Brett Dudash left his native California to find a Nashville twist in Tennessee. While he makes music that’s firmly rooted in outlaw country tradition, he hasn’t lost touch with his West Coast hippie roots.
“My parents were hippies who grew up in Southern California—so you can imagine that my earliest memories of records being spun were The Doors, Neil Young, Pink Floyd and Steve Miller Band,” Dudash tells BTRtoday. “Most of my young years were heavily into skate punk and grunge… [but] I think the most noticeable evolution in [my] music taste has been my love and appreciation for country music.”
Dudash started Lasso Spells after he split from his band Ranch Ghost. Though he loved his former band’s garage rock vibe, he yearned to play his own music and pursue his love of different genres.
This past Friday, Oct. 19, Lasso Spells released its sophomore album, Bohemian Mechanics, on Cold Fantasy Records. It’s outlaw cowpunk, like Hank Williams III or Dwight Yoakam’s later, edgier work.
While it’s musically rooted in the darker end of the country street—with distortion over steel guitar—the lyrics engage with the modern world of social media, a form of communication Dudash has a complicated relationship with.
“While using these tools it can be an incredibly stressful voyage through the myriad of information,” he says. “Constantly comparing yourself to everything and everyone can be taxing on the psyche. On the flip side, the information we are able to nearly-instantly share with the world is priceless for working musicians—it’s a classic double edged sword.”
Read the entire interview with Lasso Spells frontman Brett Dudash below and listen to their newest Bohemian Mechanics.
BTRtoday (BTR): You’ve described your new album as “a record about the pull between disconnecting from the world and becoming too connected to it…” What do you mean by that?
Brett Dudash (BD): Whether we like it or not, social media and digital music platforms are absolutely vital to musicians and fans alike. Though, while using these tools it can be an incredibly stressful voyage through the myriad of information. Constantly comparing yourself to everything and everyone can be taxing on the psyche. On the flip side, the information we are able to nearly instantly share with the world is priceless for working musicians. It’s a classic double-edged sword.
BTR: Tell me about this old school influence you have. I hear more than one genre in there, which gives you this interesting edge that I’m totally digging. How would you describe it?
BD: I always use various kinds of rock ‘n’ roll from the mid to late 1960s as a starting point. I dive into 1930s century blues and folk music and also have a deep love for ‘60s/’70s country music too. At the end of the day though, I’ve always been very conscious of trying to use those as influences rather than becoming them. Being a retro band or some kind of mirror image of something from the past has never been a goal. I strive to be relevant to our time, while wearing influences on my sleeve.
BTR: So you’re from California, but you live in Tennessee. I’m from Pittsburgh but live in NYC and have this confusing pull between both cities. How do you figure out which city your heart lies?
BD: Good question—I think about this often. Nashville is an amazing city for numerous reasons, but I’m not sure I would live here without music being as big a part of my life as it is. The affordable cost of living and constantly evolving music scene is unlike anywhere else in the country that I have found. It’s funny, because I have always felt like Lasso Spells’ music is much more in line with the West and East Coasts. The West Coast ‘60s psych and NYC late ‘60s/’70s music history is near and dear to my heart. Not to mention the great bands currently coming from both coasts. But California is definitely where the heart lies.
BTR: What kind of music did you grow up listening to? How has your music taste evolved?
BD: My parents were hippies who grew up in Southern California—so you can imagine that my earliest memories of records being spun were The Doors, Neil Young, Pink Floyd and Steve Miller Band. My Father is a lover of blues and country music as well. It’s funny because I actually know far more about ‘60s and ‘70s music than they do. Most of my young years were heavily into skate punk and grunge. It was the music that was most around in the 90s. I didn’t start playing music till I was 20 years old, so the past 10-plus years have been the most evolving time for me musically. I think the most noticeable evolution in music taste has been my love and appreciation for country music.
BTR: How was the transition from playing in a band to doing your own thing been like for you?
BD: The last band I played in full-time was a great band called Ranch Ghost. It was a great experience, but I put every ounce of my personal artistic output into it. That left almost nothing for myself. It’s a great experience being part of something like that and not really having to worry about much more than playing your instrument. At the end of the day though, I am most happy with being involved in every aspect and writing/performing my own music.
BTR: What else does Lasso Spells have in store for the future?
BD: Writing, recording and performing new music will forever be the main goal. I would love to get overseas and play in different countries. We have a new video for our single “Be What You Want” coming out early November and a split 7-inch record with a great Seattle band called Forest Ray coming out early 2019.