In the beginning of Lincoln Durham’s new song “Creeper” we’re greeted by possessed clapping and sinister slide guitar that seems to be emanating from that of a mad man. This is exactly what the one-man-band wants us to hear on this song and throughout the course of his new album, Revelations of a Mind Unraveling (Droog Records), which will be released on March 25th. Revelations finds Lincoln Durham at his most raw as he fires off bluesy riffs and thunderous percussion that provide the perfect soundtrack for his descent into the darkness of his tormented inner psyche. Die-hard fans can take comfort knowing that the album’s ten songs channel the intensity of Durham’s electrifying live performances while also allowing him to flex his muscles as a gifted songwriter who is more than just a one man wrecking crew.
Glide Magazine is honored to offer an exclusive premiere of one of those ten songs on Lincoln Durham’s Revelations of a Mind Unraveling, “Creeper”. To learn about the process and inspiration behind the album, as well as the song “Creeper”, we caught up with Durham on some rare downtime from life on the road. Of course, you can find Lincoln Durham celebrating the release of his new album when he opens for the Reverend Horton Heat on their spring tour, which kicks off March 3rd at The Liberty in Roswell, NM.
Where did you get the inspiration for the songs and the stories you tell on the new album?
I have always written as therapy, a coping mechanism. I have never been able to sit down and write a song with a specific theme in mind. I seem to always spit out whatever venom is tormenting me in lyrical form. It’s a very intimate display, presenting my songs, because it’s a bit like being a fly on the wall in a therapist’s office. My inspiration is usually whatever I’ve got bottled up, whatever is vibrating and churning inside me and waiting to boil out.
When did you write the songs on the new album and would you say they came together easily or was it rather a difficult process?
I started writing this album directly after finishing the previous one. I tend to only write when the mood strikes and I sit with them for a very long time. I try to let them breath and evolve. From the time I write a song to the time it’s recorded, it’s often a completely different beast. So these songs have spanned a two or more year timeframe. For me, songs rarely come easy. Artists often talk about the idea that the songs are floating around in the universe waiting to be seen, heard and grabbed, you just have to be able to find them. I agree with that. But once I grab one, it fights. It’s usually a bloody, exhausting battle that can last a night or a year. In my experience, the writing process is a difficult, agonizing and toiling obsession that I could not live without.
Did you have any other albums in mind that you wanted to kind of mirror creatively?
I didn’t have an album that I was trying to mirror, however I did have a specific tone, or sound, in my head that I wanted to try and execute. In more general terms, and not specific to this album, I am an epic fan of Nick Cave. My style is very different but I think there is always an underlying homage to the king, in my own way.
It’s been said that your new album is a look into your tormented mind. Can you elaborate on this?
I’ve delt with debilitating anxiety, depression and O.C.D all my life. I’ve never been much to “take my meds” and found, first in my adolescence, that art temporarily soothes. This stuff that I carry with me will occasionally rear it’s head and did so while writing this album. I write ammunition against what torments me.
What are some of the pros and cons of touring and recording as a one man band?
The most apparent pros are more money in pocket and less drama. We’re all drama. The original reason I first started the one-man-band routine was out of necessity and not being able to pay other band members. Over time, it took hold, evolved and began to define my sound and who I was as an artist. I could never go back, I love it way too much. I am obsessed with the challenge of trying to make the biggest sound out of the smallest amount of people. It has now snowballed into carrying with me the same amount of junk as a full band – that’s a little con. I would say the biggest con is being a bit lonely on the stage/road. Alissa, my tour manager and wife, travels with me so I’m not completely solo but on stage there is no one to feed off. Because of this, I depend greatly on the enthusiasm of the audience. You’re on an island alone up there, it’s all up to you and that can get a little heavy at times. One thing that alleviates this, however, is when I have a dedicated supporting act traveling with me or I am supporting another band. You’re not on stage at the same time, but there is a comfort factor of always knowing the people closely around you even though the cities and venues change. It’s the family scenario and you’re all in it together.
Given that you work with so many instruments, what is your process like in the studio? Can you maybe talk about how you put together a song like “Creeper”, from a production standpoint?
I usually use a drummer in studio with the goal of capturing the vibe, or spirit, of the one-man-band but more audibly interesting, since there is no visual. So the drummer will usually dumb himself or herself down to mimic the simplicity of what I do and then add a little flare to make it more interesting. Honestly there is very little production other than painstakingly getting that ever-illusive perfect tone. I love big booming drum tones and overdriven guitars and cigar box guitars. So we tweak the tones, start the tape (we love recording onto tape), play the song four or five times through and keep the best one. So when you hear the albums, you’re typically hearing a live track with little to no overdubs. As a result, sometimes there are wrong lyrics and little imperfections that I think breath life and genuineness into a record.
Is there a story behind the song “Creeper” – where did the idea for the lyrics come from?
Creeper is an angst-infused autobiographical narrative of self-loathing and misery. It’s actually one of the most lyrically simplistic songs that I’ve written. It doesn’t have very many words and many of them repeat but it was written as a response to my wrestling with internal demons.
The album doesn’t come out until March but you are already on the road. Have you been playing new songs live, and if so, how has the reaction been?
I’ll usually play new songs for a year or so before recording them so I’ve been touring with a few of these for a while. Most seem excited about what they are hearing and I hope that continues. I’m curious to see what people think of the recorded tracks.
In your opinion, is the new album a major departure from your last release?
I don’t believe it’s a drastic departure but it is a small one. I don’t really want to make the same record twice, so for this project, I wanted to experiment while keeping a small anchor in the last album. As an artist, I feel you should grow and evolve, for better or worse, and hope your fans come along for the ride. I want all my albums to have a cohesive spirit and hints of the comfort while consistently insisting on a the discomfort of change and growth. Stagnancy is boring.
What are you five desert island albums?
Henry’s Dream – Nick Cave
Closing Time – Tom Waits
Surreal Folk Blues Gospel Trash Vol.1 – Reverend Beat-Man
Low Estate – 16 Horsepower
Mutiny/The Bad Seed E.P. – The Birthday Party
Listen to Lincoln Durham’s new song “Creeper”:
For more on Lincoln Durham check him out in the usual places. Revelations of a Mind Unraveling is available on March 25. Pre-order it on iTunes HERE.
Lincoln Durham Tour Dates:
Mar 03 — Roswell, NM — The Liberty*
Mar 04 — Taos, NM — Taos Mesa Brewing*
Mar 05 — Salt Lake City, UT — The Depot*
Mar 06 — Boise, ID — Knitting Factory*
Mar 08 — Missoula, MT — The Badlander*
Mar 10 — Vancouver, BC — Rickshaw Theatre*
Mar 11 — Seattle, WA — The Showbox*
Mar 12 — Portland, OR — Wonder Ballroom*
Mar 15 — Reno, NV — Cargo Music Hall*
Mar 16 — Petaluma, CA — Mystic Theatre*
Mar 17 — Fresno, CA — Fulton 55*
Mar 18 — San Jose, CA — The Ritz*
Mar 19 — Agoura Hills, CA — The Canyon Club*
* w. The Reverend Horton Heat
Photo: Robyn Von Swank