Interview: The Last Revel

Last Revel Newsletter and Site
From the budding music scene of the Upper Midwest comes the cutting edge Front Porch Americana soundscapes of The Last Revel. This powerfully talented trio of multi-instrumentalists from Minneapolis, Minnesota so naturally blends the genres of Folk, Rockabilly, Old Time String-Band and Rock to create a sound that is as equally original as it is timeless. The Last Revel trio utilizes their multi-instrumental abilities to bring the acoustic guitar, upright bass, fiddle, 5-string banjo, harmonica, kick drum and three-part vocal harmonies together to consistently deliver “Bombastic live performances,” as well as delicate and haunting folk ballads. The Last Revel will be at The Cedar with The Lowest Pair this Friday, November 18th at 8pm. Tickets are $14 advance, $17 day of show and available at thecedar.org. We spoke to vocalist, banjo and mandolin player Ryan Acker in advance of the show.

 

Q: Tell us about your creative process as a band. How do you compose your songs?
A: We like to experiment with many different creative avenues when composing new material. Often, one of us will bring an idea to the group, a lyric or a chorus, chord progression or riff, and the group will work together on that spark to bring it to a fully fleshed out song. For our upcoming album, we wrote a number of the songs while on the road. We’ll mess around with an idea at soundcheck and let those moments of spontaneity find their way into the songwriting process. It’s been refreshing and inspiring to explore that avenue of the creative process.

Q: Your style is described as “Front Porch Americana.” How did this genre come about? What has influenced it?
A: The folk, bluegrass, Americana genres has seen a massive amount of evolution in the past decade. I think that is in part because of the ease of access to historical traditional American folk music in the internet age. A massive catalog of early American folk, blues and bluegrass is influencing a generation of musicians and fans that might not have been exposed to it before. Traditional influences are colliding with contemporary inputs. The modern Americana genre boom is drawing influences from classic folk, country and bluegrass musicians, as well as singer songwriter and rock genres.

Q: You’ve all played other genres of music before. What is it about Americana that feels so much more ‘honest’ than other genres for you?
A: I definitely don’t feel that one genre of music is more or less ‘honest’ than another. That all depends on the musician. For us, we found a level of comfort and ability to express ourselves easily with acoustic instruments. There was something about that striped down nature of a song performed on acoustic instruments that helped us focus inward, on the message of the song. But there are plenty of incredible musicians in every genre that deliver really honest and heartfelt messages.

Q: What are the Last Revel’s plans for the future?
A: We are releasing our third full length studio album in early 2017. We are putting the finishing touches on the recordings and artwork now and are excited about an album release tour to follow the release. We recently competed in the Freshgrass music Festival band competition in North Adams MA and won recording time with producer Allison Brown at her studio Compass Records in Nashville TN. We hope to hit the studio with her sometime next year to record an EP sometime in 2017. This will be our first experience working with a producer and we are excited to see what that process is like.

Q: What is inspiring you lately?
A: We’ve been more or less on the road touring for most of 2016. A lot of moments and experiences that we have had on the road have been really influential in our songwriting process. The transition towards being full time musicians has had its moments of growing pains and we draw from those challenges. They find their way into the music.

Lately, the political and cultural unrest that has captivated the country has made us look differently at what our purpose is as musicians and songwriters. We’ve always been inspired by great folk songwriters like Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan and Neil Young, but now their political messages they shared hit closer to home. There are many aspects of the cultural issues of those eras that mirror what is happening now. I think it will be interesting to see if the impact of current events will influence our songwriting.