Combine the skills of songwriter Jacob Darden (JD) with multi-instrumentalist Arlie Huffman (AH) and drummer Zack Koontz (ZK) and you have the indie-folk band Ameriglow. From North Carolina, Ameriglow finds a balance between fuzzy garage-rock and Appalachian folk cut with vocals sharing truths of Southern gothic trials and tribulations. We spoke with Ameriglow about their new single ‘Be Kind To Strangers’ and much more!
Why did you choose to enter the music industry?
JD: I’ve worked in textile mills, mental hospitals, corrugated box factories, developmental facilities, group homes and bartended for years in some of the rowdiest venues and most dreadful dives. Needless to say, I won’t go back.
ZK: I’ve known since high school that there is nothing that will make me feel more fulfilled in life. Sure, I have other interests, but achieving even marginal success in this artistic pursuit is exponentially more enriching.
What can you tell us about your latest release ‘Be Kind To Strangers’?
JD: ‘Be Kind To Strangers’ was written as a gift for my mother. The title itself and all the words are direct quotes of guidance, encouragement, wisdom and overall love she showed me growing up. The music video, which was a Mothers Day gift to her, is actual film from my home VHS collection along with some shots from other band members.
What was the recording and writing process like?
JD: I recorded this single at Legitimate Business, a studio based in Greensboro, North Carolina, that is operated and owned by Kris Hilbert. I had a pre-developed fingerpicking pattern, but no words. The words were written on the spot by singing over the acoustic track again and again until I got it after about an hour. It was a very organic experience; completely on the spot. I set out to make a legitimate acoustic and esoteric sounding album so, to start, we laid out about 8 acoustic guitars, tried every type of string gauge, string material, and did this relentlessly until we found the sound we wanted.
We did the same with the microphones. We spent a day or two just setting up every mic we could find and coupling them with the arsenal of guitars we had, comparing tonality on playback with the contrasting vox mics set up. It was a very thorough process, but the sonics were mostly discovered through trial and error.
It’s always an eye-opening experience recording with Kris. He has a truly unique approach to engineering and the sound being correct from the start. His studio is fully hotwired for his needs and the needs of his clients. It’s a hell on wheels for those who are gearheads and love modified rarities.
What do you hope people take from the single?
JD: Simply to be kind to strangers. Don’t take life for granted, but don’t be so serious either – shake a leg or two. Don’t forget where you came from and be a decent person to those you encounter along the rest of the journey.
Which is more challenging for you – melody or lyrics?
JD: With melody and lyrics, they generally come simultaneously. This song is the only I have ever written in such a way as described before. I almost always start with an emotive image within my head and then it pours out of the faucet.
Describe ‘Be Kind To Strangers’ in three words.
JD and ZK: Empathy. Sonder. Affirmation.
What do you think is the best way to discover new music?
JD: Two ways for me: accidentally or from being thirsty enough from the void to venture out and pursue something captivating. Go to your local venues, record shops and even basements. During a time like this, during the COVID pandemic, that’s nearly inconceivable, but just venturing outside can create some happy accidents. The web is an endless frontier of information, a lot of shit too, but if you search long enough you will find hidden gems, blogs and music platforms uplifting local artists from across the globe. In an eerie manner, that resembles the experience of walking into a dive bar and being blasted by stacks of blissful ear pleasure.
ZK: Through a friend at a gathering of folks. Anything that establishes a real physical connection to your emotions and memories. Getting tube-fed Spotify recommendations without any context doesn’t really do it for me.
What does 2020 (and beyond) hold for Ameriglow?
ZK: More recording and releasing records. Solidifying our connection with our fans. Booking and playing more live shows whenever that isn’t hazardous to everyone at shows. Testing, testing, testing (and I don’t mean the microphone).
What advice do you have for any person planning to become a musician?
JD: Have thick skin and don’t take it lightly. Music is one of the hardest businesses to actually make a sustainable living, so be prepared to do it for the love of it and save every penny. Make sure you stay connected with your fans and anyone in the music/art community who is willing to help your dream come true. They are your lifeline, show them respect and love.
ZK: Be adaptable, but never equivocate. Make real connections with your musical peers and folks that support you in any way. Certainly do your research and watermark with what other similar acts are doing, but define your own success and career on your terms first.
Do you have any message for our readers?
JD: Our new double-sided album Slavic Tongue, American Film was released on May 22nd. Take a listen if you have a moment, it may strike a chord with you; grab a tissue first, it’s a slow roll.
ZK: I would just add that, in addition to a tissue, other things that pair well with this record are a good whiskey, a candlelit bath, a neck pillow and whatever puts you in your headspace. Maybe call your mom afterwards?