Act Of Congress - pure acoustic inspiration
(March 2010) - It was one of those not so rare ocassions when sense of duty pulled me in opposite directions - I was busy with work and Act Of Congress was performing live in downtown Lexington, Kentucky. I arrived just in time to see their encore and I was hooked - an instant fan of their intelligent, acoustic-based, songwriting. I spoke to the band briefly after the show and slipped their debut CD, Declaration, into the stereo as soon as I got home. It quickly became apparent that this young band was for real, and they hadn't saved the best for last as an encore number.
"Declaration" is an original and highly inspired project start to finish. I contacted the band the next day and arranged an interview to find out more about this amazing acoustic quartet.
- Mark D McKinley [Mark's Online Music Source]
mogswebsite.com: Your songwriting is very positive - to whom does the band credit this positive outlook on life?
Act Of Congress: It's encouraging to hear that people are paying attention to what we're saying. We put alot of emphasis on that. All four of us are Christians and our beliefs really shape the things we write about.
mogswebsite.com: Who do you consider to be the band's biggest musical influence?
Act Of Congress: It's tough to narrow down the band's biggest influence because we all have such diverse musical backgrounds. Tim and Bethany are really into jazz (I've heard both listening to Brad Mehldau and Medeski, Martin, and Wood), Chris likes alot of rock music (Radiohead, John Mayer), and I like a collection of all of that with a little singer/songwriter (The Swell Season, Griffin House).
mogswebsite.com: Then I'm not the only rock, singer/songwriter, enthusiast in this conversation with a deep appreciation for jazz! (smiling) Chris and Adam, what careers were the two of you pursuing when you met in college?
Act Of Congress: Chris and I attended the University of Montevallo and immediately became good friends. I remember Chris and I opening up for a band called Lynam at a campus wide fall kickoff party. (We're actually really good friends with Lynam frontman, Jacob Bunton, now!) Chris was finishing up a degree in Mass Communications when I began my college experience as a music major. We love Montevallo - it's a great school.
mogswebsite.com: Your thoughts on Bassist Tim Carroll and Fiddle player Bethany Borg...
Act Of Congress: We met Tim Carroll at a session we did at Synchromesh Studios in Birmingham, AL for rock band, Maylene and the Sons of Disaster. They brought him in to do some upright bass parts and we fell in love. Tim is the "mom" of the group or "logistics" as he likes to call it. Bethany moved to Birmingham from Minnesota with a list of fiddle accolades under her belt. She was fiddle champion in ten states and had just finished up performing in Branson, Missouri for two years. After hearing about her through a friend, we auditioned her and Act of Congress solidified as a quartet. Bethany handles our merchandise and heads up Facebook.
mogswebsite.com: Let's talk about the concept behind your debut CD, Declaration (an amazing project, by the way) -- what is Act Of Congress declaring to the masses?
Act Of Congress: Most bands release a first CD and are still discovering their identity. We recorded "Declaration" about 10 months after forming and spent time discussing vision and establishing a road to get there. These talks coincided with preproduction work on "Declaration" and greatly influenced the sound, writing and focus on the record. In our minds, "Declaration" was a first attempt to cohesively string together elements from our individual backgrounds and combine them into one unit. Our hope is that "Declaration" resonates with people, no matter what they label it.
mogswebsite.com: How has the band grown musically, say... since 2007?
Act Of Congress: There are alot of answers to this question. Musically, I don't think we'll ever stop growing. We are constantly writing new material preparing for our second record which keeps us on our toes. Experientially, we have had some amazing opportunities that have helped prepare us for whatever is ahead. Since 2007, we have been recognized by Paste Online, SXSW, Disney, NACA, APCA (finalist for APCA 2010 Best Band ) and Billboard (won the 2008 Disc Makers IMWS Award.) We were a featured artist on the nationally syndicated Woodsongs Old Time Radio show, worked with Live Nation, opening VIP areas for artists such as John Mayer, Edwin McCain, Toby Keith, Alan Jackson, and recently taped a live broadcast for XM radio. Also, we have several symphony dates on the calendar for 2010 and are hoping to explore that more in the next few years. We've been very thankful for the opportunities that have come our way and we are always looking forward to what comes next.
mogswebsite.com: Concerning the band's overall sound - is it the result of careful selection of musicians, or has the sound evolved naturally after the right musical personalities were selected?
Act Of Congress: After trying several things, this musical instrumentation seemed to work most naturally. Chris grew up playing shred guitar licks on electric and I was always more of a piano and guitar player than a mandolinist, but the combination of instruments (fiddle, bass, guitar, mandolin) really worked well together. We were comfortable with this and received overwhelming positive feedback about our sound. It's very versatile and leaves room for endless melodic possibility.
mogswebsite.com: Share your experience as a guest on the WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour.
Act Of Congress: When we received the call to be featured on Woodsongs, we were all ultra excited. We've watched our heroes on this show for years and were floored to be a featured artist. Michael Johnathon is a great guy - very friendly and hospitable, as was the production crew. We felt right at home. The live audience that attended the show was very complimentary of our sound, too. Our experience in a nutshell was very surreal and very humbling and we'd do it again tomorrow.
mogswebsite.com: Tell me about your song, "In The Middle".
Act Of Congress: "In the Middle" is a song about understanding each other's differences. In any relationship, the road to compromise is a two way street and this song embraces that philosophy.
mogswebsite.com: What prompted the remix version of In The Middle?
Act Of Congress: Early on, we recorded this song with layers and layers of effects to make it sound "bigger." We called this the "Remix Version," because of all the extra sounds. We felt that the stripped down version of "In the Middle" felt more cohesive with the rest of the project.
mogswebsite.com: I wish you and the band much success in music and in life! I encourage everyone to check out Act Of Congress' tour schedule - they're such a fun group to experience live!
Act Of Congress: Thanks for the opportunity to interview. We are truly honored! Best of luck to you, as well.
(C) 2010 Mark's Online Music Source
1 In The Middle 3:34
2 She Knows Her Way Around 3:12
3 Love Comes Free 3 :35
4 Not Crazy 3:54
5 Five Minutes of Fame 2:52
6 The Well 4:27
7 The Nature of Things 2:55
8 Chance Meeting 4:48
9 When We're Through 4:05
10 I Disagree 2:59
11 The Bear 3:22
12 In The Middle (remix) 3:41
ACT OF CONGRESS
Chris Griffin - guitar / dobro
Adam Wright - mandolin / guitar
Tim Carroll - upright bass
Bethany Borg - fiddle