Exclusive Interview with Folk/Americana Band Driftwood

Binghamton, New York-based folk/Americana band Driftwood just released their new album, Tree of Shade, which features an eclectic blend of genres including folk, ’60s R&B, ’70s country rock, and contemporary pop. The result is eleven tracks on this new album that showcase an evolution in the band’s sound, confidently expanding upon their musical core to weave a sonic tapestry that lives somewhere between The Band and The Head And The Heart.

I got the chance to talk with members Dan Forsyth, Joey Arcuri, and Joe Kollar about how they came together, the recording process for this new album, the story behind their single “Lay Like You Do” and so much more! Keep reading to see what they had to say!

For those who might not have ever heard of y’all, can you give us a brief history of the band and how it culminated into what it is now?

Joe and Dan: We grew up in Binghamton, NY. Precocious young lads, we eventually connected on music and formed a band. Our first formation was very different than what Driftwood is today. But eventually we matured, palates changed, and we left behind the garage funk and completely embraced the singer-songwriter folk scene. We met Claire Byrne a few years later and Joey Arcuri a couple of years after that. Together, we make Driftwood.

Where did the name Driftwood come from?

Joe: My sister said, “You guys should be called Driftwood. You remind me of Driftwood. I think that will be a great name.”

I’m always genuinely curious about what artists want to convey to listeners with their music. You guys classify your sound as folk/Americana, but if you had to describe it without using genre names, how would you describe it?

All: We are a song-driven band, yet on the stage, we get to stretch songs out with fun solos. We even have a couple of fiddle songs we do. We write from the heart. Good, clean, honest, American songwriting. It’s inevitable that our listeners will have some sort of connection to our lyrical content.

Kind of going off of that, who are some of your musical influences?

All: There’s a whole plethora. But more specifically: Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Motown music, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Marley, Phish, and many others.

Let’s talk about your new album, Tree of Shade. Why did you want to name the album this?

All: It seemed like an appropriate title in that the music provides refuge or a sort of sanctuary…a place to express freely, symbolized by a tree of shade.

What was the recording process like for this album? How long did it take for this to come together from start to finish?

All: We recorded this album in 10 days at Sugar Mountain Studio in Palenville, NY, with Grammy award-winning producer Simone Felice and sound engineer Pete Hanlon. We had never done an album in that amount of condensed days with no breaks. It was amazing. We were driven. We had the momentum. We were away from our homes and any distractions that could arise. It was a great experience.

Your newest single from the album is “Lay Like You Do”.  What inspired that song?

Dan: This was one of those fun songwriter moments where the song came out really quick and I didn’t have time to think too much about what it was. I woke from a dream with the chorus in my head. The scene was actually pretty comical. After laughing to myself for a minute, I realized the hook was really nice and started writing it down. I didn’t fight the initial lyrics/chords at all, although later on I did go back and change the last verse.  It has changed key a few times to find the right spot for the vocals. It’s about being in a relationship that you know is over but can’t leave it right away. 

What was the songwriting process like for this song specifically?

Dan: I wrote the song and brought it to the band. This one felt like the parts were already written. The song “plays itself.” Simone Felice had a couple of alterations in the studio.

In general, do you guys tend to write by yourselves or do you like collaborating with other writers and artists in co-writes?

All: We’ve only written one of our songs together, “Outer Space.” We each write individually.

Was there any major changes to “Lay Like You Do” that happened once you guys got into the recording studio, whether it be in the lyrics or something sonically? 

Dan: Not much changed in the studio. One piece of the chorus melody was slightly altered and one line at the very end was changed. 

What do you hope people take away from this album?

Joe: I want people to feel…feel good, connected, scared, hopeful, like dancing, anything really, just moved in some way.

Dan: I hope anyone listening to this album can relate, in any one way and find happiness in it.

Last question — we’re called Talk Nerdy With Us because we all have an inner nerd so what is something that you’re currently nerding out about?

Joe: I’m nerding out currently on guitar and microphone modifications. I’m looking into building my own mics and a complete overhauling of cheap guitars. Thanks YouTube!

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