Columbus OH




Washed Out was in town.  WASHED OUT.  The countless hours I had spent in my apartment relaxing to his mysteriously mellow reverb laced tunes, pondering what this man was like in real life… well, I was about to find out.  I had worked out the interview after scouring the internet for his press contacts and ended up corresponding with his wife, who set everything up for me.  I met up with Jacob Corbin of Collective Crowd Records before the show; he had driven down from Akron, OH.  Ever faithful photographer, John Danner, was by my side once again, this time with a photo pass for The Newport, which gave him access to the space in-front of the stage to take some amazing photos during the live set.  I found Ernest’s wife, Blair, a beautiful, petite woman with sweet southern charm, working the merch table.  I introduced myself and we chatted for a few minutes.

I was surprised when Ernest walked out on stage with a full band behind him, and also impressed by how tall he was.  I didn’t get a sense of his stature at Pitchfork Music Festival a few months earlier.  

After the set, I met Ernest and his wife out front by the merch table.  I was immediately charmed by his Southern drawl and ease. He and Blair make such a cute couple.  We all chatted for a minute, and then John and I followed Ernest backstage.  We shimmied behind the heavy black curtain behind the crazy looking honeycombs that were set up for the Yeasayer show, using my phone as a makeshift flashlight.  Then, it was up a winding metal staircase held together by balls of electrical and duct tape.  Ah yes, this was the same greenroom where I interviewed Bear in Heaven.  Curved black walls, one light, one worn in couch, parts of it also held together by duct tape.  As we set everything up I learned that all of the new band members of Washed Out had just met each other the Friday before this show.  This was only their second time playing live together.  Pretty impressive, if you ask me.  Their set was tight, and sounded energetic and fuller than Ernest’s solo set in Chicago.

KPSo you’re from Perry, GA.  How did you create Washed Out?

Ernest Greene: Yes, I grew up in Perry.  When I created Washed Out, I was living in Columbia SC; I had graduated college and moved there.  I had been working on music for a couple years in my bedroom, and never really had any intentions of playing in a band or putting music out.  It was more of just a hobby.  The stuff I was working on at that time was really different than it is now but it has kind of progressed into the Washed Out Sound.  So I guess, early last year (2009) was when I kind of started really working on the style.  It was just time, right situation… I met Chaz Budnik of Toro Y Moi and we had similar interest, and started playing music together.   It was kind of his success that kind of led to me breaking out.  He got signed to Carpark records and got blog buzz and through that… He had me as one of his top friends on Myspace, so people just randomly stumbled across my page. I only had one or two songs up…

[door opens…]

EG:  This is Ray!


Ray:  Hola! 

EG:  And so anyway, a couple blogs emailed me about posting stuff.

KPWho were some of the first blogs, do you remember?

EG:  No Pain in Pop was the first one, yeah. So I was just, so psyched that someone was interested.  They are based in London and that was even more fantastic to me.  So as soon as it got posted the ball started rolling and the songs were passed around pretty quickly.  To the point where I was getting emailed from blogs asking for more songs.  I didn’t have any more songs at that time!  So for three days, all I did was record, the majority of which is on my EP.

KPFrom the blogging, it seemed like everything took off really fast.

EG: Super fast!

KPAnd from my understanding

[door opens…]

EG:  This is Phil!

KP: Hello!

EGPhil has a really cool project called Dog Bite.

[At this point my hearing abilities decide to get up and walk out the door so I asked Ernest about 5 times, “What’s it called? What?”  To a point where I got embarrassed just listening to myself during transcription.]

EG:  I heard his music online and was really into the fact that he’s from Atlanta because I spend a lot of time there, so I emailed him and that’s how we got in touch.  So he’s part of the band now.  I want to produce his stuff, because it’s really cool.

KPI’ll definitely have to check it out.

EG:  Yeah, it’s great!

KPLet’s talk about the first show you played as Washed Out, in New York.  It was sold out…

EG:  Yes, yes.  It was at Santo’s Party House… it was really bad. I had done a show, two or three days before in Atlanta.  I had no idea what I was doing.  It was generally a pretty positive experience; it was my first taste of what was to come.  I flew in on Sunday the show was the next night. It was the first time I met most of the guys from Mexican Summer.  They’re the record label that put out the EP. That was mostly done via email; I had talked to them on the phone a couple times.  So that first night, we got absolutely wasted. And the next day, they had scheduled press stuff from 10 in the morning until 6 in the afternoon; the show was shortly after that.  I was really hung-over and really late and it was just the worst experience, I was so tired.  

[Door opens…]

EG:  Oh! One by one!  This is Cameron.

Cameron:  Hi!

KPHiya!  We were watching you on stage, well, me and my friend Jacob who [Ernest] met downstairs. We were saying you look like John from Bear in Heaven.

EG:  It’s the mustache!

Cameron:  I get that a lot!  That and Steve from Prefontaine, Tom Selleck.


EG:  Cameron grew up with Chaz.  They played together in a band together growing up.

KPHe’s a nice guy.  I interviewed him at the Grog Shop when he was on tour with Caribou.

EG:  So it’s kind of a weird, close connection to those guys.

KPAlso Small Black!

EG:  They played as my backing band for a while.

KPJust posted that interview yesterday.

EG:  Cool!  I’ll check it out! They’re pretty good on Twitter about posting interviews and stuff. 

[Yeasayer starts blasting in the background from the show downstairs]

KP:  It’s about to get really loud.

EG:  It only gets louder too!  They’re super pro.  Really good playing with them.

KPThis is your second show playing with them?

EG:  Yeah, yeah.  We’re playing with them for about two weeks. Going to Miami, then New Orleans.  Then they’re playing Austin City Limits.

KP:  When you play big shows like this with bands like Yeasayer, do you have a certain goal for the show or… how do you approach your live show?

EG:  At this point it’s more like, not fucking up and just getting through the songs.  Luckily these guys are really good musicians.  I mean, I know the songs backwards and forwards because, you know, I did all the songs myself. I’m not that experienced playing with other people and being the person who is in charge.  So that’s like… that’s been a little tough.  I think it takes playing a couple shows before you’re really comfortable playing together.  So I could definitely feel that tonight.  I guess my main thing is, once they’re all comfortable and I’m comfortable together, I can be more open to being entertaining and speaking with the audience.  Last night was weird, because we were all just standing there doing our thing and didn’t say anything.  I can tell from here on out it’s only going to get better.

KP: What would you say is the biggest challenge playing solo vs. playing with a full band?

EG:  That’s tough.  I enjoy playing by myself.

KPIt seemed like you had a lot of fun at Pitchfork!

EG:  It’s kind of a weird thing, especially at PF.  It’s an outdoor show… At festivals the stages are so close together, if you’re doing more mellow material, you’ll have sound bleeding in from whoever is at the opposite stage.  When I play shows by myself its more ambient, I extend songs, really get in the zone of zoning out which is really cool.  Most of the stuff is completely improv with the vocals and everything which is super fun.  But I can tell, with the large crowd and it being outdoors in the middle of the day, people just want to have fun and have an upbeat set.  That’s kind of the tradeoff, like, with the band it’s much easier to go to that place and have it be more of a party vibe.  The entertaining factor is a little bit harder.

KPHow did you end up touring with Small Black?  

EG:  The relationship started with email and instant messaging, the same way it did with Phil and a lot of things have happened.   They emailed me to say they were into my stuff and asked if I would be into doing a remix for them. I heard the song probably a couple weeks before and was really into it and I’m not THAT into remixing at all unless it’s something that just works like, in my world.  Most of the stuff I’ve done, I’ll just cover the song and just kind of do it in my style.  Their song just worked perfectly, verse, chorus, verse, chorus.  So I did that for them, and then it was their idea to do the tour and it worked perfectly.  I’m really not good a planning things and at the time, I wasn’t planning on touring at all. I hadn’t done it before, and then I realized there were huge crowds that were going to be interested I thought it would be really bad. The little push I got from them was, “We already have this planned, you can ride with us, we’ll rehearse the songs before and it will be really easy.”  So I flew up to NY and we rehearsed for three days straight.  As soon as we started playing it was instant good vibes all around. We’ve probably done, 60 shows together now.  It’s kind of sad, we did a tour in Europe together in June and they were just wrapping up a record, which is about to come out on Jagjaguar. I guess we both realized… you know this is the end of the road because they have the record coming out and they kinda wanted to do their own thing.  But yeah, they’re definitely some of my best friends now.  They’re a little more experienced upfront than I was, but it was all still really new for both of us.  So it was a really special experience for the both of us. 

KP:  They are some of the nicest people I have ever met.

EG: They’re so funny!  So fun!  You met my wife, Blair.  She’s always the only girl on the road. I feel like I’ve been pretty lucky.  I mean, the guys I play with now are so cool with her.  It was such a fun tour with Small Black.  They have a really good mindset going on the road.  They totally embrace randomly crashing at people’s houses which always leads to totally unpredictable situations. (Interviewer’s note: Is the foreshadowing I hear? See concluding paragraph.) I’m kind of a shy guy. I’m not really comfortable just going around talking to people. But they’re so into that. Within five minutes they would have found a crazy party to go to.  Some couch to sleep on, it was that easy.

KPWe took them out for pizza with one of my friends who is friends with Travis of Pictureplane, and they ended up staying a t her house.

EG:  Ah yeah! Travis!  You know him?  Travis is THE MAN.  Talking about the right attitude on tour.  He is the most intriguing person I’ve ever met.  You should friend him on Facebook. He in his life is just, I mean, he could have a reality show about his life and just totally kill. He’s really good about posting about stuff he’s doing.  It’s really cool.  He is amazing and I feel like you have to experience his set at some really shitty club. That’s where he and his stuff really comes out.  The tour I did with him was really small clubs which was perfect.  I know he’s working on new material too.  Could be a new direction for Pictureplane.

KPMy last question for you was what was your high school experience like?

EG:  I went to a small private school, so it was pretty positive.  I would say at least half of the people I graduated with, I grew up with.  It was such a small school, I played sports, I sang in the chorus.  Just pretty positive.  I went to a pretty big college, University of Georgia.  About 40,000/50,000 students and high school was a little bubble.  Going off to Georgia was pretty weird experience.  I was definitely the weird kid [in High School] listening to all the weird shit.  I was really into jazz music which was not the norm for a kid. 

KPWhat sports did you play?

EG:  I played football and basketball.  I still play basketball all the time. 

Joel:  A stand out in all sports!

[Conversation turns to Yeasayer and their insane light show with honeycombs]

After the show, I had one of the absolute best, and worst nights of my life.  Everyone from Yeasayer and Washed Out and I went to a small hipster dive bar on the East side of Columbus, Carabar.  Many games of Pirate Madness were played, to the point where we achieved the high score.  To the best of my knowledge that high score still stands to this day. I offered Blair, Ernest and their crew a place to crash that night, so I left a little early to drop my friends off at their house just north of downtown.  I didn’t think much of the RIIIIIIIIPPPPP CRUUUNCH that sounded as I pulled my car out of the unpaved lot across the street from the bar.  Then my oil light turned on… then, one block away from my house, my car sputtered out and died.  Turns out, my oil pan had been ripped open and the oil gushed out of my car, which scorched and seized my engine.  I had to get towed back to my house (at 4 a.m.) But the night… er, should I say morning, turned out pretty great.  Washed Out and crew were great guests, and awesome to talk to. (I wasn’t geeking out at all… (lies)) Most traumatic/laid back night.

Washed Out's new album Within and Without dropped via Sub Pop last month. He’ll be returning to Ohio in September at Midpoint Music Festival in Cincinnati.  


APRIL 29, 2010 | The Short North |  Columbus, OH

Photo by Jen Killius

Have you ever gone to a concert with no expectations other than to see a enjoyable set by the headliner, and then suddenly a local band you’ve never heard of steps out and blows you away with the first few phrases of their song?  That is exactly what happened when Saintseneca took the stage before Horse Feathers back in early March. A hush fell upon the crowd, my hair stood up on end, shivers scurried down my spine. We had all been hit by a beautiful acoustic bomb of pure hearted folk. 

At the Girls show later that month, I was in the midst of conversation with my friends when I saw a young guy with fiery red hair walk by.  I immediately recognized him as the lead singer from Saintseneca. I quickly (and probably rudely) left my friends side to ask him and the band for an interview. He kindly agreed and gave me his email address.  

A few weeks later, I found myself outside of Surly Girl Saloon, with Zac,  Steva, Grace and Luke and photographer Jen Killius. This was the first interview I conducted outside of a performance so we took our time walking around the Short North as we talked about cults, small towns, and local music.  We settled down at a table at Surly Girl Saloon after our walk about the neighborhood…

KP:  I noticed at the show where you opened for Horse Feathers, you guys play so many different instruments.  Will you name some of the crazy ones?  I know a trash can is one of them.

Luke: Yeah, that’s probably the craziest. [Laughter]

Zac: There is the dulcimer, bouzouki… mandolin, banjo, guitar, violin… is that everything?

Luke:  The washboard!  There are a few dulimers… we have the stick dulcimer.

Zac: Yeah, we have two variations of the dulcimer.

Grace: Did you say ukulele?

Zac: Ah yeah! The baritone ukulele…

KP: That is quite a list of instruments!

Grace:  We have an auto-harp!

Luke: We’ll probably keep remembering as we go along and keep naming them.

KP: How long have you guys been together?

Grace: Two years and a month since our first show…

Zac: Actually, two years and a couple days.  I just realized I had my 8,000 day, like, three days ago. 

KP: Of living?

Zac: Yeah! I missed it by three days, I wish I would have known.

KP: So, how did you all meet?  I know earlier you said the three of you (Zac, Steva, and Luke) grew up together in Caldwell, Ohio.  But how did you meet Grace?

Grace:  We all have a similar scholarship at Ohio State.  And the school made us go to a meet-and-greet… and that’s where I met Zac and he introduced me to everybody else.

KP:  What is your creative process like while you are songwriting?

Zac: Well, a lot of times one of us will have, I guess what you  could say, the seed for a song. Like, If I did that I would write the song, but only write about 3/4ths of it.  That way, when I bring it to these guys, we’ll all sort of finish it together. We all make a point when we write a song, we aren’t saying THIS is the product, that way its more of a collaborative experience.  We all write our own parts.


KP: How did you get hooked up with your label, Paper Brigade?

Zac: We met Kurt at a House Show. We played with this band called Ad Astra Per Aspera which he played in for about 10 years. I was talking to him after the show, just hanging out I didn’t think anything of it.  But he contacted me on facebook a while after that, and we just started talking back and forth about things. Around that time we had recorded professionally and I was sharing that with him.  He asked if we would be up for the idea of them putting out a 7’’ for us.

Grace:  That’s how we met Matt, and Matt and Kurt had been high school friends who do Paper Brigade together. 

KP:  How long ago did you meet them?

Zac: Probably, about a year or so ago.

KP:  Have you noticed social media has affected your success?

Grace:  It’s really flattering when people write about us on blogs.  I don’t think any of us are too familiar with social media and music, so everything that’s happened is a surprise.  That Boom blog, none of us had heard of it until they did a post about us.  We were like, “Wow that’s a really cool blog!” its so flattering that they took the time to write about us.

Zac: The live show is the most important thing. But the social media, or any sort of publicity, it reaches out to a lot of people that we otherwise wouldn’t encounter. We tend to play more DIY shows or house shows.  For our sound it doesn’t make sense for us to play at bars all the time.   It certainly helps us connect with people we otherwise wouldn’t be able to.

Luke: Its kind of cool with blogs and stuff, like Grace said, its really flattering.  Especially, when considering, with a paper a lot of times, its like “Oh, we’re looking for a band to write about and we just wrote about you guys.”  With a blog, it seems like they write about us because they are into it. It seems a lot more heartfelt and it makes it more flattering than other press.

Grace:  They’re not writing because they have to meet a deadline.

KP:  What would you consider to be the best and worst things about being in a band in Columbus, OH?

Zac:  Best things, there are so many great people here and there are a ton of gold bands. I’m constantly blow away by how nice and down to earth people are.  I think as much as I love other cities, but sometimes it seems less orientated around community or the music and its more of a competition.  Here in Columbus, people are really supportive.  Worst, things there are no oceans or mountains.

Grace:  There are very few places we can play acoustically here.

Zac:  That’s true.

KP: What has been your favorite experience together on the road? Any crazy stories?

Zac:  Well, one of the most rewarding part of doing this has been being able to travel.  And all the people we meet. I think when we were doing this past tour it kind of clicked in my mind because we were getting ready to stay at this guys house, walking up to his door and he said, “What are your guy’s names again?”  I thought, “This is so strange. We are sleeping on this guys floor and he doesn’t even know our names.”

KP: You’ve been really quiet over there, Steva.

Steva:  [Laughs] Yeah, I don’t know. The first tour we did was so fun, amazing. We were swimming in mountain streams.   Getting to travel is the best part, I guess Zac already said that but yeah…

KP: Any ladies chasing you guys down after the shows?

Luke: Steva! [Laughs]

Steva:  I don’t think that really happens, though!

Luke:  Well, I’m in a committed relationship. So its not really what I’’m  going for.  I feel like I’m so oblivious to all that stuff that it doesn’t affect me.

Zac:  I think its mostly Steva.  He’s the heartthrob.

Steva: Yeah the single guy. [Laughter]

KP: What is it like for you, Steva, being the only single guy? (Zac and Grace are a couple)

Steva: It’s…

Luke: Well, a lot of times my girlfriend isn’t with us…

Steva: … In person…  But she’s there! [Laughter]

Zac:  I think I have more boys chasing after me at shows than girls! [Laughter]

Grace: Yeah!

Luke: Actually, that’s definitely true! 

Saintseneca’s Grey Flag EP is available through Paper Brigade. They will be performing shows around the Columbus area this summer.  Keep an eye on their myspace or tumblr for updated show information.