Award-winning singer/songwriter Eliot Bronson will be having his self-titled CD release show at Eddie’s Attic on Saturday, Oct. 25. Atlanta Music Guide sat down with Eliot and asked him about the process of recording the new album, his musical influences, and what the lineup for his dream gig would be.
His new album, tracked entirely analog in Nashville by acclaimed producer Dave Cobb, is dropping soon on Tuesday, Oct. 21 – be sure to snag a copy on his website.
Atlanta Music Guide: So, jumping right in, you’re about to be on your third album now and it’s self-titled. So I’m curious, what made you decide to self-title this one and not the previous two?
Eliot Bronson: I think that it just felt appropriate for this one because it seemed like I’ve finally got to the sound I was trying to get to for awhile. With the last two, I’m proud of them, but they were almost leading up to this, sort of a culmination of sort of what I’ve been doing.
AMG: When did you first start recording for this album?
EB: We recorded everything in May and it was really in about a week.
AMG: So you had already written most of the songs before you went into it or was it a whole process with writing and recording at the same time?
EB: I’ve never been the type of person who goes into the studio to write a record. To me, I don’t really understand that because I can’t write that deliberately. I don’t have a lot of say in how I write or when I write so I just write all the time or whenever I can and I have a batch of songs, and when it’s time to record, you know, I look at them and see which feel like a natural group. So I’ve been writing them for awhile and there were 10 that just felt like the belonged together and that’s what became the record.
AMG: Your album releases on October 21st, so what are the finishing touches you’re working on right now?
EB: You know, the record itself is done, so at this point we’re talking to people like yourself and just trying to beat the drums. I mean, we’re done. We’re ready to go!
AMG: Which song off the new album would you say best defines who you are?
EB: You know, it’s hard to pick a particular song. They’re all different aspects, but I do think this record is more definitive of who I am. At least who I am now. I don’t know if I can pick a favorite.
AMG: What kind of musical background do you come from? What did your parents listen to when you were growing up?
EB: My grandparents on my dads side were both Pentecostal ministers and they lived in a church, my dad grew up living in that church, and then I started going to that church when I was a kid so there was always a lot of gospel music and church music around. But then my folks were also kind of unusual for that group of people because they also were really into the folk music of the 60’s, so I had records all around the house. There was all this Mahalia Jackson, gospel, but also Dylan and a lot of blues and country music too. That was always playing, it was in the air.
AMG: Do you think that’s where most of your inspiration comes from? Is that where your initial desire to do music comes from or was it something you discovered later?
EB: It was just sort of in the air. I didn’t even think about it because it was so natural. When I first started really listening to music and when I first started writing music, it was that kind of music. It was just was I knew and heard and understood. I feel like slowly I’ve been coming back to what I first heard as a kid.
AMG: Do your parents love your music?
EB: It’s never simple, but yeah, they’re very supportive.
AMG: How would you say your live performances have evolved since you first started performing?
EB: A lot. It’s hard to put into words. My favorite thing is live music. I love records, but nothing’s the same as sitting in front of someone singing and playing and that experience can’t really be captured completely. So, kind of just leaning into that more and more and finding different types of freedom in the live performance where you can play a song a totally different way one night or play a song you’ve never played before, and just really being more in the moment with more confidence. That’s something that’s slowly been coming to me over the years.
AMG: What would be the lineup for your dream gig? Who would you want performing with you in a perfect world?
EB: Hank Williams, he’d have to be alive. Robert Johnson, and I’m a huge Dylan fan so if I could play with Dylan that would be ridiculous. If I could hang out with those people, it could just be a living room somewhere you know?
AMG: What has been the most difficult part in recording this latest album?
EB: You know what’s funny is that this record was so easy to make. It felt so natural. I’ve been asked the question, in working with this producer Dave Cobb, if he challenged me or if he pushed to change things. Every other record has felt difficult in different ways, but this just felt like a bunch of guys gettin’ in a garage and playin’ songs. Just a band playing music. Couldn’t have been easier. I think it makes for a different type of record.
AMG: What do you feel like your producer brought to the table? What made you decide to work with him?
EB: Well, he did this record called South Eastern, Jason Isbell’s record that I heard it I guess a year ago and I just loved how real it sounded and especially the way he treated the vocals. It felt really immediate and really natural and I thought ‘I want my record to sound like that.’ I didn’t really think we’d be able to get this guy to work on the record, I was shocked that we were able to. He’s a brilliant producer. He has a way and this really light touch where it never seems like it’s difficult but you know that he is always working and thinking and getting the right rooms down, the right mic, the right people, and doing it in a way that feels effortless. He did a lot.
AMG: Do you think that was a big part in feeling so at ease in recording?
EB: Yeah, his attitude, his approach, he’s very relaxed. I can get really uptight in the studio and having somebody who was in charge who was never uptight, you just felt like he had this. It’s gonna be okay, you’re in good hands and it created that kind of vibe in the room.
AMG: I know you’re just releasing this album, but do you have plans for the next one? Do you have songs written?
EB: I don’t have any plans or any songs for the next record. I plan to make another record, I hope to make another record, but I really don’t know what it’s going to be like because I really feel like this record was coming for so long, really maybe the whole time I’ve been writing songs I’ve been working toward this record. Putting this record together, I feel like I did the thing that I’ve been trying to do for so long and I don’t want to repeat it. I’m not gonna make a Part 2 of this record. The next thing I do is gonna have to be pretty different and I just don’t know what way yet.
AMG: How do you feel is the best method for writing music?
EB: I don’t have a particular method per se, I will say this: The way I write is a little unorthodox. I don’t ever write down lyrics on paper or when I’m writing. It’s all in my head or out loud and I just sort of write it and memorize as I’m going. I’ve always done it that way. And it’s easier for me to do it that way. So that’s the way I write, probably will be the way I always write just because that’s how my brain is wired I guess.
AMG: Why do you think that works for you?
EB: I think I’m just very aurally-oriented. I need to kind of be in the spell of it and hear how the words sound. For me, the words have to not just be the right words; they have to sound like the right words and feel like the right words. They’re not meant to be read on a piece of paper, so why would I write them on a piece of paper? They’re meant to be heard out loud so I need to hear them to know if it’s right. If I wrote it down first and then tried to sing them, it’d be like trying to shove something into a mold that maybe it didn’t fit in. For me, that’s way harder than if I sing it out loud and memorize it.
AMG: So, does one come before the other? It seems like the music and the lyrics must sort of come together for you.
EB: It really has to come together on some level. Otherwise it doesn’t have that magic spark that a song can have when you get that combination, the melody with the right words that I’ve always been in love with, that made me love music and songwriting. When you hear one that works for you, you get this excitement.
Don’t miss Eliot Bronson live at Eddie’s Attic Saturday, March 7, 2015 at 9 p.m. General admission tickets are $12 in advance, $16 at the door. Doors open at 8 p.m.