Ep. #139: Greg Cartwright of the Reigning Sound

Greg Cartwright is a prolific and influential musician who originally hails from Memphis, Tennessee. Over the past 20 years, Cartwright has established himself as a key and talented figure in the realms of garage rock, punk, and soul music. He has founded inspiring bands like the Compulsive Gamblers, the Oblivians, Greg Oblivian and the Tip Tops and worked with the Detroit Cobras, the Deadly Snakes, and Mary Weiss of the 60s chart-toppers, the Shangri-Las. Near the beginning of this century, Cartwright emerged with a new R&B-influenced band called the Reigning Sound and this past summer, they released their sixth proper studio album. It’s a love and heartbreak-soaked scorcher called Shattered, it’s out now via Merge Records, and has prompted the Reigning Sound to do some touring, including stops at Montreal’s Bar Le Ritz P.D.B. on October 24 and Toronto’s Horseshoe Tavern on October 25. Here, Greg and I discuss living in Asheville, North Carolina to appease one set of a couple’s parents, the long state of Tennessee, living in America, being a local and double perks, assembling the version of the Reigning Sound that made Shattered, it’s good to work with different musicians, what Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys is like and whether he’s respectable, lo-fi and garage rock got all lumped together, turning garage or blues songs into Billboard hits, Auerbach’s solid work as a producer with people like Dr. John, writing new songs about things that happened a long time ago, tragedy + time = great songs, romanticizing rock ‘n’ roll love song structures, Memphis music, picking up on contemporary pop song structures, DJ nights, old records aren’t necessarily going to be good, what it’s like making a record at the otherwise closed-to-the-public Daptone Studios, a small room and smart engineers like Wayne Gordon, the joys of working with an eight-track tape machine, Greg’s grandmother and his family’s amazing record collection, putting his first band together at 12 or 13, trying to find a drummer, underground rock music in Memphis in the late 1980s, the Antenna, meeting the older guard of subversive musicians and being part of a small scene, no grunge in Tennessee, navigating the music business in the 1990s, appearing on Late Night on with Conan O’Brien with Mary Weiss, forgetting how to play a song on national television, the good fortune of finding one’s audience, Merge Records is great and smart and made some prescient moves to sustain itself, making a new Parting Gifts record, the Oblivians in Canada, working with Last Year’s Men, figuring out new material for the Reigning Sound, the song “Never Coming Home,” and then we gotta leave.   

Related links: mergerecords.com/reigning-sound vishkhanna.com

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