Uncle Ben’s Remedy has been in rotation in my CD player for a few months at this point so it was only natural I finally locked down an interview feature with one of my favorite independent bands from the New York area.
Their song Old Apple Tree is the favorite of my seven year old son and he demands that we play it on repeat anytime we are in the car. My eight year old daughter prefers jamming to Money, but my personal favorite is Too Dumb; just listen to the hook… I sing these lyrics as loud as possible every time this song comes on.
In this interview feature, I chat with UBR about their influences, the digital music world, their newest project and more.
Full Q&A along with links and streams below.
Where are you from and what style of music do you create? (In your own words, not necessarily in marketing terms or by popular genre classifications.)
UBR: Most of us come from a small town in Western New York called Versailles (pronounced “Ver-sales,” not like the French “Versailles”). We grew up in the hair metal culture that was the 80s, and spend many hours rocking some seriously heavy jams with some seriously heavy amps. We use that background as the basis of what we do but now call it “Americana” and “Outlaw Country.” We’ve traded in the Les Pauls and Marshall stacks for dobros and washboards and an upright bass, but we still try to rock the hell out of them.
What led you down this path of music and what motivates you to stay the course?
UBR:It was a natural course of action. Our fathers played this type of music all around the area, and our families sat by the campfire with our guitars, taking turns singing old country standards and joining in on sing-a-longs. We’ve taken the feel of a neighborhood bonfire and brought it to every live show. What makes it so sustainable is that it is real; it’s authentic. Our fans are our friends and sing right along with us, on covers, on originals–it’s all one big party. At our age and in our current headspace, if we can’t do music like that, why bother?
How is your new release different than previous ones? Did you set out to accomplish anything specific?
UBR: Our first album, “Yesterday’s Clothes,” was a super fun, quick and dirty effort to get some new stuff out into the hands of our base–6 songs, two rants by our local Moonshiner Squirrel, and it’s filled with stuff that I think defines who we are now as a band and tells of where we came from. Our second album, “Not Far From the Tree” does just that but (in my opinion) goes deeper. It’s definitely more extensive–11 tracks–and in it we’ve called upon some more guests to help us tell the stories: Katie Clark who sings and plays fiddle on “These Beds” and Ruth Westlund [Grandmother to Ben and Harmony] sings “The Old Apple Tree,” one of the campfire songs heard many times growing up. That was a fun day-long recording session; the whole family was involved on location at the old homestead right in Versailles.
Do you face any challenges as an indie musician in a digital age? On the flip side, how has technology helped you (if it has)?
UBR: It’s a fantastic thing to be musicians now. The whole music-sharing thing is just so accessible by people around the entire planet. It really is mind-blowing; our music is being played in places around the globe we will never be able to perform live. That type of accessibility leads to a poly-saturation of musicians sharing their songs which is a great thing; it’s just as hard as ever to capitalize on those spins. For some it’s about that, and can be extremely frustrating. For us, we can take the $4.00 we earned from the 30,000 streams in Russia, share a beer and have a good laugh.
Where can we follow you online and hear more music?
UBR: We have a website: www.unclebensremedy.com and a Facebook page: www.facebook.com/unclebensremedy/ and we are on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Apple Music, Spotify, Deezer, Xbox music, and 30+ other streaming sites around the world–some that we can’t even access in the U.S., but what you should really do–I mean really do, is to come to Versailles Community Hall on the banks of the mighty Cattaraugus Creek and see a live show, share several drinks, stop out in the parking lot to get a taste of Squirrel’s Moonshine, stomp your feet, sing along and at some point realize you’ve stayed way too long.
Anything else before we sign off?
UBR: Yes–share new music, it doesn’t matter what it is. If you like it, show it off. We’ve become so cut off from each other–which is the true irony of our time: we’ve never been more digitally connected, yet we don’t talk, we text. We don’t blare our boom boxes, we cram in our ear buds and go about our business. It’s that behavior that (again, in my opinion) is tearing at the fabric of who we are. Music is the antithesis of that; it lives because we do, and what we hear resonates with us. To share a great new tune you heard is to let others in on who you are, and that’s a good thing. Take care, all!