Talking Music: Patrick Ferris of The Americans
LA outfit The Americans return to Europe for the first time since releasing their debut album I’ll Be Yours this summer, for three whistle stop dates of their European tour.
The band are made up of front man and guitarist Patrick Ferris, bassist Jake Faulkner and lead guitarist Zac Sokolow, brought together through their love of American roots music. Spurring one another on, they spent years digging through obscure records and arcane field recordings, busking and teaching themselves banjo, fiddle, mandolin, and slide guitar.
They named themselves after the controversial photo series by Robert Frank, which was first published in 1958 with a foreword by Jack Kerouac. Like Frank's photos, The Americans' songs are miniature biographies, intimate and empathic portraits of individuals that leave much unsaid.
The Americans were plucked from obscurity by Jack White, T Bone Burnett and Robert Redford to appear in the BBC/PBS documentary series American Epic, which aired earlier this year.
Featuring artists such as Beck, Elton John, Nas, Willie Nelson, Alabama Shakes, The Avett Brothers and many more, the film reconstructs the story of the first American music in the 1920s and re-assembled the recording apparatus that was used at the time. As experts in early music, The Americans were invited in to figure out the equipment and make the first recordings. Once the sessions were underway, they functioned as the house band, backing up various artists and suggesting songs to the filmmakers.
Patrick recently answered questions put to him by Andy Howells.
What led you to decide you wanted to become musicians?
Zac and Jake had an earlier calling than I did. For me it was almost an afterthought that grew into a devotion.
Who are your music influences?
Old (pre-war) blues, folk songs, rockabilly, Leonard Cohen, Joanna Newsom, and Bob Dylan.
Can you tell us about your new album?
We've been playing together for years, but this is our first LP. A lot of work went into it. Listening with some distance, it sounds like we finally broke away from the chains of our influences and are doing something new.
If there’s a track that best defines you as an artist what is it and why?
Maybe "Bronze Star." It's a song that's a story, and it's based on an melody Zac wrote in the style of a fiddle tune, but it's also loud and raucous.
What can people expect from your forthcoming show in Bristol?
Loud and raucous!
What are you listening to presently?
I still listen to a lot of pre-war (1920-30s) music. Also the War On Drugs, new Dylan bootlegs, and A$AP Ferg.
Vinyl or digital?
THE AMERICANS EUROPEAN TOUR – NOVEMBER 2017 (UK DATES)
- 06 Nov - BRISTOL Louisiana
- 07 Nov - MANCHESTER Gullivers
- 08 Nov - LONDON Borderline
- I’ll Be Yours is out now via Loose, available on 180g vinyl, CD & digitally.