10 Questions with Arthur Alligood
Since winning the Mountain Stage Newsong Contest, Arthur Alligood is back from Los Angeles currently awaiting the final mix of his upcoming record, “One Silver Needle,” produced by Mikal Blue who has worked with the likes of Colbie Caillat, Jason Mraz, Five for Fighting, One Republic, Augustana, Jason Reeves, and current indie fave Lady Danville. In this interview, we talk about his experience with Mikal and company, the new record, and what this year looks like for him.
READERS: Before you read the interview, be sure to look to your right at the SoundCloud player and click play to hear his newest single off the new record as you read the Q&A.
LUKE GODDARD: Arthur, we go way back. I’m a big fan. I believe there are millions who are truly deprived from not knowing your music. For the first time since knowing you, I truly feel like you’re on the brink of something very much larger than yourself. Thoughts?
ARTHUR ALLIGOOD: I do feel like I’m on the edge of something. Not really sure of what though. I’m keeping my expectations pretty low, but to say that I’m not hopeful would be a lie. I’m excited about 2012 and all the possibilities. Luke, you have been a big supporter of my music for quite some time. Honestly, it’s people like you that have kept me going.
TBI: You’ve been extremely busy of late. Flying back and forth to New York, Los Angeles, etc. You recently won a contest that landed you the prize of having Mikal Blue produce your new record. Tell us about him and who he’s worked with.
AA: To start with, Mikal is such a nice, genuine guy. There’s no sign of pretense on any level. He’s deeply committed to the music and the whole process of making a record. And he has produced some really successful records over the last couple of years. That first Colbie Calliat record he produced and co-wrote half of the songs. He’s also worked with major label acts such as Five For Fighting, Jason Mraz, Augustana, and Jason Mraz. The list goes on.
TBI: The upcoming new record, “One Silver Needle,” will be a major step forward for you, at least from what I can tell. How much of that is because of the folks you worked with? I mean, you worked with guys who played with John Lennon, Bob Dylan, and many more greats.
AA: It was such an honor to work with legends like drummer Jim Keltner and bassist Lee Sklar. I learned so much just being in the same room and hearing their input. They definitely put their individual stamp on the songs that were put before them. The thing I respect most is how they served each song. They didn’t try to push a song in the wrong direction. They heard very clearly what each song needed and played the part to perfection. It was such a validating thing to see these legends having fun playing my tunes. Keltner at one point turned to me and said, “Great song man, great song.” It doesn’t get more encouraging than that.
TBI: From this experience of working with Mikal Blue and company, what’s one thing you will take with you for the rest of your career?
AA: Having positive people around you is a must. Negativity can ruin everything. Everybody Mikal brought in was so nice and encouraging not to mention extremely talented.
TBI: I’ve really enjoyed hearing the organ on the new record. The organist in the house band of Jimmy Kimmel LIVE played on the record. What was it like working with him?
AA: Well, his name is Jeff Babko. The night before I flew back to Nashville we drove out to his place in L.A. He had been in the studio all day working on the new Jason Mraz record and had just come from taping the Jimmy Kimmel show. So, it was like 10 at night and we’re in his backyard studio recording b3 organ. Really, really nice fella and killer on the organ. He’d listen to the song a couple of times, making notes along the way. Then he’d lay down the part in one take and we’d move on to the next song. I’ve never seen anything like it. He commented several times on my songwriting, which made me feel pretty good. Oh, and his wife made us tea ad cookies. It was a good last night in L.A.
TBI: Is there anything that fans may be surprised about with the new record?
AA: I think people that have followed me at least since the last record will hear some new ground covered. I’m not sure if this record is the logical next step though. It does explore some of the territory I introduced on “I Have Not Seen the Wind.” It’s all just a hunch until the record comes out. People can decide for themselves. I will say that my southern roots show quite a bit. To me, this record is the most eclectic group of songs I’ve ever come up with.
TBI: Is there a consistent theme with the new record? What direction did you set out to take?
AA: For me, I write the songs first and then find(discover) the themes. I don’t know how to do it any other way. A lot of times I don’t know what I am saying until much later. Going through the process of recording a group of songs and hearing them over and over naturally brings the common themes to the surface. For this album expect songs about the broken nature of relationships, the fear that keeps us from real love, the regrets that haunt us, our persistent rebellion against what is good and right, etc…. I wasn’t setting out to write about these things it’s just what spilled out. My Momma says to me all the time, “How do you come up with this stuff?” I don’t ever know how to answer her. I just write. I don’t know how I do it, but I do know how to do it. I don’t need to know how. What’s the point in knowing how? I don’t think such knowledge would help me as a writer. I’ve always been pretty content with the craft and process of songwriting. I’m a songwriter/singer for sure.
TBI: Have you decided on what you’re gonna do in terms of artwork for the new record?
AA: Haven’t figured out artwork yet. My friend Perry is doing the layout and I’m interested to see what he comes up with. The title “One Silver Needle” conjures up different images for me.
TBI: Who’s an artist that you’d love to be the opener for on tour?
AA: My gut answer is Josh Ritter. Emmylou Harris would be more than fine too. Oh, and my dream is to open for Paul Simon.
TBI: Tell us what 2012 will look like for you?
AA: The record should come out this Spring. I’m going to tour this summer for sure and share this new batch of songs. 2012 is wide open for me. The way I see it, anything could happen.