July 20, 2006

Interview: The Channel

Austin's The Channel has released an epic "double album" but you should think Speakerboxx/The Love Below and not The White Album, because this record is merely two albums combined into one package. Like Outkast's concept, this collection compiles two full-length records by each of the two principle members of The Channel. The first album, Tales from the Two-Hill Heart is a bit of a traditional, country-rock affair, written by Colby Pennington. It's mellow, pretty, and rather easy on the ears; if you like Will Oldham, Damien Jurado, or My Morning Jacket, you'll find something to enjoy here. The second album, Sibylline Machine, is the creation of Jamie Reaves. Though there's a country element to his songs, it's a tad more oblique, a bit more complex, and a bit more fanciful in nature. It's still good, mind you. The record will be released on August 8th via label C-Side Records, and if you want to hear more, check out their Myspace.

Listen To: The Deserter (from Tales from the Two-Hill Heart)
Listen To: Sibylline Machine (from Sibylline Machine)

We had a chance to ask Colby Pennington some questions about this concept.

What prompted the decision to split up your material? Obviously, it was to showcase each fellow's songwriting talents, but how did you come to that decision?

The decision, really, was to put the material together. Each record was made as a separate entity, and would stand on their own if we had a whole lot of money and very little material to work with. But we have a lot of songs and not much money. The reason these were separate is because, at the time of the recordings, the channel was really a wandering spirit, not encased in a solid body of flesh and blood. (Jamie recorded Sibylline for a school project and Colby recorded Two Hill to have something else to listen to). Even now, it is hard to recognize exactly what The Channel is, but its body and members are becoming real as we speak. As further organization occurs, we hope to congeal our direction and discover our unified goals.

When you compiled these two records, were you surprised at the results, as in, did you previously consider that one of you was more experimental-minded and the other was a bit more traditional in their songwriting skills?

The records were separate projects and had their own personalities to begin with. For instance, Two Hill Heart was meant to be a down-home dose of straightforward songs about a similar theme. We have many times considered that Jamie was a wild-child and his songs will usually be hard to predict. He has definitely spread his experimental wealth among the hardcore members of The Channel. What we look forward to is actually collaborating in our songwriting efforts, which we have done very little of so far.

After splitting the band's songwriting in two like this, do you think it's made your collaborative songwriting stronger?

We hope that each song written separately will produce a kind jealousy between each member that will result in a competitive atmosphere, and hopefully bring about songs that only get more powerful as days go by.

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