1. Hi guys! For those that don’t know you, can you please introduce yourselves and tell us a bit more about you?
Ken – I am Ken Griffin, I am the singer songwriter with August Wells. My former projects include Rollerskate Skinny , Kid Silver, Favourite Sons. I am originally from Dublin, but have lived in New York for 25 years.
John – I am John Rauchenberger, I’m the piano player with August Wells and co-founder/co-arranger. I am also an audio engineer. I’m born and bred in NYC but I feel like Ireland has become my second home.
2. What inspired both of you to get into music? Is it something you have always had an interest in?
Ken – From my very first experience with music, I knew I wanted it to be my life. Music seemed like a mysterious beautiful island and I wanted to go there. In many ways I moved to New York because it seemed like it was made out of music, every street every building every face seemed to sing to me.
John – I have always been interested in music. We had a piano in the house growing up and some of my siblings are also piano and guitar players, so it was always around. I was always in bands. Even as a young kid I’d always rather make up my own songs than learn others people’s.
3. Mental health in the music industry is a very prevalent issue yet a taboo topic. How do you deal with this while working in the industry?
Ken – I would go as far as saying almost all the gifted artists I have known could be described as suffering from some level of mental difficulty . I believe I only made it through my twenties because the Art World is accepting of a
person who might be struggling. I don’t want to suggest you have to be mentally troubled to create good art but i can only speak about my experiences. A lot of my lyrics deal very directly with or from a state of mind
that might be described disturbed, but art in a way is reality disturbed.
4. You have recently released your new album ‘No More Operators’, can you tell us a bit more about this?
Ken – Its hard to summarize in any one simple way, its not a concept album, but more a continuation of several years of work. I suppose the title ‘No More Operators’ simply refers to the passing of time. I chose Operators to symbolize how things that you think will just be here forever can over time disappear. Its August Wells’ third album, I think myself and John have been following an unsaid idea for a few years now and ‘No More Operators’ is the closest we have gotten to that idea.
5. What was the inspiration behind this album?
Ken – Inspiration, at least for me, is not always very conscious. Lyrically, like the first paint stroke on a painting, a line will sometimes seem to appear and then every subsequent line grows from the original inspiration. I collect melodies, some of which I have had for years, so I find one that fits the lyric. I pick a structure, bring it to John and we sit in a room playing it over and over until we feel its complete.
John – For me the inspiration of all the August Wells Albums have always been Ken’s lyrics and songs.
6. What’s your creative process when it comes to writing? Both for this album and also in general?
Ken – I think I unintentionally answered this question with the last answer. Sorry!
John – A big tool is recording jamming a new song. A line or melody comes out of nowhere. Often it’s a moment where Ken or I would say “oh…that sounds good…” then I would go back and learn what happened without thinking. An interesting thing happens when a song is recorded. It feels complete and almost feels like performing a cover.
7. If you could choose one song each from the album that you feel best showcases your music, which one would it be and why?
Ken – Right now I would say ‘That Living Feeling’, because although written before the pandemic, it seems to speak to now.
John – ‘Shape Up’ is a classic August Wells song.
8. What has it been like releasing an album during a global pandemic? Do you find it has had a positive or negative impact on you as a band and on the release itself?
Ken – This album was completed before the pandemic, so I can’t claim it effected us creatively. Regarding the release, we will have to wait and see, normally you release and album, get some press and then tour, but that’s all changed. We are all standing in new territory.
John – Yeah, so not touring has been the most negative part. That really is the best part of a new release. There’s been a wonderful response and I think during the shutdown a lot of people are ready and grateful for new music but there is really a depressing part of not playing live. We basically went from playing music live all the time to never. It’s very strange.
9. This is your third album release as August Wells. Has your sound changed much over the years in your opinion?
Ken – I think we began with a pretty broad sound, exploring, reaching around, but over time I think we have chosen the discoveries we like and so refined our sound. Like building a house, the process can seem blind and random but when you stand back it all makes sense.
John – There’s an organic process that happens with the composing and arranging that also happens with the sound. I feel like all three albums really sound like August Wells. My answer for the question “What’s your band sound like?” is August Wells.
10. And finally, we like to give our readers a bit of an insight into the people we interview! So, tell us something about each of ye that nobody knows?!
Ken – I once did an interview with satirical newspaper ‘The Onion’. They responded to my answers saying “Man these answers are hilarious, thank you”. It was in my early twenties and what they didn’t know was that I had no idea that they were a satirical newspaper. Luckily, my answers were so bloated and youthfully arrogant that they assumed I was just being funny.
John – I’ve become obsessed with taking apart and building from scratch vacuum tube amps. My kitchen has become a workshop.
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