With the recent release of his new album Canyons of My Mind, singer-songwriter Andrew Combs continues to generate quite an exciting buzz in the musical Venn diagram where Americana and indie rock overlap. We chatted with Combs for our newest NoiseTrade One-on-One to discuss the personal nature of his songwriting, his literary influences, music videos, and much more.
NoiseTrade: You’ve described your new album Canyons of My Mind as being much more personal than your previous album All These Dreams. Which of your new lyrics feel most revealing to you and what sparked the change?
Andrew Combs: I identify with all of these new songs, but if I had to pick one it would be “Heart of Wonder.” It is by far the most personal and introspective, despite its raucous musical backdrop.
Nothing has sparked a change in me. I have always written songs of this nature, but somehow this new batch seems to reflect a truer sense of where I am at in my life than past records. It’s probably just because I am getting older. Maybe its all bullshit. Who knows.
NT: Looking over your tracklisting for Canyons of My Mind, which song turned out to be the easiest one to write and which one ended up being the hardest to complete?
Combs: The easiest was “Rose Colored Blues” and “Hazel.” The hardest was “Silk Flowers.” My buddy Skylar and I toiled over that one for while.
NT: There’s a certain sense of wide open spaciousness and wanderlust in your new batch of songs. Have you always felt a draw to these pastoral and environmental elements or is this a new development in your songwriting?
Combs: It has always been there. For some reason I am drawn to these elements, and not only in music, but also literature and film.
NT: Your bio mentions a few of your literary inspirations, such as Charles Wright and Jim Harrison of Legends of the Fall fame. What specifically have you connected with regarding those authors and their works?
Combs: Wright is spiritual in his own non-alienating way and his use of language is stunning. As for Harrison, I dig his subject matter: sex, food, the outdoors. Also, I find them to be fascinating on a personal level. I have poured over every interview I could find with them.
NT: You shot a few music videos for some of your new songs, including “Blood Hunters” and “Dirty Rain.” What can you tell us about the decision to film those and what role do you think music videos still play in connecting with fans?
Combs: To be honest, I am very green to the whole world of music videos. I was even a little apprehensive about taking on the task. Luckily, both ended up being fulfilling endeavors. I gave the directors – Alysse Gafkjen for “Dirty Rain” and Ry Cox for “Blood Hunters” – my initial thoughts, and then let them run with the ideas. It’s a great way to introduce a record and it allows you a different angle to experience a song.
NT: Speaking of music videos, to close things out, what are your top three favorite music videos of all time?
Combs: I did not grow up around MTV, or cable television in general, so I am not a good person to ask. I literally can only think of one classic video and that’s “Thriller” – which is badass and also scares the shit out of me.