Thursday, January 31, 2013

Interview with Andrew Winter (Andrew Winter and the Reckless Dodgers)

(photo by Ben Bernstein)
A drummer is only a drummer is only a drummer is a... right? Not necessarily! Best proof: Andrew 'Stripes' Winter, who is mainly known for sitting behind the drum kit in Blitzkid. But influenced by f.e. Buddy Holly, Green Day and Alkaline Trio, he started a new band "Andrew Winter and the Reckless Dodgers" (AWRD). On the just released AWRD-debut "Be Prepared", the self-proclaimed mountain punk troubadour shows that he can also write songs, play guitar and sing. We talked with him about his debut-album, his first european show in russia and his plans for 2013....

Graveyard Greaser Gang: For those who still don't know ‘Andrew Winter and the Reckless Dodgers’, would you tell us who the band is and what music the band plays? 
Andrew Winter: AWRD is, or what I like to call it, a “Mountain Punk” band. Formed out of frustration due to lack of other musicians wanting to play similar music. I figured, ‘If I can’t find someone else, I’ll do it myself…’ The working tagline right now for the project is “The Mountain Punk Troubadour.”   

GGG: For the 'horrorpunks' out there: will you focus on the Dodgers now or can we expect to see you playing some 'horrorpunk' in the future too?
AW: The Reckless Dodgers is where I will be focusing the majority of my time and energy for the foreseeable future. 

GGG: You started the Dodgers, T.B. has A Gathering for None, JV founded Darrow Chemical Company and George Grant has the Mighty Templars now - why do you think that so many 'horrorpunk'-icons don't play that kinda music anymore?
AW: I think it’s hard to play the same music over and over again. Artists need to create and evolve. Just because those projects aren’t necessarily ‘Horror punk,’ doesn’t mean that there aren’t elements of horror punk in the music.

GGG: Back to the main-subject: Since our last interview your fan-base grew. You even played a solo-set in Russia before the Blitzkid-farewell-gig. Try to describe how it felt to play your songs in front of an european audience?
AW: The Russian trip was an altogether crazy experience for all of us. Never had we thought that we’d be able to even VISIT Russia, much less play a show there. It’s hard to describe my feelings that night. The audience was very responsive and respectful. I even thought I saw someone singing the words to ‘Silver Lining,’ (the first track on Be Prepared. It was unbelievable. That was my first solo European show. Crazy.

Andrew Winter live
(photo by Becca Lane)
GGG: You had the AWRD-demo with you on that tour. How was the reaction of the fans?
AW: The fans seemed excited to listen to the cd, I’m not sure what they expected but every one who got a disc seemed to be happy with it.

GGG: “Be Prepared” is out now. How is the feeling to finally release your own album?
AW: I have a constant feeling of exhilaration. Not only HOLDING something that has been in the works for years, but to also release it on my co-owned record label, Ahoy Hoy! Records (also another dream come true for me. Stephen Nacy had a lot to do with forming Ahoy Hoy!) is just way more than I ever could have hoped for. 

GGG: What can people expect from “Be Prepared”?
AW: Be Prepared is a fairly eclectic album. It’s hard to tell what people should ‘expect.’ My only hope is that whoever listens to it, enjoys it. Haha.

GGG: How do you write a dodger-song?
AW: Normally I write the songs alone and then show them to the band to finalize the arrangement. More often than not I come up with a guitar part first and sort of scat over top of it until I find a nice phrase and melody line, and just go from there.

GGG: What are the songs about, where do you get the inspiration for them from?
AW: I really try to draw on my own experiences. I’m a pretty positive guy. The message of this album is to not give up. Ever. Keep pushing forward. Buddy Holly is a big influence on me musically, but I don’t know how much his lyrics had to do with this. He writes love songs… Haha. I’m not really good at writing love songs. 

Andrew Winter: "The song 'Jenny' holds the most emotion for me."
(photo by Ben Bernstein) 

GGG: What song on the album do you like the most/means the most to you and why?
AW: Musically, I think “Sinking Feeling” is my favorite, but I think the song “Jenny” holds the most emotion for me. It's about my mother.

GGG: How comes that there’s a Mister Monster-cover on the album?
AW: For years I have been telling Trioxin that I would cover the song. That was back when I first joined Blitzkid… So, like a MILLION years ago. Haha. When I was in pre-production for the record, I made a list of all the originals I had and wanted to record. At the bottom of the list, for fun, I put ‘This Night.’ We started recording the song, and it sounded GOOD. I talked to Jsin, and he was cool with me putting it on the album.  

GGG: You just covered “Darrow Chemical Company - Don’t Believe” too. Will that song be on the next album? 
AW: I’ve been messing with a “country” version for a while. Just for fun really. I decided to see what it would actually sound like recorded. But sadly, no. That won’t be on the next record.

GGG: The album is released through Ahoy Hoy Records, the label you started with a friend. Is there a story behind it?
AW: There sure is! On the European leg of the Blitzkid farewell tour our good friend Stephen Nacy came out to hang out/help out. He’s a medic in Afghanistan. It just so happens his schedule lined up with the tour. Medics over there have to work three months and then get one month off. (That’s crazy! I would lose my mind. They’re truly heroes over there.) We had the time of our lives on that tour. Afterwards, Stephen and I stayed in close contact. With my album being finished just at the right time, we talked about joining forces and coming up with a record label; only releasing music that we liked -- music with integrity. The music business these days is mainly focused on money, not music, so our model is simply the reverse. Music first and then if that brought in money, that would be great, too! Stephen came up with the name Ahoy Hoy! Records. How cool of a name is that?! Haha.

Cover of the debut "Be Prepared"
(artwork by Josh Werblun)

GGG: Are there any other artists on the label yet?
AW: Not yet. We want other releases on the label, though. Ya know of any good bands? Haha.

GGG: Where can your fans buy the album?
AW: There are a lot of possibilities -,,, iTunes and Spotify.

GGG: Is there some more AWRD merch – or any plans for merch?
AW: Right now there are cd’s and buttons, ha. We are going to be ordering lots of other things soon, so stay tuned!

GGG: What are your plans for 2013?
AW: I’m dedicating most of 2013 to promote Be Prepared. In May we have the “Anchors Aweigh Acoustic Tour” hitting the Midwest. We’ll have a Canada/New England tour this summer and I plan on coming over to Europe this fall for a run of solo acoustic shows as well as a (HOPEFULLY) coast-to-coast run late-fall.

GGG: Anything you want to add?
AW: I want to send a HUGE thank you to everyone who preordered BE PREPARED. It was an overwhelming success!

Andrew Winter and the Reckless Dodgers on the internet: 

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