Light of the Stereo

Light of the Stereo

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

10 Questions: Mark Ortmann of The Bottle Rockets

1) Your newest album, Not So Loud was recorded at the Lucas School House in St. Louis. What in particular about this venue and show made you decide to record your acoustic album there?

MO: The Lucas School House was an intimate listening room with good acoustics and sound system, making it well-suited for the audience and performers.

2) On the new album you re-imagined and re-tooled 13 songs from your extensive catalog. What process did you take in choosing the songs you would use for the album?

MO: We chose the best performances with the best recording quality and technical aspects. However, with over four hours of music recorded over two nights, we were selective in choosing only enough for a single disc.

3) What are some of the benefits and drawbacks of an acoustic show verses an electric? Is it a misnomer that you need less equipment for an acoustic show?

MO: The quieter volume of an acoustic performance can allow songs to be heard easier. An acoustic show seems to require about as much equipment as an electric show, but the gear is much lighter to carry. I guess it's easier on our ears and our backs.

4) In converting from electric performance to an acoustic one how did the drum parts evolve?

MO: I stripped down the drum set to just a bass drum, snare drum and hi-hat, and modified the drum parts to fit within that confinement. Playing with those restrictions forced me to approach the drum parts from a different creative space.

5) Rock and Jazz are know for their drummers, from the antics of Tommy Lee to the skill of Gene Krupa. Who do you gain influence from and are their specifically any Country music drummers among the list.

MO: Some of my favorite old-school drummers are John Bonham, Joe Morello, Clyde Stubblefield, Ringo Star, and Art Blakey. I do admire the talents of many of the Nashville session drummers, but none have necessarily influenced my style.

6) In past interviews you’ve sites influences like Jim Chrochy and David Gates. What are the names of current or newer bands/musicians that have had an effect upon the music of the band? With changes in the line up over the years, did that infuse new influences?

MO: I can't think of newer acts that have influenced the band, but yes, new band members do bring different influences to the band. Not all band members share the same exact tastes in music, so each brings their unique talents when they join.

7) The Bottle Rockets have been around for almost 2 decades, in that time what has been the most significant changes to the music industry? What have you done as a band to survive these changes?

MO: The biggest change has been the decline or necessity of record labels because of the Internet. Anybody can post or share free music in the spirit of do-it-yourself. We are slow at keeping up with the newest web technologies.

8) Over the years you’ve been connected with several record labels with both positive and negative results. To date you’ve released the most albums with the Chicago based Bloodshot label. What is it about this label that’s made the difference?

MO: Bloodshot (Records) does what they say and doesn't promise what they can't.

9) Your 2002 album Song of Sahm, a tribute to Doug Sahm that demonstrated your love of his music and the respect of his craft. Name 3 other songwriters that you feel are long over due for a tribute album.

MO: I haven't thought about it, but there is such a glut of tribute albums at this point, is there anybody who hasn't had one made yet?

10) What is the name of 5 bands you love but few people have heard of?

MO: I'm embarrassed to admit I'm out of touch with that.

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