Courtney Whitehead of Denver's Bison Bone
Interview by Carlee Henderson (@carleeah)
Photography by Amanda Gonzalez (@mother.flower)
Congratulations on the new album! Tell me about it: What's the theme and how did it come to fruition? How long was the process?
“The songs on Take Up The Trouble are mostly about the darker side of life; divorce, broken relationships, drinking and down and outers. The process took us about 5 months because we worked on it on and off. We spread it out that way because of money, time constraints and the songs were brand new when we went it the studio so we still need to work them out a bit. We tracked drums and bass live straight to tape which gives it the fluid warm sound and we mastered it through an analog system at Adam Boose-Cauliflower Audio (The Avett Brothers, Dawes).”
What's the story behind your band name?
“It comes from an old folk song where the theme is the land run in the late 1800's and they are describing a bison skeleton... ‘Bison Bone been bleached out in the sun.’ I thought it was a good name for americana roots music. And nobody had the name which always the biggest battle.”
Your band has a badass pedal steel player, backing vocals of an angel, and ripping guitar solos. How did you all come together?
“We all came together just through the Denver scene and I needed players and these guys and gal wanted to play this type of music. It's the best lineup I have had up to date.”
The country music scene has exploded in Denver. However, many if not all country bands here are pulling their sound from the past. What's your view on this and how would you best describe your band's own aesthetic?
“I love country music especially older/traditional country music. That's what I grew up listening to. But once I got to high school and college my interest changed to more alt/country, americana, roots rock, country punk. And Americana is what I am inspired by to this day.”
“I wouldn't consider us a country band even though I love the country bands in Denver and the country scene here but that is not exactly what we do. I just say we’re an americana rock band. We used to say ‘cosmic country’ to stay out of the country box but that did not help (ha ha). I just don't want to get put in any box I guess and there are bands in Denver that stick strictly to country music and that tradition. All of this only matters if you care about genres and I don't really adhere to them.”
I get a Waylon Jennings vibe from your singing voice (such as in ‘Late December’). Who are you inspired by musically (past/ present)?
“Past, definitely; Waylon and the like. We cover some of his songs from time to time. He really spread things out sonically past the normal country sounds so we dig him. I don’t know who inspirationally comes out in our music but people we like are Daniel Ramano, Courtney Barnett, Margo Price, Kevin Morby, Son Volt, Nikki Lane, Ryan Bingham, Drive By Truckers, Nick Cave, John Moreland, Lucero, Jaimie Wyatt, Kurt Vile, The War On Drugs, Jason Isbell, Deer Tick, Steve Earle.”
Did you grow up with country music? How has the past influenced your music career?
“I’ve been writing songs since I was in creative writing class in 7th grade. I think that was the first A I ever got in school. Then from there English, lit etc. all came pretty easy. I hope I always have an outlet to write songs.”
How long have you been a songwriter? What inspired your writing for this new album?
“The songs on the record are just inspired by what was going on around me at the time. I’m a pretty autobiographical songwriter and a lot of my friends at the time were going through some tough things with their relationship with their significant others and their relationship with vices.”
Goals for 2019?
“Our goal is to tour some and start working on the next full length record. We have a pretty visualized 2 year plan which includes a lot of touring in 2020 so we are really trying to set our self up with a big year in 2020 and hoping 2019 will be the stepping stone for that.”
What are some of your local favorites and go-to’s?
“Hi Dive, Levitt Pavilion, Pon Pon, Illegal Petes, Sputnik, Meadowlark Kitchen. Mostly just where my friends work. There are too many good bands to name but I hope the scene just keeps getting better all the time.”