Dwayne Haggins is here with debut LP ‘Call Me Boston’. A rocking blues rock record that’s sure to rock your speakers and any venues it will be played at. Today we chatted with Dwayne himself about this LP to know more about what music means to him and what he wants his music to mean to us. Join us.
- First of all, would you like to introduce yourself and the band to us?
First of all, I appreciate you deciding I’m worth interviewing. So thank you! My band typically is made up of Ahren Shreeve on lead guitar, Mario Perrett on sax, and Will Woyda on bass. We have a revolving door of drummers at the moment as far as live shows go but the records we’ve done (including the latest “Call Me Boston”) all have Jahnu playing drums/percussion on the tunes. All of these guys are great friends.. I find that the people are the most important part of deciding who you want to play with.. Good musicians are a dime a dozen.. Great people are harder to find.
- Who would you name as your biggest artistic influences? and what are your views on artists making their music very similar to their biggest influences? lack of imagination or a worthy skill?
I look at my influences in stages. Sturgill Simpson who’s a country/rock n roll & soul artist was definitely my initial influence. I was so inspired by his acoustic guitar playing so he was what got me to finally teach myself (via YouTube) how to play guitar. His playing is very centered around the hammer-on based lead rhythm playing of the Carter Family and that’s the same style I took to when learning. Traditional country music is definitely the beginning of my musical inspirations
At this time I’d say my biggest overall inspirations are Leon Russell, Delaney Bramlett, & then the whole genre of gospel blues. Leon and Delaney are so inspiring to me just as complete musicians… Their songwriting, stage presence, arrangements, and vocal playfulness. Vocal playfulness is possibly my favorite thing about an artist.. Ray Charles was also great with that! Vocally, I’m most inspired by many different gospel blues singer’s of old. Mahalia Jackson, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Mavis Staples, and Sam Cooke. I could go on and on naming gospel singer’s haha. I’m not a religious person but I find gospel blues to be feel good music. It has so much emotion and that’s the key.
I really love the question you asked about the fine line between lack of imagination and a worthy skill. I find that the deciding factor of whether I like an artist or not is their originality.
You can be very good but if you’re whole act is just a copy of someone you like, you’re doing a disservice to yourself and your fans. Music continues to evolve into other great things because of the new generation of ideas being combined with the old. Because on the other hand, it’s very exciting and satisfying to pay homage to your favorites within your own originality.
- What’s your songwriting process like? Would you say you’re more of a vessel for the musical ideas that come to your mind, pure and unchanged? or more of a craftsman that glues different pieces together to create a full piece?
- How do you pick your lyrical themes? And what’s your lyric writing process like? Which takes the upper hand for your attention, Music and instrumentation or Lyrics?
This response kind of answers both of the next questions.. Without a doubt I’m the craftsman that you refer to. I’d say 99% of the time, my initial ideas are awful haha. So I always am piecing things together from random notes I have in my phone. Some notes are titles, some are lines to use in a verse, and some I have no idea how I’ll eventually use it but I know I will.
I definitely am way more concerned about the lyrics than I am the music. I do think both are important and certainly work together.. But I have a significantly easier time settling on the music.. The lyrics are what I put most of my thought into.
Recently I’ve been doing a lot of writing to music that’s really just temporary, and then during gigs while the bands jamming on something, I’ll start singing lyrics that I’ve written recently.. Listen back to the gig afterwards and see how I feel about it. It’s not always like that but I’ve been doing that a good amount recently.
- As an artist who experienced a chance meeting with Bruce Marshall, and accomplished local musician, that was career changing. Where do you think you would be if it wasn’t for this meeting? And what words of advice would you offer to newer faces who haven’t experienced such a situation?
I always wonder about those things.. It’s fun to think about how one difference in your life could change everything.. And most of the time would. I don’t know where I’d be.. Could be better or worse. I think advice to give is to not look for that stuff. Know that if you have people who really enjoy what you do, you’re playing in a lot of different areas, AND you’re being 100% yourself, those great encounters will come. Waiting and hoping for those will just drive you crazy. You have to love this and if you do, just live and let whatever happen.
- Such a purely rocking and bluesy record can face a lot of upward friction to gain attention in a market that’s saturated with trending theoretically and technically advanced music, talking about Polyphia and Jacob Collier and others in that same vein. What is your stance towards that musical trend, if you have one? and what’s your ultimate goals to reach with this album?
I feel like with where technology is, you can find your people with whatever you do. Sure, if you want to be at the top of the mountain of fame and fortune, there are basically 1 or 2 genres to stick with as an artist. As a fan, besides my friends who are local musicians, I only really listen to old music. I think all the music you’ll typically find me listening to is from 79 or earlier. I don’t choose to be that way.. It’s just what I like.
My goals with this record have already happened. I wanted to make a record that was a perfect example of what we are live and I feel like we finally did that. I don’t understand enough about how you get your music out there so I can’t set goals like that.. I leave that to the people more intelligent than me who I have around.
- How would you compare the recording phase to the gigging phase of your job? As a creator of such lively and instrumentally dynamic songs, there’s no doubt that both phases are immensely fun and rewarding. How do you perceive both and which do you prefer?
I definitely prefer live over being in the studio.. By far. The exciting part for me in the studio is the product that will come from it. I want the cupcakes but would rather not have to make them. I’m not someone who likes to pick my art apart.. I have a short leash and then I want to move on. I typically have a 3-5 take rule in studio for myself and after that, it’s only frustrating and TRYING to get something VS. it naturally coming.
Live performance is so special because you can’t fix things. It will live in that moment forever and there’s nothing to pick apart. I don’t think I’m a perfectionist so I’m fine if something can be better.. Sometimes it’s not supposed to be better. Leave it, move on, and make something different.
- In your own words, how would you describe your music? What would you prefer people to think about when they listen to your music? Which emotions do you seek to invoke the most?
I’d say my music is rock n roll blues and soul. It’s such a vague description but we cover so much so the description is going to be vague.
I want people to feel something when they leave a show or listen to an album. Doesn’t matter what.. Just feel anything. Know that myself and whoever else is on stage with me is having fun.
- Finally, What’s on your radar? Where can fans expect to find you next and what can they expect to see or hear?
I’ve been feeling more inspired than ever since I discovered that taking vacations is necessary even if you love what you do. Breaks are good.. Took me a while to understand that.
I already have a concept and all the songs for the next few albums. The next thing we put out will most likely be a live album.. And the next studio album is going to be a very subdued vocal based album. We just did the rock n roll energy type album… So after talking to my musician friend Charlie Reinertsen, he coincidentally helped me come to the conclusion that I want to make a very slick and laid back album that focuses more on the vocals. Can’t say when that’s coming.. But that is probably the next studio thing.
Shows have been getting more and more exciting so just follow along on Instagram and the website for those announcements. Friday Nov 4th we’ll be playing a big show in Massachusetts with Lauren King opening and we are PUMPED for that.
I really appreciated these questions Moataz! They were not plastic normal questions.. Very thoughtful. Hope to make it out your way some day to play some shows!
Thank you so much Dwayne for humoring my questions, I hope none of them was of any offense. And here at Rock Era Magazine we all wish you the best of luck on all your coming adventures.