Jump to Content

Welcome! You’re browsing the No Depression Archives

No Depression has been the foremost journalistic authority on roots music for well over a decade, publishing 75 issues from 1995 to 2008. No Depression ceased publishing magazines in 2008 and took to the web. We have made the contents of those issues accessible online via this extensive archive and also feature a robust community website with blogs, photos, videos, music, news, discussion and more.

Close This

The Long Way Around - Feature from Issue #7 Jan-Feb 1997

Backsliders

Fallen angels with grizzled facesNorth Carolina's Backsliders step up to the front

Wherever you are, you’ll probably get a chance to see the Backsliders sometime this year when they hit the road behind the album (Jason & the Scorchers, Wilco and even Mammoth labelmates the Squirrel Nut Zippers have been mentioned as possible touring partners). Hopes are high for the album, which was produced with a minimum of fuss by Dwight Yoakam guitarist Pete Anderson.

Throwin’ Rocks at the Moon is as expert and elegantly simple as the live EP. From the first note of the driving shuffle My Baby’s Gone, the songs, the playing and Robinson’s voice all intersect perfectly. Each element enhances the other without getting in the way, building on the lock-solid rhythms of drummer Jeff Dennis and bassist Danny Kurtz. While Robinson is better-known for his singing, his warm acoustic strumming adds texture to the exceptional electric-guitar tandem of Rice and Howell. Rice typically plays loud and Howell pretty, but each does a lot of both, and it fits together seamlessly.

Anderson’s production is simple and no-frills, as it should be. The Backsliders are nothing if not professional, and this ain’t the sort of project where anybody needed to fog up the synthesizers. Getting Anderson to produce the album was a lucky break, one the band didn’t think they’d get. While they were negotiating terms with Mammoth, the label told the Backsliders to come up with a list of “dream producers.”

“Pete was probably the most longshot name on our list, but we figured, what the hell,” Robinson said. “We hadn’t even signed the deal yet and Pete was on the phone the day he got the tape in the mail: ‘C’mon, man, I want you guys out here tomorrow! Let’s make a record!’ He was a great guy, real laid-back, didn’t mess with anything too much. He basically tightened up the rhythm section, and let Brad and Steve do what they do.

“As far as arrangements, we had them really together. We’ve been playing these songs a long time — and we’ll have to play them a long time some more, once we start touring. Good thing none of us mind playing them. We still like ‘em.”

It would be nice if the album did well enough to allow Robinson to give up fixing guitar amps for a living. The best part of the rise of “insurgent country” is that bands like the Backsliders — veterans who have been playing music like this for years in relative obscurity — have suddenly found popular tastes tilting more their way than ever before.

Really, things aren’t so different today from decades past. Whether Bakersfield in the ’60s, Austin in the ’70s or North Carolina today, as often as not, the best country music is coming from acts on the margins in places other than Nashville.

“We’ve seen this all before,” Robinson notes. “There’s been fringe country all along. Hell, Johnny Cash was fringe country. Those early Sun Records, Hank Williams, Buck and Merle and Bakersfield, Emmylou. Way before anybody appreciated all these people for being the American treasures they are, they started out on the fringes.

“It’s kinda cool that it’s come back, though. We had heard rumblings from various pockets, that this same kinda thing was happening in other cities for whatever reasons. I think people just got tired of doing something they didn’t want to do in order to ‘make it’ in the business, and decided to go back to trying to write good songs and figuring out where their real roots are. We’ve been gettin’ crowds the whole time, so maybe it’s just something people missed hearing.”

Enjoy the ND archives? Consider making a donation with PayPal or send a check to:
No Depression, 460 Bush St., San Francisco, CA 94108

Discuss

Did you enjoy this article? Start a discussion about it, or find out what others are saying in the No Depression Community forum.

Join the Discussion »

Find out what's going on in roots music. Share concert photos and videos, learn about new artists, blog about the music you love.

Join the No Depression Community »

Originally Featured in Issue #7 Jan-Feb 1997

Cover of Issue #7 Jan-Feb 1997

Sorry, this issue is SOLD OUT

Buy our history before it’s gone!

Each issue is artfully designed and packed full of great photos that you don‘t get online. Visit the No Depression store to own a piece of history.

Visit the No Depression Store »


From the Blogs

  • The Post-Newport Earthquake: Watkins Family Hour
    Did you feel it? That's what everybody in Los Angeles asks each other whenever a shake or quake rattles and rolls through the valleys and flatlands. Sometimes there's just a release of pressure beneath the crust, and other times it's an up and down jolt that lasts only a second. And then you forget about it. Until the next time.  Sunday night […]
  • Chris Isaak's Life Beyond the Sun
    In 2011, Chris Isaak took the long overdue step of recording an album at Sun Studios in Memphis, Tenn. It wasn't just any album, it was faithful interpretations of classic songs by his musical mentors and heroes: Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Carl Perkins. It didn’t take much of a leap of imagination to predict that the album would be […]
  • Celebrating 40 Years of Schoolkids Records: An Interview with Owner Stephen Judge
    This year marks the 40th anniversary of Watergate. That's not really anything to celebrate, it's not an accomplishment, and what's that got to do with music? Nothing. It simply marks the inevitable passage of time. But, 2014 also marks the 40th anniversary of Raleigh, N.C.'s Schoolkids Records, which is an accomplishment and is definitely […]
  • Ray LaMontagne at the Woods at Fontanel (Nashville, Tenn. – July 25, 2014)
    Ray LaMontagne writes great songs and makes great records. And that's certainly no small feat. His live shows, though, while being technically and musically superlative, really don't leave the audience with a whole lot to hang on to other than the technique and the music. There's no personal engagement on LaMontagne's part. It's as i […]
  • Vancouver International Folk Festival Day Two (Jericho Beach, Vancouver, BC - July 19th, 2014)
    While Friday night at the Vancouver Folk Festival focuses on main stage performances, the rest of the weekend on the sprawling festival grounds of Jericho Beach is as notable for its smaller workshop performances. This was especially true this year. This particular Saturday started with the official public announcement of Joan Baez's cancellation. Perha […]
  • Freight Train Boogie Show #264 features new music from Old Crow Medicine Show, Carolina Story, Yvette Landry and The Sweet Potatoes
    FTB Show #264 features the new album by Old Crow Medicine Show called Remedy.  Also new music from Carolina Story, Yvette Landry and The Sweet Potatoes. Here's the iTunes link to subscribe to the FTB podcasts.  Here's the direct link to … […]

Shop Amazon by clicking through this logo to support NoDepression.com. We get a percentage of every purchase you make!


Subscribe To the No Depression Newsletter

Subscribe to the No Depression Newsletter