QUICK HITS: Kitchen Dwellers Interview

by Chris Snyder

PC: Brady Wayne Cooling Photography

CN: What is the meaning behind your latest release, “Ghost In The Bottle”? 

The “ghost in the bottle” is something my father showed me. You take an empty whiskey bottle and place a lit match in the end of it. The remaining alcohol ignites, burns off, and a flame shoots out the end of the bottle. The flame the rushes out the end of the bottle sort of resembles a ghost which is where the name comes from. The title track of the album refers to an old cowboy legend about the famous Montana cowboy artist Charles Russell. The legend goes that when Russell passed away, God chose him to be in charge of painting the sunsets in Montana. 


You guys have been described as “newgrass” and “jamgrass”. How would you guts describe yourself to someone who is new to the group? 

Technically the word that us and our fans have used to describe our sound is “galaxygrass.” You could also definitely use the terms, “newgrass” or “jamgrass” to describe our music. Basically we play bluegrass instruments but tend to lean towards other styles of music. We always like to improvise and at times use a lot of instrumental effects, and at times the sounds we make are nothing close to bluegrass. Fans coming to a live performance can expect to see some bluegrass with a rock show sort of feel. 

You guys are making an impact in the scene in a short amount of time. What do you contribute to your success? 

Having a great team to support you really makes a huge difference in everything a band does. Our tour manager, general manager and booking agent all work incredible amounts of magic on a daily basis. Every member of the Dweller team works extremely well together. We always make an effort to exercise gratitude in every action we take, and constantly remember to never lose sight of our goals as a band. On a musical scale we generally always try to stay creative with our songwriting, and our live performances are different every time. 


Are there any other instruments that you played before picking deciding on the banjo?

Before this band I played drums in other bands for years. Around the time I discovered bluegrass, I picked up the guitar, mandolin, and banjo. When I first met and started to jam with the other guys in this band, they already had a guitar and mandolin player. So because I was the odd man out and the only one in the group that owned a banjo, I sort of became the banjo player by default. Turns out being a drummer and already having a good understanding of rhythm transfers over to banjo pretty well. As an aspiring banjo player I really looked up to guys like Andy Thorn and Danny Barnes who really took their own approach to the instrument. Also there’s a guy who lives in Ten Sleep, Wyoming named Jalan Crossland who I saw perform many times growing up. That guy’s a banjo genius. 


Are there any albums that resonate with you guys and have special meaning?

Our musical tastes are extremely varied throughout the band. Although we all listen to and appreciate bluegrass and jam music, our outside influences vary greatly. Max loves rock and roll from the 70s. Joe’s favorite artist is Pretty Lights and he takes a lot of influence from hip hop and the electronic scene. Shawn used to be in a metal band. In addition to loving jam bands I was super into ska and punk rock growing up. Some albums I draw the most energy from are “…And Out Come the Wolves” by Rancid, Sublime’s self-titled album, “Elevation” by Yonder Mountain String Band, and “Story of the Ghost” by Phish. 

You guys are currently touring the country in support of “Ghost In A Bottle.” What are some of your favorite places to play?

The Fox and Bluebird Theatres in Colorado are both great rooms to play and hold a lot of meaning for the band. We always have a great time whenever we travel to the front range area. Nectars and Higher Ground in Burlington, Vermont are both places we got to hear a ton about growing up and now have played both. That’s always a pretty awesome feeling when things come full circle. As far as home town venues go, The Filling Station in Bozeman and The Top Hat in Missoula are both venues in Montana that we started out playing and have played a huge role in shaping us into the band we are today. We still love to play both of those rooms. As always we can say we are definitely stoked to be rolling into festival season. Festival appearances for us this summer will include Northwest String Summit, Delfest, and Summercamp, in addition to many other smaller festivals. Our good friends the Magic Beans put on a festival in Colorado every summer called Beanstalk, which is always a fantastic weekend of fun for us. We also have a good friend in Montana named Nate who puts on a small festival out in the mountains near Haugen, Montana called Silvercloud Campout. That weekend is incredibly special for us, and we like to consider it as our hometown festival since the event is both run and heavily attended by our good friends. 


What does the future hold for The Kitchen Dwellers?

I believe the future will hold great things for this band. We’re headed into this year feeling refreshed and focused on our collective goals as a band, and things are forming and being created in a more cohesive manner than ever before. New tunes are being written faster than we can allot practice time for. We’ve got a new album that we’re incredibly proud of and we’re more than ready to show it to everyone we encounter out on the road this summer. As always in the music industry it’s hard to discuss any specific future events, as there’s always an announcement date attached to everything. But, one thing we can say is that the Kitchen Dwellers are prepared for a very exciting year of music.

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