J Roddy Walston and the Business Interview
J Roddy Walston and the Business is a Baltimore, Maryland-based band. They are playing the Bottleneck October 6th. Drummer Steve Colmus recently discussed how J Roddy Walston and the Business came together, what he’s most looking forward to about Lawrence and the band’s creative process. For more info on J Roddy Walston and the Business, check out http://jroddywalstonandthebusiness.com/
How did JRWATB come together?
J Roddy (Rod to his friends) started the band in his hometown of Cleveland, Tennessee around 2002. Two years later, after some gigging across the South, they moved to Baltimore after Rod’s wife began studying opera at our city’s prestigious Peabody Institute. Quickly, two of the original Tennessee guys left for other pursuits and Billy (our lead guitarist) and I were recruited over the span of a year to fill the empty seats…we were both playing in other bands around town and got “poached,” I guess. Once properly constituted, we toured incessantly for about three years before our original bassist Zach left to start a family, and Logan – who grew up with Rod’s wife – joined in his stead. We’re wrapping up our fifth year in the current formation and settling into domestic bliss.
What are you looking forward to about the Lawrence show?
It’s actually our first-ever show in Lawrence, though we’ve been to Kansas City plenty and genuflected at the altar of Oklahoma Joe’s. We’ve always heard great things about the town, so we’re stoked to finally see it and just kind of wander around. We’re also really excited about the Bottleneck – everybody seems to be a fan of that place. I’m a big college basketball fan who rues the day the Maryland Terrapins stopped playing in our mid-century airplane hangar (Cole Field House) so I’m hoping to see Allen Fieldhouse while we’re there.
How do you approach writing a set list?
First, you pick the songs you’re excited about playing that night, making sure there’s a good balance between fast stuff and slow stuff and old and new, and then you kind of group them together based on what tunings they’re in, so that everybody isn’t changing guitars after every song. Then we lovingly argue about it for ten minutes just before we go on stage, and somebody wins. Certain songs work better at specific parts of the set – “Sweat Shock” as an opener, “Midnight Cry” towards the end – but it’s nice to shake it up so we don’t get bored looking down at the same sheet of paper every night.
What are your hobbies outside of music?
Rod is into hardcore house renovation, Logan runs (like the steakhouse), Billy is into fine food and drink, and I’m a sports nut. One of the things I’m most looking forward to on October 6th is (hopefully) an Orioles victory over the Tigers in what will be Game 4 of our playoff series (if needed). That’s American baseball, for those unfamiliar.
What have been the biggest challenges you’ve had to overcome in your career?
Mostly the collapse of the entire profitability of the record-making industry, along with the relegation of our idiom (rock n’ roll) into the dust bin of niche markets. Hardly anybody is making money off of albums these days because of things like Spotify, so we have to stay on the road if we want to try and earn an adult living (which presents it’s own problems). And there are hardly any straight-down-the-middle rock bands left, so we still get quizzical stares from some quarters because there’s no irony or keyboards or excess floor toms littering the stage. There have been times when it’s felt increasingly futile and downright lonely, doing what we do ten years after anybody sold any records and decades after Rock was King. But all that is all massively outweighed by getting to do what we love as our profession, meeting amazing people across the country and getting to see the world, usually from a bench in a Ford Econoline. It’s a helluva way to make a living.