The Builders & The Butchers
THE BUILDERS & THE BUTCHERS
Over the five year history of The Builders and the Butchers from their beginnings playing on rainy Portland, OR, streets for random passersby, to the early unplugged Mississippi Pizza and Valentines' shows, to the last three years of endless touring the band has lived and died for its connection with the audience. Whether playing bar gigs for 50 people or opening arena shows for 3000, the band strives to connect with the audience, and for the audience to connect with one another, every time they take the stage. It's that beyond anything else that keeps the Builders going.
"In the studio, the most difficult element for a band to achieve is a fusion of the live performance with the recording. The act of recording is quiet, serene, and controlled the opposite experience of a live show. Sound engineers, studio builders and audiophiles work their hardest to make a 'dead room' to record in," says singer Ryan Sollee. "It's no wonder so few records capture a band's true identity."
The Builders went into the studio with the idea of peeling back layers to where the essence of the song lies, and to try and finally fully encapsulate their raucous, impassioned live show. Joining up with Adam Selzer (The Decemberists, M. Ward, She & Him), who worked on their sophomore album Salvation is a Deep Dark Well, and engineer Dylan Magierek (Mark Kozelek, Starfucker, Thao Nguyen), the band created their third album Dead Reckoning using the recording style of the 1950s and 1960s, where the magic of a song was captured by the band playing together live and with minimal overdubbing. The Builders tracked almost all of Dead Reckoning in live takes, with Sollee handling vocals and guitar in one room and the rest of the band playing in the other. Only a few minor overdubs were allowed and they played all of the instruments on every song, save for two guest violin parts laid down by friends Amanda Lawrence and Zy Orange Lynn. With tracking and mixing taking a total of only eight days, the energy and intensity of time spent in the studio is immediately apparent on each song.
A dead reckoning is an age-old method of sea navigation that involves using past position, speed, and drift to calculate current and future location. Dead Reckoning, with its classic, timeless sound, is a measure of where the band and its music, as well as these times in which we live, have been, are now, and where it all might be going. "I thought it would be a perfect title for the album given its stripped down sound, and how most of these songs tell stories, many of which are set in the past, " Sollee reveals. "Like our previous records, the settings of the songs follow a few main ideas: the father and the son, early 1900s America, absolute good and evil, addiction, and religion. On this album, I really thought a lot about the end of the world and the dark times we live in, how the feelings we feel and the world we experience is not that different from 1930s America, and I thought about the music that was created at that time. This is where the inspiration for these songs originated."
The Builders and the Butchers have toured with Heartless Bastards, Portugal. The Man, Amanda Palmer, Brand New, and Murder By Death, to name a few. Their heavy tour schedule begins in January of 2011 and the band will likely perform at more than 250 venues this year.
The Builders and the Butchers are: Ryan Sollee (vocals, guitar), Brandon Hafer (drums, vocals, melodica), Willy Kunkle (bass, vocals), Ray Rude (organs, drums, vocals), and Harvey Tumbleson (banjo, mandolin, vocals). Former bassist Alex Ellis performed on the record as well.
Praise for The Builders And The Butchers' sophomore album Salvation Is A Deep Dark Well:
"this isn't music built on theory: It's music to dance, sweat, weep and rejoice to. Like their spiritual ancestors in 16 Horsepower, The Builders and the Butchers' members don't so much make church music as deliver the sermons themselves."
NPR's Song Of The Day, "Devil Town"
"In the footsteps of Cormac McCarthy on a leash, Salvation is a Deep Dark Well unfolds as a collection of Southern Gothic narratives whose tales of death, red skies, god and his other half are caked with the dusty blood of too many sunrisesa blooming balance of dark nu-folk instrumental layers weave with Americana-rooted romps."
"The Builders And The Butchers' musical output is something of a Pentecostal throw-downthe musical underpinnings are reminiscent of bluegrass, but the performances are raw and unschooled, with Sollee in particular throwing off a maniacally ecclesiastical sort of energydark, sparkling, Leadbelly-like terrain covered by death-fixated epics"
DAMION SUOMI & THE MINOR PROPHETS
When Damion Suomi (Sue-me) stands before you on a slightly elevated stage you will find yourself wondering where exactly you heard the songs before that night, there is just something familiar about them; like they have always been inside you, but you never heard them actually sung before. Damion takes the stage as a nomad who just found his home again and will fight to stay in it as long as possible, empty and half empty beer bottles will surround him like a protective fence. Damion says the songs he sings are "a mix of hope and despair," but what only takes one verse to realize is that hope and despair is sung as a doppelganger that can only survive conjoined to each other, which is why when Damion is singing a song that reads like forgotten lines by Yates and Bukowski, but he'll be smiling as an only child does on Christmas morning.
Damion used to be in a rock band of the pop rock persuasion, but at some point he began writing a collection of songs that felt rooted in Irish culture and bar drunk poetry. "These songs were birthed from pubs, drinks, and relationships," He says. So he took this newly discovered collection and added in some classic Irish folk songs and began playing sets in Irish pubs all around Florida out of a hope that others would smile with him in the sorrow.
"I've always loved Irish Culture", Damion says, "If you study it you'll see heartbreak with a smile." This mixture is evident in all of the songs on his self-titled debut on P Is For Panda Records. On the song San Francisco Damion sings of great love and what a waste it is all within the same breath. The chorus houses the line, "I gotta sing. I gotta shout. This world is tough. Boy, you should know if you love something let it go." Tailgating on that line is yell from the mouth of a shot glass, "Watch it die."
If you've ever searched out aged whisky to help you sort things out, then Damion will be your preacher. If you've held onto your friends and lovers like stolen money, then Damion's self-titled album will be your holy book to keep at your side. It will remind you to smile when sadness comes crashing in because you have to have them both to live. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License and may also be available under the GNU FDL.
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