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Interview: Track Dogs

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Posted May 7, 2014 by markdowning in AMA Entertainment
track dogs

This week AMA Media’s Celine Smyth caught up with Garrett Wall from Madrid based acoustic band Track Dogs who are currently touring Ireland to promote their new EP “La Banda”. The four piece band use a unique blend of instruments combined with harmonies to create a unique fusion of superior Americana with blends of indie pop and folk music. Under the lead of talented songwriter Garrett Wall, the band has gone from strength to strength receiving critical acclaim. Hotpress Magazine called their new EP “Superior Americana… joyous stuff with a good-timey sunshine vibe to it, superior harmonies and toe-tapping rhythm”.

 

1. Hi Garrett, thanks for talking to me. Your group consists of two Irishmen, an Englishman and an American. Why choose Madrid as your base?

Well it’s more that Madrid chose us! We all met here vía various roots and love living here, whatever about the current political climate it’s a great place to be based and conducive to creativity which is really important.

 

2. How would you describe your sound to anyone who is not familiar with your music?

That’s always a tough question! We’ve described ourselves as “Rock with a Box and a bugle”, folk, acoustic Indie etc. but I guess being a mainly acoustic line-up with four vocals we invariably describe the sound as somewhere half between Van Morrison and Freddie Mercury! 😉 

 

3. You shun the traditional instrument line-up in favour of a more daring selection of instruments. How did you come to the decision to replace the drums and lead guitar with the cajón and trumpet?

It was actually an accident really. I had started playing with Robbie on cajón and loved the simplicity of it. I bumped into Howard (trumpet) in the metro station and asked him if he’d join me supporting Kila in Madrid and after the gig I knew this was the sound I was looking for. I then called Dave (bass) and organized a rehearsal with all four of us which is the first time we were all together in fact.

 

4. What is your musical background?

I learned to play piano from an early age, then took up classical guitar. I loved singing as well and asked my piano teacher to teach me Elton John and Billy Joel songs which she wasn’t too happy about. My dad encouraged me to keep on music when I was younger so I have him to thank, or blame ha ha.

 

5. Who are your musical influences?

Pretty much everything and anything but I was influenced by bands such as Queen and Billy Joel when I was younger, and then discovered artists such as Peter Gabriel and Tom Waits later on so I like to mix it up!

 

6. Track Dogs use four part harmonies in their vocals, how difficult is it to create four lines of melody that will complement each other?

When you have someone like Howard in the band it helps a lot, he has a great musical background but it’s also something as a singer that you learn to develop for your own style. There’s nothing I love more than close harmonies.

 

7. What has been the highlight of your career so far?

I’ve been lucky enough so far to have had some great experiences such as playing with Jeff Healey in Dublin, or even singing backing for two Irish Eurovision winners. Last year we played at SXSW which was pretty cool too. Singing for movies is something I love so that is a highlight for me so far.

 

8. A musician was recently quoted saying “If folk music doesn’t ask the questions folk are asking, who will? Do you think that folk music allows you to address more serious and controversial topics that other genres can’t?

I guess it depends on the purity of your style and whether you adhere to the origins of folk music. It’s definitely a historically important medium for social comment but I feel all music can and should do this and not be limited by genre clichés. Honesty is paramount in music, but it’s also a form of escapism so we each create our own world within the songs. Personal experiences can have universal themes and social comment can be both local and global.

 

9. You guys have played at SXSW, one of the biggest annual music festivals in the world, how was that experience for you?

A great experience, worth repeating! Austin is an amazing city and as for culture it’s one of the most important in the US. We hope to play there again as part of any future US tours. SXSW is what you make of it and we had a good one.

 

10. Garrett, you are an award winning songwriter and your work has been included in TV, movies and over one hundred advertising campaigns, where do you find your writing inspiration?

Usually in personal experiences and stuff like that but I always try to elevate them beyond that to contain both personal and universal themes and ideas. I always search for normalcy in lyrics, things you would say to someone in everyday conversations yet with a skewed view if possible. The more risky and straight forward you are with lyrics the better. The best lyrics are the ones that resonate with you because they say what you feel or think but in original ways.

 

11. Your videos are quite quirky and creative. Do you think having a good music video is an important element when it comes to making a song successful in today’s “smartphone world”?

I used to think so, not so sure anymore. Videos have to compete with big budget major label productions so that is always a challenge and I think videos are kinda passé in a way.  I love making videos and usually try to have fun with them and include some humour and I’m always open to trying new things. Video can sometimes colour your impression of a song as well which isn’t always a good thing.

 

12. How would you define the term “successful” in today’s music industry?

If you can continue to make music and play for consistently decent audiences which allow you to finance recording and touring, then I would consider that a success. 

 

13. Obviously social media plays a huge part in creating a buzz and increasing awareness for musicians today. People measure artists’ success not only on music purchases but on the amount of YouTube views those artists get. Do you think that because of this having a strong online presence and interacting directly with your fan base is as important as the quality of the music today?

I’d say it’s very important but perhaps not as important as the quality of your music in the long term, since real fans demand quality and constant evolution in a band. Social media is fickle and can have drawbacks as we’re seeing on Facebook. We have to find ways to communicate with fans via all possible means, not focusing or depending on one alone.

 

14. Is there any one song that whenever you hear it, you wish you could have been the person to write it?

Hmmm there’s so many! I guess I’d have to say “Don’t give up” by Peter Gabriel or “Lover You should have come over” by Jeff Buckley

 

15. What has 2014 got in store for Track Dogs?

We have two EPs planned, the first being “La Banda” which is out now, and another in the autumn. We hope to make two trips to Ireland, we’ve got some gigs in Spain and France in the summer and the UK in the autumn also. So, no resting for the Dogs! 😉 Thanks

 

Check out the songs from the “La Banda” EP below. With an ever expanding fan base, expect big things from Track Dogs in the future. To book Track Dogs for your music venue of festival contact AMA Music Agency on +35312013660.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yVuzCrHWE6c

 

https://soundcloud.com/trackdogs/dont-waste-time

 

https://soundcloud.com/trackdogs/fooled-you-once-hey-ay-oh-ext

 

https://soundcloud.com/trackdogs/speak-the-truth

 

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