While we're sad to see summer end, we can't wait for the next installment of our monthly local concert series Luce Unplugged, coming up on Thursday, September 10th from 5:30 – 7 p.m. The North Country, a Columbia Heights based psychedelic-meets-Americana band, will play a 40-minute set in the museum's Luce Foundation Center following an art talk on a work they chose from SAAM's collection. The band was selected by Stephanie Williams, editor of D.C. Music Download, the go-to source for D.C.'s local music scene and our new partner for Thursday Luce Unplugged shows. We talked to the band's frontman, Andrew Grossman, who shared insights on the artistic work-life balance struggle and how the band crafts music that you'll want to keep listening to.
Eye Level: On your website you lament that "disposability is something we unfortunately value in our culture today," and express your desire to create music that doesn't tire with repeat listens. How do you achieve this? Does this task have extra challenges?
Andrew Grossman: I have a theory that there's a correlation between the amount of time artists spend on their songs and how many times someone can enjoyably listen to them. The music I love is music I listen to over and over again and form a relationship with. I want my music to be the same way. The only way I can get that is by staying with it for months, playing it over and over again before I even bring it to the band. If I still find it interesting after all that then it's ready to be performed.
EL: For our readers who may be unfamiliar with your work, tell us about your associated house venue/artist collective The Bathtub Republic.
AG: The Bathtub Republic is the house I live in with Leah Gage of BRNDA and some other fine folks. We practice in the house and host shows. A good chunk of There is Nothing to Fear was recorded in the house, too.
EL: What do you love about the D.C. music scene?
AG: My favorite thing is how communal everything is. There's a real sense that we're all in this together and we should help each other out.
EL: Where do you see opportunities for improvement and growth in D.C.'s music scene?
AG: I think even with that sense of community, the notion that music can be something more than a hobby is still a little too far off the beaten path for a lot of people. Even some of the big names in the D.C. music scene are doing it in conjunction with a full time nine-to-five. Personally, I think it's a shame. I think some very talented people may be selling themselves short. It might just be a money thing, this city is ridiculously expensive, and maybe in cheaper cities it's different. Not that I'm in any position to tell people how to live their lives, but I guess my inner hippie just sheds a tear at the thought of an artist with a lot to offer sitting in a cubicle.
EL: Who are your influences?
AG: The works of Carl Sagan, George Harrison, Khalil Gibran, the TV series Cosmos, the album All Things Must Pass, and the book The Prophet, were all made the way your grandmother cooks: with love. You can taste it. I think so much today is made like some disposal commodity. All of these works were made as labors of love and they last because of it. I think that kind of earnestness is so valuable in any kind of work.
EL: If you could be remembered for one quirk...
AG: If I'm going to be remembered for any quirk it's probably pacing back and forth and snapping my fingers like a maniac. I'm told I do that a lot.
Catch the North Country in the museum's Luce Foundation Center (3rd Floor, West Wing) on September 10th at 6 p.m. (art talk at 5:30 p.m.).