This month we're graced with an interview from Nashville's "newly" acquired Russ Pollard of Everest) and The Watson Twins. Russ has been writing and playing music for decades from Kentucky to California to Tennessee with acts including Sebadoh, Folk Impolsion, Alaska! and legendary bass player Lou Barlow (of Dinosaur Jr.). Read about his favorite tour (with a small act called Neil Young), being inspired to play music by his own grandmother, and which My Morning Jacket member he is collaborating with on a new project.
Where did you grow up? Do you think that had an influence on your inclination to play music?
I grew up in Fresno, California, a big valley in the middle of the state. There was a lot of beauty surrounding the town with Yosemite thirty minutes up the road, tons of lakes, and a lot of camping and fishing.
I think my grandma first inspired me to play music. Her father was a bandleader who could play any instrument and had perfect pitch. She inherited the goods from him and seemed to think they had been passed on to me as well. When I was 10, she gave me his sax and taught me how to play. It was a very big deal for me. I started playing in bands when I was in high school. Then Nirvana exploded right around the time I went to college, which led me to discover Dinosaur, The Vaselines, The Melvins, Sonic Youth, Sebadoh, Pavement, etc. My direction in life became pretty clear around then and I started playing music more seriously.
What instrument did you first pick up?
I became fixated on drums when I was really young. My grandma bought me a small kit from a little mom and pop called Arthur’s Toy store. Some of my first really vivid memories are of playing those drums in our den. We had these thick 1970s green curtains and I remember pretending they were going to open to a huge audience.
Did you have any formal study? How did you learn to play?
I never studied, just picked up things from friends who were better than me. I’d also listen to records and try to copy what I was hearing as best I could, playing along. I bought music books and read the tabs.
Who were your main early influences?
My dad listened to a lot of 70s and 80s country music when I was growing up. Willie Nelson was a big one. In high school it was big rock bands like Zeppelin, Metallica, AC/DC. I moved to Louisville, KY for college, got a job at a record store and things changed. My mind was blown by guys like Ornette Coleman, Rashan Roland Kirk and Sonny Rollins, Howlin’ Wolf, Captain Beefheart, Tom Waits. I heard Can and Kraftwerk for the first time. It was the beginning of a lifelong education for me. After playing in a bunch of local, Louisville bands, I joined Sebadoh in 1997.