A Split Lip Exclusive Interview with k.s. Rhoads
With J. Scott Bugher
Ever since his debut record, Dead Language, I have been a big fan of k.s. Rhoads, and to have him here with us at Split Lip is indeed a great honor. He is a true artist devoted to his craft as a composer, lyricist, arranger and multi-instrumentalist--the type of person we adore at Split Lip. During his interview with J. Scott Bugher, he talked about the latest news going on in his world, much of what he's been up to between Dead Language and The Wilderness, and his methods of making the plant aware of his talents. Check it out!
What’s been going on, Mr. Rhoads?
All sorts of stuff. It’s going to be a very eventful year. I just put my new record, The Wilderness, out not too long ago and am about to get ready to get back in the studio with Emily West to record a duet album. It’s going to have a neo-Judy Garland sound going on so I’m excited about that for sure. But for now, we’re working hard at getting The Wilderness out there. It’s been picking up radio play and a few features on iTunes and Spotify. All good things.
I remember when your last release, Dead Language, came out back in ’07. It’s been a chunk of time between that and your latest release. What were you up to during the break?
Yeah, it’s been a long time—six years. I just started working with other people but, at the same time, kept writing new material for myself, though a few songs from the new record were written around the time of Dead Language. Actually, one song from The Wilderness, “Chains,” was going to be included on Dead Language, so a few of the tunes definitely came from earlier years. But, yeah, I had a lot going on over my time off doing tours with others like Erin McCarley and the Ten out of Tenn tours.
I remember the Ten out of Tenn tours. It was you along with nine other artists all from Nashville. Are the tours still happening?
There aren’t any plans to do the tour again right now, but we are all doing a concert for the opening of Nashville’s new convention center this month. But who knows, maybe Ten of Tenn will do a reunion tour in a couple of decades while we’re all in our 50s and 60s.
The Wilderness was produced by Cason Cooley, who recently worked on some Split Lip favorites like Katie Herzig and Matthew Perryman Jones. What was it like working with Cason?
Cason’s a very good dude. He’s the kind of guy who can hear something and follow through to make it happen. The original plan was for me to perform and produce the record myself, but on my first day in the studio working with the album’s drummer, Will Sayles, Cason stopped by and had some thoughts. Then he eventually elbowed his way in as producer, which was a good thing. When you’re trying to perform and produce a record on your own, it’s a very lonely endeavor. Cason made the process a lot cooler. I’d say the highlight of working with him was a time I had left the studio while he and Will were working on some stuff. I texted him later that day just to see what’s up and he replied with “You’re welcome from me and Will for making ‘Harvest’ awesome.” When I heard the tune, it was amazing. It was the sound I had been looking for all along. Like I said, Cason can just hear things and really lay them down.
Since Split Lip promotes independent artists of all sorts, we’re always curious about their approaches to promoting themselves and getting their art out into the world. What’s your ways of going about that?
Well, it’s definitely a different game than it used to be. You’ve got all sorts of social media that makes it easy to promote and announce tour dates, but one networking tool that’s really helped has been Noisetrade.com. It’s quite brilliant. You know, you can sell a record for ten bucks and that’s that, but when it’s up on Noisetrade for download, I can see the demographics of it all. So, say I get 500 downloads from Portland, Oregon or something. That tells me it might be a pretty good idea to put a show together out there and shoot an email to those who downloaded the record, which is a lot more beneficial than a one time record sale.
Being independent involves building a team. Between me and the guys working with me, we’ve pretty much established our own label. I’ve got my manager who also does radio representation, a guy on distribution and a publicist. We’re a team of what a major label would provide, but just do it on our own.
Sounds good, K.S. It might be a good idea for Split Lip to do some blogging on Noisetrade or something. It sounds very cool. And it’s cool to hear you’ve got a lot of good people on your team getting this kitty purring. I really appreciate you taking time to talk with Split Lip and wish you the best.
Yeah, man. Thanks a lot.