Wednesday, January 18, 2006

an interview with Josh of The Harpeth Trace

Independent bands like the amazing The Harpeth Trace are a major reason why I broadcast on radio and publish this blog - to play lesser known music over the airwaves that needs to be heard & to share information among the alternative radio community. I am working on the capacity to host on-air interviews with musicians and indie media folks (the technology at both WNEC and WSCS is primitive at best - kind of the way I like it!) so please stay tuned as this effort evolves over the coming semester. In the interim, written interviews will continue to appear in this blog.

Thankfully Josh Kasselman from The Harpeth Trace agreed to a written interview for the Seldom Heard Radio blog:

DJ Frederick: What are the origins of your band’s name (The Harpeth Trace)?

Josh: My family lived on Harpeth Trace Drive in Nashville for a couple of years when I was growing up. It's got to be one of the most unwieldy band names ever, but I like to think it's memorable--even if it doesn't exactly roll off the tongue.

DJ Frederick: How did your band form? What has the creative process been like for songwriting and arrangements?

Josh: Rune (bass) and I were in a band called Boxing for a number of years, and Rob (drums) was very nearly brought on as the drummer of that band when we needed a replacement. It didn't pan out (he was in another band at the time and the schedules didn't jive), but we'd always run into him at shows and it seemed pretty likely to me that we'd work with him at some point. When Boxing split, The Harpeth Trace formed very gradually, with people drifting in and out. It's been organic if not immediate, and the lineup is continuing to evolve. For Man and the Cousin, I basically wrote the songs on guitar and then everyone chipped in ideas for parts and arrangements. Pretty standard. We completely lucked out and found a private recording studio (complete with dusty piano) that we rent by the month, so we had the luxury of trying lots of different stuff without having to pay for studio time by the hour. We recorded everything ourselves onto an 8-track cassette deck, which is what I've used to record just about everything I've ever done. I love the thing dearly.

DJ Frederick: What are your current projects & future plans for the Harpeth Trace?

Josh: We have a new addition to the band, a fella named Barry. He plays a variety of instruments and brings a tremendously open approach to songwriting and arranging with him. It's been a huge shot in the arm, and we're currently wading through all the new material we've come up with in the month or two he's been around. We hope there's an LP in there. Probably there is. In the meantime, we're just putting out Man and the Cousin in mid-January, so we're going to tour a bit in support of that.

DJ Frederick: What are your thoughts on the state of radio in the United States?

Josh: Heh. Uhhh… well, I think satellite radio is the most interesting point of discussion. On one hand, the breadth of stations allows for a more individualized approach to broadcasting. However, there's surely a danger that such a specialized approach might create narrow-minded listeners. Still, I can't see it being any worse a prospect than what we have now; save a few college and community stations--whose playlists are growing increasingly similar if you ask me--the radio is pretty much pointless. I guess I still get my news from NPR.

There's the obvious rant about payola and about the commercial stations being too scared to take a chance on anything. But the scary thing is when you look at it on a smaller scale… It's nearly impossible for an independent artist to get widespread college radio play anymore unless they can afford to hire the same promoters that the other larger indie labels use. It's like a JV version of what happens on commercial radio. Ahem, sorry to get so bleak on you. Thanks for the forum.

Editor's note: The Harpeth Trace debut EP grows more intricate with each listening. For more information on ordering Man and the Cousin check out the band's website at