Down the Line
Let’s start off with why you chose the name “Down the Line”. Who thought of it and what’s the meaning behind it?
Derek proposed the band name after listening to an old blues compilation (Alligator Records, I believe), where a crooner sang something like, “Meet you down the li-i-i-i-ine!” We all agreed that it implied good things to come in the future, or at least we hoped.
You just got back from doing a tour with the band “America”. What was that like? And what did the crowd think of you young guys tearing it up?
Touring with America was really thrilling. America was generous with their time and their music, and invited us on stage to perform “Horse With No Name” alongside them every night. So not only did we get to see their fantastic show nightly, but they made us part of it too. We met all sorts of great people–their fans–and they were all very receptive to our music. Just thrilling. We hope to play with them again.
You’ve just released your third full-length album, “For All You Break”. How does it compare with the first two?
I’d actually be curious to hear how you think it compares to the first two! We spent many many many months recording the first two albums. This time around, we decided to try to hit the studio and be done in two weeks–just to keep things exciting, energetic and new. We were pleased with the results, though the process was tremendously intense. Songwriting-wise, I think the collection is more cohesive than our previous two. Dan and I were demoing songs together and realized we had a collection that could be an album, but we worked hard to limit our choices to songs that sounded part of a greater whole. Levi contributed one other beautiful song that really completed and rounded out the collection. As a band, I think we worked with a singular vision to make it all happen in the two week goal. But again, what do you think?
You guys really pride yourselves on playing pure, acoustic music. Does this stem from a love of classic rock? (and if so) Who are some of your favorite groups/bands? Do you think being an “acoustic band” has hindered “Down the Line” at all?
We definitely have a love of acoustic instrumentation, and classic rock too, though if you asked for our personal favorites you’d hear a lot of non-acoustic stuff…I’d mention Van Halen and The Police, personally for starters. But, we all would agree that the band is sort of stylistically in the mode of an Eagles or Fleetwood Mac, with the shared vocals and acoustic blends, combined with the power pop of The Cars or perhaps Fountains of Wayne…at least that’s the goal. Those groups are all favorites. I think we sort of landed on our acoustic blend more through our combined personalities than say a purposeful intent right away, but we soon recognized it was a nice thing. I wouldn’t say it’s hindered us, but we certainly struggle from time to time with genre labeling. We’re acoustic but we’re pop too.
How and when did all of you meet to form the band?
Dan and Derek went to college together in Michigan, where they studied music and got the chance to sing together. They met Levi doing a music show together in Traverse City. Eventually they all migrated to Chicago, where I was already performing. One weekend I was hired to play bass in a funk band that Dan was already singing for. We immediately had a spark, and he eventually introduced me to the other guys. Derek, Dan and Levi had a show booked as an acoustic trio (“The Britton, Fawcett, Myers Project!”) and they invited me to sit in on bass. I still get excited when I think about our first time performing together because I knew it was something I wanted to keep doing.
I read that you had a couple of your new songs played on XM radio’s XMU station. What was the response from that?
All good, thankfully!
Do you prefer playing at home in Chicago or touring? Favorite location to play (if not Chicago)?
I love both, honestly. Touring is always exciting because of the new people we meet and the new musical opportunities. Plus, we tend to try every regional food under the sun, so we eat well too. But our hometown crowd consists of so many friends and family that we don’t get to see often enough. Chicago will always be special. I love performing in New York (where I’m from) and Nashville is a city I really enjoy as well. But there are so many others.
What are each of your dream bands to play with, either on tour or in the studio? And who’s the favorite band you’ve played with so far?
Again, we’d probably all answer this differently. I’d love to tour with Fountains of Wayne, a personal favorite. The Eagles or any of the members of Fleetwood Mac would be a thrill. Sting and Randy Newman are personal faves too–guys, I’m available. And I’m still buzzing from America, so that’s the favorite so far…though we play with Pat Benatar tonight, so my answer may change!
And a “They Will Rock You” question we’re asking everyone on the site: What were the first CDs you ever purchased for yourselves? Any stories behind them?
Men At Work, “Business As Usual.” I still have the cassette somewhere.
Some random questions for our readers to get to know you on a deeper level…
Down the Line at SXSW
If you were a superhero, which one would you be?
The Hulk. He was so misunderstood.
Along those lines, what superpower would you most like to obtain?
Stevie Ray’s guitar ability?
What was your first paying job growing up?
Carvel Ice Cream. I worked until I could buy my first electric guitar, then I quit…I was 30lbs heavier.
Down The Line on MySpace
You can purchase the album on their website: http://www.downthelineband.com
*All photos used courtesy of Down The Line’s official webpage and MySpace profile