Asheville, NC-based musician Dup Crosson - whose one-man-band project is known as Saint Solitude - will soon stop in Chicago for an August 11 show at Darkroom (also featuring TV Set, Pree, Miss Autopsy and Leaves). The gig is part of a U.S. tour to promote the newly-released debut Saint Solitude record, Journal of Retreat.
Although Crosson flies solo, the record proves that he's no dime-a-dozen singer-songwriter. With inspiration from the likes of R.E.M, Echo & the Bunnymen, Oasis and Suede, Crosson delivers a full, alluring pop sound that showcases his skills as a multi-instrumentialist and loop artist. For a taste, check out one of the album's cuts, "Let's Try It":
In anticipation of the Darkroom show, Crosson answered some questions on Saint Solitude and what people can expect from the show:
First off, tell us how Saint Solitude began and how the project has developed so far.
Saint Solitude began officially in 2006 as the moniker for my solo material. I took a break from songwriting for a few years in college and when I came back to it, I realized I hadn't lost the desire to write- in fact it came back stronger than ever. I decided from there on out I always wanted to have my own project going on alongside anything else I might be doing - something I could always come back to. Bands tend to break up a lot...this was my way of always having something to work on.
You’ve just released your debut record, Journal of Retreat. What was the recording like and what can people unfamiliar with your music expect to hear?
Most of the record was recorded in the living room of my old house, except for one track, "Flocking Disaster," which was done at Landslide Studio, where the album was mixed. I've always loved home recording because of the flexibility - recording vocals late at night, making up weird percussion tricks in my kitchen- you have to pay for that time in a studio! There's definitely some limitations doing it this way, and it makes you learn the technical side of things more, but it's quite comfortable otherwise.
I'm playing to more new ears on this current tour, so I get any number of responses depending on what they've heard - the record or the live show - because the two are pretty different right now. The record is full band style and arranged for a four or five piece band. The live show is a one-man affair with a loop station that builds layers upon layers. Same songs, though. For the people who haven't seen the looping before, it can be pretty exciting. I'll have a band when I tour again next year to try and bridge the two entities into a more cohesive sound.
Even though you’re a one-man band, your music tends to have a fuller group vibe rather than a typical singer-songwriter sound. Did you set out to make it this way? How do you make it work live?
I knew it was always going to be my project, but I didn't ever think I'd be touring as a one-man band. It just made more sense. I can tour in a sedan that gets 44 miles to the gallon. That's pretty invaluable for trying to get your name out there. Makes it a lot easier.
I've always been turned off by the typical singer-songwriters who aren't doing something new - either in their records or their live shows or the way they arrange their songs. Beck is good at keeping things fresh. Neko Case excels at it. My live show has been my attempt to do something new for me and the audience - I experiment a lot, but the core of the show is the old fashioned three-minute pop song. That comes through, I think. People still remember the hooks, hopefully.
What’s one band or musician you feel clearly comes through as an influence in your music? What about one that people would probably be surprised to learn is an inspiration?
People hear Radiohead a lot, which I don't really understand - but I do listen to them a lot, so it makes sense. They're pretty seminal to where I steer myself melodically. The Smashing Pumpkins have always been my favorite - Billy Corgan, enigma that he is, will always remain my favorite songwriter. I think that throws some people off because I don't always go for the big, heavy riffs that they're known for. I always appreciated their range of songwriting more than anything - the ability to place a soaring nine-minute rock opus next to a delicate, acoustic song.
Your current tour will bring you to Chicago for a gig at Darkroom on August 11. Have you played here before? What are you most looking forward to from your stop in the city?
I've never even been to Chicago before! Even being such a huge Smashing Pumpkins fan. So I'm excited to swim in the lake and see the Metro and what not. I'll have a map of geeky things to do, I'm sure. Hopefully see a show on my night off. I've been told I have to eat at Hot Doug's.
Why should people be sure to check out the show? What can they expect?
It's not a typical one-man show. It's loud, it's spacey. Plus there's like 5 bands on the bill so there will be plenty of music for your buck. One of my favorite bands from D.C. is playing, too - Pree. Their singer May has a very unique voice.
Your best experience playing live so far? What about the worst or craziest?
Hmm. That's a tough one. Audience participation always gets me going. It's fun to play off that. I just played these songs with a band a week ago for the tour kickoff - that was really fun, too. A taste of what's to come.
The way my show's setup, the worst thing can be equipment failure because I have so much. I've got to roll with the punches sometimes.
How can people find out more?
www.saintsolitude.com - I update my blog there. Also on myspace.com/saintsolitude. There are video clips at both, and the record will be available through CDBaby and aliveandwellrecords.com within a week or two.