Southern Swamp Opera: A Q&A With Adam Faucett

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Adam Faucett has been touring constantly throughout the United States since the release of his third album, More Like a Temple. The singer-songwriter says the new effort is “thicker” and “more soulful” than anything he has previously recorded. The Arkansas native recently talked to American Songwriter about his inspirations and Southern roots. Be sure to listen to the stream of “The Way You See It,” the closing track on the new album.

The Way You See It by user9051037

What inspired you to start writing?

It kind of seemed to always be there as a little kid. I do remember being real young in the back of a neighbor’s car and hearing Otis Redding on the radio. I was so young when he was screaming like that I thought it sounded evil so I figured I should probably learn how to do the same. [laughs].

Do you write every day?

I try to. I mean it’s not like a thing you just sit down and do. There’s never a goal or a task at hand.  It’s like I’ll drive around – I’m in the car a lot – and I’m just kind of subconsciously singing to myself and I’m kind of a silly guy, rhyming a lot. It’s a constant thing, you know? Just wherever my brain tends to go.

Your style has been compared to both Townes Van Zandt and Otis Redding. Are there any artists that you draw inspiration from?

I don’t really think about other people when I’m doing it. I only know how to really make the stuff that I do. If I could rip somebody off, I probably would.  I guess the thing is that I really like the way the guitars sound in Otis Redding’s music. Not so much in my songwriting style but when we go to record I like to listen to him and the electric guitars. But, as far as writing songs, I just like chords and melodies – it’s pretty simple.

You’ve been said to have a “southern swamp opera” sound. Do you embrace that?

Yeah, I kind of like that. Again, as an artist, you don’t ever want to pigeon-hole yourself into being one thing or another. You don’t want to exclude anybody in the audience. But it’s very Arkansas. You know, I live in Arkansas, grew up in Arkansas, it just kind of has an Arkansas-gothic, pretty-things-come-out-of-ugly-places kind of thing.

You’re from the town where they filmed Sling Blade, right?

Yeah [laughs].

Was that an accurate portrayal of your hometown?

You know that’s kind of setting me up to piss off a lot of people but, yeah. I do. I grew up knowing a lot of people – with the exclusion of Billy Bob Thornton – but I grew up around and knew a lot of people like the other people in that movie. And that was my hometown. That’s kind of the only thing that’s ever happened in that town.

You wrote your first solo album in Chicago but recorded it in Arkansas. Would you say that you’re heavily influenced by location?

Yeah, I mean I guess you have to be, right? It’s not really scenery or even people. It’s almost a weather thing for me – I always feel more productive in the spring so that’s funny that I wrote most of that record in Chicago, where it was cold for a long time. I moved to Chicago to start another band with some other guys and they had a falling out so I kind of liquidated all my stuff and came back to Arkansas with that record. But yeah, I guess everything affects the way you write, really.

Do you have a favorite venue that you’ve played over the years?

I’m gonna have to give a shout out to my hometown and playing the White Water Tavern in Little Rock. I’ve played so much all over the lower 48 but usually the best place to play is unexpected. You pull up to a place and you’re like “Oh, God, I hope this goes quickly and they give us free booze.” So you’re looking at this place like, “This is not gonna be good,” and then it’s just the people inside [that make it good]. Also, Maxine’s in Hot Springs, Arkansas, or any living room in Albuquerque.

How is “More Like A Temple” different from anything you’ve previously recorded?

I mean it’s just thicker. When I was in college, I was in a weed-smoking, Pink Floyd, every-song-is-forty-minutes-don’t-make-any-sense kind of thing. There were a lot of people in the band and then I got out of that. I didn’t really want to have a band or make band music but I’d say it’s more like me wading back into a band again. Kind of like more of a soul record in places and it really sprung from that kind of Otis Redding love with meandering guitars and meandering melodies.

Are there any specific songs that have special meaning to you on the album?

There’s a song called “Man’s Not The Answer,” and when I wrote it I was coming from maybe not-the-most-respected girl in Fort Tallis, New Mexico. We got stuck there for a couple days and I had a friend that owned a head shop and she let us stay in the back and I found this old guy at a bar that had “Fuck Disco” tattooed on the back of his head. He was carrying around an acoustic guitar and he said he was a street performer and he was trying to get back to Portland.

So I got drunk with the guy and begged him, “Come on, man, finish this tour with me. I’ll let you play some songs.” And turned out he was pretty good. Anyway, I got snowed into this head shop in Fort Tallis, and ended up writing that song because we were just staying up all night drinking whiskey and basically trying to write songs faster than each other.

Are your songs autobiographical or fictional?

Some of it, I have no idea [where it comes from]. “T-Rex T-Shirt” is like a word-for-word, true conversation I had. “Morphine” is pretty close to true, and then “Sweet Maureen” is about meeting a girl – not even in that way that people meet girls – but I was just joking around with this girl because I’d never met a girl named Maureen before and I was in Virginia and I was like, “All right, that sounds kind of musical, I’ll throw that in somewhere.” And then it ended up being like a “Facebook stalker” song or something, you know, just kind of a silly.

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