Interview: 10 Questions With Dylan LeBlanc

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Muscle Shoals singer songwriter Dylan LeBlanc just released his third album, Cautionary Tale via Single Lock Records last Friday, which we highlighted as one of our favorite new releases this week for New Music Tuesday. Tonight, Friday January 22, LeBlanc plays the legendary listening room, Eddie’s Attic in Decatur, GA.

 

The story goes that Dylan split time growing up between Shreveport, Louisiana and Muscle Shoals, Alabama where his father was a writer at FAME Studios. Dylan grew up around the studio seeing some of the pros come through. Getting his start early with his debut album coming at 20 years old, Dylan released his first two albums via Rough Trade to critical success. Coming back to the magical place where so much rock ‘n’ roll history has occurred in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, Dylan started working with longtime friend Ben Tanner (Alabama Shakes) and John Paul White (formerly of the Civil Wars), who both produced and played on Cautionary Tale. Ben and John Paul also decided to put out Dylan’s album on the label they founded with Will Trapp, Single Lock Records, a label to keep an eye on with the quality of music they are releasing.

Cautionary Tale is Dylan LeBlanc’s best album yet, a stunning listen with songs that reflect on the past, acknowledging faults, without living in those faults and allowing a future. The sound is lush and full with gorgeous strings and multiple instruments used throughout the album, while Dylan’s voice is brought to the forefront. There’s a real nod to exploring the sounds of the 60s and 70s. You aren’t going to find a better place to hear Dylan LeBlanc than Eddie’s Attic tonight at 7:30. Get tickets here.

 Get to know more Dylan LeBlanc through our 10 question Q&A:

– Having Ben Tanner and John Paul not only produce, but also play on your new album Cautionary Tale, using a multitude of instruments on the album including pedal steel, cello, violin, organ and more, who’s going on the road with you to bring these new songs to life?

DL: Right now It’s just me, a cellist, a violinist and bass and drums. Sometimes we bring our organ player out as well. It works out well and gives the songs the life they need in a live setting. 

– When writing lyrics to these songs, were they more lyrical at first or did you have a good idea of musical compositions you were aiming for on each song?

DL: I always have a melody first. I knew that I wanted to write this record about “waking up”. But I’m usually a melody man first and lyrics come after.

– Songs like “Cautionary Tale” and “Easy Way Out” have a real 70’s vibe around them, was this an intentional area you wanted to explore, or was this a sound that came together with Ben and John Paul?

DL: We definitely wanted there to be a really close connection with that late 60’s/early 70’s sound. Mainly with the rhythm section. There were also some moments where we thought the sound we were getting was kind of happening on its own. Especially with the gear we had. All analog. 

– Brittany Howard (Alabama Shakes) sings backup on “Easy Way Out”, how in the hell were you able to keep her voice so subtle in the background? She’s a freaking powerhouse!

DL: You know, I don’t know! When a record gets mixed you can turn levels up and down. So I’m sure he found a spot which he thought was suitable for her. 

– On the album itself, it’s seems like an awakening of who you actually are today, it’s relatable, something the listener can have the same awakening and rise up along with you on this record. But for fans listening to your live show, what do you want them to take with them after the show?

DL: My favorite part about a show is the experience. When you go to a show if the entertainer is any good he will take you on an emotional high. Not much different from going to church,or feeling really in touch with your spirit and then liberated and free from the world. That may be a bit much. But that’s what I want to come away with. 

– Being from North Alabama myself, it seemed growing up that music was always in our souls, even more so in Muscle Shoals I’m sure. Now it almost seems like a sort of renaissance is happening there with things happening at Fame and Muscle Shoals Sound, alongside the documentary, Single Lock Records, and plenty of talented bands from the area and Alabama in general getting more national recognition. How was being back in the Shoals influenced this album?

DL: Well, the place is kind of in my blood. I’ve been there for so long and cut my teeth there in the learning process of songwriting and and playing and singing. So many influences to choose from just from there. You most definitely don’t want to be a shitty songwriter in that town and then go out and try to play because you’ll get chewed up and spit right back out. There was always a line drawn there that you know you better damn live up to or you might as well not do it at all. I’ve always been terrified and completely in awe of that line. So that alone is enough motivation to try to be good at it. 

– You’ve played plenty of different types and sizes of venues, can you compare playing a listening room like Eddie’s to a more traditional rock club? Does it change your show?

DL: Eddie’s Attic is such a fun room. You really get to involve the audience and connect with them. I think that type of room gives you more of an opportunity to do that. 

– You’ve tasted some critical success at a young age, while it’s still hard to reach that commercial success today. Coming up in this volatile age for the music industry, what advice would you give a young musician trying to make it that you’ve learned from your own experiences?

DL: To be willing to work harder than everybody else. To take every opportunity you get seriously. To play every show like its the last night you’ll ever be on stage. To remain teachable and humble.

 – When you are on tour, where everyday is a completely different day, do you have any routines that you habitually do throughout each day?

DL: Meditation, meditation, and more meditation. 

 – What are you listening to on tour??

DL: Lots of stuff. Nina Simone. Lots of Father John Misty, Beck, Jason Isbell’s new album. John Lennon. The obscure burnt CDs of soul tracks that my lawyer gave me. Pulp Fiction soundtrack. Some Al Green. A little Tom Waits. A mix up of a bunch of good records.  

Catch Dylan LeBlanc on tour in your city:

Jan. 22 Eddie’s Attic Decatur, GA
Jan. 23 Standard Deluxe Waverly, AL.
Jan. 24 Callaghans Irish Social club. Mobile, AL
Jan. 27 Boyd’s Jig & Reel Knoxville, TN
Jan. 28 The Mothlight Asheville, NC
Jan. 29 The Pinhook Durham, NC
Jan. 30 The Southern Cafe and Music Hall Charlottesville, VA
Feb. 1 Jammin’ Java Vienna, VA
Feb. 2 World Cafe Live Philadelphia, PA
Feb. 4 Mercury Lounge New York, NY
Feb. 5 The Red Room @ Cafe 939 Boston, MA
Feb. 6 Rough Trade Brooklyn, NY
Feb. 8 The Drake Hotel Toronto, ON
Feb. 9 Club Cafe Pittsburgh, PA
Feb. 10 Big Room Bar Columbus, OH
Feb. 11 The New Vintage Louisville, KY

With Anderson East:

Feb. 27 Larimer Lounge Denver, CO
Fe. 28 Belly Up Aspen, CO
Feb. 29 The State Room Salt Lake City, UT
March 3 The Bartlett Spokane, WA
March 4 Tractor Tavern Seattle, WA
March 5 The Cobalt Vancouver, BC
March 6 Mississippi Studios Portland, OR
March 8 Harlow’s Nightclub Sacramento CA
March 10 Sweetwater Music Hall Mill Valley, CA
March 11 The Independent San Francisco, CA
March 12 Troubadour West Hollywood, CA
March 13 Belly Up Solana Beach, CA

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Mike Gerry

Head music fiend at OpenEars Music

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