Festival Fast Talk with: The Infamous Stringdusters, EOTO, and The Flavor Savors!

Did you go to Wakarusa or Bonnaroo?  Are you going to make it out to Outside Lands or Hopscotch?

Recent scientific studies done in super-official science laboratories have concluded that there are now something like 38,479 festivals a year in America alone.  Running from one giganto music event to the next to catch a new obsession or an old favorite is a great way to snag a quick convo with artists from all over the map.  Recently, we were able to grab such chats with The Infamous Stringdusters, EOTO, and The Flavor Savers, adding up to this edition of Festival Fast Talk!

Bluegrass band The Infamous Stringdusters have been kicking up dust since their 2007 debut Fork in the Road. Lauded for their traditional stylings with modern frills, the five-some have released five full lengths in six short years, landing them critical acclaim and award nominations, such as the 2011 Grammy award for Best Country Instrumental and the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Entertainer(s) of the Year.  They released an album in March of this year titled Silver Sky.  In between their sets at both Wakarusa and Bonnaroo, I got the chance to chat with Travis Book (Bass/Vocals).

Your new record Silver Sky was released a few months ago, Have your sets been showing off your new sound?

Well, we played a lot of Silver Sky this spring and summer, but we are always making up new music and always jamming on new music. When a song is done, it gets into the set. We’ve been playing a lot [of Silver Sky] but still play a lot of new material.

With that in mind, do you work on new music on the road exclusively or do you guys set time aside to write?

Not always on the road, we’ve got a four-day writing period later this month.

 You worked with renowned produced Billy Hume On Silver Sky. What was that like?

Great! Billy’s a really wide-open guy that has done a lot of living.  It ended up being really interesting to work with an engineer [who] never mic’d up a Dobro. it freed us up to feel like we could explore. And sonically it’s [a] much thicker and heavier sound that we usually have.

I heard you guys talking about The Festy Experience.  Is this a bluegrass festival you host?

It’s much less of a bluegrass festival and much more of a music festival. It’s family friendly, and it’s got great local food and brew. We’re all about bringing in bands we have relationships with. We are less concerned about selling tickets and more worried about cultivating the music.  It’s an extension of our world view and our perspective. And there’s also great beer!

I like the way this sounds, who all will be there?

Trampled by Turtles, Leftover Salmon, Elephant Revival, Rubble Bucket—who we are happy to have [as] their horn section did work on Silver Sky.

 Oh, no way? We love Rubble Bucket! That sounds awesome. Where is all of this going down?

It’s in Nelson county, forty-five minutes outside of Charlottesville.

How’s that part of the country treating you?

We got in there and started doing music festivals—its proven to be a really great thing.

The Infamous Stringdusters still have a long string of shows all over the country.  You can also catch them at The Festy Experience, which will be in Nelson County, Virginia from October 5-7.  Don’t forget to check out their new album Silver Sky before you go!

Another band making the festival rounds is the electronic and jammy (jamtronic?) EOTO.  The duo formed in 2006 as a side project of members of the String Cheese Incident, Jason Hann and Michael Travis.  They’ve since dropped three studio albums and many live recordings.  I was able to get hold of Jason Hann just before he made it out to the Impulse Festival.

You guys have been working in the festival world for years and years.  What has it been like playing festivals over the recent years as EOTO?

We’ve always just been growing into it. When we started doing festivals we had small night gigs at traditionally jam band festivals.  Since then, we’ve grown into this role of being more in a dj environment that we do late in the night, and it’s a really great spot… that’s where I want to be playing anyways.

It seems like more and more, young’ns are adopting the concept of writing electronic music.  What’s your opinion on the matter?

[Electronic music] is pretty seemless these days in the hands of a good producer.  There’s still a lot of bad music out there. If you throw out a Led Zeppelin, bet it’s not gonna cut it. But if you threw out a reference to the song or Robert Plant’s vocals, you can really make it work out. You sample the right part—maybe not the most obvious part, and you can really make something out of it.

I kind of think it’s really cool how easily accessible learning to make and then making music is.

Yes! there’s a giant load of expressive culture, and everybody has access, and everybody can learn. You don’t have to go to school. You want to learn to play guitar? You can go to Youtube and learn how to play that song.

I love it!  I’m all for everybody who has the will to create having the ability to learn how to do it.  Who knows which random person could write the next song everyone loves.  On that note, what have you been listening to lately?

Well, I do a DJ gig as Prophet Massive. It’s in the realm of electro, glitch-hop, dubstep, and drumstep… So I listen to a lot of that music.  But in my free time I listen to this app called WunderRadio. Its an app that will play any internet-based radio station. What I enjoy doing is checking out local radio stations from around the world.  I have radio stations from  Jamaica, Cuba, China, Japan… I love randomly going to one of these stations and hearing what the local population listens to. It’s completely refreshing and inspiring to hear what sounds really different and good.

That’s cool; now I’m really interested to see what new songs would sound like.  Have you been playing stuff?  How’s it working?

Right now we’re going to another place musically, and people are really responding.

This only makes me jealous of the shows I’ll miss. You can catch EOTO at the Electric Forest Musical Festival in Rothbury, Michigan from June 28th through July 3rd or playing a myriad of gigs throughout the year.

Another group we caught up with on the Festival trail was that of light-hearted indie rappers Flavor Savers.  Although the boys come from different parts of the country, they now call Chicago home base. I caught up with Rodney Belaire and Bronco Festiva after they had just finished a weekend of sets at Bonnaroo.

You guys have very colorful, almost silly music. How does the idea of fun work into your art?
It happens naturally, we’re all really good friends, and we like to have a good time together. I think we’re definitely comedy focused and that’s always been a big part of our show.  We try to get people laughing. We make asses of ourselves it lends itself to a good atmosphere. [laughter] We are naturally asses, so it works out. We tried to be cool, but it didn’t work.

You had three sets at Bonnaroo. How do you like playing festivals?

Festivals are so great! It’s this weird freaky time to cut loose and do your thing. I know we all love playing festivals. Our band lends itself to the festival. We love to camp out and are always out in character trying to enhance the fest experience for ourselves and everyone else.  We had a great time playing Bonnaroo.

So festivals are good?

We’d love to play more of them!

You guys were rolling with a mustache competition at Bonnaroo—can you tell me about that?

We’d play a set and do it after—during our set, we’d patrol and provide the entertainment. We’ve always had a thing with mustaches.  When we started The Flavor Savers, mustaches were still purely ironic.  So we got on involved in the American Mustache Institute. Which worked out.  We’ve played a number of shows for them, including something called Stache Bash, a yearly event where the profits go to charity.

Good cause! I recently saw your video for “Roller Girls” featuring the Chicago Outfit Roller Derby. How did that come about?

We met those girls when they were having a rally [and] arm wrestling competition a couple of years ago; we played it, and they were all really awesome chicks. We all got along swimmingly. We played a few shows as the entertainment and ended up adding up time to write a song for them. Then we wanted to make a video, so we asked them to do it with us.

What was it like being beat up by girls on camera?

We ended up with a cracked tailbone and pulling a lot of muscles… Slightly painful but also slightly arousing.

I can imagine!  With a video and a few great shows in the past, what are you guys looking forward to?

Right now we’re working on a few songs. We’re going into content mode, trying to get a record and put it out. Maybe make some videos or occasionally poorly choreograph a song.  We’re also talking about putting together a movie. It’s in its early stages; we’re throwing around ideas, but we’ll all write and direct it together. That will probably start coming together at the end of the summer

Oh yeah?  What can we expect?

A mix of Christopher Guest and Naked Gun.

I’m sold. Be sure to check out The Flavor Savers’ very entertaining video for “Roller Girls.” You can keep up with all things Flavor Saver-related on their ever entertaining blog.

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