the highlights of my career, and I'd love to do something like that again if the right situation presents itself. Other than that, my brother and I have begun the initial phase of creating a couple of side projects just to fully utilize our creative desires. I think once a band finds its niche and direction (even though we're still learning ours), sometimes it's a necessity to go out and try different styles of music in an effort to avoid boredom and complacency.
You’re really starting to see some big success, with Billboard and Country Weekly talking about you. How are the band dealing with this, and what’s the next step?
Until we start selling out amphitheaters I think we're all just trying to survive and put out the best music and show we possibly can. When you struggle as a musician for 13 some odd years like I have it's a little hard to define success and even harder to let any bit of it get to your head. I do know this, we're beyond thrilled at the response to this new record, and we have a LONG way to go and a LOT of music left in us.
Are you on tour now or have a tour in the works? If so, where can fans purchase tickets?
We basically play 225-250 shows/year all around the country, and are planning on first European tour in January 2014. As for tickets to our shows, most of them can be found on our website and/or the venues' websites.
Finally, tell me something random/quirky about your or the members of the band that fans don’t already know. Could be hobbies, interests, secret talents, cool/funny anecdotes, etc.
This is a tricky question to come up with answers we can share with the general public. I'd say for one our bass player Ben Bradshaw is a kickboxing master! Our drummer is a legit chef, and actually quit a high profile job to join the band…my brother Garrett could have been a professional golfer, and I have aspirations of being a professional blackjack player (I once won $40k--then lost most of it back!).
You can find The Statesboro Revue on their website.