Artist Interview: Matthew Logan Vasquez on the new Glorietta album

Glorietta was a moment in music history where some of music’s biggest names got together in 2017 to record a live “jam” record. The names include Noah Gundersen, Matthew Logan Vasquez, Kelsey Wilson, Adrian Quesada, Jason Robert Blum, and David Ramirez. We’ve covered a few of these folks, so when we heard about this incredible project, we reached out to the band for some comments. Vasquez was kind enough to answer some of our questions and give the back story to band.

For a longer, detailed explanation of the band’s origins, we recommend reading the official copy on the band’s site. That said, here’s the short version. Vasquez and Quesada got together over the purchase of an instrument, decided to hang out at a David Ramirez concert, and had an inspired moment to make a record together in the vein of Middle Brother, another Vasquez project. The dream became a reality as Vasquez invited a number of folks to join in on the process.

Let’s get the bad news out of the way now; this is probably a one-off record. It’s the snapshot of a moment in music history rather than the “origin” of some larger, longstanding band. I asked Vasquez if he thought the band had the potential to repeat a bit of what Crosby Stills Nash and Young had done in the 60s, bringing together different songwriters to create a bit of a super group. Vasquez dismissed that notion due to how successful the members of Glorietta are with their own projects. It’s already miraculous enough that they were able to get together for the time that they did to record this fascinating record.

One of the coolest things about chatting with Vasquez was his explanation of the recording. He rented an Air BNB with enough space (and a hot tub) for the band to connect and work. Vasquez described the environment as being like a “summer camp” with great cooking by Blum and steady inebriation from everyone. Imagine being at a summer camp with some of your generation’s greatest songwriters; it’s like a movie waiting to happen! Each person brought a few songs with them and they just jammed until they got it right. The song “I Know” was written on the spot during the multi-day event. The song “Heat Stroke” was a bit of a joke during some drunk riffing, with the lyrics being written in about 10 minutes. One of my favorite comments of the interview was when Vasquez explained that Kelcey Wilson of Wild Child was the “finisher” on lyrics, helping to polish off the tracks that others brought to the record. Wilson wrote her track “Sinking Ship” at the Glorietta recording, which went on to be a meaningful track for her own band and is a bit of a standout on the Glorietta album as well.

Ramirez invited his good friend Noah Gundersen into the mix. Gundersen’s songwriting and performance chops feature prominently on “Golden Lonesome” and “Lincoln Creek.” With these names like Ramirez, Gundersen, Vasquez, and the “only Grammy nominee in the group” Adrian Quesada, I asked Vasquez about the “problem” of ego. He said that it was a really easy group to work with. The egos helped to bring confidence in the art, but because they’ve all worked as band leaders for so long, they had the professionalism and empathy to make it work. In short, because they’ve all had to do the hard work of writing and finishing an album, the artists were all willing to sacrifice for the larger group.

When I asked Vasquez about the live shows, I could hear his smile over the phone. “It’s gonna be a ramble!” he articulated quickly. The plan is for each member to take turns with lead, featuring their own songs as well as some of these Glorietta tracks. One member who appeared on some of the tracks is the iconic Nathaniel Rateliff. Some of the members of his band the Night Sweats feature prominently on the album as well. Imagine the core of that rock band providing the basis for a bunch of rock music from these iconic songwriters. It sounds like a show worth seeing. You can check out the tour dates here.

Vasquez explained that this album and project are about making music that is finite yet still fun. It’s about a bunch of friends that made a record for the fun of it. He hoped for the best when dreaming up the project “and the best happened.” Our interview included some really fun conversation about the Spotify algorithm and the importance of finding new music, but at the end of the day the focus was on having people fall in love with the musicians featured in Glorietta. If you haven’t heard some of these artists, dig into their discographies. They were all invited into that cabin in the Glorietta project for a reason. If you haven’t heard the record, give it a spin. We’ve featured some of the tracks on our site, but the whole album fits together admirably well and we recommend it (review to follow!).

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