5 Questions for Martin Devaney of Folios about new album and show on Jan 13 at the White Squirrel

We had a lovely opportunity to chat with Martin Devaney of Folios last October (2021). We’re excited to see they have an other album out (Can You Hear the Clubhouse?); it sounds great and we can’t wait to hear the music live on January 13 at the White Squirrel (always free!).

Folios started during pandemic with the first album (Dispatch) as a solo project and now you’re playing live shows, how did that impact the sound and process for the Can You Hear the Clubhouse?

I think the idea for a band was always there, and what became Dispatch began as demos for potential bandmates. As the pandemic rolled on and it didn’t seem like we were getting any closer to being able to go into a studio, I kinda grew to like the little solo basement vibe and just worked to make it into a record. But then there was the challenge that the album was not going to sound like the live show. Once the band was established and playing out we began to record some new songs and decided to try to get a few of them out by the end of the year. That way we could point people to what we sound like as an actual group. Also, I did hang onto some songs that were written around the same time as the first album, but clearly needed an actual band on them. Some of the new tunes we’ve been doing have been arranged with the band and their input and influence has taken things to a totally different place than I thought possible.

In Hate to Bother You, you sing, “I’d rather be a rumor than a ghost.” Now taking away the idea that if you’re a ghost, you’re dead and maybe building that both rumor and ghost are fictional – why would you rather be a rumor than a ghost?

I guess I was just trying to get at the heart of the idea that it’s good to still have the possibility of being seen and heard in the here and now. If you’re gone and just a memory, there’s not the option to poke your head above ground just enough to be a known, if unexpected, entity. But there are still ghosts all around, ghosts of our former selves, and those who have moved on.

I love the idea of Lonesome Planet both as a glimpse back to pandemic time when we traveled from our armchairs scrolling through Lonely Planet but also times when we keep busy but might feel lonely – until the last two words “… it’s a lonesome planet no more.” Can you tell us about the shift in perspective?

It’s sort of referring to that feeling of not belonging and searching for that place until you kinda realize that everyone’s on their own trip and you’ve got to come to terms with the fact that the world doesn’t always revolve around you. I’ve long felt like I wrote myself into some kind of script for a version of my life that took me away from the essence of what actually makes me tick. It’s not without a little shame that I look back and wonder how that guy got lost. In recent years, I’ve been able to get back to that core being and be a little more grateful for my lot in life. You’ve got to learn to be comfortable in your own skin, even if it’s a little threadbare. I suppose it makes some cosmic sense that it’s the one song on the record that I recorded completely alone…

And how does that shift compare to sense of missing someone or something in You’re Not in my Hemisphere? The two songs seem to be crescendo and denouement of a tight but full story.

That’s another sense of not belonging, but from another angle. It’s like how we say we’re not on the same page as someone. I’m someone that’s occasionally prone to a bit of hyperbole, so this is me saying, “We’re not on the same page, in the same neighborhood, you’re not on my radar. We’re not even in the same hemisphere.” Of course, the narrator is making a point of telling this person that, so you can take that a number of ways, I guess. Ha.

Please tell us more about the rest of the band and the folks that made the album possible.

The band are all longtime friends.Josh Peterson played guitar with me all the way back at the beginning of my songwriting days, as well as in Heiruspecs, who he’s still with. He’s always responded to my tunes with such great understanding and feel. Matt Palin and I go back even further and he has also played bass with me live and on records in the past. Ryan Lovan is on drums, he’s also played with Romantica and Roma Di Luna (who I occasionally joined on saxophone). Adam Lamoureux of Farewell Milwaukee rounds out the band on keys and has played with me for several years before Folios. I’m able to trust these guys with anything and they all bring great ideas to the mix.

We’ve been recording with Tom Herbers, who has recorded scores of amazing artists, toured in recent years as the live sound tech for Low, Trampled by Turtles, and the Cactus Blossoms, and is also who I made my first full length record with twenty years ago. Josh also played on that record, so it’s been fun to bring that full circle with these recent sessions. Tom is a calming and trustworthy captain of the ship. His familiarity is a large part of why I’ve been able to forge ahead with this project. I have a couple long term goals for the band, and one is that every record gets a companion EP, so it’s been great to be able to work so easily with this group to make this happen in just a little over a year.

Eric Kassel did the artwork for the EP, as he did with the debut album. We set up the cover photo shoot based around some old radios he has, along with a bunch of my personal artifacts/easter eggs. We decided to keep a small amount of consistency between the two releases so far, as if they are the first chapter of…something.

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