Photo by Lori Sky Twohy
JamBandsOnline: One thing my friends and I have been dying to know for quite some time is the ideology behind the Sherriff’s Saga.
Adam: Oh yeah?
JBO: So we were curious about the theory behind it.
AA: Obviously you would have to ask Ben specifically. But from what I have gathered from talking to him about it, the song “On The Run” was the first the first song that came out of that story. And it really wasn’t supposed to be a story…it just stems from him having an intense dislike of police because of where he grew up. You know, like hot head cops that abuse their power and that kind of thing. And even though it’s a very light-hearted story, though the guy dies and all of that, it’s not a heavy story. It’s almost like a dark comedy in my opinion. Pretty light-hearted.
Though some of the songs are really strong and have some good lyrics, they all have good lyrics for sure. But “Sometimes I’ve Won” is one of my favorite songs that Ben wrote. It’s supposed to be through that character’s eyes. I don’t think Ben is saying that he is the main character but I definitely think some of himself comes out when he was writing that song, at least that’s how I think of it.
Basically, it’s still not really done. Ben, and this is no joke, and I started a song, that I want to say was eight or nine years ago, that is still not done. We have the premise, we have the chords and I even have licks for it. We have harmonies on the chorus but the words themselves, we keep going back to them. It’s not like we work on it all the time but every once in a while we will be like “Hey let’s just spend twenty minutes and see if we can come up with something”.
You know I sing “Jail Song” which is the father of the main character. This is the second song that the Father sings. So I would sing this song as well and its him in jail singing about ….you know, kind of regretful for taking off and leaving, just deserting his son. This will fill in the story that basically he left when his son was three years old. He just couldn’t deal being a Dad and just went off. He got into trouble and put in jail.
Again, not a super in-depth story or anything but for some reason we just can’t finish it. But I think this song is really good, you know? I mean the melody is awesome and it sticks in my head and for Ben the same thing. We have these cool ideas about musically what we can do with it. It’s gonna have a jam section in it. But everything just sounds just too literal when we’re writing it. Because you are telling a story, and I know a lot of that “On the Run” stuff is pretty literal. The lyrics tell a story. I just want it to be more than it is and I am sure I am over thinking it. We need to get Dave on it. He will help us finish it.
There are some other ones too. It’s gotta get wrapped up soon, whenever he thinks it’s done. But we can’t have it be (laughs) two and a half hours long.
JBO: My dear friend Ruby Starr really wants to know: what was your inspiration for “Pockets”?
AA: Well! That’s an interesting question because the inspiration for the music was separate from the lyrics. The music came from…I was on Jam Cruise and I just started playing the chords. So I came up with the chords and thought “Oh I gotta remember that, I gotta put words to it”. Then I started humming a melody along with it when I was playing the chords. Part of that lick was inspired by an AC/DC song, like a part of one of the licks you know. I thought, “Oh, that’s kind of cool because he uses these open strings that I wouldn’t think to use.” So it was kind of neat.
Lyrically, lately it seems like a lot of the songs I have been writing alone or with Dave have this recurring character that pops up in a lot of songs. Like in “Night Out” and “Night is Left Behind” “Rain Still Falls”, even this new one that Dave and I wrote called “Pass This Way” I don’t know if you have heard it yet, it’s pretty new.
I kind of thought of that character when I started it. Dave did help me write “Pockets”. I wrote the first and second verse on my own and Dave helped me edit it and then we wrote the third verse together which is the short one.
I don’t like to over think stuff . What I like to do when I write lyrics in general is to not be literal and to not necessarily be thinking of something specific when I write it. I get really tired of a lot of pop lyrics, especially pop country which I really can’t even really listen too. I like music that keeps you guessing. I like Jay Farrar or Jeff Tweedy’s writing, their very, you know….and Dave’s writing! Songs like “Don’t Worry Happy Birthday” those lyrics! I mean, he’s one of my favorite song writers and I get to be in a band with him. It’s cool as hell. He just walked in actually. Also he’s an awesome guy.
JBO: What else would you like for us to know?
AA: Definitely mention Kinfolk, Harvest and Strings and Sol as well! Kinfolk, I definitely would like you to mention that. I love that place and I am super psyched for that.
It’s always worth mentioning…and I say this a lot but I never take it for granted, what we have. Our fan base is so awesome and I get to play music for a living. I know we aren’t the best musicians in the world but people love our energy and their energy lifts you up and keeps you going and that’s why we are still together in the same lineup fourteen years later.
So there you have it Kinfolk. It’s easy to see why Yonder Mountain String band maintains such a solid following. When their jet lagged guitar player gives his time and insight in such a kind way it’s not hard to understand. Go see them. You will not be disappointed.