Even though Hurricane Florence is knocking on our door, we’re preparing for the worst and hoping for the best, especially since we have a great lineup of music scheduled for ILM this week and weekend. Atlanta-based rock-soul-blues band All the Locals will play Satellite Bar and Lounge on Saturday, Sept. 15. They’re returning with their 2017 EP, “Something She Poured,” as well as new tracks lined for a forthcoming record.
“You will also get a mix of old and new from our catalog,” lead singer John Schmarkey notes. “We are excited to be back; it has been a while. The quirky town on the water fits our personalities well and makes for a creative vibe. Hopefully, we will get to the beach and catch the last of the sun before it throws us out of season.”
If the weather holds out, folks can catch All the Locals at Yellow Dog Discs on September 15 at 3 p.m. for a special in-store review. encore sat down with John Schmarkey to talk about the band’s latest music.
encore (e): Since “Something She Poured” was released in 2017, how do the songs continue to evolve on stage?
John Schmarkey (JS): We love to involve the crowd as much as possible. If we can all sing along together or extend a part in the song for dancing purposes, then we don’t hesitate. That is the glory of having a tight-knit group that can feed off each other in the moment. All our songs sound different from one another, so we are able to use a wide range of instruments on stage. We try and stick to an essence of the records’ sound, but a surprise for the audience keeps us fresh.
e: There are some fun metaphors on your EP, like “you can turn our memory into wine anytime” in “Long Lost Best Friend.”
JS: The line refers to the idea we all hope love grows better over time, and we must not forget where we came from. Some memories don’t envelope better over time, but you can always turn a bad page into a better chapter.
Sometimes I’d like to bottle up a sad memory and christen it over a ship’s bow. Our songs are usually giant metaphors with smaller ones intermixed. I love writers that make you use your brain, and I typically stay away from ones that make you lose chromosomes. How can you relate to average or naïve ears and still remain clever? is often a thought [I question]. “Long Lost Best Friend” is a true story about stumbling upon lust that was worth maturing into love. It’s a hard task to accomplish as a human.
e: Tell us about the latest songs you’re playing on tour.
JS: We have been working on several songs for our newest EP, “Another Way to Breathe,” coming out in January 2019. . . . The title got its name from an idea you have to adapt to life’s changes, find a better way to cope. The band has faced many positive and negative obstacles, but our true family nature keeps us rolling faster and stronger with every tide. ATL is closer and more creative than we have ever been. Good music, persistence and biz savvy will definitely help in the music world.
We go a little “modern electronic” in some of the tunes, and we have stayed organic in all the rest, never straying from the art of good songwriting. We have roots in many genres, hence our amalgamated style, but [listeners] will find a bit of Southern soul, R&B and modern alt-rock in our newest tunes.
We have a lot of original songs now, so making our tour sets is always a leisurely puzzle. We often revamp older tunes and add on obscure covers to test the crowd. It is also common for us to make up a song or test one out that’s not quite finished. It doesn’t seem like a smart choice on stage, but we like to be unpredictable.
e: Are they a continuation of sorts of the last EP or do they stand apart in sound, style, etc.?
JS: We are never focused on how many songs we’re doing. If we make five or 20 it doesn’t matter. We just want them to translate well for everyone on and off the stage. In this day and age, most folks are focused on the single, which is why we like to do smaller EP’s that have their own themes. Sticking to ATL’s sound and roots is what we will always do, but to stay alive with societies ADD, you often find yourself learning new trends to add on to your vibe.
e: Are there songs in the works you haven’t shared on stage yet?
JS: Most definitely; however, we will test them if you find us on the road. Hell, there are even old songs we haven’t ever performed that you will finally get to [hear].
e: As a lyricist, what themes or topics are you drawn to as of late?
JS: I’m drawn less to the news on TV or the feed on Facebook. You find yourself an anthropologist sometimes, underlining human behavior with metaphors. Although life revolves around the little things, I like to talk about the bigger picture … hence why “Nat Geo” is a favorite. We like to write about science, art and lust.
On the other end, some of the bands’ favorite songs have spun off inside jokes amongst us. Generally, the group will arrange music together, and Johnny will solidify lyrics; he’s been freestyling with the groove during production. Sometimes lyrics just come before the music has even manifested—often in inspirational car rides.
e: On the last EP, you had a guest player (organ on “Long Lost Best Friend”); would you like to bring new instrumentals in some shape or form onto the next project?
JS: All of our past records have featured a good friend from the Atlanta music scene in a or song or two. We love letting fresh minds into our project. It is also cool to feature them in a show, if they had been a part of the process. In the past, we have featured folks on organ, violin, sax and other horns. As much as Mike [Fiorello (aux keys, guitar, backing vox)], and I like to play keyboard parts to emulate other instruments, the real deal is always more rewarding.