Listen to a rough cut from Joel’s latest recording session here: East Coast Ghost Rough
What’s your tie to the West Chester community?
JR: I was living in King of Prussia and my parents split up, so my dad said, “You can have this place.” It was pretty much an abandoned house–no power or anything. But then I had a friend who dropped out of WCU and asked if I wanted to sublet his place. I’ve lived in West Chester since.
Can you define your music?
JR: I have no idea. I’d say it’s like folksy with like a little bit of country roots. I like the banjo a lot and I spent more money on my banjo than I did on my guitar, so I try to put it to good use.
Well then, I guess the obivous question is, ‘What are your influences?’
JR: There’s this Morrissey lyric from “Sing Your Life” that I think is what really got me into songwriting. The lyrics say, “Sing your life; any fool can think of words that rhyme.” For a while I just kept a tight pen, because songs are like secrets that you’d rather sing. For a while I was afraid of what people would think, because it’s scary, but that song got me over it.
What do you have coming up?
JR: I’m getting ready to head back into the studio now to record a new album. I have all the songs, but I just need to pick and choose the ones I want to record. I probably have like 30 songs lined up. I need to get it done, because I don’t really have much out there that I’m really proud of; most of it’s older stuff, and I feel like I’m constantly writing newer and better music.
Do you play with anyone else?
JR: I play guitar, banjo and drums when I’m recording, but my girlfriend, the lovely Alexandra March, also sings on tracks.
Why don’t you tell our readers how you ended up getting into this issue.
JR: I never really promote myself, but I was kind of eager because I had seen that Fig put out a music issue that was all just 40-year-old musicians. When I heard you guys were making a music issue, I wanted to be in it, so I just showed up in your office with my guitar and played.
And you absolutely killed it.