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Dirt Road Opera Interview

Dirt Road Opera Interview by Christian Lamitschka for Country Music News International Magazine & Radio Show

Lamitschka:  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:  We’re an Americana/Roots band. A lot of different styles fall under that
umbrella and we play a lot of different kinds of music. Originals mixed in with
a few cover songs by artists we like such as Allison Krause, Steve Earle,
Townes Van Zandt etc. Our songs are rich with harmonies with three singers in
the band and we pride ourselves with the lyrical and musical content of our
songs.

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

Answer:  Last year was a big one for us as we finally finished recording our
debut album, Nowheresville. After spending a lot of time in the studio writing,
recording and mixing we were eventually satisfied with it and started the
process of getting it out to the world.

Lamitschka:  What is your latest CD and how’s it
doing?

Answer: The latest cd, Nowheresville is actually our debut Cd and it seems to be
doing quite well with thousands of listeners from all over the world tuning in
to hear it.

Lamitschka:  How did you choose the title for the CD?
Is there a story behind the name?

Answer:  Actually I (Barry) heard the term Nowheresville on a radio program years
ago and thought it would be a good name for a song someday. When I wrote the
song I had a friend’s place in mind who lives up in the mountains with his
buddies and so it’s basically about them and other folks who like to live away
from the hustle and bustle of towns and cities. When the album was done and we
needed a name for it and the band all decided it would make a good album title.

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

Answer:  Barry is the main writer for the band but we don’t mind doing other
people’s songs if we like them. We have three covers on the record, Seven
Shells by Canadian songwriter Fred Eaglesmith, Rattlin’ Bones by Kasey Chambers
and Shane Nicholson from Australia and one by our singer Rachel’s dad Dave
called Horseshoe Turn.

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

Answer:  Our songs come to us in various ways. Sometimes they’re based on
personal experience or it might be something we’ve read or heard about on the
news.

Play That
Old Steel was the first song Barry ever wrote that he actually thought was any
good. It’s about being in a band when you’re young and travelling around to all
the small towns and playing in beer joints, sometimes to a somewhat less than
appreciative crowd. Doing it more for the love of the song rather than the
money.

Tell the
Truth started out with a little melody and some nice chord changes and
eventually evolved into a song about love lost. Sometimes the trick is taking
an age old subject and spinning the words in a new way to create something
different.

Hard to
Find is a fictional tale of shy people finding love while Into Your World is a
happy little pop song about wanting someone to fall in love with you that you
secretly admire. The first lines “Some say that love and attraction, are
nothing more than a chemical reaction. If that’s true I’m having a reaction to
you”. we’re inspired by a scientist trying to explain what happens in a
person’s brain when they fall in love.

Perfection
was born out of appreciation for all the beauty in this world and Jim wrote
Mother and Me about the relationship with his Mother.

Can’t Find
a Way is a lament about not being able to let go of an unfaithful relationship,
totally written in about ten minutes and finally, The Way it is Around Here is
a heartfelt reflection on growing up in a small town.

Lamitschka:  What is the difference between your last
CD and your current one?

Answer:  This is Dirt Road Opera’s first CD, however all three of the band
members have had successful records over the years. Nowheresville is a
culmination of years of experience, writing, singing and playing throughout
their careers.

Lamitschka:  Your current single is being played by
radio. What do you feel is special about this song that makes people want to
hear it?

Answer:  Well for one thing, Rattlin’ Bones is
a great song, written by Kasey Chambers and Shane Nicholson who we have
a great admiration for. The feel the original had was already so good that we
didn’t want to try and copy it so we changed it up a bit with drums and
electric guitars to give it a bit more of an edge.

Lamitschka:  What will your next single be?

Answer:   Right now we’re thinking of
releasing Tell the Truth next. It features Rachel’s beautiful voice alongside
some nice twangy guitars and our trademark harmonies.

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

Answer:  Anything we really like basically. Some songs just grab you right away
and we enjoy singing and playing them. Generally if it’s something we like,
then our fans usually do too.

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

Answer:  Probably Hard to Find would be the one. Jim and Barry wrote it quite
some time ago and we’ve recorded many different versions of it until finally
nailing it on this record. A vision of a stage with a great singer, piano,
pedal steel, acoustic guitars and a standup bass helped to understand how we
should approach recording it. This actually worked as we used that thought as a
sort of road map on how to produce it.

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

Answer:  100%

Lamitschka:  Do you have any interesting stories about
how fans have been affected by your music?

Answer:  One time a fan said we had saved her life by listening to one of our
songs. Not sure how it did but it was certainly a wonderful thing to hear. Most
folks who like our music  are very
generous with their praise and we have an amazingly loyal fan base.

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

Answer:  Artist who we look up to include: Steve Earle, Buddy and Julie Miller,
Tom Petty, John Prine, Neil Young, Gillian Welch, the list could go on for a
long time. People who can write great songs with intelligent lyrics always get
our attention. We’ve been listening to and playing the songs of our peers for
many years now and have learned a lot from them by doing so.

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

Answer:  Our taste falls into the Americana/altcountry/roots categories and
there’s lots of great music being made today and in the past years in that
style. If you like music that’s not mainstream, it’s not always available from
traditional  sources and you have to know
where it is and how to access it. There will always be good music made but at
the same time, for us anyways, mainstream doesn’t seem to have the great songs
that it used to.

Lamitschka:  What do you think about today’s music
industry?

Answer:  There will always be good music made but at the same time, for us
anyways, mainstream doesn’t seem to have the craftsmanship that it used to. As
songwriters, we enjoy good lyrics, melodies and of coursemusicianship.

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

Answer:  Music is basically free now and digital royalties are far below an
acceptable level. We’d encourage providers to pay more to the artists who make
the music they play and for fans to purchase music whenever possible to allow
us to keep on making it.

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

Answer:  Yes, there are many hats to wear as an artist these days, particularly
if you’re taking care of a lot of things yourself. We enjoy writing, recording
and doing publicity but at the end of the day the best reward comes from
playing live.

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

Answer:  We like to be original. Not consciously trying to sound like something
else but at the same time, the band does have a certain style that appears
throughout our music.

Lamitschka:  What was your big break that got you into
the music business?

Answer: There is an organization in Canada called FACTOR which stands for
Foundation to Assist Canadian Talent On Record. They were extremely helpful,
enabling us to start making records in previous bands. Rachel was signed to a
record deal with MCA/Universal Music and Barry and Jim have performed on the
Canadian Country Music Awards Show to a live audience of 10,000 and a televised
audience of 20 million.   

Lamitschka:  Before you became a star, were your
friends and family supportive or was it a struggle?

Answer:  We were all playing music at a very young age and there was always great
support from our families to carry on with our passion. Rachel was in a family
band with her dad and two brothers, Jim’s father was a symphony conductor and
Barry’s mother was a great pianist.

Lamitschka:  What inspired you to become an artist?

Answer:  Simply a love of music and admiring the stars of the day and their
careers.

Lamitschka:  What inspired you to become a songwriter?

Answer:  I think it just came naturally as we were in musical families and it’s
just what you did.

Lamitschka:  What drives you?

Answer:  It’s just a deep down desire that we really have no control over. You
don’t choose music, it chooses you. To keep growing our fan base so we’re able
continue making music and perform in places we’ve never been before.

Lamitschka:  What’s unique about you that will
differentiate you from other artists?

Answer:  Probably the songs and vocals. We’re blessed with having three singers
in the band that have been working together for years.

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

Answer:Living in a relatively small town. It would have been easier and more
beneficial to move to Nashville or Austin or a bigger music centre but we’ve
chosen to raise our families here.

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

Answer:  Being nominated for JUNO awards and winning many others was always a
great. Travelling to Mexico, Europe and the US to play. Playing “live” on a
huge awards show which was broadcast to over 20 million people worldwide.
Signing a deal with a major record label and of course, hearing yourself on the
radio for the very first time was a huge thrill!

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

Answer:  Ourselves and our families. They never sugar coat anything and if it
doesn’t fly with them then there’s usually a problem:)

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

Answer:  We enjoy playing golf although we’re not really very good at it.
Relaxing at our lakeside hideaway and ultimately getting the guitars out and
sitting around singing.

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

Answer:Having the ability to magically lock peoples cell phones when they are
attending a show.

Lamitschka:  What hopes and desires do you have?

Answer:  We hope to be successful enough to keep on making records and
performing. It would be awesome to keep it going as long as possible and travel
around the world.

Lamitschka:  What has been the biggest disappointment
in your life?

Answer:  A big one is every time we hear of one of our idols passing away. It
gets very personal when someone you admire so much leaves us.

Lamitschka:  Many European fans travel to the United
States to attend the several of the music festivals for the opportunity to see
so many of their favorite artists, bands and celebrities. Will you be
participating and how will the fans be able to find you?

Answer:  For now, the best way to stay in touch is through social media like Facebook
and our website www.dirtroadopera.ca

Lamitschka:  Is there any place you haven’t played
that you would like to?

Answer:  Austin, Texas would be fun and lots of places in Europe!

Lamitschka:  What can your fans expect to see when
they see you in concert?

Answer:  We’re quite serious about the music but our personalities can get pretty
goofy sometimes. We like to laugh a lot and engage our audience that way too.

Lamitschka:  When you’re on tour, do you have time to
play tourist?

Answer:  Yes. Hotel rooms can get very boring so it’s always nice to go out and
explore and get in touch with the local folks.

Lamitschka:  Do fans mob you everywhere you go or do
they respect your privacy?

Answer:  No mobs yet:)

Lamitschka:  What’s the best compliment a fan has ever
given you?

Answer:  Please don’t ever quit, we love you guys so much!

Lamitschka:  What’s your favorite song that you wish
you could have recorded?

Answer:  Boy that’s tough question, there are so many!  Pretty much anything by Tom Petty, Lucinda
Williams, Townes Van Zandt or Steve Earl would be in there for sure. Just going
to throw one out here, Paunch and Lefty by Townes.

Lamitschka:  What message would you like to send your
European fans?

Answer:  Please follow us on Spotify, Instagram, Youtube and Facebook. The more
support we get worldwide, the more we’ll be able to come and play for you. All
the links are available at www.dirtroadopera.ca

Lamitschka:  How do you feel about being winning the Canadian Independent Country Band of
the Year?  What has it done for your career?

Answer:  This was from Jim and Barry’s band the Cruzeros. They were thrilled to
have won it and  it helped them to
achieve major success in Canada.

Lamitschka:  You have a new love in your life? Can you
tell us something about it?

Answer:  Barry; My Irish Setter dog Jackson. He’s a big red goof and we love him
dearly. Rachel; my son Keefer and Jim: Hammond B3 organ.

Lamitschka:  Fans are always hungry for good road
stories. Do you have one you can share with us (come on don’t be shy)?

Answer: The time we played on the Canadian Country
Music Awards Show. We
were one of the few bands that actually played live, no lip syncing or faking
our instruments. There were two days of rehearsals that went well and the
evening of the show saw 10,000 people in the Saddledome in Calgary, Alberta. Theband was seated at a
table as the other acts performed and when our time came around we were
escorted to our stage. Which was completely empty, not one piece of equipment
in sight! Our road manager Terry jumped into high gear, yelling out to people
and directing traffic as the clock ticked down to 90 seconds before we were to
play. This was being broadcast worldwide as well to a televised audience of
over 20 million people so we were already a little nervous but now our stomachs were turning
upside down. It was like a dream many musicians have about anything and
everything going wrong except this time it was for real! We stood by as crews hustled our amps
to the stage, plugged them in and set up the microphones. The tele
prompters were ready to go and the
producers were starting to give us the final 30 second countdown until we were
live. Jim had nothing coming from his bass, Barry’s mic wasn’t working and
panic was starting to set in when, with about 3 seconds to go, everything
somehow came together and we began playing as if nothing had happened at all.

The rest
of the shows on that tour were a breeze!!

Lamitschka:  Describe what a perfect day is like for
you.

Answer:  Everyone being healthy and happy. Arriving at the gig with plenty of
time to set up and relax and then putting on a great show where the fans and
the band both have a great time.

Christian Lamitschka (Ch.Lamitschka@t-online.de) for Country Music
News International Magazine & Radio Show

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