Salt For Salt was recorded live to tape, which isn’t that common. How would you describe the experience?
It was great. It was our first album as a duo. That made it a little bit easier to record live and not have to track each thing separately. We worked with a really great studio in Rhode Island. It’s an awesome studio to work with. It went really well. We did it in three sessions.
As you mentioned, Brown Bird is now a duo. Has that changed the dynamics of the band at all?
It’s made everything a lot easier as far as touring and making band decisions. Musically, we’ve gotten a bit more upbeat than we had been in the past. I started playing upright bass. That was new for us. It just simplified everything.
What are some of the major differences you’ve noticed in the songs now that you’re a duo as opposed to a five piece?
Instrumentally, we don’t have a dobro anymore and we don’t have an accordion. That’s basically the only huge difference as far as instrumentation goes. Dave plays percussion with his feet while he’s playing guitar and banjo. As far as sound goes, I don’t think we’re lacking any of the fullness that we had even though there’s only two of us. The songs themselves on the album are a little more blues and rock inspired. It’s a bit more upbeat than what we’ve done in the past. I think that’s just because Dave and I working together is very cohesive. It just works really well. We’re really on the same page about what we’re going for.
How does the line-up change affect your live show? Are you bringing in any touring members?
Nope, it’s just the two of us.
Did any of the older songs have to be re-arranged?
We’ve been mostly doing the newer songs. Some of the older ones we have re-worked a bit. A lot of them were written as a duo though. They’re not that much different.
So being a duo isn’t completely new to you?
It isn’t, actually.
Besides being a violinist, you have also started to play upright bass now. How is that going for you?
It’s really, really fun. It’s been about a year now. It’s definitely fun and challenging. I’m having a good time with it. I picked up the cello about two years ago so that’s also new and really fun.
Do you think you’ll pick up any other instruments?
As far as I know I’ll just be sticking with those three, but you never know what will happen in the future.
Will Schaff did the artwork for this album. Did you pick out one of his pieces or did he create something specifically for Salt For Salt?
He created this specifically for us. We gave him some of the rough recordings to listen to and he put it on in the studio on repeat for a day and he came up with something in less than a day. It was insane. We’re absolutely thrilled. We love him. We’re really honored.
Were there any other artists in consideration?
We considered a few others but we knew right off the bat that we wanted Will. We just weren’t sure if we’d be able to afford him. He’s a good friend of ours, he’s actually our landlord also. We knew right away that we wanted him and we’re thrilled that it worked out.
What are your touring plans for the future?
We just got back from a ten-day stint. We’re actually at home right now. We have one more day off. The tour is separated into small segments. October is two segments. One is the New York City, Connecticut and Maine area and the next one is in the Midwest. At the beginning of November we’ll be doing the whole country. We’re just at the beginning of it.
Have you played any of the new songs live yet?
Yeah, we’ve been playing them live for a long time actually. And we’ve been getting really great responses. People have been getting up and dancing at live shows, which is really great. We played Newport Folk Festival this summer. That was a really huge thing. We played only new songs. NPR actually streamed it on the website for a while. People are responding really well to the new material. We’re pretty psyched.
What was it like having your set streaming on a NPR – which is actually one of the biggest music websites out there?
It was awesome. I was a bit surprised. We had no idea it was going to happen. We gained a lot of fans that way. It was really cool.
I think what you’re doing is pretty unique, so I’m just wondering if it has been difficult at all to get people’s attention – especially at an event like the Newport Folk Festival?
It seems like it’s been fairly easy to be honest. It kind of depends on the crowd. If it’s a Brown Bird show, obviously people are there for us. I think that there’s enough familiarity about our music that a lot of people take to it. You don’t have to think too hard about it.