Local Acoustic Guitar Slinger, Joseph Biss, to Embark on First Solo Tour; Celebrates New Release
LAKE GEORGE – Releasing his latest record, Krumholtz (revisited), on August 4th, local singer-songwriter Joseph Biss expands upon his growing production skills. Taking a record off the shelf and breathing new life into it is a hard task, but Biss has surely done it. As his fingers dance across the guitar throughout the record, his vocals and quirky synth lines make for a nice listen.
I had a chance to sit down with the artist, who is currently gearing up for a small tour that starts on August 19th. What follows is our conversation.
Lucas Garrett: Joseph, good to have you back! How’re you doing?
Joseph Biss: Doing good! It’s a little bit cooler than the last few weeks, so I’m not melting away. I don’t do the hot so well.
LG: You’re more of an Antarctica guy, aren’t you?
JB: I sure am. I always run hot. I asked my doctor one time, and he said, “Some people just run hot…” Hahaha.
LG: The last time I talked to you, you’d just come out with your live album. Now, you’re doing something a little different. What are you up to right now?
JB: The first EP I put out as this solo endeavor back in 2020 was a really quick one – I titled it Krumholtz at the time – super lo-fi… no tweaking, really. I did everything open air in the living room. You can definitely hear Sirius (my dog) walking around. Now that I did that live album, I’ve really figured out how to use Pro Tools. I went back and took the original recordings – nothing new – and it now sounds so much better. The new EP that came out on the 4th of August… it’s where it should be. There was crackling; feedback and stuff, and now it’s gone… I had cool synth parts you couldn’t even hear, so now it’s the way I should’ve done it three years ago. Hahaha.
One of the singles, “Violets Are Violet,” was on the live album and it’s one of my favorite songs to play, so it seemed like the right idea to do for the single of the album.
LG: What makes it your favorite one to play?
JB: The opening lick is my favorite. I hit the string once and then it’s all tap-ons and hammer-ons for the whole thing until I come in with a dramatic strum to start singing… it’s a good workout, but it’s more of a finger-dance than anything.
LG: So, you’re also going on tour?
JB: Yeah! It’s my first solo trying-to-do-a-tour, more than just a couple of shows. I’m stoked, it’s something I’ve always wanted to do. I’ve made friends from the gem cutting and jewelry businesses in different towns, and I know they all like the same music. A lot of them we met vending at music shows. It was something I could contact people I know in different areas that dig the music, too. It was like double-dipping, going back and forth with contacts I’d made not even from music, but also, I knew the music was still in the same interest group. It’s cool. Fingers crossed – it’s going to be just me throwing everything in a car… it’s going to be a doozy.
LG: Are you nervous?
JB: I guess so. A little bit. I try to say I kill all my nerves, but that’s easier said than done. If I’m going to be hours away from home, and the car breaks down, that’s a little nerve-wracking. I mean I can fix a car a little bit, but newer cars are a little more tricky. Hahaha. Yeah, I’d say a little nervous. I’d be a fool if I lied and said I wasn’t.
LG: When is this tour running from?
JB: Providing that the Maine one works out, it’s going to run from the 19th of August to the 1st of September. I’ll start out in Troy, then I’ll do a house-show similar to Live From the Living Room, then it’d be going up to Maine, then to Burlington, then Plattsburgh, then coming down to Albany. It’s not too far; stone’s throw kind of thing. I’m not going to be two days travel away so, that’s a little less nerve-wracking. Eventually, though, that’s my plan. I’ve got a bunch of music friends and mineral contacts in midway places like Chicago, all the way out to California, and northern states. That’s the next step, but I’ve got to make sure I can do this one without having a breakdown. Either my car or myself. Hahaha. Not that I’m planning on it!
LG: What else is new with you? Anything else that you’re working on?
JB: Yeah, I’ve constantly been writing new songs as of late. I’ll be blunt with you – not the greatest influence but since my father passed away, I’ve been having a bunch of inspiration. Not necessarily all doom and gloom stuff, but I’ve got a new outlook… it’s been very productive. I’ve gotten three or four songs since February. Before we started this interview, I was working on another one. I have new ways I can express myself where I feel it’s not redoing the same stuff I’ve already put out. I’m trying to do different styles of playing – still keeping in the genre but doing different techniques… same bubble but not repeating myself.
LG: I’m sorry about your father.
JB: I truly appreciate it. With that said, I’ve got a stack of songs now, so my next plan is to record – at this point it’s like ten songs. So, it should be my first full-length studio LP. It’ll have several of the songs from the live album that were never recorded.
LG: Who’s recording it?
JB: Me, again. I know I’ve mentioned it before, but a big inspiration is Slaughter Beach Dog. They do the same thing – they have their own little studio. Some of it is in their basement. It doesn’t sound like it was done in a living room. Which is my end goal…
I like the lo-fi situation of being set up with a 2008 Mac tower, and Pro Tools 8, or whatever was on that. I want to give the best foot forward with what I have without taking away from the feeling I have of it being in the living room.
LG: Do you find it hard to write about the new content you’re writing about?
JB: No. I feel before, not that I was beating around the bush, but I didn’t want to make stuff that was super abrasive. Too doom and gloom, and 2000’s pop-punk. That’s what I love, that’s what I was listening to, but I wanted to be able to still convey those messages in a lighter, happy, folk… you don’t have to hide it in happiness but you can still articulate it that way. I feel I’ve gotten a better grasp on how I want to do that and how I can do that effectively.
It’s been hard. I’ve found some of my older songs where I was crying a shit ton trying to play them live for my Sunday Socials… I’ve worked through that and now I can play all those songs. I’m still doing the Sunday Socials – the hour-long concerts I’ve been doing on YouTube. Then, I’m doing them on Wednesdays for my Patreon.
LG: Is there anything else you’d like to talk about that I may have missed?
JB: A few things. The people I’m going to be playing with on these shows. I’m super stoked about that. The first show is going to be down in Troy at The Ruck. Carolyn Shapiro is going to be joining me on the banjo. I first saw her music last year at GEM Fest in Glens Falls. When I get up to Plattsburgh, come back around, Kevin Sabourin from Lucid – which I used to love all the jam-band music – to have him opening up the show is… I used to play shows with him back when I was up in Plattsburgh. He was the last guy I played a show with up there. To have it come full-circle almost a decade later is so cool. In Albany, I’m playing a show with Super 400. I’m going to open up a set for that one. It’s part of the pop-up event at Russell Sage. That one may be one of the biggest shows I’ve played yet. Last year, there was five-hundred people. The people I’m going to be playing with, I’m super stoked. I’ve never caught those guys live and they kill it.
LG: Well, thank you very much for taking time out of your evening!
JB: Of course! I always enjoy chatting with ya!
LG: Good luck on your tour!
JB: Thank you so much!