Ask all the members of Dust & Bone whether they prefer the studio to the live stage, the answer comes back instant and unanimous: "live." Dust & Bone is a leather and denim Americana band, straight up, and a good one, too. Elements of blues, country, and folk do the dance with rock 'n' roll. But beneath the rootsy exterior is a band looking to break out, find its own way, and find its own identity. Call it busted Americana.
The quintet — Mike Parker, guitar vocals; Bill Mueller, bass, mandolin, guitar; Ross Amstey, guitar; Eric Metzgar, drums; and Stuart Love, guitar — all bring disparate musical influences to the band from Hendrix to Lightfoot, Prine to The Band. Yet all that outside pull loses its specificity in the swirling dynamics that is Dust & Bone as it states more, quotes less. The band has one album out, "Good Heart," and is busy rehearsing in anticipation of recording numero dos, with their dynamic take mixed in with rock 'n' roll's dust and bones.
The band stopped in to City HQ for a few questions, we discussed the shift from outside influence to internal and butting heads in rehearsal among other things. Please, read on ...
City: When blending influences, is doing originals better or worse?
Ross Amstey: It makes it much better. They are their own sort of style. When we come together with a common goal we bring in influences from all over, which creates our sound.
Mike Parker: Even when we're working on a cover song we try and make it our own.
Do you guys ever butt heads creatively?
Parker: It's a healthy thing to irritate each other once in a while. That's how you change a grain of sand into a pearl. It's healthy in a creative situation to have a little conflict.
Amstey: The product of that is something really exciting.
Bill Mueller: If I'm working with someone and we always agree, one of us is redundant.
What works in blending the sound without the head-butting?
Amstey: We find the balance. Stuart is more of a bluesy, melodic guitar player than I am. I'm more percussive, if I can bang on the strings, I think it sounds better. And if we can find room for both those things, then it meshes, it works. I think what we do all comes together because Mr. Metzgar is such an incredible drummer.
Since the release of "Good Heart" how has Dust & Bone grown or changed?
Parker: I think we know what we sound like now, we have a very conscious approach now. We all know each other.
Mueller: And now we have three songwriters instead of just one, so instead of just being Americana, it's a broader Americana-blues-rock.
The influences, for the most part, are fairly obvious. What are some that aren't?
Eric Metzgar: Jazz. I'm primarily a jazz player. I think I bring a spontaneity to it; a jazz spirit
What's the most rewarding thing to being in this band?
Parker: You can write a good song, you can record a good song, but when you're playing it together, and playing live and in the moment, and you've done it like a dozen times, it has the potential to explode into something greater than it ever started out being.