Every now and then the bass player gets his day. Usually the singer or the guitarist gets all the fame and all the questions. So Today Nine Bullets caught up with American Aquarium’s bass player, Bill Corbin. He talked about their last record, their next record, and their upcoming tour west of the Mississippi.
9B: It’s been a while since your last record, Small Town Hymns came out, at least by y’all’s standards. Are there a batch of new songs waiting to be recorded or all y’all just concentrating on playing shows?
BC: It has been quite a while since Small Town Hymns came out. This is the first year since I joined the band that we haven’t put out a new record and honestly, it’s been a nice change of pace. With Dances for the Lonely we had road tested those songs for months prior to the recording sessions which made making the album a fairly easy process for us. For Small Town Hymns however, we moved down to Oxford for a month with essentially nothing written for the record in hopes of doing all the writing, arrangements, and recording at the same time. We thought this would be a fun challenge and it certainly was. We quickly learned that a month can come and go very quickly and while we are all
very proud of the album we made there, I think we all wonder what the record would’ve been like had we fleshed it out a bit beforehand.
For this new record we decided to go back to how we use to do it: Bj writes a song, we work out an arrangement for it, play it for crowds, and then make adjustments here and there until we are happy with it. It’s a process that we all enjoy. Seeing what works and what doesn’t. I like to think audience members enjoy this as well. You get to see a song kind of grow and evolve. Hell, you can even see it on youtube. If you look up new songs like “redheads and adderall” or “st marys” you can see that they are almost all different in one way or another. So, yes we have been working on new material in addition to playing shows and continuing to tour throughout 2011. We have the bulk of the
album written and will be playing quite a few new ones on our fall tour in November. We will be hard at work over the holidays putting together the rest of the album which we will be recording in January down in Muscle Shoals with Jason Isbell producing it.
9B: The tour schedule for American Aquarium is generally pretty packed but I noticed this fall y’all are heading to some places I don’t remember y’all playing very often. St. Louis, Denver, Nebraska, & Kansas. Are these totally new places for the band and are y’all making a concerted effort to open up some new markets? How hard is it to stretch out your touring areas?
BC: We have actually been to these markets before but it’s been a very long time since we have been there. We’ve played all over but it’s really hard to get that far out, so usually it’s only once a year we can hit those spots. The problem is that in order for us to tour and get that far out we have to be gone for a very long time for it to be profitable for us. We are still a developing band operating on essentially a shoestring budget so we really have to put a lot of thought and effort into getting that far from home. Thankfully our
management does a great job of organizing it in a way that makes financial sense, minimizes risk, and keeps it fun for us. We hate to neglect markets and we certainly will be out that way quite a bit more in 2012 when the new record comes out.
9B: When you were down at Tweed recording Small Town Hymns I swear you told me that the band was waking up in the mornings and jogging. Did I make this up and if I didn’t do any of y’all run while on tour or have any PE type activities while living in a van? I keep picturing y’all running down one of those Mississippi country roads as a band and I wonder if there was always a slowest runner.
BC: I love this question! I still try to exercise everyday but staying fit on the road certainly presents its own challenges. I love to weightlift but I rarely have access to a real gym on the road so I end up running a lot more and trying to watch what I eat. The hard part is exercising enough to counteract all the drinking we do on the road. We drink a lot and often so I have to take that into account everyday. If I’m playing a place like Little Rock I know I have to run my ass off during the day because once the show starts there will be a deluge of alcohol that just won’t stop. The rest of the band will work out now and then still, but at the very least there has been a concerted effort by everyone to eat healthier during the day. I would say collectively we are healthier now than we have ever been although you might not guess it by how much we drink once the show starts.
9B: A year or so ago American Aquarium took their rock show across the pond. How was that experience? (Bill if this was while you weren’t playing with the band feel free to ignore this one)
BC: I was with the band when we went to Europe and it was amazing. The folks running and attending the Blue Highways festival treated us so ridiculously well. The crowd was just so attentive and appreciative that I couldn’t believe it. It was such a trip to be in a foreign country and have people singing your songs. It’s an experience that I’ll never forget. I hope we can make it back there soon.
9B: From the times I’ve seen y’all play and hung out it seems like you’ve probably got one or two road stories. Please share a recent one, and remember this is a blog it DOESN’T have to be PG.
BC: Code of the road, man. I can’t throw anybody under the bus but rest assured I have stories for days. I’ll tell you a few of my own off the record when I see you in Denver if you can make it. It might require some whiskey to loosen the lips though! Haha.
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