GLS First Listen: An Interview With Layne Denton, and the Exclusive Premiere of "Tied To The Tracks"
Singer/songwriter Layne Denton is a consummate performer with his sights on the stars. He possesses the rare ability to utterly captivate his audience on every level – from his frenetic, aggressive guitar playing (which fills both the rhythm and lead role), to his unique and soulful vocals, to his easygoing, laid-back demeanor and rockstar stage presence. A natural-born storyteller who effortlessly melds the best elements of folk, country, bluegrass, rock and roll, and everything between, Denton's songs are rich in imagery and emotion, and stand as a testament, both lyrically and musically, to his deep and diverse pool of influences.
In 2017, Layne released his debut EP, Live At the Red Clay Music Foundry, a 6-track effort that perfectly captures all the joyous, wild energy of his live set at the time. This EP introduced numerous listeners to Layne's wild, but well crafted and highly memorable music, and served as an exciting prelude to his forthcoming full-length album.
Over a cup of coffee at the legendary Hendershots off of Prince Avenue in Athens, Georgia (his current place of residence) Layne sat down with me for a warm and friendly interview about the hotly anticipated new LP.
Shortly after this interview, Layne offered to share “Tied To the Tracks” – a single from his forthcoming album which has long been a live fan favorite – exclusively with GLS readers. You can listen below:
Layne, thanks so much for taking the time to talk with me today.
Yeah, no problem. Thanks to you and GLS for having me!
You’re very welcome. So, just last year you put out the 'Live At Red Clay' EP, and now you're about to release a full-length album. That’s actually pretty quick, especially for someone at the local level. Very impressive.
Thanks! Yeah, I released [the EP] last March. At the time, I just wanted something out there. Red Clay was super convenient, because I was familiar with the venue, and they give you a straight board mix. It worked out really well. It was great just to get the ball rolling and have something to help me book more gigs. I played a lot for a while, and then gigs started slowing down between the summer and winter last year, so it seemed like the perfect time to go into the studio.
Will any of the songs from the EP reappear on the album, as full-fledged studio versions?
Just three or four. Maybe three…no…it’s four. Yeah. Four. There are ten songs on the album, total. The other six were written within the last year, after the EP.
What can those who have followed you for a while expect from the new songs on the LP?
I think the big thing is that it’s all going to be stuff that you’re familiar with…there are still the same songs that kind of hit home like ‘Out of My Mind’, and the more upbeat ones like ‘Tied to the Tracks’ that I’ve already been playing by myself for the last two years. I’ve definitely become known for performing around town a lot, so basically, just expect the same sort of stuff, but fleshed out with a full band. More moving parts. I’ve got this great band I’m playing with now. I’d love to tell you about them, actually.
Totally. I’d love to hear about them.
They’re all really unique, and just so awesome to work with.
The drummer is a guy named Adam Green. He’s new to the scene, and this is actually his first project. It was a lot of fun to have him on the album, because basically he would just come in, hear the song a few times, work it out on the spot, and in a few hours, we’d have a perfect take. I honestly kind of threw him to the wolves. But he’s so adaptive. I gave him some direction at certain points, but it was mostly him just being a great player.
My bassist is, like, a journeyman around Atlanta. His name’s Shane Perryman. We actually went to high school together, and even used to play in the same metal band when we were 15. He plays in a different band every night, for the most part. The most recent ones are, I think, Dream Culture and The Guest Room. He’s a hard working bass player, and I’m so stoked to have him onboard.
For electric guitar, I kind of have a revolving door of guys that I’m tentatively working with at the moment, but the one that will be playing at the release show is Jacob Harshman. He’s a killer guitarist and a great performer in his own right. We actually both started out – and met – at Red Clay, and man, he’s become like a brother to me. We’re really good friends. His story is very similar to mine, having Eddie [Owen, Red Clay Music Foundry’s founder and owner] for a mentor and being involved in a lot of the same stuff, playing the same places…I’m really excited that he’s joining me, at least for this show.
Speaking of which…you’re returning to Red Clay for your album release show on June 23rd. How does it feel to be premiering your brand new record at the same place your first EP was recorded?
That’s my home venue, man. Duluth is actually my hometown. Red Clay was one of the first places I went, and Eddie has been such a huge mentor to me. He’s definitely guided me a lot…let me pick his brain, you know? A lot of opportunities have arisen from it.
The EP was from a show I did at the end of 2016, and then back in the fall, I returned to open for The Highbeams. And now, it’s kind of fun to complete this journey and finally say, ‘ yeah, I’ve got my own show here now’. It’s full circle, really, because the Red Clay was so crucial to the genesis of it all. It’s opened so many doors for me.
After the release, do you have any major plans for the remainder of 2018?
Just to play a lot of great shows. I’ll be at Virginia Highlands fest this weekend, for one. I’m doing Sigh In July. I actually met those guys [Universal Sigh – the band behind the Sigh In July Festival] back in the fall. They kick ass. Then I’m playing the Star Bar in July as well, and I’m working on more dates…basically the idea is to book some shows with the band behind me. I’m definitely going to keep my usual schedule of the solo acoustic bar gigs, but the idea is, a few times a month, to do a full band show.
Do you already have some ideas for a follow-up record (single, EP, or album) floating around? Is there more material in the not-too-distant future?
No, not really. There are some loose ideas, but nothing set in stone yet. I know this for sure: whatever the next project is, I want to prolong it…maybe take it one song at a time, try out different studios…I just want to stretch it and have fun with it. Whatever I do in the future will definitely include a full band, too. I mean, there’s always going to a be a mixture…like on this record, where that intimate folk sort of element still exists, even though there are also a lot of beautiful rock elements…but yeah.
Awesome. Now, I’ll close this interview the way I generally close them all: is there anything you want GLS readers to know about you as an artist?
The bottom line is that my passion is in music. I just consider myself very blessed every day that that’s what I get to do, and the kind of path I get to follow in life. It’s really not about the money. It’s not about anyone trying to strike it big. And man, Atlanta’s the fucking place to be. There’s such a great community and scene. I’m very proud to be part of it all.
Fantastic. Well, again, thanks so much for meeting up today, Layne. I hope to see you again soon, and good luck with the release!
Thanks man, see you around!