The Sweetwater 420 festival is totally unlike other festivals this summer. This Atlanta festival, taking place April 21-23, has a sustainable, Earth day centered mission and a diverse lineup. Headliners include Widespread Panic, Talib Kweli, and moe. These big name acts will be joined by other talented groups like Big Something, Slightly Stoopid, and Dopapod, but there are two Brooklyn Basement Records artists hitting this festival whose sets can’t be missed.
Ron Pope is a singer-songwriter with a poignant tone, heartfelt lyrics, and significant talent. He is most known for his aching, profound ballad ” A Drop in the Ocean” released ten years ago, but he is sure to bring some new music to the Sweetwater 420 festival. Ron has his seventh studio album, Work, due out August 18 on Brooklyn Basement Records. He has released two songs from this project “Let’s Get Stoned” and “Bad For Your Health.”
Popes label mate Truett is also playing the festival, armed with soulful classic rock inspired tracks from his debut self-titled LP. Truett has a dynamic sound. It is both distorted and melodic, layered but raw. Songs like “Be Mine” and “Pound of Flesh” have a bare bones, effortless old school sound but feature rich, entertaining solos.
While Pope is sure to have a more subdued set at Sweet Water 420 Fest, Truett is going to have fans and first time listeners alike on their feet singing and dancing. Be sure to grab tickets to this wonderful eco-friendly festival so you can check out both of these timeless Brooklyn Basement Records artists.
Interview with Ron Pope
Antonius had a chance to chat with Ron Pope in anticipation of this weekend’s performance at Sweetwater 420 Fest.
Work was recorded at Welcome to 1979 an analog-centric studio. How did recording to analog help with your goal to capture that feel and energy of everyone’s favorite local band?
We talked a number of times over they years about working on tape. In some respects the limitations of working on tape are freeing. It seems a bit counter intuitive but, when you are in the studio you may say “that guitar part was good but maybe I could do better so why don’t I do it again a thousand more times.” With this record sometimes we would be in the studio and we play something and say “that’s really good let’s move on.” There is more humanity in it when you can’t correct every single problem. That felt great to me It felt liberating and exciting. More so than any other record I had done before.
Do you feel that you will be doing additional analog records?
I would say, you never know with me. One year I’ll decide to make a record with a bunch of synthesizers and an orchestra and the next year I am writing roots music again. I’m always chasing the muse and going where ever the inspiration takes me and I always try create something that feels right to me in that moment.
I took a look at your video series “Getting to Work.” In that series you mentioned that you wrote 80 to 100 songs could you talk a little about that culling process to get to the final set of songs for Work?
I always write a lot of songs. It’s something that I have always done since I started writing music as a kid. It allows me the opportunity to try out all of my ideas…. I’ll know that I want an energetic song that has horns in it with this kind of groove. So I will write eight of them and maybe one of them will be good.
You shared that “Bad For Your Health” is about a bad Spring Break experience. “… a snap shot of being young and trying to have an adventure and swinging and missing.” “Let’s Get Stoned” was released today, 4/20, is this another of your songs that comes from personal experience?
I realized this later… I forgot which Summer I was talking about when I wrote this song. A lot of those years run together. I was pretty much the same as I was at 21 as I was at 17. This song is loosely autobiographical. I had an apartment with my friends. Everyone partied at my house EVERY single day. We would drink cheap beer, be young and have fun. This is kind of a snap shot of that time of life.
You are coming back to Atlanta for the Sweetwater Brewery 420 Fest where you have a huge fan base. Many of these fans may have seen you perform dozens of times, what new things do you have in store for these fans?
We are test driving a lot of new material from the new record. Some of the stuff that we are playing are songs we have never played in public before. The album isn’t coming out until August so some of this is brand new stuff that we are test driving. For me that is always a very exciting time with the music. I don’t know what is going to happen. At this point I’m still getting acquainted with the tunes. Maybe they will change and maybe something unexpected will happen. As we figure out these songs and how they will translate in a live setting that is a unique time in the life of a song.
Atlanta’s own Brooklyn Basement artist Truett is also performing at 420 Festival. Will fans see either of you sitting in for a guest spot during the other’s performance?
Yes, definitely. Truett will be sitting in with us playing guitar on Saturday. I’m hoping that I can sit in with him.
It’s been rumored that you are a big Rick Ross fan. Is there any truth to that?
I have one Rick Ross album on vinyl. Somebody got it for me as a present because we use to have “It’s So Sophisticated” come on before every set. Kinda as a joke but also because I love it.
What was the first album that you added to your personal music library?
As a kid I was lucky because all the adults in my life had pretty varied tastes. My grand parents really dug a pretty wide variety of things including classic country, Sinatra, and soul records. My step dad he is a metal head and introduced me to bands like Motley Crue, Metallica, Judas Priest etc.. My mom likes pop music and she loved any pop music on the radio.
The first record I ever bought myself was a tape from the Wu Tang Clan. They were literally selling records out of the trunk of their car in Newark NJ. I bought a tape from Wu Tang when I was 8 or 9. The first CD I bought was II by Boyz to Men because I loved soul music and I was really impressed with the harmony that those guys had. As a contemporary soul group they were great with what they did.
What was your most recent addition to your personal music library?
Jason Isbell. I feel like we are cut from the same piece of stone. I dig him a lot and love his lyrics and guitar playing.
What was your first live music experience?
The first big concert that I went to with my friends was at the Tabernacle. We went to go see No Doubt with Lit Opening and The Black Eyed Peas
If you could cover one album in your music library which would it be?
I use to know how to play all of the songs on Axis: Bold as Love. I love Hendrix so that one would probably be fun. Maybe Born In The USA, I imagine that my band would probably sound great playing that. This is hard, you are killing me! I love so many records. I would love to do all of Led Zeplin IV, or do the 10 songs on the Eagles Greatest Hits or Elton John’s Tumbleweed Connection. There are so many of them. Can we do a mix tape?
Which artist do you wish more people had in their music library?
Truett. I love his playing, I love his song writing. He is a dynamic performer. I would love for more people to hear him. He is one of my favorite things going.