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Weekly Artist Spotlight/Interview: The Accidentals

The Accidentals are one band out there right now that have truly gained an immense amount of attention. Continuing to focus on their eclectic, classical and roots rock style, The Accidentals are a band that has found success in hard work, organic music, and constantly preforming. Funding an album through Kickstarter in 2013, sharing the stage with phenomenal musicians such as Martin Sexton, Brandi Carlile, Andrew Bird, The Wailers and Joan Baez, and this year, being nominated as one of Yahoo Music’s “Top 10 Bands to Watch in 2017”, The Accidentals are truly making a name for themselves in a big way. In light of their upcoming show in NYC at The Knitting Factory on November 13th, we got to chat with multi-instrumentalists, Savannah Buist (Sav) and Katie Larson, the two founding members of The Accidentals, now joined by percussionist Michael Dause.
CEG: Hey guys, you’re performing in New York City with your band at The Accidentals on Monday, November 13 at The Knitting Factory. Could you tell us a bit about your history performing in the city, and what it’s like playing in such an immense music market?
Sav: We really love New York – it’s full of record stores and coffee shops and all the places that a bunch of introverts like us love to explore.  We typically stay with this really nice family with two girls who play in a band called Fat Panda – they cover David Bowie and Accidentals songs! We’ve played Rockwood Music Hall a few times, and we just played Mercury Lounge to a sold-out room, which is always a good feeling. Playing New York can be scary since there is a pretty saturated market for music – but we always manage to make new friends while we’re there. We’ve met/shared stages with Freedy Johnston and the Happy Fits, and once my school’s violin teacher was playing at the same venue as us on the same night!  It’s a big city, but a small world – we find ourselves cultivating lasting friendships and collaborations because of it.
CEG: How are your shows and setlists coming along for the current tour? What can we expect from the band on November 13th at The Knitting Factory?
Sav: Our setlist changes every night depending on the energy of the crowd. Sometimes, when people feel like dancing, we try to rock it out a little bit more – other times, at seated venues, we break it down and tell stories about the road and behind the songs.  We just put out a brand new album called Odyssey, so people can expect to hear a preview of it.  It’s a culmination of the past six years of being a band – the ups and downs of life on the road, and the growth, vulnerability, and strength that comes from it.
Katie: Our album features a lot of special guests (Jenny Conlee from The Decemberists, Keller Williams, Kaki King, Dominic Davis, Carter Gravatt), so in order to bring a few songs to life that feature keyboard/fingerstyle guitar, we have multi-instrumentalist Jake Allen sitting in with us for the album release tour. Aside from Jake, Sav and I switch between electric cello, electric violin, acoustic guitar, electric bass, electric guitar, and Michael joins us for drums/three part vocal harmonies. Loading the trailer is like a game of Tetris, but having a menagerie of instruments gives us lots of room for experimentation. Our setlists jump from genre to genre, spanning classical/indie/folk/rock/The Pixies, or Django Reinhardt. We’re introverts, but onstage you can find us jumping off bass amps, rocking violin solos, or breaking down our walls to tell our most personal stories. We give it our all onstage.
CEG: You guys have a couple upcoming shows with Keller Williams and you all have collaborated with him in the past, How is it working with him? Has he been a big influence on the band?
Sav: Keller is one of the best musicians and people we’ve ever met.  When we first toured with him, he invited us to play with him at multiple shows, and we were even his backup band in our home state of Michigan for a festival.  One of the songs on our new album is called KW and takes a lot of musical inspiration from his free-form, jam-band style of guitar playing, and he ended up playing on it – which was sort of a trade, since we played on his new album, Sync.  As far as if he’s been an influence on the band – we are all obsessive learners, and we love trying new things.  Touring with people like Keller – who has shared stages with the likes of Victor Wooten and Bela Fleck – challenges us to be the best we can be on our instruments, to know our craft and to experiment with song structure.  It also teaches us how to create environments of mutual respect, which is something Keller has always done for us.
Katie: One of my favorite memories was at one of our first shows with Keller and his trio (Rodney Holmes and Rob Wasserman). We were really nervous, but during soundcheck, we started to play a tongue-in-cheek version of Tom Sawyer (Rush) at soundcheck with Michael’s tiny cajon drum set…and out of nowhere Rodney Holmes jumped out and yelled “keep playing!!”, and started playing his drum set in sync with Michael’s. We only knew the beginning of the song so he challenged us to learn the entire thing, so we accepted the challenge. After that, we stopped feeling like we couldn’t approach Keller and his band, and really got to know them. Keller’s encouragement has helped me jump in on harmonies, play solos, and hold down rhythm at shows where I might not have been confident to otherwise. He’s a fun dude.
CEG: Finally, I’m always interested to hear about new music. What can you share with us about new material you and your band are currently working on?
Sav: We actually have a massive repertoire of unrecorded songs.  Katie and I write the songs for the band, and when we signed a production deal when we were sixteen and seventeen, we wrote constantly.  Though nothing came from the recordings, we did end up with a ton of songs.  We’re already talking about renting a little cabin in northern Michigan and taking time to record some demos and create concepts for the next albums.  I think the next album will be about taking musical risks – trying out new time signatures, playing with interesting arrangements – but still staying true to our roots.
Katie: We’ve gained a lot of inspiration from touring full time the past three years. The artists we’ve toured with, places we’ve experienced, and stories from the road find a way to shape our writing and arranging. Right now I’m working on finishing a disco song I started 4 years ago about losing my favorite green jacket. It’s fun to dig through old material and reinterpret it, or start fresh with something new. Our music has always been a mishmash of genres and I think we’ll always be evolving.
Thanks for taking the time to chat with us! We are definitely excited for The Accidentals upcoming show at The Knitting Factory on November 13th with special guest, Jake Allen! Tickets are available here!