This album has been a long time coming. Leading Republic of Wolves for the past couple of years, Gregg DellaRocca still managed, somehow, to record his full length debut album Tall Tales Vol. 1, under the moniker American Gospel. Sure it took more than three years, but now it's ours, a musical text out in the wild.
American Gospel seems like a pretty ambitious names, I mean, it's the genre of music that influenced so much, from blues to jazz and everything in between. It's also a uniquely American sound, both insular in its beginnings and far reaching in its progeny. Of course, DellaRocca's album doesn't have much to do with gospel music, unless you grew up on early to mid 2000's indie rock and take that as gospel.
While that may sound facetious, we assure you we don't mean it with any malintent. DellaRocca has perfectly infused the greatest minds of indie rock from the past twenty years in album that is more a vessel for storytelling than for musical ingenuity. Which is fine, great even. There is no pretense in this album, it's honest and true, built upon the foundation of years of listening to the Pixies and Weezer, Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen.
As varied as it is specific, DellaRocca takes us for a journey into his life and imagination. Ranging from alt-country ballads to the chugging guitars of power pop, this album is really a delightful trip down memory lane. Even the endearing whine in DellaRoccas voice is kind of a mix between Frank Black, Spencer Krug and a young Rivers Cuomo.
All in all, definitely worth a listen and a purchase. DellaRocca was kind enough to answer a few of our questions about the album, his influences and why storytelling is important for him.
Check him out here!
JB: So this is your first solo album since Republic of Wolves. How different was the solo creative process?
GD: It was very different. For one thing it's a lot more challenging trying to tackle on a project like this all by yourself, both mentally and physically. There was a lot of times I just felt too overwhelmed to do anything, when you don't have other people to confer with its easy to second guess and overwork a piece of music. So I spent a lot of the time finding what was important, simplifying songs, and focusing on bold and interesting sounds.
JB: American Gospel is a pretty grand title, can you elaborate on it?
GD: I felt the name worked well with the story telling and conceptual context of the project. For some reason It provokes a distinct kind of imagery in my mind. A sort of classical alternate America, where all my stories reside.
JB: We hear a pretty eclectic mix of influences when I listen through the tracks. Can you tell us the albums or artists you found inspiring while recording?
GD: There's a lot of different places I find inspiration and surprisingly enough most of it isn't from other music. I've been listening to a lot of the same artists for a long time, I'll occasionally find something else that I like and add it in. But for the most part when I try to find new music I get overwhelmed. I'm not ignorant to other artists, just overwhelmed by how much new material comes out everyday. The only reason why I say this is I get this question a lot and I usually answer it the same way; "Modest Mouse, Bright Eyes, Sufjan Stevens, Sigur Ros, blah blah blah" (not a band, at least I don't think so.. It probably is). Really what inspires me are movies, games, and people. Hayao Miyazaki, Wes Anderson, Bethesda Softworks, Jonathan Blow, Neil Degrasse Tyson are just a few.
JB: Do you think the length of time it took to make this album had some effect on the outcome?
GD: Yea, but I think in a positive way. I spent about three years on and off working on this, and like I said above when you do everything yourself and have no time limit it becomes a challenge to not overwork the music. This is my first solo album, and I think having that time to figure out and lay a foundation for this project was important. In the future I don't think I'll take as long to finish an album, but that's only because of everything I learned from this experience.
JB: The track "I'll Never Let You Go" is quite different than the rest of the songs. What's the story behind that one? Any reason for the pretty drastic change in sound?
GD: This is one of the oldest songs on the album, I wrote and recorded it while I was attending college at Full Sail University in 2006. "I'll Never Let You Go" is the first song I ever wrote with a conceptual context. It's based on a short story I'm working on titled "Mercury The Messenger." This is the same tale "The Republic of Wolves" took its name from, and a story I plan to elaborate on with its own project at some point in the future. The style of music reflects the story and though the sound change is sort of drastic, I feel it worked well where it was placed. It gives listeners something new and interesting but still maintains the continuity of emotion on the album.
JB: Any plans for a solo tour?
GD: I'd like to get a tour going, but I'm having trouble getting members. I'm working on it and will let everyone know as soon as something is happening.
JB: What's next? Any big plans?
GD: Hopefully get this thing on the road, or maybe working on another TROW release. Who knows, just trying to keep busy.