Interview: Garrett Klahn

Garrett Klahn is the man with the instantly recognisable voice from Texas Is The Reason. Forefathers of the late 90’s post-hardcore/emo movement, their sole full-length, ‘Do You Know Who You Are?’ remains a stone cold classic; an album that served as the blueprint for countless others to follow.

Yet, until now, despite a varied and diverse career, which includes the excellent but far too short-lived Solea, Klahn has never released a solo album. This will all change when his debut, self-titled effort, hits the shelves this week.

Introspective and storied, it’s the sound of an old soul laying bare its troubles, drawing on years of experience on the road, playing to foreign stages and nights spent in motels and service stations. There’s an understated beauty at work throughout, drawing in elements of Americana and alt-country to add to the homespun charm. It’s the sort of record that can only be made from a personal standpoint and with years of experience to draw upon.

Ahead of its release, Klahn took some time to answer some questions on the album, touring and going solo:

AH: So, your first solo album… I understand some of these songs have been kicking around for a while – so what made you keep them back, rather than use them for Atlantic/Pacific or Solea? And why the wait to actually put out a solo album?

GK: I don’t have a definitive reason for holding some of the songs back over the years. Guess I just wasn’t ready to let them go. Once the last TITR run ended and all of that stuff had died down it was a case of, “Ok what’s next?”

AH: You’ve toured solo for a while, so did that serve as a chance to road test these songs? Did it influence the final version of the songs and did much change?
GK: Very much so. The tours leading up to and during the album sessions 100% helped shape the tunes. Playing them every night for 30+ nights has a way of putting things into perspective, what needs to stay, what needs to go, etc.

AH: What are the challenges of touring as solo artist after spending so long in numerous bands, and what do you enjoy about it?
GK: Since I’ve started doing the solo tours the thing I enjoy the most about it is the freedom. Less people in the van = less minds to make up. If I want to take a 4hr detour to go find some magic waterfall, well that can be arranged. But right now all my energy is focused on finding a touring band for this year. I need some like-minded souls. The more the merrier.

AH: You’ve toured the UK and Europe as a solo artist, and there seems to be a die-hard fanbase – do you have much of an affinity with touring the UK and Europe and does it ever surprise you considering you’re so far from home – and especially as these tours were long before the solo album was released?
GK: I’ve been lucky to have toured thru large chunks of the EU and UK over the years. There is still a tangible, living, breathing, close-knit scene over there. There’s a passion there that is undeniable. It’s also easy to cover a lot of ground in a relatively short period of time. Not a lot of long drives between countries, but regardless instead of driving past Burger King’s and mini malls you’re cruising past crumbling centuries old castles tucked away in the hills. Plus you just can’t beat European coffees.

I’ve made lifelong friends thru touring overseas, people I’ve worked with for over 20 years. I’d leave for a 10 week EU/UK tour tomorrow morning if you offered. Are you offering?

AH: Do you approach songwriting differently now that it’s just your name on the finished product?

GK: My process has been the same since I started: Find a riff and flesh it out and play it to death then suffer and toil over the lyrics until the very last possible moment.

AH: Regarding the recording and arranging – I understand there’s a fair few different people performing on the record – so who were they and what’s the story with them? How’d you get together?
GK: I had moved home to Buffalo to be close to family for a while. Needed a solid break from NYC. The 3 main players on the record are friends from home, people I’ve known for close to 10/15 years. One of which, producer Joseph Orlando, played bass in Solea, so we already had a lot of history together. He had morphed into a recording wiz, found a studio, turned it on its head and started making records there.

It made sense that the core of the record was started in Buffalo, my hometown. Once we got a few songs finished I made a snap decision to book a lengthy winter tour thru Europe in hopes of chasing the muse and fleshing out the rest of the new songs. So I called on my old friends from Los Angeles, a great band called Goldenboy. We’d originally met on the road during the Atlantic/Pacific years and stayed in touch.

So we all met in Milan, I rented a rehearsal space and we jammed for a few days and then the tour started. By the end of the tour we had the songs ready. After about a week off we all met up again in California and tracked the rest of the album there in LaLa Land.

AH: How did you hook up with Rise Records for the record?
GK: Long story short: they just called me up. We’d tried to get something going right after the first TITR run in ‘06 but I just had too much going on. Once the last run came to an end we spoke again and it seemed to be good timing for everyone involved. They have been totally great and really supportive from the start. Good people.

AH: I was at the last ever Texas Is The Reason Show, and it felt naturally very bittersweet. I’d never expected to see Texas Is The Reason, as your first break-up came before I’d even heard of you, and I think from the audience that night there were a fair few of us in the same boat and with the same experience. But did you ever have an inkling that Texas Is The Reason would have such longevity and also continue to pick up new fans even after all that time?
GK: Short answer: No. I don’t think any of us thought that it would have had the lifespan that it’s currently enjoying. It truly is a beautiful thing and the 4 of us regularly remind each other of that.

‘Garrett Klahn’ by Garrett Klahn is out now on Rise Records.

Garrett Klahn links: Facebook

Words by Rob Mair (@BobNightMair)

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