Advocate Interview: Philip Price of Winterpills

EntertainmentMusicArtNorthampton (Southampton, New York)Arts and CultureMusic IndustrySouth by Southwest

Northampton’s own Winterpills released their fifth and most ambitious album, All My Lovely Goners, earlier this month. (It's now streaming on their website.) Songwriter Philip Price spoke with the Advocate by phone about what the group wanted to achieve with the record, why they are releasing in on vinyl and their plans to tour behind the record at places like next month’s South By Southwest conference in Austin, Texas. This Saturday, they'll host a CD release party at a hometown venue, the Iron Horse Music Hall in Northampton, with guests Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion.

Tell me about making this record.

About three years ago we finished our last full length. I’d written a whole bunch of these songs back around then and they were part of a song cycle that got dismantled or deconstructed by the band. The way I write is I kind of wait. The songs come to me. They came in a cluster and a song cycle developed around them. It was actually a slower, slow breathing, longer process than normal.

So you had a CD release party in New York last Saturday and another in Northampton this Saturday. How do those two events feel going into it? Do you have to present one version of yourself for the New York crowd and another version for the hometown venue? Are you more excited about one than the other?

The local show is actually more pressure. Technically speaking we are going to have more musicians onstage, juggling more balls. There’s an art show opening the night before featuring artwork from the album at a gallery in Northampton. I’m also assembling the artwork for the vinyl. For the Iron Horse show we are going to have strings and flute and vocalizations and we are playing with Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion, swapping songs and stuff.

You’re playing SXSW in March? Tell me how that came about.

This is our fourth time. The label creates a showcase. It applies for the spot, and we get in through that. We haven’t been in three years. It’s crazy. You never really know if going there is going to help your career or if you are just going to eat a lot of tacos or drink a lot of beer.

What’s the key to the band’s longevity?

Brian [Akey, the bassist] came on board about 2-½ years ago. We are all buddies, and we started out that way. It wasn’t started as a band formed by holding auditions. It didn’t begin as an ambitious project. It began with people who had other musical irons in the fire getting together and playing a certain type of song. We realized that we had a unique sound. We played for a year, just playing without recording. Then we decided we were going to put something down. So like a lot of things, it’s been great. Slumbering and slow-moving, just the natural pace of everybody’s schedule. There are day jobs. Various people have held down different jobs. Right now this is my full time job.

Do you prefer being in the studio or out on the road?

Speaking for myself, I’m kind of a studio hermit. But when it’s time to hit the road I love it. I give myself completely to that. We haven’t gotten to the point where we can tour constantly and have it sustain us.

What made you want to release it on vinyl?

We wanted to make a beautiful thing. It came together over a longer period of time, more of a monumental statement and we wanted the release to reflect that. With vinyl, as you may know, sales are up a huge amount. So, putting out the vinyl, it’s just a gift to ourselves, to our fans. I really like the option of vinyl. I don’t know if it sounds better but it has its own qualities. The digital world is very ephemeral.

The one crazy setback was the album wasn’t going to fit on one vinyl record, so we turned it into a double LP. We raised more from the Kickstarter campaign than we had asked for, so it was fine.

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