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A Dirty Dozen with THE ONE EIGHTIES – May 2022

Photo Credit: Taylor Elizabeth McDonald

According to a recent press release: “The One Eighties is a name that aptly suits the duo comprised of Daniel Cook and Autumn Brand down to their core.  Most artists dream of getting just a smidgen of the high praise their former band New Reveille received for their debut album The Keep.  From The New York Times, Rolling Stone’s “10 Artists You Need To Know,” and Billboard to CMT, DittyTV, and stellar performances at Americanafest and on Woodsongs Old Time Radio Hour, and beyond, they were beginning to make a name for themselves.  But like many a common tale, their record label folded, the pandemic hit, creative differences arose, and ultimately, the band went their separate ways. The One Eighties hope that listeners find something special in their music that’s just for them. And with a collection of songs already written and recorded, the duo plan on releasing a series of singles before putting out their debut album early 2023.  They don’t want to rush the process either, instead taking it slow, building their fanbase and audience with each song, and eventually, with each live show, and hopefully living out their dream of one day playing the main stage at Bonnaroo.  But then again, they may do a 180 and change their mind about all of that too and that will be just fine.” We get the duo 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?

Daniel: “Dead Star Light” is a song Autumn and I originally wrote for our previous band New Reveille. It comes from the idea that you can see the light from certain stars thousands of years after they’ve died out. That seemed like an apt metaphor for how we often hold on to people or things long after they’re gone. What a lot of listeners might not realize is that we have over a hundred strings tracks in the song. We were going for big, orchestral strings combined with 80’s synths to get something that felt almost interstellar. And then by the time you throw in pedal steel and everything else, it’s really hard getting all that stuff to sit in a mix without it getting overwhelming.

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

Autumn: I’ve always loved music, and recall coming home from school and heading straight for my stereo. I would wait for my favorite song to come on and push the record button on the tape deck so I could rewind and listen to it over and over. I spent a lot of my time lying on the floor with a speaker to each ear so I could escape into a different universe. It wasn’t until I started playing the violin though, that I realized just how much I loved music. Once I picked it up and discovered I could actually make music, that changed everything for me. I recall the exact moment I knew I wanted to be a musician. I was in the 6th grade honors orchestra, and we were playing the piece “Aces Tod” from Edward Grieg’s Peer Gynt Suite. In the middle of playing the piece I had what I can only describe as an overwhelming transcendent and almost spiritual experience. I hadn’t experienced anything so meaningful before as I was so young, but I’ll never forget that moment. I feel like that moment altered the course of my life.

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

Autumn: I grew up in the Seattle area in the 90’s, so naturally I listened to a lot of grunge music and alternative rock. I know that Daniel listened to much of that music as well, so we share that pastime which is pretty cool. I have a really broad taste in music, which I think is common for musicians. I love music all the way from hip hop to classical, so there’s not really one genre or band or song that I can say inspires me. It all does!

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

Daniel: We would love to do a song or album with Shawn Everett. He’s produced and engineered the likes of The War on Drugs, Kacey Musgraves, Alabama Shakes, and The Killers. We came across some videos online where he walks you through his process, and one of his things that we really embraced was how he often records a bunch of racket and then brings that into Melodyne to separate and manipulate pitches. If you want to create your own synth pads, as opposed to using presets or an actual synth, that’s a really cool method. You can even map the notes across a keyboard to make your own synth. And you wind up with something that you can say for sure that no one else has ever done. Plus, there’s just something magical about sitting down and not having a clue what you’re about to create and then just seeing where it takes you. Aside from that, Shawn Everett is just a master engineer and producer. If we ever got a chance to work with him, we’d jump at it.

5. What is your favorite activity when out of the studio and/or not on tour?  What do you like to do to unwind?

Autumn: Pretty much I like cats. I also love plants, eating, working out, reading, cleaning (weird I know), and working as a barista. Sometimes I like to lay on the floor and just stare at the ceiling to unwind.

Daniel: I sometimes go down the rabbit hole of reading medical research articles on JAMA. But since I was a terrible student of biology, I tend to skip all the science stuff and focus on finding new things to be scared of. Besides that, I like to write stories I never finish and then ruminate about how I never finish anything.

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?

Daniel: I recently joked that our vibe is something like contemporary Americana spit the straw out, jumped in a DeLorean, and took a trip back to the 80’s by way of a Baroque-era chamber orchestra barbeque. But the truth is, we’re just throwing all of our favorite stuff in a big stew and hoping it’s good. It’s very much anchored in traditional roots instrumentation, but we’re trying to incorporate a lot of unlikely instrument combinations and genre blending across these songs. Some of them have a disco feel, others borrow a lot from the synth pop world, others from psychedelia, and others are heavy on orchestral strings. It’s not that we’re going out of our way to smoosh together different genres; it’s more like we’re doing anything and everything we want without much regard for genre. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve had a conversation that went, “What does this music sound like?” followed by “I don’t know” and then finally “who cares?”

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?

Autumn: Neither of us really cook, but if cooking happens Daniel is the breakfast master and I am pretty alright at dinner type foods. Although, we tend to eat a lot of takeout and make a lot of smoothies. If we ever bust out an instrument it’s mainly because we’re about to write a new song.

Daniel: When Autumn calls me a “breakfast master” it’s a bit misleading since I only recently nailed the over-easy egg.

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

Autumn: The first, last, and only time I’ve ever been starstruck is when I met Georgia and Caleb Nott from Broods after a concert I attended. I gave them a few CD’s, talked my head off, and gushed at them for what felt like a lifetime. I have the whole thing recorded and I’ve never watched it back. Too embarrassing.

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?

Autumn: The best parts of being a musician for me would be creating, teaching, sharing, and feeling. I get to share the creations that I make and hope that a smidgen of what I feel can be felt by others. The range of human emotion is so vast, and I love that music is one of the only things that can touch on that. If I wasn’t a musician I would mostly likely be a part of something in the science realm. Astronomy or environmental sciences.

Daniel: You have no idea where an idea is going. It just appears and then you chase it. Maybe it’ll take you on a spiritual journey, or maybe it’ll trick you or frame you for murder. You never know. But it’s that uncertainty that I like. And you can be sure it’s the only uncertainty that I like.

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?

Autumn: Maybe it would be cool if an interviewer asked me about my tattoos or something. It’s a simple question that has a lot of answers, and a lot of those answers tell a lot about me. I’m not really tired of answering any question, because I guess maybe we haven’t been asked too many questions yet.

Daniel: Autumn only wants you to ask about her tattoos so that she can talk more about her cats.

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?

Autumn: I don’t really look back with regret. Sure, there are things that could have gone differently at times, but where would I be now if they had?

Daniel: If I hadn’t done the things I regret, I’d probably just be doing something else that I’d later regret.

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?

Autumn: No Doubt Tragic Kingdom. This was my favorite record as a kid, and my first concert. The title track blows my mind, and I want to see all the fun and wildness that ensued while they were tracking it.

Daniel: Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill, hands down. I didn’t fully appreciate it before, but I recently revisited this record and it so nails that feeling of being heartsick and sick of being heartsick, which near as I can tell is about half the human experience. Everything about it sounds and feels in the room and in the moment.  I’d love to have been a fly on the wall as that came together.






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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