August Wells is a musical project formed in New York by Dublin native Ken Griffin (Rollerskate Skinny, Kid Silver and Favourite Sons) and New York pianist John Rauchenberger. Their music has been described as “Strange other worldly chamber music”, “Sinatra singing Lou Reed songs” and “The secret marriage of Willy Nelson and Lee Hazlewood” Songs to walk across your troubled heart with.
With their critically acclaimed debut album ‘A Living & A Dying Game’ and a string of fine singles already under their belts 2016 is shaping to be another busy year for August Wells. April will see the bands sumptuous single ‘Here in the Wild’ get its official UK release. A thoughtful, piano and string-drenched track that bears the wistful hallmarks of songwriters whose place in a weary world is tempered by the acceptance of some of its fateful twists.
The band return to Europe in June and July for an Irish and UK tour in support of their second album ‘Madness Is the Mercy’ which will be released in June and will once again see August Wells team up with Irish independent label ‘Forever In Financial Arrears’ (FIFA Records).
August Wells’ music has begun to make its mark, already having supported Glen Hansard at a sold out show at New York’s legendary Beacon Theatre and having received glowing reviews on their recent tours of Ireland and Germany.
Ken Griffin and pianist John Rauchenberger have met in the middle of differing musical pasts to form a band who would sit easily at the same table as Scott Walker or John Cale.
|Exposed Vocals: So tell us your story. Where did you grow up? What made you decide to become an artist?
August Wells: I grew up in Dublin , Ireland, i have lived in New York for the last 20 years.
I became an artist initially because i found the idea of getting a job and having a boss intolerable.
Although i have had several jobs and several bosses. Then over time i found art might be the thing where i can find freedom, the freedom for it to be ok for me to be myself.
Exposed Vocals: How did you come up with that name? What was your inspiration behind it?
I wish there was an interesting story, but John and i just liked the way the two words worked together, and it seemed to suit the music. People often call me August, which feels nice, then i bow my head and say “my name is Ken ” and they always look mildly disappointed .
Exposed Vocals: What do you think about online music sharing? Do you ever give your music away for free? Why?
We let our music be streamed, the whole idea of free music seems irreversible, so it’s a battle that might be a waste of time.
It used to be that touring helped sell your records, now people hearing your music helps your touring.
The money in the music industry has always been distributed unfairly from day one. If your motivation is money, you should not be a musician.
Exposed Vocals: Since everyone was a start-up once, can you give any smaller or local bands or artists looking to get gigs and airplay some tips?
August Wells: Airplay? well I think you hire someone you trust to promote you to radio, but if you don’t have money, just keep putting material out, make little cheap videos, and people will find you. All i would ever say to a young artist is, try to be great, not successful, try to be the greatest artist you can be, get your satisfaction from that.
Exposed Vocals: Where do you usually gather song-writing inspiration? What is your usual song-writing process?
August Wells: My process is usually i have anywhere up to 50 songs i am working on, and i work on the one that motivates me at any given time, When a song is almost finished i bring it to John Rauchenberger , the other half of August Wells, and we play it over and over and try to find the songs soul, and the best arrangement that stays as close to the original inspiration that we can.
Exposed Vocals: Do you have a band website? What online platforms do you use to share your music?
August Wells: Yeah the website is www.augustwells.com . We use our website, facebook, twitter , soundcloud, instagram, youtube. Anywhere that will give us an opportunity to have our music be heard.
Exposed Vocals: If you were given half a million dollars and a year off, what would you do? How would you spend it?
August Wells: Oh dear, i think i would give half of it away, pay some debts, and buy some guitars and amps. I really don’t know if it would be a good idea for me to have that sort of money, but it would be nice to purely spend time on creative work.
Exposed Vocals: How do you find ways to promote your music? What works best for you?
August Wells: Just work with people that genuinely love your music, Eddie Kiely in Ireland works with us, he is very hard working, and in todays age if you have a computer you can reach a lot of people. We play a lot of shows, we play in raw spaces, we play in art galleries, we have played in antique stores, private house shows, i just feel free these days to play anywhere and everywhere. it just has to all be about the music. I have had 7 recording contracts, from huge major deals down to broke little labels. All i can say is, the more i try to make the industry listen to me the more crazy i go. Now we play shows and sell records directly to people, they hand us the money for the music and its simple.
Exposed Vocals: So, what’s next? Any new upcoming projects that you want to talk about?
August Wells: Our new album ‘Madness Is the Mercy’ should be out at the end of June, that’s what we are finishing now. First we will have a single ‘She Was A Question’ at the end of May. Then we go on a 5 week European tour. You can find the dates on our website August Wells
Exposed Vocals: If you weren’t making music, what would you be doing?
August Wells: I would probably be a pretty bad painter, or an okay writer. Or going slowly mad under a bridge.
Exposed Vocals: How do you juggle the rest of your responsibilities while trying to stay ahead in your music life?
August Wells: Just like it is for most people, it’s a slog, a struggle, but It’s a life, and i fail and succeed depending on the day.
Exposed Vocals: What should fans look forward to in 2016?
August Wells: Our new album ‘Madness Is the Mercy’ and hopefully just lots and lots of new songs.