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Finding that Authentic Sound

Seattle's Stubborn Son changed course on its latest EP to find a sound that feels more its own


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While Stubborn Son may draw from some of modern rock and roll's biggest names, catching inspiration from what's played on Seattle's KEXP, their sound is taking on a more mature, refined sound as the years roll on. Stubborn Son has a Tame Impala-meets-The Black Keys psychedelic rock sound, with hints of Brick + Mortar. The band's latest EP, "Fortunes," has a purposefully more synth-y sound than the band's debut album, "Birthright," which had a more blues-rock sound.

"We met over BBQ. We had a man date, we were set up by a mutual friend. It was like a blind date that turned out good," Garrett Lamp, the band's guitarist says of the band's origins.

"It was right after Garrett had moved to Seattle," Andrew Knapp, bassist and keyboardist, says. "That's all true love is — you know when you know."

For "Fortunes," Stubborn Son aimed to find a sound that felt more authentic. They hoped the raw, bluesy sound that flows through the songs on "Birthright" would be it, but after the album debuted the two didn't feel as attached to the sound.

"We were trying to do something different than our first record and the rootsy-bluesy sound," Knapp now says. "We wanted to get into more synth sounds and sounds that we felt were ours rather than ones we had heard before."

Like many musicians, the bandmates love collecting new instruments. In the recording sessions for "Fortunes," they hoped to incorporate more of those instruments and sounds, studying between the two albums to determine how to integrate the new instruments. Through that process, the band finally found their sound.

"In the 'regular' or 'normal' process, usually I would sit down with an idea or Andrew would bring an idea and have the bare bones of it—the first melody or the hook," Lamp says. "We usually start playing that multiple times as the two of us, improve writing parts and seeing what sticks. It's a bit of mad science. Seeing what bubbles up to the surface."

"We also spent time thinking, "We're going to put out these new songs, let's not do the same structure," Lamp says. "We approached songwriting differently as well, which was really fun. We came up with some really good ideas and some really fun ones."

"Now, we're evolving even further, rethinking, reshaping drum machine parts and constantly ruminating on this and is the right feel coming through," Knapp adds. "Asking ourselves, are we serving this song? Is this really what's it about?"

It's interesting to dig deeper into why something appeals to one person specifically. With Stubborn Son, a change in genre definitely elicits some curiosity. What draws them to the new sound, one might ask, and what makes it feel more their own than the bluesy-roots rock sound they had played before?

"For me, it's the vibe of it," Lamp says. "I don't mean that to sound dumb, but there's a feeling there that resonates with me as a writer and a performer, more than any other project. It feels fun and natural to perform, it's a self-perpetuating thing."

"It feels more natural to me, I don't have to put on a persona," Knapp says. "I just step out and be myself."

About The Author

Anne Pick

Music Writer | The Source Weekly

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