Interviews: The Statesboro Revue

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Photo by and courtesy of Natalie Rhea.

by: Thomas D. Mooney
Editor-in-Chief

At the end of the week (Friday, August 07), The Statesboro Revue’s upcoming country-rocking record, Jukehouse Revival, will be officially released. 

The 11-track album sees Stewart Mann and company continue down that comfortable trail of laid back groove driven tunes while continuing to push into new territory for the four-piece outfit. This time around, the band expanded their reach as a band and let a few more voices and influences take form while never truly veering too far off what got them here in the first place. 

In a lot of ways, Statsboro Revue is like that nice lived-in pair of favorite tennis shoes. That old baseball glove that fits perfectly. They’re that old farmhouse out on the river that just feels right. In other words, they’re reliable for a good-timing tune and time.

Songs like “Undone,” “Like the Sound,” “Honkytonkin’,” and “Satisfied, you’re getting that good old refined familiarity out of the band that remind you of the countriest and folkiest moments from The Rolling Stones and Faces. There’s room to breathe and catchy choruses that hook you in, in a way that’s reminiscent of classic Creedence Clearwater Revival swamp rockers.

We caught up with lead vocalist and songwriter for Statesboro Revue, Stewart Mann, late last week to talk about the new album, songwriting, and finding the identifiable groove within the band. 

In addition, listen to “Like The Sound” from Jukehouse Revival below. 

New Slang: On this new record, Jukehouse Revival, you worked with Gordy Quist and Scott Davis–both of The Band of Heathens. What was the relationship with them on the album like? Were they partners to so speak or were they in at different times and different songs?

Stewart Mann: Yeah, we were always in there at the same time together. The reasoning behind wanting to have multiple producers–and using artists as producers for that matter–was because we thought they’d bring things to the table that we wouldn’t necessarily bring up ourselves. We wanted more sets of ears. We produced the last record ourselves. This time around, we thought we may as well do something a little different. For the songs, I think it was great for us venture out and get different opinions. We all threw out different ideas. Some things we all liked and others, there were differing opinions. But that’s why we wanted outside opinions.

NS: Yeah. Now, Gordy and Scott both have done producing work individually, but is this the first they’ve worked together on someone’s album?

SM: I don’t believe they have. Other than Heathens records or something. Other than that, I’m not really sure. After our sessions, I know there was a couple they did together, but it was one of them producing and the other playing.

NS: One of the things I think comes across on previous records, this new one, and in live shows is there’s a groove soul to the songs and entire presentation. When it comes to the songwriting, is that something that’s been really natural for you or did you really have to work to find that? 

SM: I think that most of it is innate. As I get older, I look back on artists and songs across different genres and the common thing among them, whether it was country or rock n’roll, blues or whatever, just about every song that I was a fan of, they all had an element of groove. I think it’s a bit of a two-part answer though because early on in my career, the stuff I was writing, I wasn’t trying to open myself up t that groove. I was just writing whatever style of music I was playing at that time. As I get older–and my idea behind the entire band–I wanted to have a groove-oriented band. I wanted everything to have a groove to it regardless of genre label. 

NS: Yeah. I feel there’s a laid-back aspect to a lot of the songs–not in a lazy kind of way–but there’s never anything that feels rushed. Like a slow-moving river kind of thing. It has this old soul kind of feel to it.

SM: Yeah. I think one of the things we try and do with this band is make things feel comfortable. We’re not trying to force any abrasive tones on a listener. Kind of a feel good band. As we’re getting older, we’re starting to be more comfortable ourselves. We want to let it just come natural. I think that’s made us better songwriters. 

NS: In regard to sound, what song on the record do you think changed the most?

SM: The song “Count on Me.” We completely changed the groove to that song. Sometimes when you write a song, you’re just attached to it being a certain way. When we first had it written, it was a little faster. We were really torn on it. That’s the hardest thing when it comes to being a songwriter–changing a song. But, a month later, I can’t imagine it being another way.

NS: Yeah. The control part of the creative process–because it’s not just a creative process, it’s a collaborative process.

SM: Oh definitely.

NS: The song “Like the Sound,” where’d that originate?

SM: Garrett [Mann] and I had the idea. We messed with it for a few months and we felt it was strong enough to try and finish it up for the record. Our record label and publicist are in Nashville. We play there periodically. We happened to be scheduled to be in Nashville for this period of time and there was a writer named Casey Wood who’s like a professional songwriter up there. We’ve never really gone that route before–where we’re writing outside the band. We have mutual friends who thought we’d get along and write some good stuff together. We ended up getting with him and that’s the first we finished.

It’s kind of crazy how that world works. You go into–it’s kind of like a blind date to be honest. You don’t know their influences or process or anything. You go in and start BSing with each other. Start feeling each other out essentially. Then you come up with something or present an idea that one of you already had. That’s what we did. He loved the idea and helped us finish it out. It was different for us, but we did that more on this record. There’s a couple of songs on the album that are co-writes I did with people outside of the band. Adam Hood, Ted Russell Kamp, Geoffrey Hill from the Randy Rogers Band. I hadn’t done much of that before. It was different, but it was welcomed because I knew I was going to get different ideas that I wouldn’t have come up with myself.

NS: Adam Hood, he does his fair share of co-writes. How was working with him on “Tallahassee?”

SM: We actually did that via e-mail so I wasn’t even in the same room with him when he came up with his part. We played this Lynyrd Skynryd cruise in December. On the way back home, our van broke down, and we got stranded in Tallahassee. We had to buy a van there to get us all home. Couldn’t rent a car. It was too expensive fly us all back with our gear. So I ended up having this long story just about the experience. Katie Key wrote this article about the whole thing too. I thought it’d be cool to write about it. It’s just one of those moments that you have to write about. It just felt like something that Adam would be into. So I texted him about it. I sent him the article Katie had written and some more back story on the whole thing. I don’t think I changed one single thing he contributed to the song. That’s the sign of an amazing songwriter. They can put themselves in your position and it come across naturally. You’d have thought he was in the van with us in Tallahassee [laughs]. 

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