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Music: Q&A with Bryan John Appleby



Seattle’s Bryan John Appleby will be performing an intimate show at Sam Bond’s Garage on Saturday night. The last time Appleby played in Eugene was on tour with The Head and The Heart. This time around, Appleby will be presenting a two-piece performance featuring an acoustic guitar and a cello. The show starts at 9:30 p.m. and costs $6.

In light of Saturday’s performance, Appleby answered a few questions about touring over summer, Saturday night’s show and the future.

The last time you were in Eugene you were touring with The Head and The Heart. What was that experience like and what do you think it did for your career?

Well I don’t think that we will play on stages that size for a while. It was a pretty amazing time. The folks from The Head and the Heart are good friends back in Seattle, have been for a few years, so it was a blast to be out with them. They have been really supportive since way back when at the Connor Byrne open mic and at some of the first shows around town up there. Anyway, tour. Umm, we played some amazing venues. First Ave in Minneapolis, where Prince filmed “Purple Rain.” The Wilma in Tulsa, it’s an old country dance hall, same stage that Hank William (the first one) played on. And out here in the Pacific Northwest the buildings usually don’t get any older than the 1880s, but the further east we got the more I could feel the weight of history in some of these really old theaters.
It was my first time in some of these cities and we, as a band, never have gone much further than the West Coast so I was pretty caught up in the excitement. Sometime, years from now, from what I hear, that wears off. But the trip this time was new. I felt like a little, wonder-filled kid. I could make myself thirteen in my mind again, then I would look forward and be like, “Oh my god, you’re 28 and you’re actually doing it, a real tour in a white band van with your friends.” I’m pretty grateful about all that. And I was really into it.  I was the guy who collected dirt samples from every state to take back as cheap keepsakes, something to show Annie. The states are in corked bottles in our living room. Plus, its always a treat to get some real Mexican food. We are all from California originally.

You’re coming back to Eugene on Saturday, is there anything in particular you’re excited about this time around?

I’m excited to play the songs solo. I’ve always enjoyed playing the songs in smaller, more attentive rooms. So hopefully some people that liked the band last time will be excited to get the other side of the coin. I like having both to offer people. The excitement the band can bring, the layers of instrumentation sort of hitting them in the chest, surprising folks. I hope they are overwhelmed by the band a bit, or at least spun around a few times. But really, the songs have a very personal side. I want the words to be the focus sometimes, at least with this album. Some songs just work better when its only fifty people listening and they are sort of forced to engage with the words. When we are bowing banjo and jingling bells and shaking thermoses filled with glass and whatever, that takes the attention. Anyway, it feels good to give the same town the full picture. I always want to have both.
Are you taking this performance elsewhere or are you limiting it to Eugene?

Just Eugene. This will actually be the last time I will play all of these songs from “Fire on the Vine.” Some of them will stick around I’m sure, but next time we come through, a lot of new songs will be with us.
Do you have anything exciting planned for the coming year?
The plan next year, write a new batch of songs, if I can remember how. I take a really long time to write songs but the idea is to not talk to anyone or see anyone or go anywhere for the next six months. I have a ton of ideas for the next record but I just need to have a whole creative season to myself, to live with those ideas. This is the part I love though. Shows are fun, but they are really just a byproduct for me. I don’t wake up in the morning thinking, “God, I just want to be on a stage right now, just really entertaining some people. That sounds perfect.” No, I wake up thinking about eggs. Once I’m done with eggs, I only want to write. Yeah writing and recording. That’s what I’m really interested in. So as much fun as touring has been this last year, I’m super glad to be at this stage again.
You’re currently based in the Northwest. What makes this region of the United States so special? 

Well, the weather is perfect for what I do. I feel very energized by the winter because I know that I will be inside writing, reading or eating for most of the day. Summer forces you to go outside. You feel bad if you’re working inside and it’s beautiful and sunny. So that. Also, I grew up in the Monterey Bay Area, sandwiched between mountains and water, so I feel very comfortable with the landscape. I miss California. I think I just really like the West Coast, top to bottom. Like I said, I really like Mexican food.
Finally, what can fans expect on Saturday at Sam Bond’s Garage? What do you hope to convey to those in attendance?
Well, with the batch of songs from the last record, with “Fire on the Vine,” I wanted the lyrics to be pretty provocative. I always hope that people are engaging with them, especially at a solo show. Kind of what I mentioned before, it’s not going to be very exciting, but I hope everyone will go to the other side with me.

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