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A Dirty Dozen with DREW MCMANUS of SATSANG – June 2021


According to a recent press release: “All. Right. Now., the new album from Montana-based quartet Satsang, is an ode to their homestate, so it may come as no surprise that the album’s breathtaking opening track was written on a rock in the middle of the Stillwater river, in Montana’s southwest region. Written and recorded during an extended hiatus from the road, All. Right. Now. finds McManus reconnecting with his roots and exploring a whole new palette of sounds, drawing on classic country and modern Americana. The performances are broad and spacious, reflecting the wide-open fields and soaring mountains that surrounded the band while they were recording. The result is a lush, organic collection fueled by acoustic guitars, fiddle, and pedal steel; a warm, inviting record that hints at everything from Uncle Tupelo and The Jayhawks to Gregory Alan Isakov and The Head and the Heart.” We get Drew to discuss new music, influences, and 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?

The new record is big. I’ve never felt this way about anything I’ve released. I think people will be blown away by the musicianship everyone brought to this record and will continue to catch more the more they listen. So many layers to each song.

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

I just have always loved it. It has always been my life blood. There are two moments I come back to a lot when I remember saying “I want to do that.” As a kid my mom videotaped a Garth Brooks concert that was on NBC/ABC. I remember watching it almost every day. It blew me away, and I would run around with a guitar pretending I was him. The second one was in middle school when I saw a live tape of The Black Crowes. Chris Robinson was just the man… I knew I wanted to be that.

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

Aside from the ones above, seeing Yonder Mountain String Band live back in the day with Jeff Austin really inspired me. A cool moment was at the first ARISE Music Festival, I watched Xavier Rudd played at sunset and that was when it hit me that I COULD do it. Five years later we played the MainStage at that same time slot and the dream came true.

4. Who would be your main five musical influences?

Oh man…. Common, Turnpike Troubadours, Tyler Childers, The Grateful Dead, and Tom Petty.

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

It would depend on the genre I was feeling that day. Hozier, I think. He has such a wide range of styles and vibes he can sit in. Just a master of riffs and melody.

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?

If your playlists are focused on lyrical content, but all over the place genre wise… we will probably be your favorite band. When people compare us to anything they like, I’m cool with it. I don’t like being compared to my friends though, especially Trevor Hall. First, I think sonically, Trev is lightyears ahead of everyone, he creates a space that is just magic. But if you listen to our sounds and lyrics, they couldn’t be more different. It’s just an easy comparison to make cause we share fans and are homies, but I don’t think our music is even in the same section at the record store lol.

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?

Ben or I are cooking always. Stefan gets drinks. Ben/Stefan both can’t not play if an instrument is in the room. Karl has headphones on and is working on a project.

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

For me, it’s never musicians. And I rarely get star struck. I just became homies with Rashad Evans, and while I want star struck, I couldn’t help but look at him and just be like, “I have watched every one of your pro fights and you are a legend of MMA. Took out some of the scariest humans on the planet and did it with style.”

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?

Well I don’t answer to anyone. Except me and my family. That’s #1. The second-best part is the humans it has brought into my life. I am friends with some of my heroes and as we grow, I just get access to some of the most phenomenal people on the planet doing amazing work. And they’re usually as stoked to meet me as I am to meet them… which is nuts to me lol.

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?

Question I would like to be asked… “What is your favorite Grateful Dead show?”  Answer: Veneta, OR 8/27/72. Question I’m tired of answering… “Tell me about the song “I Am.”

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?

One time a promoter tried to short me money. And I got real Chicago, really quick, and said some shit that was wild. I don’t know if I would change it because he paid me what the contract/agreement said. But whenever I eat an edible and think about it, I feel bad for my bandmates and manager for not knowing what I was going to do. I get hood and go 0-100 really quick when people aren’t being honest. At the end of the day this is how I feed my kids, so I don’t play games when it comes to my word or money… or anyone else’s.

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?

Damn the Torpedoes by Tom Petty. Just a heavy time for Tom. And almost everything was done live session. To play with him and the Heartbreakers in a live session would just be insane. That record is my favorite rock record of all time. It has pulled me through a lot, especially on tours where I want to go home.





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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