Front Country Talks New Music, Songwriting and What’s Next

Kat Harlton

Front Country is a band on the precipice of a metamorphosis. As multi-instrumentalists, songwriters and composers, the instrumentation and setting have always been secondary to the musical vision that comes through no matter what stage they take. For a band with a genre in their name, genre has always been elusive for Front Country, as they refuse to pick sides or be constrained by any expectations outside their own singular aesthetic. From their beginnings in the SF Bay Area to their new hometown of Nashville, TN, Melody Walker, Adam Roszkiewicz and Jacob Groopman have been on a journey to discover a sound. 

We had the opportunity to chat with Front Country about new music, songwriting, and what’s next.

Kat: How would you describe your sound? and for those just being introduced to your sound, is there anything you think they should know about your music before getting into it?

Front Country: Our band has evolved a lot over the years. We began as a more acoustic band with banjo and fiddle, and have moved toward an even more eclectic sound incorporating drums, synths and samples. If people are checking us out, they should start with the newest stuff, but our history is there for anyone who wants to dive deep. It’s a wild journey.

Kat: You recently released a single “Amerikan Dream”. Can you share with us your thought process and inspiration behind the track? and why you felt it was the single you wanted to release?

Front Country: We now have three singles out from the upcoming record, Impossible World. The first one was Amerikan Dream – a song about the hypocrisy of American exceptionalism in the face of our history. This is the most straight-up traditional “protest song” in the mix, and was inspired by all my favs – Buffy Sainte-Marie, Neil Young, Rage Against the Machine – folks who often wrote plain-spoken songs for the movement.

The second two singles take a more unifying approach to the message song. The Reckoning is a somber accounting of the current political moment, and is hopeful that we can put the work in to turn it around. Broken Record is a super fun, joyful pop song about self-expression, both political and emotional. The music video for that one also doubles as a voting PSA.

Kat: Can you talk about your songwriting process? Does it differ from song to song?

Front Country: While I do try to shake things up and keep myself on my toes, my songwriting process is pretty similar for 90% of the songs I write. I usually get a fragment of lyric and melody in my head, and then make a voice memo on my phone. Then, when I have a moment to sit down and really write, I open up those voice memos and see what’s there and if they inspire me to keep expanding on that initial nugget of an idea. The main thing for me is not to force it. I don’t sit there grinding on an idea for too long if it’s not coming easily, or there’s no spark there. Better to move on and come back. That’s the creative side. But on the craft side, you do have to sit there and painstakingly flesh out all the structure and chords and parts eventually. I just like to keep these sides separate. The inspiration is sacred and skittish, and it hates the craft side of songwriting. At least for me.

Kat: Do you have any advice for emerging artists? or have you been given any advice that really made an impact?

Front Country: People always say “be yourself” which is, of course, the hardest thing ever. It took me years of singing and songwriting to figure out the thread of what was truly “me” in all of it. Now I feel a lot more secure in my musical and physical voice, but it took time. And there are still days when I feel really lost. So you never “arrive”, it’s all a journey. A thing I’ve been trying to work on now is distillation: we are all so expansive and multifaceted, but it’s hard to market a thing that doesn’t have a clear shape to it. For better or worse, humans categorize things. We want to know “what ARE you?” before we decide to take a chance on listening. So, figuring out a few reference points or broad strokes to define the project can be really helpful for your audience to find you.

Kat: How have you been staying connected during Covid-19? What’s next?

Front Country: As a formerly hard-touring band, we’ve really been relishing this extended break from the road. So we’ve really been focusing on self-care: gardening, cooking, exercising, learning new creative skills. The industry has no idea what is next, so we are in a holding pattern. Our only plan for now is putting our new album out at the end of the month and making a few videos of the new songs for our fans to enjoy.

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