The South Carolina Music Guide

A Conversation With The Artisanals’ Johnny Delaware

Photo Credit: Jen Elrod
A well known Charleston band, who is making waves around the US, is dropping their self titled album, The Artisanals, on September 21st. Howie Weinberg (Spoon, Ryan Adams, Nirvana), who mastered the project, lends some serious street cred with Wolfgang Zimmerman (producer) on a slick and well-rounded album that glides easily from one song to the next. We had an opportunity to talk with Johnny Delaware, songwriter and vocalist, about their original sound, the new CD, and what to expect from the band in the future.

SCMG: You have quite the story about how you ended up in Charleston. Can you give us some details about how a catastrophic event landed you here? It’s cool that you made the jump from one music city (Nashville) to another (Austin) and ended up in the Lowcountry.

JD:   Yeah, I traveled around a good bit before landing in Charleston. Thankfully some cosmic force wanted me in the south. A tree fell on my car in Austin after a giant thunderstorm ripped through, which provided me enough money to move to Charleston to record a record that I didn’t think I had the funds to make.

SCMG: Currently, who is involved with the band? How did you guys get together?

JD:  The only remaining members from the beginning are me and Clay Houle. We started the band together, so The Artisanals isn’t a band without the both of us. Fortunately we’re playing alongside bassist Eric Mixon ( who I played with in another band 5 years before ) and Nick Recio on drums ( who lives in Alabama. ) We all found each other through the labarynth of life. Clay and I kept coincidentally running into each other on the tour circuit. Nick Recio on the other hand..I love the way he drums, but I’ve never honestly never even played one show with him in my life, so I’m excited to look back at him and give him a good smile. Eric I knew from the Charleston music scene and he is a rock of stability. Our keys player on this upcoming tour is Ian Klin ( Atlanta ) and he is beyond gifted. Super stoked to be playing alongside him.

SCMG: You guys have had incredible success and are touring all over the east coast. How can you explain the explosive growth you’ve had in such a short amount of time?

JD:  I don’t know if it’s been explosive, but I appreciate you piping us up like that! It’s been a grind, honestly. Every fan and friend out on the road has been a treat that we earned. I think a lot of people look at us and see the successes happening, but they aren’t there in the van driving 6-8 hours logging the miles. I’m extremely proud of where we are right now though. I think we’re all ready to release this music and take the momentum forward. No expectations though. We’re just gonna have fun, work as hard as humanly possible and see where this life takes us.

SCMG: How would you describe your sound to someone who has never heard of you before?

JD:  West Coast Americana Rock.

SCMG: Tell us about your new album coming out on September 21st? What can we expect to hear from it?

JD:   It’s 9 songs including an intro that we put all of our spirit into. It’s a fantastic album, and I hope everyone feels as good listening to our debut as it did writing and recording the songs.

SCMG: Can you tell us in some detail what each song is about and what was the inspiration behind them?

JD:  It’s what you want it to be! That’s the bittersweet thing about creating art and then giving it away. It’s no longer the artist’s.

SCMG: It’s got 10 tracks too! That must have taken some time to record.

JD:  It took a hot minute. Should have taken less time, but at that moment we were all figuring out the studio gear and exploring ideas. The next album we wanna track in under 2 weeks.

SCMG: How’d you like working with Wolfgang Zimmerman? He’s great, isn’t he?

JD: I just love him. I moved to Charleston because of Wolfgang. He’s a big influence when he needs to be. Sometimes he just lets me and Clay do our thing and guides ideas the way any great producer does. I like that about him. He doesn’t feel like he needs to step in the way — he’s very patient and wise. Wolfy also drummed on the album, and I’m such a fan of his drumming style and pocket. I’m lucky to call him my friend.

SCMG: What would you like to see happen with The Artisanals in the future?

JD:  We just wanna get our music to as many people as possible, build up a big family base and have a good time with our fans. We fucking love our fans. They mean the world to us. We wanna get into a bus with a fridge so we can eat healthier. We wanna crush some big festivals, take some drugs with the fans and hang our near campfires at festivals.  We all wanna be able to travel and live in our own homes. I personally dream of being able to grow a garden near Taos and mountain bike and have a studio behind my home in the foothills with a meditation room to catch up on some stretching and yoga. It’s hard to get any time for myself anymore! We need this thing to pop up quick haha!  I just like a little solitude and quiet. Being bored staring at the wall with a guitar in my hand is one of the best things ever.  You need that space in your mind to create and think.

SCMG: Last question, how is working as an independent band working out for you? Is there anything you would change if you could. Also, what sort of advice would you give a band to help them achieve more success in what they are doing.

JD:  Being in an independent band is the best! I can’t stand corporate America and all the shitty music that tags along with it. I wouldn’t have it any other way. “Independent” means you don’t have to take shit from any of the suits. The reason we’re all doing this is to avoid working for some dickhead boss who doesn’t care about us in the first place.

Man, I’m not sure if anyone wants to listen to me. But here’s my advice for bands anyway: make good songs and don’t stare at your shoes when you play live. What you give to the crowd is what you get back. It’s all a mirror! Play as much as you can and put yourself in uncomfortable situations. You won’t grow unless you do.


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