by Ryan Meehan
Ryan Clackner and Lucy Cochran (sometimes separately, sometimes together) have toured, performed or recorded with Bob Wayne, Fifth on the Floor, Shooter Jennings, JD Wilkes, The Legendary Shack Shakers, Sarah Gayle Meech, Red Simpson, Travis Harris and many others. They’ve opened for Social Distortion, Tiger Army, Hank III, George Thorogood, Unknown Hinson, Roger Clyne, JJ Grey, Scott Biram and more. Ryan has appeared in multiple music videos, including “Hush Hush” by The Pistol Annies. The purpose of Stump Tail Dolly is to mess your head up with an off-center mix of metal and country with other influences snuck in for good measure. They’ll be performing at Awesometown in Fulton, Illinois on Sunday October 9th and we are thrilled to have Ryan Clackner and Lucy Cochran of Stump Tail Dolly as our guest today in 10 questions.
RM: The first Stump Tail Dolly song I ever heard was “Billy”, and afterwards I sat there dumbfounded due to what I had just heard. Your music literally sounds like Waylon Jennings and Archers of Loaf are dying in a trailer fire that The Melvins started…What’s the most uncomfortable way your music has been described to you after you have played it for somebody for the first time?
RC: I heard a good one at Muddy Roots recently but I can’t remember what it was exactly. Something about acid at a country music show and black metal and bodily functions of some sort.
LC: “That was…. Interesting.” Seems to be a common reaction.
RM: What are a few things people reading this might be surprised to find out about life as a musician in Nashville today? Who are some of the artists in the area that you spend a great deal of time with; and for what reasons do you enjoy their company?
RC: I’m a bit of a loner. I haven’t hung out regularly with anyone that wasn’t in one of the bands I’ve played in since I started touring, and have been practically in total isolation since STD started touring. I don’t play “gigs” at all so all I’m doing now is my own band. I don’t see myself as a sideman so there’s no sense in looking for gigs, to me. It’s always good to run into other touring bands though, and we all know how to reach each other. Nashville is a void if you ask me; I stay home and write, practice and listen to music. Currently I’m all about black metal.
LC: Nashville is surprisingly disinterested in shit that doesn’t fit a tight mold. Even the great new country artists all seem to fit into a specific lense. We struggle to fit in there as a band. We spend a lot of time with our good friend/photographer/videographer Chris Scruggs (aka The Other Chris Scruggs). He’s not interested in doing anything conventionally which is why we get along the way we do.
RM: Was the acronym created by the name Stump Tail Dolly something that was intentional, or is it just a coincidence?
RC: Coincidence. I did get a blood test before we started printing the merch though…(laughs)
RM: When did you begin writing the music that would eventually become the band’s initial batch of material? How did you want to make this set of songs so much different than the music you played in the other projects you were involved with?
RC: Some of them were reworked from a band that I used to have called Junkyard Road but I’m not telling you which ones…(laughs) They’re completely reworked anyway. Then the newest stuff was in creation starting about two years ago. I write everyday for the most part. All I did was actually do the writing, I didn’t have to try at all to make it sound different than anyone else, I’ve been doing music for twenty years. The first ten were all learning the guitar and the mechanics of music, and the second ten have all been almost exclusively developing my writing and playing style.
RM: Do the two of you have any sort of standard operating procedure when it comes to songwriting? Do you have the tendency to start with a riff from any particular genre in mind, or is it typically situation-specific?
RC: I do all the writing. I come up with a riff. I check it out for its “weight” then I make up other parts to counterbalance the initial riff. The whole sound is set up that way. Writing first, then arranging all of the instruments against the initial weight (my term, it has no musical significance), then rehearsing. If it sticks then we do it live. We’re starting to find our groove as a band though so it’s getting easier. Initially it was all just writing without any particular band members besides Lucy in mind, because we didn’t have a band at all.
RM: Your debut EP “Americonoclasm” is available now on Rusty Knuckles Music…What is each of your favorite track on the record and why? Is the track each of you selected also the same one that is most fun to play live?
RC: I love all of them, they’re like children to me. We really only ever play “I’ve Endured” and “Billy” live. We’ve played “Marish Prophet” live a few times but it’s been really difficult to play super fast and intense then bring it down to super slow doom style for that one. I’ve already got the next few records written and mapped out so we’ve been playing stuff from them all along.
LC: I really love the first track “I’ve Endured”. It’s a song a grew up playing and have loved for a long time. I think our arrangement of it shows how versatile Appalachian music can be and just how far it can stretch. We start our live set with this song too. It’s a good introduction to what we’re doing- I think that arrangement in particular has all of the different influences that we use as a band- all condensed into one song.
RM: “Marish Prophet” seems to have a bit of a math-rock feeling to it at the end of those stoner-rock sounding stanzas…Where did you get the idea for the clip that accompanies that track; and who directed that video? How long did it take to shoot that thing; and did the two of you get rabies shots before touching all of those dead varmints?
RC: No rabies…(laughs) It took two shooting sessions, and probably only about six hours of shooting total. Our video guy’s name is Chris Scruggs. We call him “The Other Chris Scruggs” because there’s a well-known musician in town by the same name. (laughs) He did the editing and I imagine it took him a lot more than six hours to do. It’s unanimously our favorite video. I’m pretty sure the idea was Lucy’s, and I suggested the swamp spot because I’d been hiking back there before and felt it had the right vibe.
LC: Well, Ryan is still the undergoing medical treatment for the rabies- so lesson learned for next time. We wanted to make a mini horror movie. Ryan, Chris Scruggs, and I love the original Wicker Man movie and I think there’s an element of that in there. The video was relatively quick- as is almost everything we do with Chris. We took about two hours to do the scenes in the woods, about an hour at Chris’ house for the fire scenes, and maybe two hours at Hail Dark Aesthetics in Nashville for the clips with all the animals. It was really a collaborative effort, each of us had a few specific images we wanted to try out.
RM: Speaking of deliciousness, what has been the strangest dish you’ve had the chance to devour during the time you’ve toured with this lineup?
RC: I can’t recall anything too outlandish, we’ve been in the states this whole time.
LC: Tour dining is depressing.
RM: Returning to Rusty Kunckles, there are a lot of totally badass bands on that label like Whiskeydick and The Green Ladykillers…How many of the artists on the label have you had the pleasure of sharing the stage with? Are there any collaborations with those performers that could potentially arise in the near future?
RC: Well, we’re about to do some shows with Hellbound Glory (I can’t remember if they’re still on the label or not but they were) and we had talked about going out with Whiskey Dick next month but logistics prevented it. That said, something with them will happen next year.
LC: We’ve played festivals with some of the RK bands. We always have a good time hanging out with Whiskey Dick. We’re currently out with Hellbound Glory. We have talked about doing some stuff with Leroy.
RM: What can your band promise out of a live show that music fans simply can’t experience anywhere else?
RC: Our own kind of music that no other band is doing. We’re not about theatrics, it’s about the music. Purity.
RM: What’s up next out of the Stump Tail Dolly camp in the remainder of 2016 and beyond? Anything big in the works that we should know about?
RC: We’re on tour now doing some headlining shows and support for Hellbound Glory, then we’ll be doing the same support shows for Goddamn Gallows around Halloween. After that we record with Jack Gibson (bassist for Exodus) in December out at his studio in San Francisco, and that’ll wrap up year one for the band.
LC: Yeah we’re going to make a new record in December. We’re pretty excited to finally record a lot of the songs we’ve been playing live. We’re also going to do a short run with Goddamn Gallows around Halloween time.
Official Website: http://www.stumptaildolly.com/
Stump Tail Dolly on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/stumptaildolly/
Stump Tail Dolly on Twitter: https://twitter.com/StumpTailDolly
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