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A Dirty Dozen with ANDREW STERN from 3 PAIRS OF BOOTS – January 2021

| 19 January 2021 | Reply


According to a recent press release: “California-based husband-and-wife duo Andrew Stern and Laura Arias of 3 Pairs of Boots share a vast musical history as well as a talent for pairing catchy melodies with heartfelt messages. The two artists met through a “Singer Wanted” ad and were married within a year of their first encounter. Together, they experimented across a spectrum of genres and bands before solidifying their distinctive sound– an Americana-leaning blend of folk, rock, and country– as 3 Pairs of Boots. Their unique connection is evident in their music as well as their songwriting process: Stern functions as the main songwriter, crafting songs for Arias, who tweaks, edits, and re-arranges the music as they play. Arias’s striking vocal style falls somewhere between Cyndi Lauper and Shania Twain, blending a little bit of attitude with a little bit of twang. “I’m the technician, and she’s the magic,” says Stern. “When I write, I’m always thinking of her voice.” Like many of their influences, which range from genre-bending bands Buffalo Springfield, the Byrds, and Crosby, Stills, & Nash to iconic country bards Johnny Cash and Emmylou Harris, variety and human connection are key aspects of their songwriting.” We get Andrew to discuss new music, reflection on his past, and much more…

1. Tell us a little about your latest release.  What might a fan or listener not grab the first or second time they listen through?  Are there any hidden nuggets you put in the material or that only diehard fans might find?

We are big fans of melodies & hooks, not just with lyrics, but literally every piece of the puzzle, every guitar, keyboard, bass, drums, all of it has to fit together and grab you, we pack the songs with this approach all throughout, the songs are crafted with puzzle pieces that fit together in a layered way, so as the listener gets into repeated passes, the layers of the onion will peel back to reveal many things that may not have been noticed upon the initial listening. Hidden nugget? Perhaps there is one spot in the song “My Best Friend,” where I wanted a slide down from the 2nd verse to the chorus, tried a bunch of different ways to do it,  slide or e-bow, didn’t work, I mentioned an example to our mix engineer of what I was hearing, that great iconic guitar lick from The Smiths song “How Soon is Now,” he suggested we try it, so I figured out to play it, we popped it in, and it worked great, but it goes by in 2 seconds so it can be easily missed. Yes, quoting from The Smiths in a country tune!

2. What got you into music, and can you tell us about the moment you realized you wanted to be a musician?

Started playing guitar when I was 12, hooked by all the great English bands and guitar players from the late 60’s, the usual suspects; Beatles, Stones, Animals, Yardbirds, Who, Cream, John Mayall Bluebreakers, plus those great guitar players; Beck, Clapton, Page, Peter Green.. and of course Jimi Hendrix which led to Albert King. I don’t recall one moment that convinced me, it just felt so great to play when I first started, and still does, always kept me going, kept me searching, and discovering, I still get the same feeling of joy, excitement, accomplishment, and fun today as I did when I first started playing.

3. Building on that, is there a specific song, album, performer, or live show that guided your musical taste?

Different musicians & albums at different times: The first Hendrix record, which is still to me perhaps the best rock guitar album ever, not only because of his playing, but so much more, his songwriting and singing and attitude, all rolled in together. Some of my favorite songs on that album are the ballads, just beautiful. And the drummer! Mitch Mitchell was great, a jazz drummer, providing a real snap and swing to the music. This album really wears the test of time well for me. The album John Mayall w Eric Clapton – the encyclopedia of classic blues/rock licks. I cut my teeth early on playing to this album. Miles Davis In a Silent Way – I recall my father listening to this in his bedroom when I was 16, me being into the loud rock n roll guitar soloists, I was not interested in this at all, “what’s this crap Dad?” only to discover 10 years later after being exposed to jazz, that this became one of my favorite records and Miles one of my favorite musicians, he has a way of using space, of knowing when not to play, that has influenced me ever since. The art of improvisation on such a high level. Buffalo Springfield – they had a short life but man, the combination of country, folk & rock all together, the songs, the singing, the guitar playing of Stephen Stills, fantastic, still a major influence on me today. More recently, River and a Thread by Roseanne Cash, written with her spouse who also produced and played guitar, the whole record has such a great vibe, great songs that all make sense together, and the production and guitar playing is what I want 3POB to be, so much depth, layers of subtle music all weaved together, so achingly heartfelt songwriting, reflections of life, brilliant. Lately – Bob Dylan’s new album, a master class in songwriting, and a band playing in the most relaxed manner, love this album. Seen so many great live shows, hard to pin down one that truly stands out, but perhaps it would be seeing Marty Stuart the first time at Hardly Strictly, the festival has 6 stages, we wanted to see someone else but it was too crowded, so we went to the stage at the end, I had never even heard of Marty Stuart or listened to his music, he exploded onto the stage w his band the Fab Superlatives, blew me away, who are these guys? and why have I never heard or seen them before? Became an instant big time fan.

4. Who would be your main five musical influences?

Hendrix, Miles Davis, Johann Sebastian Bach, Beatles, and Bob Dylan.

5. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a song with, who would it be, and why?

Rick Rubin, for his personality, perspective, love of music, versatility working with so many varied artists, he brings a lot to the table. 2nd choice – Daniel Lanois – his production of Emmy Lou’s Wrecking Ball is a masterpiece.

6. How would you describe your music to someone who’d never listened to you before? What is the one comparison a reviewer or fan has made that made you cringe or you disagreed with?

I would describe it as heartfelt country pop music combining a mash up of many musical influences, the main course being country, rock and folk, with a few side dishes of jazz and classical, all wrapped up together, with country leading the way. 3POB is relatively new, this is our 2nd album, so far we haven’t really received any negative reviews…. but as we become recognized I’m sure they will arrive, don’t they always?

7. When your band is hanging out together, who cooks, who gets the drinks in, and who is first to crack out the acoustic guitars for a singalong?

I’m doing the cooking, Laura’s mixing the drinks, and I’m the one who breaks out the guitar first.

8. When was the last time you were starstruck and who was it?

Haven’t run into many stars, but I do recall seeing John Waters, the filmmaker, at a restaurant a few years back while we were dining w/ friends, one of them went into the bathroom, got a toilet seat cover, gave it to Laura and told her to go get his autograph, which she did! Waters loved it….he’s the perfect person to ask for an autograph using that given the tenor of his movies.

9. What is the best part of being a musician? If you could no longer be a musician for whatever reason, what would be your dream job?

The best part – how it makes me feel when playing and songwriting, just a deep connection to the many things it brings; joy, challenge, hard work, fun, a voice to speak thru. Dream job other than musician? Probably filmmaker.

10. What is one question you have always wanted an interviewer to ask – and what is the answer? Conversely, what question are you tired of answering?

How could you be a tax accountant during the day (I ran my own tax prep biz for many years), a serious straight job, and a musician by night? The common thread is math, which apparently I like and am pretty good at. The study of music is math, it’s the language that musicians use quite often when working with each other. The beautiful thing about it is that math equates to sound, so when someone tells me to try using a 6/9 chord or add a major 7, I don’t think math, I am hearing sound in my head. Tired of answering? Don’t really have one, I enjoy writing and talking about music, not jaded yet!

11. Looking back over your career, is there a single moment or situation you feel was a misstep or you would like to have a “do over,” even if it didn’t change your current situation?

I don’t think so…. playing music since I was 12, it’s been a long journey thru many musical styles, all of which made me the musician that I am today. Even though the business side of the music biz can be rather unpleasant and frustrating, still, we’ve met some great people there that have helped us a lot, some who still play a role in helping us now.

12. If you could magically go back in time and be a part of the recording sessions for any one record in history, which would you choose – and what does that record mean to you?

That’s a tough one. I would say the period of time when the Beatles were at their height of creativity and experimentation – Rubber Soul, Revolver, Sgt Pepper… any of those would have been fascinating to be part of, the personalities, the bubble and pressure they were under yet growing immensely as individuals, we only know them from the outside looking in, would have been special to really get to know them and see how they create.

BONUS QUESTION – Due to the current world situation with COVID-19 / quarantine / shelter in place, what have you discovered you miss the most from your life before the pandemic struck?

Fortunately, family has been providing a very supportive environment in withstanding the limitations in place. What I miss most is the carefree way of living we had before, when going out didn’t mean a possible life threatening situation, not having to worry about these extraordinary things, just the worries and concerns of ordinary issues.




Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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