SPB: Do you get nervous before you play a show?
Jon: Yes, but it really depends on whether I've played the room before, how much practice the band has had leading up, whether or not the sound check was ok, or the PA even exists! Sometimes we sing through our amps and improvise a whole lot, so that keeps things pretty light. We can't do anything but go out and play and if we're making it up as we go there's no expectations, at least from a playing perspective.
SPB: In the recent years you have included musicians in order to perform live as Botanist. I wonder if that change has also affected your songwriting in any way? Do you compose now having a more clear idea that these songs will be played live?
Botanist: The backlog of material written and recorded as a 1-man outfit is still being cleared out. Most of that stuff is EPs, but of course there is the skipped-over, unreleased Botanist V. Much of the EP material should be released over the course of the next year or two and some other stuff will be held secret. There is no definite plan as to when V will be released.
Since one of the aims of Botanist is to re-invent itself within the strict guidelines laid out for the project, material written and performed by all members of the live outfit are also in the works. The material we are working on now will be of EP length and should be ready for potential release this year.
There is so much Botanist material that we compose and record, and pick what we think will be best live out of that. Some records work better live than others. VI is unquestionably the project's biggest commercial success to date, but we play as many songs live from I as we do VIbecause those songs kick ass live. Playing much material from III is a challenge, obviously, because of the tracks' individual running times, so we have to pick extra carefully, and sometimes we don't have time to play any material from III at all.
The next planned Botanist full-length (VII) will be its most thematic and conceptual yet, and will not be written with playing live in mind whatsoever. Maybe look to the one after that for some ripping live cuts. See you on tour!
Nathalie Haurberg (Rat Storm/Closet Burner/Reality is a Cult Records)
SPB: Do you wear earplugs when you play? Why/why not?
Nathalie: I don't wear earplugs. I sometimes think I should, because my hearing is important. However, I just think it makes things sound different. If I'm playing it totally distorts how I hear the guitar tone and if I'm not playing I feel like it effects how I hear the band. I just rock out and then cross my fingers that in the long run I don't do any long-term damage!
Emi Knight (Strawberry Runners)
SPB: What was the inspiration to start the band?
Emi: The inspiration to start the band really began with living in Bloomington, Indiana, where most of my friends were in bands whose music would keep me up at night thinking of all the possibilities of my life as an artist and would wake me in the morning with this burning desire to go ahead and do whatever it was that I was dreaming about the night before. I've played and written music since I was a kid, but I can be very serious and very critical about my writing, so I didn't always feel confidant to ask other people to play with me.
In Bloomington I was surrounded by people who lived and breathed music and community and I started to put the two together for myself. I learned that music, at its best, will bring people together and lift us up. There is this deep empathy that we feel when we hear a story or a song. That empathy can shift our perspectives and our lives like almost nothing else. There was a point when my understanding of the value of music switched from something personal to something both personal and collective, and this was when I knew I wanted to put something I cared about into the world. So it didn't matter anymore how stupid my song sounded inside my head, or what I wished it could be. What became more important was that I share it with my friends anyway.
It's important to give whatever you can to build up your community, family, and friends. As artists, sometimes all we've got is what we can make out of our experience. Some rad people, who do what they love, helped me to see my experience and what I make from it as valuable, or at least to have the grace and humility not to write it off. What we create always has the potential to be greater than us alone. But if we don't share it, it'll never do anything for us or for anyone. So that's why I started this band.
If you want to hear some of the bands who always remind me of the importance of doing what you love, check out: Mega Gem (Denver), Selfish Whales (Bloomington), Nana Grizol (Athens GA), Busman's Holiday (Bloomington), Defiance, Ohio (Bloomington), Erin Tobey (Bloomington), Lion Eater (Bloomington), Good Luck (Bloomington), Papa Bear (Denver).
And obviously tons more, but check out your own friends too. They're cooler than you even know.
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