DTH: Tell me about your “American Idol” experience.
SB: I did it on a whim. I had a lot of friends who said I should try it, so I did. It was really fun. There’s a lot of energy around the show, a lot of nice people involved in it. It ultimately just wasn’t for me. It wasn’t right for me at the time, so I ended up turning down the golden ticket. A lot of that is just complex legal stuff that’s really boring, but as someone who writes their own music it wouldn’t make sense for me.
DTH: Do you think doing the show clarified what you wanted as a musician?
SB: For sure. I did it while I was still in college and figuring out what I wanted to do. When I did that, I had to put everything in perspective. It made me grow up really fast and decide, "OK, do I want to be a singer who’s in the pop world? Or do I want to be more of a folk-Americana artist?"
DTH: So it’s different for The Lumineers, who ended up on the radio, as opposed to actively seeking to be on the radio?
SB: Exactly. The Lumineers, it’s just real music. It happened to be the right time and they had the magic combo of luck and talent. Whereas someone like Phillip Phillips, the songs are good but it’s not the songs that he’s writing. It’s just very forced, and the production is really pop. Anyways, “Idol” definitely made me realize I wanted to be independent in the sense of wanting to be able to control what I do.
DTH: You write most of your own music. What is the songwriting process like?
SB: It’s funny. I was randomly working on lyrics when you called in this coffee shop in New York, sitting on the floor because there’s nowhere else with an outlet. I think part of it is just a constant awareness, and maybe as a writer you get that. You have to constantly be observing the world around you and using that to inspire and inform you. A lot of times, I’ll write when I’m driving, which is probably dangerous. I mean, I voice memo or something.
I realize if I can shut my mind off a little bit and not have distractions then I’m able to write more fluidly. If you’re on a long stretch of interstate in the middle of Georgia, it’s just a straight line, you’re not really distracted because you’re doing this methodical thing. Or if I’m at home, I sort of have to go into a mode, whether it’s 2 a.m. and I set up in my basement and just go for it.
DTH: Are you performing on Thursday by yourself?
SB: This tour has been a trio tour, so it’s a drummer and a bass player, so the songs are a little more upbeat and fuller than when I’m solo.
DTH: But you normally have a band, right? Which one of the three do you prefer?
SB: Yeah, I do all sorts of versions of a band, which can be fun for me to sort of explore the music in different ways. The big band is like a horn section, and we do more of the funky stuff that I do. The trio is sort of in between, and we do a little bit of everything, which is fun.
I don’t know if I have a favorite. They all have their strengths. Playing solo is fun because I have total freedom. I was in Austin a few weeks ago. I decided to play a song I hadn’t really finished yet, and just go for it on the spot. But the trio is fun because these guys are super talented, and it brings the funk to life. And the full band is fun because it’s got a horn section, and it’s like the hugest sound you can make.
DTH: Is a full EP in the works?
SB: I’m going back in the studio in May — going to mess with a few songs. I sort of stopped forcing myself to have a timeline. I did the first two EPs, and after that I sort of decided I wanted to go and record when I felt like it — and if it was two songs, great, or if it was record 10 songs and not release any of them, that’s cool too. I feel like I’m going to have an EP this next year in the works, but we’ll see.
DTH: Any final thoughts?
SB: It’s going to be a really fun night. Justin Trawick is opening up, a very comical guy. We love the Local 506. It’s a great venue, great location and it’s definitely going to be a fun night.
Tickets are available here.