Every March, the entire music industry descends on Austin, Texas, for the South by Southwest Music Conference and Festival March 15 to 20, and Seattle's scene is no exception. Dozens of bands are making the trip, and they'll be playing more shows and downing more free Red Stripes than can be calculated.
We normally reserve our "Reverb Questionnaire" for non-music folks like Michelle Norris and Michael Chabon, but in preparation for the massive trip south, we tweaked our standard questions and presented them to a few of the local emissaries making the journey.
Here's what we learned about Brent Amaker, frontman of Brent Amaker & the Rodeo:
SW: What music have you been listening to today? Did you like it?
Amaker: I'm in Oklahoma visiting my parents today. As I write this response I'm listening to Il Divo on my Dad's iTunes. It's not my first choice for inspiration, but it'll do. Personally I'd prefer to hear the original DEVO. That's more my style.
What's your preferred method for listening to music (iPod, car, home stereo, etc.)?
When I'm back in Seattle, I ONLY listen to records on my turntable. MP3s are convenient, but they tend to suck the life out of the music listening process. I find a lot of joy in putting the needle down and then flipping the record when side A is over. It forces you to sit down in a room and actively listen to music. MP3 culture is a drag.
When was the last time you heard "Stairway to Heaven"? Did you turn it off?
It's been a long time, but honestly I'd rather hear that song right now than Il Divo. "Stairway to Heaven" has been performed by so many shitty bands over the years, and people sometimes forget that Led Zeppelin totally kicks ass! It's just a product of overexposure. Success breeds overexposure, and overexposure leads to shitty bands pumping out crap. It's an endless cycle in music.
I challenge you to show me one band today that is as cool as Led Zeppelin circa 1973. And that band knew when to call it quits (that is until recently). I think I'll pull out some old Led Zeppelin records when I get back to Seattle.
Do you play an instrument?
Yeah, I play guitar. I write all my songs on a Martin D-18 which is also what I use live. I'm not much of a guitar slinger, but I know just enough to put the songs together and show them to my band.
Do you still listen to anything you listened to in high school?
Sure. I still own my entire vinyl collection from childhood and I love digging through the past. Some of my favorites: DEVO, C.W. McCall, the Pretenders, Kraftwerk, and Roy Orbison.
Who was the first band/artist you saw in concert? Would you see them again?
My first concert was Elvis Presley. My dad took me to see him when I was a kid. Elvis died the next year, so it wouldn't ever be possible to see him again. I guess the next best thing would be a trip to Graceland.
My first concert as a teenager was Cheap Trick. I'd go see Cheap Trick again anytime. They're amazing.
What was the last band/artist you saw in concert? Worth your time?
The Black Angels at the Showbox. It was one of the best shows I have seen in a long time. I bought their new vinyl and I think it's sitting on my turntable back home now. Love that band!
When you sing karaoke, what's your go-to number?
Lately it's "China Girl" by David Bowie and Iggy Pop. I do the Iggy Pop version.
How do you feel about ABBA?
I'm indifferent. I never got into ABBA. Seems they have like a million hits or some shit. It's not my bag.
What is the last song you want to hear before you die?
I'm not really focused on death. Have you heard of the Singularity movement? We're all gonna be immortal in 2045. You can read about it in Time Magazine.
What's one indispensable accessory for this year's SXSW?
If you're in a band driving down to Austin, I suggest psyllium husk. It's a bitch finding proper facilities on the road and the Husk will help you keep things in order. At this point most of my band is hooked on the psyllium. I like to mix mine with Emergen-C to get vitamin C.
How are you getting down to Austin, and how sure are you that your mode of transportation will get you all the way there?
Brent Amaker and the Rodeo travel in a 15-passenger Chevy Express van. We bought the van as a low-mileage, pre-owned vehicle and we have since put over 45,000 miles on the van touring. I bought new tires and brakes this past year. We take took good care of it and most of my bandmates are handy with a wrench. I'm fairly confident it will get us there. We do this shit all the time.