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Crooked Still shakes a low sound

By Dave Bagdade, October 2006

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CST: Your instrumentation has certainly opened up a world of new possibilities for you. In what ways might it have limited you?
AO'D: It's really hard for us to play waltzes. I mean, we really barely ever play songs in three (three-quarter or waltz time). We do one waltz, and sometimes you kind of want a guitar to just chunk away at the waltz. But I don't really see our instrumentation in terms of limiting; if we want to do something, we do it. We'll make it work.

CST: Well, you've got your myspace page, you did the CD Baby thing with "Hop High," you've got a huge online presence through a number of sites, one of which is the site, where you're actually offering a live show for sale.
AO'D: Did you listen to it?

CST: Not yet. I'm looking forward to doing that.
AO'D: You definitely should. It's one of the best sets we ever played. It was at Grey Fox.

CST: Well, what's that like, having a live set for sale online without having to go through the machinations of preparing a live CD for release through normal channels?
AO'D: It's awesome. They contacted us, and we agreed that they could record our show. No big deal. We did two sets at Grey Fox. We were so exhausted and so hot. Grey Fox was like a billion degrees this year. Rushad and I had taken the redeye from California the night before. Our first set was kind of haphazard. We stayed up all night. Literally - I went to bed at seven a.m. We got out of our tent at 8:30, and we had to play at 11 a.m. Everybody was exhausted. So we get up onstage, and it's 11 in the morning, and it's literally 95 degrees, and I just felt like we kicked ass. We really went for it and had so much fun. We played a bunch of songs from "Hop High" and two instrumentals that have never been recorded, a Hank Williams song that's never been released. It was really cool, and at the time, I don't think we even remembered that we were being recorded. That's very different from making a live album, where you plan everything, and there's kind of this nerve level. They ended up capturing this great set...

CST: How much of a factor has this tremendous online presence been in the growth of the band in the last two years? It seems like you're working that angle particularly hard.
AO'D: It's been huge, I think. The whole myspace thing has been pretty amazing, especially with teenagers. My little sister is a teenager and has a myspace page, and so do all her friends who might not be exposed to this type of music in other places. You look at their pages and see who they like musically, and it's Pink and Kelly Clarkson...and Crooked Still. It's like this word of mouth thing, for kids and also for people of all ages. It's just a great way to stay in touch with people and for fans to get up close and personal with you even if it's online. And with CD Baby, the sales of our first CD were huge for us. I could not believe how incredible that organization is. I think everyone should buy independent CDs from CD Baby. But the whole online thing is amazing. People hear you, and they Google you, and they find your website and your myspace page and your CD Baby page and everything.

CST: You and similarly situated artists have the freedom to build and maintain and control the relationship with your audience.
AO'D: Oh, yes.

CST: But at the same time, you've now signed with a label.
AO'D: Signature is a label that's also really clued in to the whole internet thing. It's one of the few labels that sells their CDs on CD Baby. I think they're right there with the indie artists.

CST: How much of a factor was the label in the decision-making process for the new record?
AO'D: Well, (Signature Sounds owner) Jim Olsen is pretty much the coolest guy in the world. He's really got it together and knows what's going on, and he was totally open to anything we wanted to do. He's been behind us 100 percent of the time. He's really pushing the record, and I think the record has a lot of potential to reach a major audience.

CST: Unlike a lot of other new bands, the four of you have very impressive individual resumes ...Rushad's work with Darol Anger, everybody with the Wayfaring Strangers...could you talk about the way the various individual influences have helped the band define its sound?
AO'D: Well, more than defining our sound, it's helped shape our comfort level with being ourselves. When we first started, it was great for me to not just be in Crooked Still, but to also go be in the Wayfaring Strangers and for Rushad to be playing with Darol Anger. I think subsequently it let us be more comfortable being really original doing what we were doing. In terms of what we do now, it's like we can really find our own voice.

CST: To what extent do you have to juggle commitments?
AO'D: We do have a lot of other stuff going on. Crooked Still is not a full-time band, and we have no plans to become a full-time band. We're just going to ride the wave and see what we can do when we can do it. It keeps all of us interested in being in Crooked Still.

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