Santa Cruz alt-folk duo Weston Bookhouse have kicked off the 2016 with a charming EP called “Fog and Farewell”. Between intelligent lyrics about millennial wanderlust and dodging the corporate world, intricate neo-hippie instrumental sections, and acoustic guitar riffs that walk the line between bath tub folk and 90’s punk, the new Weston Bookhouse EP is like a perfect piece of gum, one that holds flavor while you chew for a long, long time. I hit up singer/guitarist Russell Park, a dear friend of mine, with a couple questions I had about where he’s at with his craft.
– This album feels like it’s based on a specific period in your life. Is that true? Can you describe that period?
The songs were primarily written while living in my hometown last year after college. I was descending off of a really high-point in my life. I left a town I was still falling in love with in Santa Cruz, and ventured around the country with great friends in Walter Mitty and his Makeshift Orchestra. When I moved home, the nostalgia sunk in. As did the pressure of “growing up” and prospering in today’s SF Bay Area. My music and social life started to fade, but writing about it in my bedroom late-night helped a bit (maybe, idk). But I introduced the songs to my drummer Naka G who still lives in Santa Cruz, and we decided to make an album out of it. We did this right before I moved up to Portland (where I am alive and well). He learned the songs in a matter of days, wrote his own parts, and laid down some of the most tasteful drums I’ve ever heard. We recorded it in SC with our friend Tauvin at Shantytown Studio, and he made us sound great.
– What were some direct musical and lyrical influences for this album?
Naka and I have been really inspired by Two Gallants, Shakey Graves, and an old Santa Cruz band called The Weatherveins. RIP, those heart-sinkers. Lyrically, I’ve probably drawn a lot of influence from my novice attempt at becoming what they call “well-read”. Love Hemingway. That and whoever writes the WMAHMO songs. And probably Jack Johnson.
– How do you think your sound has evolved from On Second Thoughts?
The new songs are a bit more dissected. We’ve gotten better at our instruments and more confident. On Second Thoughts was a few songs thrown together by two guys who lived together in college. One played acoustic Gaslight Anthem covers in his bedroom, and one who “likes Math Rock”. But on Fog and Farewell we had written the old songs, performed those songs, and written more songs with new influences in mind.
– What is your songwriting process like? Music or lyrics first, when, where, why, how, etc.?
Frustrating. But I keep notes in my phone of certain thoughts throughout the day. I also fiddle around with the guitar a lot. Sometimes parts fit nicely together and spark new ideas. Sometimes they don’t. I’m definitely not like Sour Guy who sits down and writes a rock opera while visiting his dad in SoCal for a weekend. But I suppose it gets done either way.
– What’s the future hold for Weston Bookhouse and you personally?
For now, we’re going to drive these songs around a little bit. We’re doing a West Coast tour in March with Walter Etc. that we’re really stoked about. I hope I don’t have to quit my job. Then comes my secret plan to woo Naka into moving up to the Pacific Northwest with me. Outside of Weston Bookhouse, I’m helping my man Dustin out with his solo project, and playing in a band called Beauty Sleep, the pacifying dream rockers. And I’m always writing.