Posted by: will | April 26, 2007

Band Interview – The Winter Sounds…

Here is the inaugural band interview on SAL.  A big thanks to vocalist/bassist Patrick Keenan of The Winter Sounds who was kind enough to take the time to answer some questions. The band is in the middle of a non-stop touring schedule. You can take a look at the band’s lengthy tour dates on their myspace page here. The band’s official debut album, Porcelain Empire, comes out on June 26th via Livewire Recordings. Do yourself a favor and check out The Winter Sounds.

How would you describe your sound and what are some of the band’s main influences?

Our sound is probably new wave indie rock.
Beatles, Beach Boys, the Futureheads, Cursive, Minus the Bear, Sufjan Stevens, Hall and Oates (what?), Tears for Fears, the Cure, the Smiths, Doves

The Athens scene is certainly legendary. What’s the current state of the scene? Any up and coming bands to watch out for?

I think that Athens music scene is amazing. There are so many incredible acts coming up all the time that it’s actually very intimidating. Cinemechanica and Dark Meat are super-cool.

How has living in the South influenced your songwriting? What’s the song-writing process like for the band?

I would really only be guessing and making a lot of generalizations regarding the first part of this question. Referring to broad statements about the South means contrasting it with the North. The South is a whole different culture. What has influenced me the most in my life was probably being raised Catholic in the South and eventually breaking from that influence only to drift in a sea of spiritual uncertainty. The culture of the South certainly adds to that overall picture and I would be quite different if I’d undergone the same changes in the North. But the influence of the South is too much and I find myself wanting to name so many things I see and feel about the South. In the end, I find I am just describing my experiences growing up and that each one created who I am and my music is just an extension of that.

To me songwriting is following a passion and then working towards seeing it reach its fullest potential. You never forget an idea, you never do anything half-ass. I have some songs that are very old that are constantly being modernized by the latest musical influences. I try not to leave songs behind. There is usually something worth salvaging in every spontaneous idea that is captured.

The Winter Sounds have a healthy dose of upcoming tour dates. How important is it for you guys to stay on the road and be a full-time band?

Well, since we’ve committed to being a full-time band, our only income is from our gigs so we have to keep playing. If we were to stop, we’d need to find a place to stay and a way to eat, pay bills, etc. so we’d need to get a home which means sign a lease and we’d need to pay for that so we’d need a job, etc, and even though we’d make a whole helluva lot more money by working full-time versus gigging full-time, we’d also have a lot more in bills and we wouldn’t be touring, which is the kicker so our career would advance a lot slower.

We are taking a leap of faith by doing this. We are hoping that with the right amount of work and the right music and the right combination of luck and faith and friendship and all that good fortune, we are setting ourselves up for a future career as musicians, writers and performers.

What’s the band’s opinion on file-sharing?

I’ve actually been asked this question a bunch and here is my updated answer. I enjoy file-sharing and I think it is good for up and coming bands. The problem is that bands eventually need a label and management and all that crap. Labels make their money back from the sale of the CD. Bands make their money from their touring. So file-sharing works for the bands but not for the labels. An album that’s passed around the internet like crazy will guarantee a big turnout for shows. It won’t necessarily mean that people will buy the CD especially if they already own it. So bands will make good money touring, but meanwhile the label can’t sell the record and make their money back. This could potentially mean that labels would become more and more reluctant to invest in a new band, which means that a lot of talent could go undiscovered. Or it may mean that for a band to become successful, they just need to write good songs and float those songs around the internet until everyone agrees that this band (that no one’s ever heard of) is some new hot shit. In which case, they probably wouldn’t need a label to come in, investing and promoting.

So, all in all, my opinion is that nothing will kill the music business especially not file-sharing. If anything, file-sharing might make it more pure and less driven by marketing dollars. Things will change and some small labels might go under; some big labels might go under, but people will always find ways to profit off of music.

Do you think it’s necessary for a band to be “signed” to be successful?

Being “signed” has been a big learning process for us. I believe if I started over right now, I could take a new band to the same level we’re at now without a label by just doing certain things that I wouldn’t have thought of before. So, even though it took us signing for me to realize those things or how much power or control I had before, I’m thankful that a lot of the managerial and marketing burdens are shared. Promoting your music is the full time job of anyone who is interested. There is a whole competitive network out there and we’re now just another band fighting for airwaves. Its not up to an artist to successfully navigate a business model through capitalist waters. People can do it. But that leaves you no time to be an artist. I can’t wait for the day we are freed of the responsibilities of booking and general day to day managerial stuff. Because the goal is to get up in the morning travel to a strange new place every day, read and look and listen, absorb new experiences and find a way to communicate that in a song, all while appreciating what we have.

You can be successful without a label and all that entails but that doesn’t give you much time left to be an artist.

What’s been playing on the band’s collective stereo lately?

Donovan (The Winter Sounds drummer extraordinaire) was DJ today and played some Cold War Kids, John Vanderslice, Spoon, French Kicks, Beatles, Joanna Newsom.

What’s on the horizon for the band in the near future?

We’re working on an acoustic set where we all play new different instruments. Including, but not limited to: accordion, violin, flute, bells, mandolin, banjo. The main goal is to keep touring the States until around Thanksgiving. Right around that time Porcelain Empire is being released in the UK and Europe and we’ll have the month of December off, then follow the album overseas with a two to three month tour of Europe and the UK. Then mid 08 new album. That’s the plan. We’ll see….

Any last words?




  1. i liked the way they described file-sharing. Anyway, it’s kinda traditional for saying Beatles is main influence.

  2. Well done! Since the Beatles rarely get played on the radio anymore, I think young bands are discovering them and they sound new. I think alot more new bands will be influenced by The Beatles, the Beach Boys, etc. because enough time has passed that’s it’s okay to admit that you like them.

    In the future, new bands will probably rediscover Nirvana, Mudhoney, Pearl Jam, etc and say the same thing. Not to compare them to the Beatles, but you know what I mean.

  3. nirvana and pearl jam are classic rock now according to many commercial stations… when did i get old?

    the winter sounds are great – they’re album is great and SAL is great for doing an excellent band interview. back pats all around.

  4. […] measure.” Although lead singer Patrick Keenan probably described it best in the band’s SAL interview simply as “new wave” indie rock. The band that The Winter Sounds often reminds me of is […]

  5. i cant take this bands disc out of my player! LOVE LOVE LOVE this band…..the tour all the time and everywhere i suggest everyone going to check them out!

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