B&L: What animal do you associate yourself with (given our ties to oxen)?
Suitcase Junket: Oh, good question. I think in terms of this musical project, I’d have to say a bowerbird. They collect little bits of trash and make sculptures that they then sing and dance in front of.
B&L: Why music? Why do you seek it? Why do you create it? How’d it come calling to you?
Suitcase Junket: I’ve always been drawn to music. When I was little my folks got a free piano and my sister started taking lessons. I was like a moth to a flame whenever she played. To the point that it was obnoxious, because I didn’t just want to listen – I wanted in.
Since then I’ve generally had a knack for picking up an instrument and making it sound ok. As for why I create it, well, that’s one of those Big Whys that are hard to answer. Why do we dance? Why do we play? Why are we curious? I guess because life would be pretty unbearable without it.
B&L: Was there a moment or experience that led you to try your hand at making this your life? What keeps you inspired to keep going?
Suitcase Junket: I do remember a moment when I was in school and decided to “go with the gift,” as I put it then. I had been considering veering into natural sciences but decided that if I had this natural tendency toward music and creation then I ought to push hard and see where it goes. Although it did take a bunch of years before it became my profession. The thing that keeps me most inspired to continue on this path are the little stories I get from folks who have been moved or inspired by what I do. Without them, I would probably turn into a closed circuit loop and lose any outward scope on why this work can feel important or necessary.
B&L: What’s the making of a great show? What do you look or hope for as you step foot on that stage?
Suitcase Junket: Good, open and willing people in a room whose size is appropriate to their number.
My job on stage is to make people feel things and then, ideally, those feelings wash back to me and I respond to them. If the room is too big for the people in it, that energetic feedback is washed out and the overall show will suffer for it. But it’s magic when you get the right group of folks in the right room and everyone can feel it when it’s going down.
B&L: Okay, let’s talk about the latest EP, “Dying Star.” What were the goals when you set out to make it?
Suitcase Junket: The first five songs on “Dying Star,” were tracks that I recorded during the “Make Time” sessions. I wanted to get them out in the world so I took a few home and played around with overdubbing strings and winds. Then I added a couple live tracks from a show at the Parlor Room in Northampton and voila! There you have it. Kind of a salvage job, I guess.
B&L: From an astrological standpoint, a dying star is quite a brilliantly colorful thing. From a mortal standpoint, boy, a lot of stars have been dying lately… Let’s blend the two for a moment and assume that when a human dies, they blow up into a colorful array of whatever. That being said, what does that whatever look like if Lemmy blows up? How ‘bout Bowie? And Merle? What about Prince? What does it look like when the Suitcase Junket passes on?
Suitcase Junket: I suppose one element of these exploding moments of human/stellar transmutation is the way that hundreds, if not thousands of other artists and musicians start playing the songs of the deceased. It seems like a literal shattering of the material that then reverberates through all these other creative channels out into the world.
If that happens when I croak I will be very happy. (Actually, I will be dead, but it makes living me quite excited to imagine that going down. [Too bad there isn’t a way to make everybody cover your music while you can still friggin hear it…])
B&L: What are the benefits of being a one-man band? Any cons?
Suitcase Junket: The main creative benefit is that I can change the way I play the tunes whenever I want – mid-tour, mid-set, mid-song. The con is that nobody shares the driving and being alone for long stretches of time sometimes makes me manically chatty on arrival at the venue. (Many a sound engineer can attest to that.)
B&L: What was the inspiration behind starting a one-man band?
Suitcase Junket: Some of the inspiration was a personal challenge to sound like a full band without looping or effects. Some of it was financial – “I can make a living doing this?!?!” And a lot of it was due to the guitar. That guitar gave me most of my good ideas.
B&L: What’s the strangest piece of equipment you’ve implemented as a piece of your music/production?
Suitcase Junket: I suppose the box of bones and silverware is probably the oddest duck in my pond.
It works like a hi-hat – wooden box being the bottom cymbal and bones and silverware dangling off an old film reel drop in for a nice ringing crunch.
B&L: What’s one tune (or, heck, a couple) that exists out there in the ether that blows you away that you kind of wish you had written yourself?
Suitcase Junket: “Who Knew” by You Won’t and “Clap Hands” by Tom Waits (there’d be a lot of Waits on this list if I continued…)
B&L: What can folks expect when they come out to see you perform at the Stone Church this Saturday? What excites you about getting back to the good ol’ Granite State? The gig happens to fall on Friday the 13th. You scared?
Suitcase Junket: Folks can expect a rollicking romp of downhome rock, feel-good blues, sweet old ballads, toe-tappers, heel-stompers, tearjerkers, ya know, Swamp Yankee music.
B&L: Question number 12. If you could have a dozen of anything, what would that dozen of something be?
Suitcase Junket: Oh man. That’s the hardest question ever. A dozen rock piles! No wait. A dozen dumps that are ALL MINE! No wait. A dozen private train cars! No wait. A dozen dozen eggs! I love eggs.
You’ve never seen anything like the Suitcase Junket (unless you’ve already seen the Suitcase Junket). We guarantee it. Don’t miss out on the fun when he hits the stage at the Stone Church on Friday, May 13th. For tickets and information click here.