Tag, You're It is Heard Mentality's new weekly interview feature. The concept is simple: One local artist picks another local artist to interview, then the interviewee becomes the interviewer of an artist of his or her choice the following week.
What would people find interesting that they might not know about Railroad to Alaska?
What people might not know is that we have a fifth member. His name is Ryan Williams, and he writes a lot of our lyrics and is at every practice. He's a childhood friend of mine. We've know each other for 25 years. We needed that fifth position to spread it out from being an obvious square of thoughts. We didn't just want our brains on it. He's an extremely creative and talented writer. When you read his lyrics alone, you definitely get the strong sensation it's a writer writing it. We inspire each other to do what we do 'cause we've been writing music and doing art together for a long time.
[Note from Steve: Justin also added throughout our conversation that Ryan doesn't only contribute with lyrics, but he also contributes to the concepts that go into all graphic design used by the band. He also fills that space normally used by a producer.]
Where do you see Railroad in five years?
We could play together until we're dead. I don't know what the endgame is. I think I speak for the band when I say we're all satisfied for now, and we're all looking to be satisfied in the future. Satisfaction is a dumb word. It's not about being content; it's about feeling what you did is worth something. We're still fresh, and we're putting in work. There are goals we set from short term to long term. Our short term goal is to record a full-length album on a small label, get it distributed and tour with bands we respect. That's obviously going to take a lot of work, and we'll have to tour on our own and with bands we don't respect. We're going to have to record a couple of shitty EPs that we're half-proud of, and we're going to have to fund that until we get a label. That's the short term goal: get to the point where somebody wants us to record what we're playing, and they know that we are fit to do so. Someone that wants us to tour with their band that they represent. When that happens, we can set our sights on bigger things, or we can call it quits, or whatever the fuck happens. We're humans; we make plans and care what people think about us regardless of how we want to portray ourselves to people–we do care. At the same time, the most important thing is us being satisfied.
If you could say one thing to your fans about yourself, what would that be?
My whole adult life, all the mistakes I made, all the decisions I made that brought me here were based on two main life-altering events. One of them was life-altering for everyone in its own way, and one of them was life-altering for pretty much only me. It was Pinkly Smooth; the creative explosion that came out of Jimmy Sullivan when I was an 18-year-old kid. There's nothing that will ever change that for me. If people knew that Jimmy Sullivan was my main inspiration that wouldn't hurt. I wouldn't necessarily go around telling people I only do this for Jimmy or I'm trying to be like Jimmy. I don't want people to think that. I want people to know that Jimmy Sullivan is a big influence to me on his own and that I want to sing like him. That's what I want; it's what I try for, but also, I want to sing like myself, too. It's those weird things where you idolize someone: you feel comfortable about yourself because you feel like you have something in common with them or you can relate to them. There's that profound respect for Jimmy Sullivan and how that changed me as an 18-year-old kid.
Then there's 9-11, sending me on a conspiracy rampage in which I spent four years alone in my own mind, researching and writing and reading about political corruption and the events of that day and the cover-up of it. The mass murder of American people by the American government. I'm a conspiracy theorist, and I owe everything to Jimmy Sullivan.
What color is your monkey?
Purple because it's royal.