There's something to be said for the bravery of musicians who share the deepest parts of their heart through their music. And such is the case on cellar belly, a new album out from wished bone on Human Noise Records. With the release officially out in the world, Ashley Rhodus of the band was kind enough to answer some of our questions about the beautiful project through e-mail.
The Grey Estates: Your bio mentions using a karaoke machine for solo recording. When you first started out how did you record and how did you first fall into music?
Wished Bone: I use the karaoke machine for my live set. I have the drum tracks recorded on a cassette tape. I play them in the old karaoke tape deck and sing out thru that as well. and play guitar thru a dusty old amp.
Recording-wise - in spring 2015, all of my roommates went on tour and left their "reject gear" in our basement (the stuff that didnt cut it for tour). My partner Brian and I decided to use the gear to record the first batch of songs, pseudio recordings. We ended up doing it all in one night. Part of the reject gear was a tascam portastudio that no one knew how to use, but I gave it a shot and fell in love with the simplicity and self contained-ness of a tape machine. So what started out as pure necessity, evolved into my recording style.
Your songs are super personal, especially on "Yellowstoned" where you speak of someone you love leaving. When did you first begin writing this album? And did you use direct happenings from your life to inspire it? Is it ever daunting to share that much of yourself with listeners?
I had written poetry most of my life and at some point in 2015, I decided to translate them into songs. Once I realized how freeing it was to get the words out of me sonically, I kept doing it. The songs are all direct happenings or close to it. Someone i loved left for yellowstone and it tore me up a bit.
Outside of music you work at a farm and a bar. So what role does music play in your day to day? And what does it represent to you in the grand scheme of life?
I usually write something resembling a song every day. I don't work on a farm at the moment but do have an edible garden at my house, as well as orange, lemon, grapefruit, fig, peach and nectarine trees. Music is the most freeing thing i've ever felt. The first tier of freeness happens when I write the words down, the second when i put them to music, the third - recording and releasing them. and then each time I perform them another little piece of memory or sadness is released again. It branches out in infinite dimensions to where, finally, at the end of it all, I begin to feel peace with reality.
You put out some previous recordings and a demo before. How, if it all does this album differ from those? Do you find yourself to be a different person or a different artist in that three year period since first sharing music?
The new album is definitely higher quality and has more solid instrumentation. I wouldn't say the content or lyricism has changed that much though.
What sights, sounds, music, food, etc. inspired this album?
Hmm plants... caterpillars turning into goo inside their cocoons, but holding onto their caterpillar memories once they become a butterfly. Room temperature butter sitting on the counter, wasps burying themselves in a fig for pollination and having to die inside the fruit for it to bloom. Connie Converse and Michael Hurley.
You're from Athens, Ohio. Has that transition from Ohio to LA informed any of your songwriting or recording?
I tend to hold onto the pastoral things even in a city setting.
Is there a particular track on the recording that really resonated with you or you feel is a good summation of what you wanted listeners to take from this?
The last track, ohio, is sort of what i've been wanting to say my whole life