Interview: Joe Fletcher on his new solo album, life in Nashville, and being forever on the road

[dropcap]B[/dropcap]orn in St. Louis, raised in Providence now residing in Nashville — a guitar-wielding Joe Fletcher can tell one hell of a story. Whether it’s about a hungover doctor about to perform surgery, the joys of being drunk and single, or even a late-night motel soiree, Fletcher always has something to sing about while strumming his six-string. Known in recent years by leading his band the Wrong Reasons, Fletcher has cut his first solo record, You’ve Got The Wrong Man (out September 23), and he brings it our way tonight at Great Scott in Allston. Backed by the likes of Brown Bird’s MorganEve Swain on violin and Matthew Murphy on upright bass, Fletcher and his Wrong Reasons share the bill tonight with a trio of New England Americana, rock, and folk acts that each bring their own personal flair in Tallahassee, Tigerman WOAH!, and Dan Blakeslee.

We caught up with Fletcher to chat about the new album, playing in Boston as opposed to his former home turf of Providence, and how he’s been acclimating himself in Nashville since moving there last year.

Rob Duguay: You started your career in Providence but are pretty familiar with the music scene in Boston; do you find any difference between playing in the two cities when it comes to performing live?

Joe Fletcher: I think both Boston and Providence have vastly different music scenes but as far as performing live is concerned, both cities have been great and very important to our development as a live band. I really look forward to playing both Boston and Providence so I really have no preference, I have friends and fans in both places and I’m pretty excited about the Great Scott show tonight.

We’re excited, as well. Later this month you’ll be releasing your first solo album and I find that the lo-fi quality of the album is reminiscent of Bob Dylan’s early material. What equipment did you use while making the album to get that particular sound?

I used an old Tascam cassette four-track that I’ve had for at least 10 years, before the first Wrong Reasons album Bury Your Problems came out in 2007. I’ve been mostly using it to lay down demos, put my own basslines on things and just try to flush it all out. It’s something I’ve used as a work tool for a long time but very little of what I done with it has seen the light of day, certainly not on my records.

When I made the White Lighter album back in 2010 we did a Kickstarter and one of the rewards was a home recording of me playing acoustic versions of songs off of the album which I did in a similar way with the new album. I also went out and got some good microphones to use in recording You’ve Got The Wrong Man so basically the set up for it was the four-track, two mics, and I performed everything live with recording the vocals and the guitars at the same time.

I didn’t overdub anything including when I had some background vocalists and a drummer come in on two songs. I only used two tracks of the four-track so essentially it’s only a two track recording with each track recording the same thing but the mics are in different places.

If you notice when you listen to the record that there is a variety of sounds, I tried to approach each song by moving the mics around a lot. I recorded in a variety of spaces, in huge ballroom sized rooms, closets and everything in between. All the reverb you hear on the record is natural and there were no effects used in the process of making the record.

The rawness of the album really struck me and it sounds like you kept it really simple while recording it, which sometimes it works out best that way. Who else did you have performing with you on the record? Did you have any special guests involved?

On “I Never” and on “Mabel Gray” I had a bunch of friends come over, we basically threw a party at my house in East Nashville. Deer Tick’s John McCauley, J.P. Harris, Patrick Sweany, Derek Hoke, Margo Price and a bunch of others got in a room with me and sang background vocals on those two songs. My friend Jacob Edwards who used to play with the Avett Brothers plays drums on both tracks.

“Life Of The Party” is the only other song with additional people on it, Dan Blakeslee and Danny Roman just happened to be staying at my house when I was recording that song. I did not intend to have guest vocalists but that’s kind of the nature of this recording, if you were around when I wanted to record chances are you ended up on the album.

You’ve just mentioned that you live in East Nashville and you’ve been living in that area for nearly a year. How has it been being involved in the music scene down in Nashville? Has it been easier or more difficult for you playing in The Music City versus when you were starting out in Providence?

I’ve been playing in Nashville for several years now, it’s not like I just moved here and didn’t know anybody. I’ve had a really good relationship with several clubs, I know a few bookers and I have a ton of friends here that play live music so it wasn’t like starting from scratch.

When I started the Wrong Reasons in Providence I’ve already been playing in bands for years so I knew a lot of people to help get it off the ground and try to do it right. That was back in 2005 and I didn’t know a tenth of what I know now about running a band and promoting it. It’s basically like a different person moved to Nashville as opposed to nearly a decade ago when I was starting the Wrong Reasons in Providence.

It’s pretty hard to compare but the transition has been pretty seamless and I really love it there, Nashville has a very supportive music community which I liken to Providence in that way. It’s just about moving somewhere and finding your network of people. I moved there knowing exactly what I was getting myself into but I think if you move to Nashville and you didn’t know anybody and you just had a guitar it would be a very cold and unfriendly city.

As long as you’re enjoying yourself down there that’s all that matters. After You’ve Got The Wrong Man is officially released on September 23, what can fans expect from you for the rest of the year?

I’ll just be on the road for the rest of my life. I’ll just be touring for a while and the plan is I’ve already started writing songs and using that same 4 track to work on ideas for a rock and roll record. You won’t have to wait four years for that one, I’ll be touring and writing songs for the next record which be a return to the rock and roll after I get this little acoustic thing out of my system.

JOE FLETCHER & THE WRONG REASONS + TALLAHASSEE + TIGERMAN WOAH + DAN BLAKESLEE :: Wednesday, September 3 @ Great Scott, 1222 Commonwealth Ave., Allston MA :: 8:30 p.m., 18-plus, $10 :: Advance tickets :: Facebook event page :: Do617 event page

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