Interview – The .357 String Band

.357 String BandA couple of weeks ago I got to see the .357 String Band live, and I also got to spend a good amount of time hanging out with them before and after the show. I was hoping to do a more formal interview, but long story short, it wasn’t in the cards. We did get about 20 minutes to talk with the tape rolling though. It was loud because we were just in a booth at a bar, the audio is shoddy at best, but it was a really cool conversation so I’ve decided to overlook all the flaws (including that I couldn’t speak right {it was late and we were at a bar}), and post it verbatim.

If you don’t want to fight through the warts, I transcribed the meat and potatoes below. For reference I’m the one asking the questions and that sounds like Kermit the Frog. Derek Dunn, the guitar player, did the majority of the talking. The other members are Joe Huber (banjo), Rick Ness (bass), and Jayke Orvis (mandolin).

You should listen. You will learn the difference between “Whipping a Shitty” and “Whipping a Pissey”. At savingcountrymusic.com, we aim to educate.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Download or open with media player.


Triggerman: About your last album Fire & Hail. I declared that was my favorite album of 2008. I felt you had just gone the extra mile, having Andy Gibson record it, getting Rachel Brooke down there to sing on one of the songs. It seems like you guys really put the effort out to make a really good album.

Derek: Like every band out first album we spent the two years after post putting it out hearing every little thing wrong with it that probably most people didn’t hear. So we decided as individuals and as a band that everything we did wrong with the first album, we won’t have to deal with those mistakes again, we’ll make sure we get it right this time. We were mentally prepared to do this over and over until they were right instead of just pretty good.

Triggerman: How was it working with Andy Gibson?

Derek: Andy speaks really slowly, because he’s really really stoned. But he’s a machine that works you 16 hours straight and won’t let you settle for shit.

Joe: He’s the most patient man, but he gets into it and makes sure that by the time its done, it sounds exactly like you want it.

Jayke: Plus every time we’d record a song, he’d be like ok let’s see how it sounds while were driving through the fuckin’ hills in the car, ’cause that will give you a better idea of how it actually sounds. So we’d record a song, burn it do disk, hop in his truck, and tear off through the streets.

Triggerman: (Speaking to Joe Huber) It seemed like on the second album you kinda pushed out a little bit more.

Joe: Yeah I think I kinda grew into a position where I understood what I was going for, what my influences were. On the first album, I really didn’t have all these influences i could take from. On the second album, after figuring out kinda what sound I was going for, I could really start writing the way I felt I write.

Triggerman: At one point in time you guys called what you do “Streetgrass”. Are you still up with that term?

Derek: That term was always sort of vague. It was really meant to separate us from a lot of the hippie newgrass shit that was going on . . . In a sense it’s like all these terms and phrases, it’s really like do you like the fucking music or not? Every musician would like to say that and leave it at that but you also have to market yourself, you have to clue of what they’re going to be getting into when they go to a show.

Triggerman: I know this is a stupid, canned question, but what are your influences? I know you guys were into punk and metal, and that’s how you met each other, it all kinda grew out of that situation, but what are your influences in kinda the string music?

Derek: Well that’s pretty much the gist of it. As far as our sound goes, our influences are the rock and metal and stuff that we grew up listening to and that meeting pretty much just string band, old timey string band stuff. Probably less bluegrass and more old timey mountaineer shit.

Rick: My influence is this band because I didn’t listen to it at all until I was in this band.

Derek: Yeah to a large extent I think we are influenced by each other. Like my guitar playing is influenced by the way Rick plays his bass and etc. It has just been us growing together. And honestly as far as the inspiration a lot of it is pretty contemporary, like bands we tour around with and play and have the same mentality as we do. That’s who I get inspired by on a day to day basis. You know, our friends basically.

Triggerman: Having said that, you guys are part of, I don’t know what to call it, the Northern Alliance of real country bluegrass music. There’s you, there’s Those Poor Bastards, Rachel Brooke, all these people that are coming from the upper Midwest. That’s kind of an epicenter right now of this underground country movement.

Derek: People say “Well they don’t play country and bluegrass where your from,” but maybe that’s why we play decent bluegrass and country because we don’t have the pop country music machine like in our back yard fuckin’ ruining everything. So when people get upset and are like “Man pop country sucks” we’re like well of course pop country sucks. All pop music sucks. Pop punk sucks, pop rap sucks. So we never had to have that shit being shoved down our throats, and that’s allowed us to do it exactly how we’ve wanted to do it.

Joe: You don’t need to write a song about it, it’s not even there.


You can check out a review of the show the interview came from HERE.

.357 String Band albums:

Fire & Hail

Ghost Town