Here’s what local musicians have been up to during quarantine

Matthays

Photo by Matt Hays

COVID-19 has been devastating, to say the least. 

Loss of life, business, work, and social gatherings has put the country, not to mention the world, into a state of panic. Being an introvert, staying at home hasn’t been any trouble at all for me.  It’s my happy place.  Not everyone is like me, though.  While I dabble in the musical arts (I’ve been known to share a stage with We Make Noise from time to time, and am a founding member of Brothers K), not being able to play out hasn’t been that hard for me, yet.  We’ll see what the coming weeks have in store, though. 

I do miss the stage, but I’ve taken this opportunity to organize my life a little.  This was much needed.  I’ve had time to hang out with my wife and our house full of critters.  I’ve also organized my office, built a guinea pig cage, and worked on some writing I’d fallen behind on. 

My father and Bros K bandmate, Robin Kalthoff, has spent his time hanging out with his wife (my wonderful mother), working on new material, along with the usual solo practicing.  He’s also been revamping all of his music-related gear, as well as pondering a way to collaborate while keeping a distance.  

Like many of you, I was curious about what the area musicians were doing to pass the time during the pandemic, so I asked some of them.  I sat down (virtually) with a few local musically inclined individuals and picked their brains a bit.  All five of the artists/groups were asked the same questions, and the following interviews have been edited and/or condensed.  

Keith Wood (Alternative Country/Folk/Punk)

Keithwood

Photo by Patrick Mohan of Creative Eye Photography

What is your songwriting process like usually, and how has it changed during the pandemic?

Usually I just get a melody in my head, or I’ll make up or hear a line that I find lyrical and go from there. Sometimes a whole song will form in minutes, while others are ideas I’ve had for years. It hasn’t changed much since all this, but has inspired some ideas for new songs.

Has social distancing been hard for you, or do you prefer the solitude anyway?

It’s not been too hard.  I’m not really a social butterfly. I have had a few shows get cancelled or postponed so that does suck and I miss going to thrift stores.

Aside from the global outbreak, what have you been up to? What keeps you busy on any given day?

I’ve just been doin what I’ve always done. I’m still workin 40 hours. Playin and writing when I can, and bein a father and husband so all that keeps me pretty busy.

What artists/albums are you currently listening to?

I’ve been on a Counting Crows kick this week with some Filter and Deftones mixed in.  I been listenin to “Ghost of Tom Joad” a lot it seems fitting for the times.  I think I’mma cover it.

Any advice for other musicians and fans to help get them through this crazy time?

Just keep on keepin on and be prepared for anything. If you have a faith, now would be a good time to pray and if you’re stuck at home, there’s plenty of time for writing and playin and even recording.

You can find Keith online at:

http://keithwood1.bandcamp.com

https://www.facebook.com/Keithwoodmusic/

Jake Reno (A mix of Rock and Roll, Country, Blues, and the truth.)

Jakereno

Photo by Yves Andres – Best Take Media

What is your songwriting process like usually, and how has it changed during the pandemic?

My songwriting process is usually simple. I like to tell stories of real life experiences. The pandemic has forced me to stay home a lot, allowing me to enjoy more time for writing.

Has social distancing been hard for you, or do you prefer the solitude anyway?

Social Distancing has been bitter-sweet. I generally keep to myself, but not being able to perform live and feel the energy from an audience makes me a bit sad.

Aside from the global outbreak, what have you been up to? What keeps you busy on any given day?

Most of my time is taken up with songwriting,  practicing guitar, studying music, outdoor activities and regular exercise.

What artists/albums are you currently listening to?

I’m usually listening to a little bit of everything. Local artists especially. It’s important to keep an open mind when listening to all kinds of music, you never know when inspiration will strike.

Any advice for other musicians and fans to help get them through this crazy time?

Relax, re-evaluate, focus, write down your goals and go over them every day. Your goals are just as important today as they were yesterday.

Jake can be found online at:

www.facebook.com/jakereno93

www.soundcloud.com/jakereno

Jay Waldo/Cottonwoods (Stoner-Indie-Folk)

Jaywaldo

Photo by Jay Waldo

What is your songwriting process like usually, and how has it changed during the pandemic?

I don’t really have a set process that I use to write. Sometimes the music comes first and sometimes the words. Sometimes a verse first, other times a chorus. Some ideas come while I’m trying to write, and some randomly. But there is one step I take every time, which is to spend the following work days working on the new songs, rehearsing and memorizing them in my head while I drive in silence. I drive a dock truck for a company called Quicksilver, delivering mostly hospital supplies. It’s deemed essential, so I’m still working. The only way the virus has affected my song writing is that it’s the only thing I can think about, since it’s so in my damn face every day. Nothing good has come up yet, but I felt like I was onto some good stuff today.

Has social distancing been hard for you, or do you prefer the solitude anyway?

The main thing I like about living in KC is that I can see live local music whenever I want, but now I can’t. So honestly, that sucks pretty bad. Also, you can drink booze at home, but it just doesn’t hit the same as doing it at a bar or music venue with some friends. Luckily I live with my fiancé and a few friends, so I still get to hang with people I like.

Aside from the global outbreak, what have you been up to? What keeps you busy on any given day?

My roommates and I are foodies, and we’ve been cooking like crazy. Really good, made-from-scratch meals every day. We’ve also done some home renovation projects. But really, lots of reading, running, and meditating. Those are my favorite non-music hobbies.

What artists/albums are you currently listening to?

All of these are great new albums. The Sturgill Simpson one almost feels like a prophecy with all this Covid craziness.

Pinegrove- Marigold

Big Thief- UFOF and Two Hands

Sturgill Simpson- Sound and Fury

Chance the Rapper- The Big Day

Any advice for other musicians and fans to help get them through this crazy time?

Call your family! Or friends. Or someone. But stay connected.

Anything you’d like to promote?

I have an EP that’s so close to being done I can taste it. It’s being mastered now, so once that’s finished it’s just a matter of getting it online. It’s a solo project of mine called Cottonwoods, and the EP is called Dark Places. Since that isn’t available yet I’ll suggest you check out Andrew Ryan and Jake Wells Band on any streaming platform. Andrew produced Dark Places, but he also writes and performs beautiful folk music. Jake Wells Band helped me in a million ways. Vocal coaching from Jake, background vocals from Jordan (the guitar player), and also my vocal recording sessions were engineered by Tyler (their bass player) at his place. So basically the Jake Wells Band is the reason the vocals on Dark Places are bearable.

You can find Dark Places on Spotify and Amazon Music.

We Make Noise (Alternative/Folk)

Matthays

Photo by Matt Hays

What is your songwriting process like usually, and how has it changed during the pandemic?

My songwriting process is very spontaneous. A lyric or concept will pop in my head, and I immediately have to turn it into a song. Usually, on long drives, I spend most of the time freestyle rapping or creating a song in my head. I’ve had a song idea hit me so hard in the middle of the night that I’ve had to get out of bed and write it. I’ve always been prolific with my writing, and most of the songs I write are written in a single setting, sometimes within 10 minutes. However, during the pandemic, I’ve been working so many extra hours that I haven’t been able to sit and write like I want to. Believe me though; there are songs trying to claw their way out of my head every day!

Has social distancing been hard for you, or do you prefer the solitude anyway?

Social distancing hasn’t been hard at all. I’m at the point in my life where social interactions aren’t a priority of mine. Of course I love to see family and friends, but I also don’t mind the down time to sit and contemplate everything going on and my plans for the future. I usually stay in touch with my wife, brother, co-workers and a few close friends on a regular basis. You can still have a great time in your own home and environment.  Adventure is vital, but you don’t have to go far to find it.

Aside from the global outbreak, what have you been up to? What keeps you busy on any given day?

Other than excessively washing my hands, rocking a mask, and avoiding anyone with a cough and a crazy look in their eyes, I’ve just been working. Working a lot. I’ve been deemed essential, and since that title was bestowed, I’ve been working some really crazy hours. It’s been a cycle of work, distancing, yard work, and as much fresh air as I can get. The new normal is what you make it. Some people are making it a vacation. Some people are making it a train wreck.  Also, my wife and I are expecting a baby girl in May, so we’ve been preparing for that! Bringing a newborn into today’s world is scary! But maybe that’s content for a different article?

What artists/albums are you currently listening to?

Matt: I always listen to songs by Jason Isbell, Frank Turner, the Avett Brothers, Catfish and the Bottlemen, and Lost Dog in a playlist throughout my day. My mornings have been starting off with Run the Jewels, Joyner Lucas & Sonreal just to give me that extra kick.  Most of my day consists of me humming a new tune I’ve yet to finish. It’s a curse, really.

Mike: I’ve been rocking out to the Lost Dog Street Band on repeat for the last 6 months.

Any advice for other musicians and fans to help get them through this crazy time?

Matt: Stay busy. Be productive. Stay positive. Create. You are being encouraged to stay home. Get to know yourself. If you’re an essential worker, keep grinding. Set some goals. Daily goals.

Pipsquatch (Blend of Alternative Rock and Pop Punk)

Pipsquatch

Photo courtesy Pipsquatch

What is your songwriting process like usually, and how has it changed during the pandemic?

Generally one of us will bring an idea or a riff to the table and we’ll just kind of go from there. Jam it to get a feel for the parts, map out where we want it to go, then once we have a pretty good idea of the map of the song, we’ll go into lyric mode.  We’re used to getting together just once a week because of scheduling, so we do a lot through other mediums like recordings sent back and forth.  We were actually able to write a couple pretty cool songs during the quarantine so far. Stay tuned.

Has social distancing been hard for you, or do you prefer the solitude anyway?

Financially it’s been hard obviously. But creatively it’s given us all a pretty good opportunity to just be with music and write some stuff. Musically it’s been a pretty interesting blessing creatively.

Aside from the global outbreak, what have you been up to? What keeps you busy on any given day?

We all have careers and families and very busy lives outside of the band. When the world’s not dealing with a pandemic, we’re all doing the normal grown up and dad stuff. Just working and being with our families as much as time allows.

What artists/albums are you currently listening to?

That’s different with each person. We’re all pretty different with influences, so here’s a breakdown just for continuity’s sake:

Casey – Okayest by The Many Colored Death

Evan – The Strokes just put out a new album called The New Abnormal

Jayson – Idles 

Jason – The new All Time Low album.

Any advice for other musicians and fans to help get them through this crazy time?

Just keep writing and playing. Enjoy your craft. Get creative if you’re in a band. Record some riffs and send them to the rest and see what happens. Some pretty cool albums have come from that exact process.

Anything you’d like to promote? 

Show Me Rockfest is August 8th at the Johnson county fairgrounds. We will be opening for Quiet Riot and Molly Hatchet as well as playing alongside some amazing regional bands. As soon as its socially responsible and safe to do so, we’ll be back in the studio recording a full album, as well. We had to push that back, given the circumstances.

You can find Pipsquatch on iTunes, Spotify, YouTube and all other major streaming platforms.  

www.facebook.com/pipsquatch

Categories: Music