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Arkansas Dave Interview by Christian Lamitschka for Country Music News International Magazine & Radio Show

 Arkansas Dave Interview by Christian Lamitschka for Country Music News International Magazine & Radio Show

Lamitschka:  Americana music
has many new fans throughout Europe who may be hearing about you for the first
time. How would you describe yourself and the music you play to someone who has
never seen or heard you?

 

Answer: Well,
it’s really encouraging to see more people interested in Americana/ Roots music
around the world. Growing up in Southern Arkansas, I was surrounded by music
that was the blueprint for American music. Rock ‘n Roll and all of the
precedents- blues, gospel, jazz, country, bluegrass – are products of the
American South. So, naturally, I have melded a sound of the South that can best
be described as Americana Rock ‘n Roll. 

 

Lamitschka:  How was the last
year for you? What were your highlights?

 

Answer: If we’re
talking about my music specifically, then I’d have to say I really enjoyed
being able to tour Europe for the first time; that was definitely one of the
most memorable experiences I had last year. I would be remiss if I did not
mention that I am particularly excited about the purchase my wife and I made of
a recording studio in downtown Austin. We plan to renovate the building to the
original 1948 architectural design, and bring the best qualities of both
vintage and modern technology to life by offering world class sound engineering
and production in a premiere recording studio in historic downtown Austin,
Texas.

 

Lamitschka:  Tell us about
your upcoming debut album.

 

Answer: My debut
album was recorded “live on the floor” in the legendary FAME studios in Muscle
Shoals, Alabama with part of the current Swampers lineup – Will McFarlane,
Clayton Ivey, Bob Wray and Justin Holder. After recording a total of 10 tracks
at FAME, I came home to Austin and recorded the vocals at the renowned Arlyn
Studios. After discussing the record release with my manager, we decided I
needed extra songs to be able to have more songs to push out throughout the
campaign, so I went back into the studio at the Machine Shop in Austin and
recorded 3 more tracks – Think Too Much, Squeaky Clean and Hard Times. I have
to say that this is probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever accomplished.
Recording your debut album is definitely an exciting experience, but it
absolutely taught me more about my songs, the recording process, music in
general and most of all, myself. I feel like I walked away from that experience
a better musician, and moreover, a better person. I didn’t want to attach a title
to my debut album, because I wanted it to be synonymous with me as a person. I
feel that if you have never met me before or don’t know me at all, if you
listen to my album then you will have a pretty good idea of whom I am.

 

Lamitschka:  Is there a story
behind your name?

 

Answer: Well,
one of my good friends convinced me that I needed to move down to Austin, so, I
decided to check it out. I moved down to Austin in 2007, and obviously being
from Arkansas, everyone started referring to me as “Arkansas Dave”. When I
enrolled at Media Tech, then housed in Arlyn Studios, there was another guy
that had my same first and surname; so that’s one of the first times I can
remember being called Arkansas Dave. Also, my buddy that talked me into moving
down to Austin had a cousin that would always call me Arkansas Dave (ever since
the first time I was introduced to him…) after the infamous outlaw “Arkansas
Dave” in the movie Young Guns 2. It is rumored that​the​Arkansas Dave ran with the famous outlaw gang ran by Billy the Kid,
and he was the only man that Billy feared. Arkansas Dave was part of Billy the
Kid’s gang until he got ran out of Texas and eventually was killed in Mexico. I
figured it was a good enough nickname to become a stage name so it just kinda stuck.

 

Lamitschka:  Do you write the
songs yourself? If not, how do you go about finding the songs for your CD?

 

Answer: Yes, all
of the songs (except the Tom Waits cover, Chocolate Jesus) are written by me.
There are a couple of songs that I co-wrote with a few different friends; but I
can’t imagine being an artist that depends on other songwriters to support
their career. My songs are a reflection of my life experience and me. Like I
said earlier, if you have no idea who I am, then listen to my songs and you’ll
understand me.

 

Lamitschka:  Please tell us
about the songs on your album (influences, etc).

 

Answer: There
was a lot of time spent curating this album. I started demoing these songs in
2015, and wound up recording about 18 songs. I culled them down to about 12,
then wrote a few more between the time I demoed the majority of the songs on
the album and when I recorded it in Muscle Shoals. The album takes you on a
musical ride of blues-rock to acoustic blues to soul drenched psychedelic blues-rock
to closing the record with some soulful acoustic ballads. I tried to include my
best songwriting on this album that showcased my eclectic style of Americana
Rock ‘n Roll.

 

Lamitschka:  Bad At Being Good
is your new single, what makes this song special to you?

 

Answer: This
song is just a fun way to say “you’re sorry”. I really try to not get into
trouble anymore, but sometimes you just get caught up in the moment and forget
what time it is… This was the best attempt to apologize even though I had no
regrets because I had a hell of a time…you know, it’s just sometimes I really
am bad at being good.

 

 

Lamitschka:  What will your
next single be?

 

Answer: Bad
Water. Bad Water is a special song to me. I would almost say that it’s one of
the best tracks on the record. I wrote this with my old band and we never
recorded it, so I felt it had to live on beyond that project.

 

Lamitschka:  What kind of
songs do you like to record the most?

 

Answer:
Honestly, I really just enjoy writing and recording so much that I really don’t
have a preference. I’m just trying to perfect my craft and write the best songs
that I can. It’s really hard to write a good song. To be able to intelligently
articulate an idea in song requires a lot of diligence, patience and failure to
get to the good stuff.

 

Lamitschka:  What is your
favorite song among all the songs you have recorded and what’s the story behind
it?

 

Answer: My
favorite song…hmmm. My songs are like my kids; I love them individually. I
would have to say that one of my favorite songs to perform has to be either Bad
Water or the Wheel. Both are powerful songs that seem to really connect with
people. I know you asked about just one song, but it’s hard to choose so I’ll
take the liberty at explaining both. Bad Water is inspired by the Southern
conservative Christian culture of small town, rural America, and how conflicted
I was with the environment where I was raised. Part of you feels a connection
with it simply because you grew up there, but the other part wants to just
escape before I lose my soul to the vicious cycle of poverty ridden life in the
South. The other song, The Wheel, is a very special song to me. I wrote this
song shortly after my father-in-law passed away while sitting on the floor in front
of the altar that my wife made for him. My wife being a Mexican/Apache American
woman, honors her loved ones that have passed with different offerings,
including burning a white candle, on the deceased’s altar. I remember feeling a
warm yet distant energy in the room that just surrounded me as I played my
guitar sitting in front of the altar. The candle that was burning started
flickering and burning faster than I’ve ever seen a candle burn before; and by
the time I finished writing the lyrics and playing it over and over to ensure I
knew my new song, the candle burnt out. It was a real heavy moment for me and I
was overcome with emotion, and finally felt at ease with my father-in-law’s
death. I believe that the lyrics, which I never changed or edited​and​came to me in less than 10 minutes, was a conversation beyond the
grave – an acknowledgement that I had his blessing and to always let my light
show; no matter how hard the outside world could be, know that my wife and I
still have each other. 

 

Lamitschka:  How much creative
control do you have over your music?

 

Answer:
Complete. I actually own my own record label, publishing company and, now,
recording studio. I started the record label in 2015 and will have released 5
records to date after my album drops on April 20, then another record from one
of my artists, Yoke Lore, will be released in July. 

 

Lamitschka:  Who inspires you
musically and how deep do your musical roots run?

 

Answer: I’m
constantly inspired simply by life. I feel that as a songwriter, I’m merely the
vessel that is just lucky enough to capture whatever song I’m writing. I speak
through my own life experiences, and try to convey an overall positive message
in my songs, even if the subject matter is dealing with darker and more heavy
issues. Inspiration is everywhere, you just have to pay attention. I’ve been
playing music since was a child. I got my first snare drum at the age of 5,
first set of drums at age 11, first guitar around 12 or 13 and never looked
back. By the time I was 12, I was playing drums weekly in church, so my musical
education came from real life experience of performing in front of at least 500
people every Sunday. It taught me what it meant to be a performing musician,
especially since I was playing with people, including my father, much older
than myself. The lessons I learned definitely shaped the musician I am today,
and I’m ever grateful for that opportunity.

 

Lamitschka:  What do you think
about today’s music scene versus its post and where do you see it going in the
future?

 

Answer: The
music industry swings like a pendulum. Music is art, and art is a reflection of
society and one’s views of how they fit within the “normal” rules of society.
Music and art are supposed to challenge the norms, while entertaining and
hopefully shed some light on subjects not normally discussed around the dinner
table. Everyone fantasizes about the “glory days” of the music industry; but I
feel that this generation needs artists like myself to remind them of the
authenticity that attracted them to music in the first place. I personally
feel, and have been saying this since around 2007, that music with substance
and true musicianship will be the mainstream again….and still believe that.
Just look around it the new wave of stars in country and Americana music –
Chris Stapleton, Jason Isbell, Sturgill Simpson, Margo Price, etc. It’s just
going to have to take a catalyst to push it over the edge. I believe that in
the next 2 years, you are going to see a new renaissance of art that people
around the world really connect with. The socio-economic and political state of
the world right now is reflecting the angst and hardships most people have
endured the last 20 years. People are searching for something with substance;
something that has tangible meaning to them where they can seek refuge from the
outside world, and their problems, one album at a time. 

 

Lamitschka:  If you had the
chance to change something about the music industry, what would it be?

 

Answer: I would
change the concept of the so-called “gatekeepers”. The ones that control the
overall success of an artist. Whether that be the record labels, managers or
the streaming services that have taken over the music industry. It’s a tough
environment for up and coming artists, like myself, and it’s going to take
people going out on a limb and risking their reputations for something they
believe in and actually enjoy, rather than take the biggest paycheck and push
out the shittest, most plastic cookie-cutter music possible. I’m tired of
hearing the same bullshit on the radio. The same melody lines. The same drum
beats. No wonder there are so many artists getting sued nowadays, because
nothing is original anymore. I believe that the next generation of rock stars
aren’t going around doing loads of drugs and fucking loads of groupies…that
shit really ain’t cool anymore. The next “real rockstar” will be the outspoken
one that says what’s on his/her mind without fear of losing their following on
social media. 

 

Lamitschka:  As an artist, you
so many tasks such as recording, touring, interviews. What do you like best,
what’s your favorite activity?

 

Answer: I
honestly enjoy what I do so much that every aspect of being an artist;it  is fun to me. Of course the hardships that
come with being a breaking artist and the general competition in the music
industry makes it a hard goal to pursue, but I honestly don’t know what else
I’d do with my life. I quite enjoy touring because I get to meet new people and
see new places I’ve never seen before. My goal in life is to see the world
through my music; and I think I’m well on my way to accomplishing that. 

 

Lamitschka:  Are you doing
anything to take music beyond its current borders or are you happy where it is?

 

Answer: I always
try to push myself beyond my limits. If you never explore the boundaries, how
do you know where they are? I have a pretty eclectic taste in music, as well as
writing style. I don’t like to “stick with a formula”. I get bored with the
same ole song and dance; so I quite enjoy pushing myself to write whatever
inspires me and play as often as I can. I am definitely happy with my debut
album, but like every artist, I’m ready to take on the next thing. 

 

Lamitschka:  What inspired you
to become an artist?

 

Answer: I
remember when I was a kid, one of my favorite movies was Wayne’s World. One of
the famous scenes from that movie was set inside a music shop that had a sign
that said “No Stairway to Heaven”. Curious what that meant, I asked my dad and
he obliged by taking me to the closest CD store to buy the​Early
Days
compilation by Led Zeppelin. As soon as I
heard John Bonham play the drums, it was over for me. I knew that I wanted to
be a rocknroller for the rest of my life. That was probably still the coolest
thing my dad has ever done for me…turn me onto Led Zeppelin. 

 

Lamitschka:  What inspired you
to become a songwriter?

 

Answer: Growing
up as a drummer, I never got really good at the guitar (outside of having solid
rhythm) so I focused on creating songs for me to play rather than get super
sweet at playing solos. I guess after figuring out how truly therapeutic
songwriting is, as well as the feeling of creating and accomplishment, it came
kinda natural to me. Trust me, I probably have a 100 songs that will never see
the day of light. But you have to fail in order to succeed…so obviously
failure is starting to work in my favor. haha

 

Lamitschka:  What drives you?

 

 

Answer: Really,
I still have this burning feeling inside of me that makes my compass point
towards chasing this dream that I’ve always had to become a successful musician.
I don’t think I’m going to stop until I’m dead. I met Levon Helm, one of my
greatest influences, one time; and he told me as he shook my hand that “when
the music bug bites you, you can’t shake it. So you’ll never be able to give it
up no matter how far away you are from it.” That really sums up what gives me
the desire to go halfway around the world to play music for people. It
definitely has to be worth it for me to leave my family for weeks at a time; so
knowing that music has always been there for me, I can never abandon the friend
I have in music. 

 

Lamitschka:  What has been
your greatest challenge in music business?

 

Answer:
Honestly, starting a record label in the climate of today’s music industry.
Seeing the decline of music sales, streaming taking over the marketplace and
the ever growing competition, I believe it’s harder than ever to be successful
in the music business; you just have to stay on your feet and roll with the
punches. Trust me, I have had my share of hard lessons starting this company,
but I always find a way to make it work. There’s a graph online that my buddy
showed me the other day, and I think it’s super fitting for going to the
“School of Hard Knocks” like I did. It’s called the Graph of Mount Stupid. It
shows the trajectory of people that have a strong opinion about something
versus the actual knowledge of the subject. I thought I knew everything I
needed to know about starting a record label, but boy was I wrong. After two
hard years pushing this boulder up the mountain, I feel that I’m now on the
other side of Mount Stupid and pushing my way towards a sustainable and
successful career as a record label owner. My advice to anyone wanting to get
into the music business, rethink your decision and ask yourself if you are ok
with rejection and failure; because if you are, then you may be crazy enough
for this business. I always tell people that are interested in the music
industry that this is not a career; it’s a lifestyle. So, I hope that those of
you reading this and contemplating making the plunge pay heed to my
advice…Godspeed!

 

Lamitschka:  What moments in
your career stand out in your memory as highlights and achievements which you
are proud of?

 

Answer: I can
think of really 3 things: 

1.
Paying my dues on the chitlin’
circuit with legendary blues artist, Guitar Shorty. It gave me my education in
what it takes to be a professional touring musician touring with Shorty. The
amount of dedication it takes to be successful can not be overstated, and I
admire anyone willing to go out there and give it a try. 

2.
Recording my debut album at
FAME studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. It was a surreal experience that I
still look back on today and feel the energy we created in that room. What I
learned from that experience will affect my career for the rest of my life. I
really appreciate everyone that helped create my album. I can’t be more proud
of introducing myself to the world with this piece of art. It’s truly
humbling. 

3.
Having the opportunity to tour
Europe last year, and now being asked to come back and do a 25+ date tour
stretching from Sweden to Switzerland to Germany and the UK. I’m thrilled to be
able to play for the wonderful people of Europe again. 

 

Lamitschka:  Who is your
biggest critic, yourself or others?

 

Answer:
Definitely myself. I have to be. I think anyone trying to accomplish a goal has
to be critical of their work; otherwise they will never push themselves to be
the best they can be. I believe that with hard work, dedication and enough
positive energy and belief, you can do anything you set out to do. 

 

Lamitschka:  When you get time
off, how do you like to relax?

 

Answer: Man, I
really enjoy just being able to be outside and doing anything that interests
me. I’m a very curious person, and want to experience many things in life
before I die. So, consequently, I just go wherever I feel I’m supposed to go. I
don’t really keep a schedule, unless it’s something important/special or a gig.
It aggravates my sister and any one of my friends that have a “real job”, but
that’s how I roll. I like to keep things interesting. If you are asking
specific things like what do I do, I enjoy travelling a whole lot. I love the
experiences you get when you travel; everything from the food, drinks, music
and culture, I love it. I guess I just really admire how people live their
lives and experiencing something that is outside of the norm of my life here in
Austin, Texas. I still enjoy going up to my property in North Arkansas and
hiding out in the mountains for days at a time, but I don’t get up there as
often as I’d like. I quite enjoy golf and snow skiing a lot as well; but
Touring, running a record label, publishing company and recording studio really
leaves me little time to just “relax”. I have a wonderful and blessed life that
I’m ever grateful for, and do things that most dream of doing, so I guess I’m
very satisfied with my life, so I don’t have this outside pressure affecting my
choices. My choices are what causes my stress, but I have created a life that I
wake up to everyday and enjoy, so I’m very humbled and thankful for the gifts
that life has given me. 

 

Lamitschka:  Is there anything
in your life that you would change if you could?

 

Answer: Well, I
think that if I could change anything, it would be having a closer relationship
with my family. I’ve always felt that have been treated like the black sheep of
the family, so I don’t quite understand how to communicate with them. They have
such different views on life than I do. Not to say that I can’t have a
conversation with most of my family; I just feel that I can’t relate to their
lives and they don’t understand mine. I want to experience life to the fullest
and meet all kinds of people from all over the world, but most folks I grew up
with are just comfortable and complacent with their lives, yet wonder why
“things don’t go their way”. I believe that you have to create your own path
and ultimately, destiny. No one can dictate what you do with your life, nor can
they experience your life. One must strive to become the best possible version
of oneself in order to achieve true happiness. I believe that happiness is a
perspective, and one can choose to be either happy or they can choose to be
miserable. I have chosen to walk my own path, and create my own destiny and
therefore I am happy with my life. With hard work, diligence and enough belief,
anything that I ever want that’s within reach, I will accomplish. I do believe
that I will have the relationship with my family someday, but I think it’s
going to take them seeing for themselves what is around them and understand my
decisions to be who I am. 

 

Lamitschka:  What hopes and
desires do you have?

 

 

Answer: I hope
to retire early and enjoy the fruits of my labor. I’m in my 30’s now, so I feel
it’s time to work hard while I have my health and drive, then slow down and
enjoy the life my wife and I have created for ourselves. I plan on focusing on
producing music and films after I eventually come off of the road. A goal of
mine is to create a feature film someday. I have started a treatment for a
story that I created based loosely on my life, that I think I’ll start to work
on in the not so distant future. Once I have toured this record, and the next
one is finished; I plan on beginning the process of shooting my film. 

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