Interview: Cody Dickinson’s All-Star Break

AJ: In reading the band bios that you recorded the album pretty fast before you hit the road. Did it take awhile for you to gel as a band?

CD: Well, at first the line up was sort of evolving and it took a while to settle down into the final lineup. But once that happened, you know, we really hit a stride that we’re still on. We haven’t looked back.

At first, we recorded a twenty song CD that we were selling at our gigs. What it turned into, a couple of the tracks made it onto the final record. When we went to New York and got signed with Razor & Tie that kind of changed everything. We got a chance to go in and re-record a couple of songs with the current line up. Half of what you hear on the record is the band in its final line up.

The thing about Make A Move is that it kind of digests the progress of the band coming together.

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AJ: I know you and Chris have played together for a while. The other members of the band, have you met up with them before, maybe played together in a studio somewhere?

CD: It was a different story for every guy. Kirk Smithhart is a great guitar player who I had been wanting to work with but never got a chance to. He was cool enough to agree to do this band and we’re just having a great time. He brought in the drummer (Ed) “Hot” Cleveland and that’s when I moved to guitar. And that was so far for me because it’s just a whole new different look and perspective. Then Daniel Coburn, the singer, he was really the key piece of the puzzle to make it all work.

AJ: I was going to ask you about that. In the press releases, or at least in my memory, Hill Country Revue is your band, but with Daniel doing the front man duties. How’s that working out for you?

CD: It’s wonderful, man. We just get to concentrate on the music while he has the vocals covered. Artistically it’s great because we get to come up with grooves and he does the vocals. His lyrics are real cool and he’s a great singer.

What I did was, I called up the best guitar player I knew, the best singer and the best drummer and just started a band. These are my hand picked smoking guns.

AJ: Well, if you gotta pick a posse, yours is a nice one to have.

CD: Absolutely. When we are on tour, when we roll together, we’re a tough looking bunch of guys. People don’t mess with us.

AJ: I hear a lot of different influences on the record. Was there any one style you were trying to emulate as a band?

CD: I sum it up as blues hard rock and I think that’s pretty much a fair assessment. They are new blues songs. Not only that, these are new original blues songs that are modern, but yet totally authentic, which is amazing.

AJ: I hear a lot of blues, but I also hear a lot of the back country . . .

CD: Right, right. It’s all in the interpretation. The way we take that good, simple blues material and interpret it into this hard rock, epic sound is definitely the secret of the recipe. That’s the fun part.

AJ: I know that Garry wrote most of the songs on the album, and plays on some of them.

CD: Yeah, he played guitar on most of it, he played bass on some of it, he did some singing on there, you know.

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AJ: How many of the songs still sound the way he wrote them? Did you guys change them much, or at all when you recorded them?

CD: Good question. That’s a really good question. Let’s see. I think I changed them a lot. Garry would bring a song to me in really raw form and I took a lot of liberties as a producer, to stretch them out sonically as much as possible. I think Alice Mae is actually closest to the way it was written. Again, that’s an R.L Burnside song that I think Jimmy Brown wrote, that Garry did an arrangement of it that we play quite a bit. And it’s pretty much as written, it just has a lot of lead guitars on it, that’s it.

AJ: I’ve heard a few of the songs getting airplay and the one I think is very radio friendly is You Can Make It.  Was that something you were aiming for or just a happy coincidence?

CD: Thank you. You know, that song really came together in the studio. I play piano on that, which sets it apart from all the other songs on the record. Just sonically, the instrumentation is a lot different. I’m playing acoustic guitar and piano, which is something I want to explore on the next record. I want to play more organ and piano. I think I got my rocks off playing lead guitar for a while. Got to keep it interesting. But, You Can Make It has really turned into something special.

I think it was written essentially like a gospel song, and the way we play it, it sounds almost country. That’s a sweet combination. I’m so happy with the way that turned out. But, again, that’s just a testament to the musicianship of this band. It’s like, Dan’s delivery of the vocals mainly. That and Kirk’s slide playing with Luther’s leads, it just really turned out great. It was the number one or two most added song on triple a radio for a couple of weeks in a row.

AJ: So this is a permanent thing, not just a side project while your brother is off playing with the Black Crows?

CD: Oh no. This is definitely my band, not some side project. The Allstars still have some gigs booked, but we’ve been taking quite a bit of time off recently. Hill Country Revue has really been a trip so far.

AJ: So, this was fun. Thanks for your time. Enjoy your weekend.

CD: Maybe I’ll see you at Bonnaroo. It’s Jerry Hannan on Saturday (at the Troo Music Lounge, sponsored by B*dw**s*r).

AJ: I’ll see you then.

Rock On Through The Fog.

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