Adrian Krygowski pens songs of the everyday working man (or woman) because he's not so far removed from that life. A few years back he was going through the motions like most Americans, commuting to a day job with Verizob to pay the bills and giving his evenings and weekends to his passion—in this case, a forthright and soulful sort of folk music. But life began to unravel when, on a balmy August day in Northern Virginia, the Verizon Communications office went on strike. The resulting turmoil turned out to be a creative boon, however, as Krygowski sought solitude in the middle of a dark, empty baseball diamond. That's when his most recent album, Roam, was born.
Krygowski brings his deeply-rooted folk music to Bend with co-conspirator Meredith on Feb. 5. The Source chatted with him before he came to town about his creative process and what's coming down the pipeline.
Source Weekly: Most of your performances have been east of the Mississippi. How is it different playing out west?
Adrian Krygowski: The views from the road are so much more spectacular. It's amazing what we saw on I-84 on the way into Central (and Eastern) Oregon. Folk, country, and rock music fans are the same everywhere, and they all enjoy a good show. We get to see places, and [are] hopefully coming back soon, to some new towns and new experiences. The drives in-between towns are a different world compared to the East Coast, but we knew that was going to be the case.
SW: Do you ever look back at your former life at Verizon and wonder at where you are now? Do you think you could have written Roam without that experience?
AK: I don't think I couldn've written Roam without Verizon. I try to write songs that aren't 100 percent autobiographical, but sometimes major life experiences get in the way of songwriting. I stay in touch with a lot of Verizon folks, and we play in D.C. when we can and go for lunch. It's been amazing how supportive my former life has been of the music. Everyone wants to be inspired, no matter what you do.
SW: How is your show different when you’re touring with Meredith than with your bands in Tennessee or D.C.? Do you write with the larger band in mind (horns, etc.) or do they add those ingredients to the musical soup after the fact?
AK: There's so many pros and cons to a full-band compared to a duo/trio act. Of course the band makes more noise, and Paul, Aaron, Jeremy, and The Nashville Horns are so good at what they do, and we really bring a soulful sound to the same songs. It was the band on the record, so they're invested in the songs, and making it all better from a song standpoint. When you're on the road, a band is an easier way to present music, because all the parts are fleshed out. Less left to the imagination. Sometimes, it's harder to move forward as a band with so many working parts. Paul works with Justin Townes Earle, Jeremy with Detour Bluegrass, The Nashville Horns are with funk outfit Alanna Royale, and that's not all, so scheduling and planning for the band in Nashville has many angles.
Of course, [it's] the complete opposite with Meredith. She's my fiancee, and we're together a lot as it is. It's easier/cheaper to get on the road as the duo, and we're constantly talking about new songs, new directions for the duo (and hopefully soon, trio). We've been arranging the Roam record for a duo, as a second "version" of songs, while we're out on the road. We do get feedback sometimes, that we need more onstage to be louder/fleshed-out. Drums/bass brings a lot of overall-feel to a band, especially when making new fans.
Going forward, however, you'll see our next record being a blend of both. Roam was always intended to be a recorded-live album (recorded with minimal overdubs, to feel like we sound live onstage). The next record will be also recorded-live, but will be more a blend of full-band and duo/trio songs, as that blend is what we do live, especially as I've done equal amounts of songwriting with the band, and with Meredith, both. I've always liked being able to switch up our lineup for certain shows/expectations.
SW: Are you still writing songs in empty baseball diamonds or have you found a new spot?
AK: I love this question, and ask other musicians this all the time. I like being alone, even from Meredith at home, when I'm writing. It's so vulnerable to write, that you have to feel judged, even by accident. We rehearse and arrange songs together (band and duo, both), but I'm usually 80 percent done with writing a song before I present it to anyone. I do like open fields a lot. There's a parking lot in Nashville, off Briley Parkway, that I use a lot!
SW: It’s been just over a year since you released Roam. What’s next for you? Are you working on another album?
AK: We are! We've been fortunate enough already to have the interest of some great musicians, and possible producers for new songs. We have around 12 new songs, so it'll be time to hit the studio after the next few tours this spring. Again, it'll be recorded-live (minimal overdubs) for that natural sound, and it will be a blend of full-band songs, and duo/trio songs.
SW: What musicians inspired you? What are your non-musical influences?
AK: Now more than ever, I've been inspired by musicians I know, and hope to call my peers. There's so much good music in the younger generation, and it's just about to break. It's starting with Jason Isbell, and recently Sturgill Simpson, but more people are getting interested in roots music again, which is always a good thing. The last six months I've been listening to new songs by:
- Aaron Lee Tasjan
- Pokey LaFarge
- Butch Walker
- Joe Fletcher
- Joshua Black Wilkins
- Cory Branan
- Tim Easton
Happy to know most of them, call a few my friends.
Erin is the Source Weekly's Associate Editor. Before moving to Bend in 2013, Erin worked as a writer and editor for publications in Portland including PQ Monthly and Just Out. He has also written for the Willamette Week, El Hispanic News, Travel Portland, OUT City, Boston magazine and the Taunton Daily Gazette...