We had the absolute pleasure of going international and speaking with US band Rene Russell and the Bottom End over a zoom call. Joining us for the call was Rene Russell, Chris Blackwell and Jamie Lupini.
What are your thoughts on the industry and what needs to change?
R: Well Chris is the only one of us, as far as I know, who has been on international tours, were still trying to get there as a group!
C: One of the questions asked was if you could travel by eco-friendly bus, would you? If venues could be run on renewable power, that would be another way we could be more green within the industry. The only other thing and I’ve said it before, is getting rid of the physical property and only selling online, which is a very environmentally thing as there is no longer packaging.
Do you see yourself trying to lead the way with that by not selling physical items?
R: I would go for it, if we had a choice and we get the say, everything is downloadable and accessible on the internet, no more CDs and shrink-wrap and even the cardboard and “eco-friendly packaging” is still stuff which gets thrown away, and how do we produce it, there are still trees. If there is something we can do we will do it. We sell both the eco-friendly t-shirts as well as the regular ones so that our fans can make the choice, there is a cost to it so it’s only fair to give them the choice. Hopefully, the more people that use eco-friendly t-shirts the more it will reduce the cost.
Overproduction is one of the biggest issues, what are you doing to help reduce buying too much stock and not creating extra waste?
R: This is my first time doing this, but we are using a drop ship company so that we can produce on-demand, but when we do get back together and start to tour again, we will order a small amount so that people can take it away with them, but I fully intend to run out all the time and at that point show people a sample and encourage them to order online.
With the size of the US do you worry about the time for these items to arrive, and potentially put people off?
R: I don’t think so, it’s our job not only to have a great time and share our music, but our music has a message and to make sure our fans are aware. Hopefully, they know because they come to see us, that we are all about ecology and saving the planet, and so they are aware that they might need to wait a little longer for it to arrive so that we can achieve what we want to achieve. It’s our job to educate if they did know.
C: I think if we let them know why it’ll take 2 weeks because we want to minimise the potential waste and things like that they will understand. They are our fans and they get our message so they want to be part of that.
You have been doing a little bit of recording recently, how have you found that?
R: We have all been in lockdown and we were all in different places, we were doing it all remotely.
C: We used 3 different systems, I was using Pro Tools, Rene was on Logic and then I would invite Jamie round to record with me to do her parts, it was only the two of us so we didn’t have to worry about exposure to other people. One of the songs we had a choir, so I had another friend who brought people in one by one to his studio to maintain social distancing, and then we just transferred the raw files between us over the internet. It was so much easier than I thought it ever could have been. We not talking about a lot of power when you are talking about and Mac or a PC and that’s about it for power.
Did you prefer it this way, or do you miss the studio?
C: The only thing missed was the experience, for Rene and Jamie that’s what I feel bad about. For me, I have had a chance to do this in Nin York and Atlanta so I have been in some really big studios and the experience of being in somewhere which has a real history, that’s what I enjoy about the studio. But now with much better technology available, this process has been much easier. If the opportunity and the budget arose then I would want to go back to the studio, absolutely, but ironically after we do that, I would take it all back with me and finish it at home!
J: I have been in a big studio before and to be honest the way Chris has worked on this, it’s much better for me because there’s no pressure. To me, it’s more important for me to feel relaxed.
R: Yes, and there is also no pressure on time, no rent on space and knowing I need to finish by a certain time. This was so comfortable because we just did it on our own time.
C: If they are comfortable, they will perform well, if they are not then they won’t. It’s quite simple. I just put the track on a loop and let them go round as many times as they like, no pressure of someone on the other side of the glass going “no, flat, try again”
J: Sometimes he’s there and sometimes he’s not, he’s just left the room. And then he will come back and I can say just one more if needed.
R: It also allowed me to try singing it in different ways, and then we can listen back and decide which ways sound best
Would you say you have been able to make changes and use the negative of COVID and take some positives away from it?
J: We used it as an opportunity but individually and collectively to really big a little deeper into our music. It wasn’t a positive for the world, but in our view, we took advantage of what was around us.
R: It also gave me a chance to go to the mountain and stay up there to get away from everything for a long time, sometimes in the “normal” I would stay up there and after a while, I start to think, what am I missing downtown. But during the lockdown, you know you weren’t missing anything which was a breath of fresh air not to wonder what you are missing. It was easier being creative in that space because I wasn’t being distracted by the thought of what am I missing.
Did the lockdown cancel any of your plans?
R: All my shows got cancelled, first March when everyone got told to stay at home, then through May and June, and then I just decided I would not play any shows for the rest of the year, it’s not safe, nobody is sure and they will cancel anyway. So said fine that’s what we are doing, I’m not going to worry about it and just come up here and then writing happened.
What’re the plans going forward?
R: The album is out on the 21st of May and we have an album launch party that weekend, and then the team are looking at maybe a tour in the Fall or maybe earlier we will see what happens.
C: We do also play around town so hopefully, as things open up again that’s what we will be doing whilst we wait to see how this play.
Looking to the future and how you see the digital world as a great platform, do you look at the green credentials of the businesses that you work with online?
R: I don’t
J: I don’t
C: We go with what’s available to us, at the moment we are very limited on companies who offer what we need. I still think that even not knowing what is going on behind those companies it’s better than the old physical items. Once the options become available then we will of course go with whoever seems to be doing the most for the environment.
What does the “we’ve made it” moment look like to you, what is the big goal?
R: For me, I have always wanted to be a successful musician, and to me that means, and I’m only going to throw this name out there, I don’t expect to be as big as Dave Matthews, but id like to be touring, Dave Matthews, Fleetwood Mac back in the day. To have a greater impact on the planet and people you have to have exposure so as much as I want to be out there and “I’m famous” it’s also to affect people, you have to be out there where everyone knows who you are. All of it will be worth it if we can make a change.
J; I don’t care about the venue, I just want people to listen to us and see us as musicians, so it could be a small room or a stadium so long as people are listening to us, feel us and understand us.
C: Hearing any of the music of the cusp on the radio or playing to people who are singing back louder than we are singing. Those to me are made it.
Finally please describe your sound to all our readers?
Organic, Americana World music with a message