Released just over a week back, Pedigo’s Magic Pilsner is the self-titled debut of John Pedigo’s latest musical endeavor. Decorated with the detailed down-on-their-luck personas and emotions that only a folk-laden release could ever hope to pursue, Pedigo keeps things varied by invoking an ebullient array of instrumental inclinations into the album. A sashay of Dixieland horns here, some searing gospel organ there, and it’s a real Magic Pilsner party.
For Folk’s Sake recently caught up with the Pils to talk about his start in music, how he defines success, and what’s coming next for the artist.
For those who may not be familiar, please tell us about your music: the type of music you play, where you are from, and how you got started?
None of us musicians like boxes, but the easiest thing to call what The Pils are doing is Americana. We hail from Dallas, TX, where the weather changes like a baby’s attention span, fleeting and forgotten; extreme heat to extreme cold and not much in between. Yesterday alone it dropped from 65 degrees to 27 degrees. Yikes! Hey, weather, am I right? I always know an interview is going well when it starts with weather talk.
As an artist, how do you define success?
Probably the hardest thing to quantify as an independent artist is success, because of its intangible nature. Where and how do you value it? Money? Stuff? Awards? I’ve come to terms with the fact that I value reverence over all else and I’ve come up with a mantra: Respect is the only currency I adhere to. Money is very hard to make in this business because of the obvious struggles: record sales have dwindled because of streaming, a myriad more artists are more accessible through a myriad more platforms, etc. It’s virtually impossible to compete with the giants who drop millions to promote their artists with our pennies on the dollar. We try, because that is what we do. I’m a lifer. And I do my best to survive on respect (although money is cool).
What do you find to be your greatest struggle when it comes to the music business?
I guess I got ahead of myself with the last answer! This is certainly only tipping the iceberg, but I’ve always thought that the true disaster from file sharing sites like Napster and Limewire was how it killed mid-level bands. If you were a band that sold 100K albums back in the 90s, a few years later you were only selling 10k records. It means that you used to be a working musician, and now you’re a bartender or barista who’s trying to make your art work. It’s a very difficult position to be in. On one level, you are trying to prove that what you are doing is viable, artistically speaking, and to many people it is. But Spotify will never pay any of your bills–you’re lucky if it pays for Taco Bell. But once again, this is what we do. We struggle for every shimmer of light in the darkest of nightclubs.
If you could only play ONE of your songs for the rest of your career, which one would it be?
Wow, this is tough. I tend to peel band-aids quickly and like to always move onward and upward. I try not to linger on the past too much. So, I guess the easy answer is “Some Days,” because it’s the eldest of the songs on the record. It has stood the test of my personal timeline, and I can’t see it going away. The theme is universal. I think we all struggle to a certain degree with hope and faith and generally what “it” all means. And of course, there’s the all-encompassing question we all really want to know the answer to. I’ll quote the great Doctor Emmett Brown from Back to the Future who sums it up perfectly: “Why?!”
Outside of music, what do you like to do that you feel contributes to the creativity that you tap into for your music?
Anything and everything. When I go out to bars, besides just the regular ol’ bullshitting, I like to talk movies, art, books and whatever. I especially like to be involved with projects that are creative in any form, like variety shows. I went to art school and have degrees in film and art history. I like to make little movies and have dabbled in producing videos. It’s always on the periphery in some ways. Recently, I’ve been trying to help my friend Josh David Jordan with his film called This World Won’t Break. It’s a great piece of art that will see the light of day later this year. But music is the thing. I produce a good amount of records when I’m not touring. I’m very excited to start work on a guy named Joshua Ray Walker’s debut album. Get your ears ready for it…it’s gonna kill!
Photo by: Casey Kinney