Davy Knowles is back with the release of Three Miles From Avalon on October 14th. Knowles co-produced and recorded the album in Chicago with Anthony Gravino. Blues Rock Review caught up with Knowles to get the lowdown on the new album and the songwriting process behind it.
A while back you blogged on Blues Rock Review about songwriting. Did you find this album easier to write than previous efforts?
I think so, yeah. It’s come fairly naturally. A couple of songs I had kicking around for a little while that hadn’t fit with previous projects or previous bands, but really kind of fit seamlessly with this particular album, but, yeah, everything came together pretty naturally, pretty quickly.
What songs did you have kicking around that didn’t make previous albums and made this one?
The tune in particular would be “What You’re Made Of,” which I actually wrote for Coming Up For Air, for the 2009 album, so that’s been there a long time. But it just never really worked. It didn’t work with that batch of songs. It never really felt like it was finished. Then I brought it to this fantastic bunch of lads that I’ve been playing with and they really got a hold of it and really kind of put it into place.
The other one was “Oxford, MS,” which I’ve had for probably two or three years at this point. Again, it just didn’t really fit The Outsider album, the previous record. I just felt really, really good about that song. There’s just something about it that really clicked to me. So, again, it was a case of playing it to the boys and to Anthony Gravino who co-produced it with me, kind of sitting down and where we really need to go with this song. So, there are a couple of revisited tunes, but for the most part, this album came together really quickly, which is a good experience. It doesn’t always happen like that.
“Oxford, MS” isn’t a biographical song, so how does that idea come into your head?
I’ve always loved stories. I’m an avid reader and I’ve always loved characters and that kind of stuff. For me, that kind of era of blues and that riff really invoked a story song. It was quite a long guitar riff and I felt the words needed to follow that. So it started there and it was this thing, the kind of mystical, incredibly dangerous side of blues story telling. I’ve always loved that, so it kind of became this hopefully not stereotypical, but of the same ilk.
Did any of the songs on the record feel like they kind of wrote themselves?
Yeah, a couple actually. It doesn’t always happen like that. “Three Miles From Avalon,” the title track, really came out fast. And so did “Gov’t Row.” Those two tunes, both of them were probably written in a short afternoon or so. They were quite near and dear subjects to me and so they felt easy to write about. It’s always the words for me that delay things more often than not.
What kind of feeling is it when you can just knock out a song in an afternoon?
It’s a lovely feeling, it’s a beautiful feeling and a rare one. It’s just kind of a sense of accomplishment I guess, as long as it’s a decent song (laughs). It’s a big sense of pride, too, for something to come along that quickly that hadn’t existed a few hours previous it’s a wonderful feeling. It’s a great outlet, it’s a release, it’s great.
Going into the album, did you have a specific goal or direction in mind?
Definitely. I wanted something that was going to be slightly brash, energetic, capture as much of how we sound live as we could… minimal overdubs, minimal production really, and just raw, back to basics, and I’m a huge vinyl collector. I’m a huge vinyl nut and I wanted to make sure I made something that would translate to that well. Something that would fit into my record collection in a way. That’s the ultimate goal I think. I grew up listening to fantastic records and I wanted to kind of replicate that, the kind of sounds, and I’m really happy I went in that direction.
Is Three Miles of Avalon going to be available on vinyl?
It is indeed. We’re just going to press with it now, so hopefully rather soon.
You’re doing a bit of touring to promote the album. Do you still get nervous when you perform new songs?
Definitely. Yeah, of course. You want people to like them. Of course, it’s a little nerve wracking. And we’ve played a few of these songs before live and we’ve been really happy with the response. It seems to have gone well. But, yeah, still performing live I get nervous, but more in a nervous excitement way than anything else.
Interview by Pete Francis