Photo: Sarah Whitsett
Of course, I meant that as an absolute compliment (cheap whiskey has fueled some of the most interesting nights in my life), but guitarist Caleb Rose was quick to inform me that Damn Arkansan, in general, preferred the good stuff.
That was just over a year ago, and much like a good whiskey or a tasty scotch, I can’t help but notice that Damn Arkansan has gotten even better with age. Also, I apparently can’t listen to their music without thinking about alcohol, which coming from me, is also a compliment.
Damn Arkansan plays drinking music. Not cry in your beer kind of drinking (though there are hints of that at times), but more often, it recalls something more rowdy. It is rollicking, wandering, traveling music, that still makes me think of whiskey after all these months, the kind that hits the back of your throat, burning at the beginning of what you know will be a great night.
The band will celebrate the release of their third EP Save Yourself this Saturday, June 22 at Smoke & Barrel Tavern. We got in touch with bass player Will Eubanks, and he was nice enough to tell us a bit about the new record, and the release party this weekend.
Tell us about the new EP. Where did you guys record it?
We recorded with Chris Moore at East Hall Recording here in Fayetteville. We’ve done all of our records there now and we have a really great relationship with Chris, so it felt natural to go back in there. He’s running an analog system complete with a 2″ 24-track tape machine, so we live-tracked all of our drums, bass, and guitars to tape before overdubbing more guitars, vocals, horns, piano, percussion, and all the other instruments you hear on the record.
We went into the studio last summer to start on the record with the intention of releasing it at the end of last year, but the more we worked on it, the more we realized what a massive undertaking this particular record was going to be. We wanted to make a record that was somewhat similar to our last release, Brave Mistakes, but we knew there was an opportunity for a really “big” sound on this record which required a lot of tracks and a lot of really detailed mixing. I think one of the songs ended up with over 70 tracks of instrumentation on it, so it’s easy to see how this one ended up taking us longer than we had anticipated. This was definitely our biggest undertaking in the studio so far, and we sort of put ourselves out on a limb in a lot of ways as far as the sound of the album goes. That said, I think it’s safe to say we’re all really pleased with the way it turned out and really excited to share it with people.
Where does the name for the record, “Save Yourself” come from?
Save Yourself is a followup to last year’s Brave Mistakes, which was really a record about going through a lot of big life changes in order to find what really makes you happy. I think this record picks up where the last one left off, asking “ok, now what?” You know, you put yourself through all these changes to give yourself an opportunity to be happy, but now you have to actually go down that path. You can’t just sit around and wait for the good things to come to you, you have to actively pursue your dreams and passions. No one else is going to make it happen for you, so you quite literally have to save yourself.
You guys have come a long way since your first record. From you guys’ perspective, how do you think the band has progressed over the years?
I think the biggest change is figuring out how to really open up our music to honestly represent who we are as people and as a band. Like every young band, we were searching for our niche for the first little bit, and especially with the first record. I feel like when you’re young like that, you spend so much time looking for the sound of a band, sometimes it can be hard to focus on the finer details of the writing process. Now that we’ve had a solid lineup for a while, we’ve established a pretty consistent sound that is Damn Arkansan and from there, we’ve been able to really push ourselves to tweak every facet of our songs to be exactly what we want from them.
I know Caleb recently moved to Little Rock. Do you guys have a plan for how to deal with that yet?
It’s not changing anything – we’ll still be playing just as much as ever. If anything, it works in our favor since we won’t have to pay for hotels in central AR anymore.
Tell us about the release party on Saturday. Anything special planned?
9:30 p.m. on Saturday at Smoke and Barrel. $5 will get you in the door and we’ll have our albums available for $10, as well as a new batch of tees, beer koozies, stickers and all that. We’ve got Family History opening up for us, which should be great. Those guys are super talented and Chase Pagan (singer/songwriter) is one of my favorite songwriters to come around here recently. For anyone who hasn’t seen them yet, get to the show early and check them out.
What’s next for you guys?
A lot of shows. We’re trying to hit the road as much as possible in the coming months to support this release, so you can expect to see us all around Arkansas and the surrounding states. We’re always writing new material and will likely be trying some of it out over the next few months, which may lead to some more studio time by the end of the year, who knows? For now, though, we’re just excited to get this record out to people. Hopefully they’ll be excited about it as well.