Buddy is a guy who’s as likeable as his name would imply. Buddy is also not simply a guy, but a band… but also still a guy… Like nearly every outfit I’ve interviewed this summer (seriously, just look at the site), Buddy began as a singer/songwriter, but evolved into a band. Buddy is a guy from Portland, Oregon who relocated to LA in 2002. In 2006 he was forced to collect a backing band, due to a broken arm that coincided with his invitation to open for Tommy Stinson. His live band quickly became a legitimate band. Buddy’s first album, Alterations and Repairs, didn’t hit shelves until 2007, but by that point the project had already transformed into a full-fledged rock outfit, who spent the next several years on the road. However, Buddy’s sophomore effort, Last Call for the Quiet Life, the first release to truly capture the band’s collective dynamic, is just set to drop on August 19th. And he recently took some time to tell me the history of the project, in addition to recent occurrences, including a “memorable” night in Philly.
Although the album is yet to drop, Buddy has already visited the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection this summer, when he toured alongside Ben Ottewell of Gomez, and whose local stop at Milkboy also included PHILTHY favorite Swear and Shake. While the show was a bit sparsely attended, Buddy certainly enjoyed himself, and even concluded the set playing unplugged, in the middle of the floor. He also tells me that he had a special affinity for Center City’s favorite bar/restaurant/coffee shop/venue.
“I really like that club and those guys at Milkboy won me over. We drove all the way back to the hotel in Delaware and I checked in and realized I didn’t have my jacket and my jacket had my wallet in it and they actually stayed up until like 3 in the morning to wait for me, so I’m quite grateful to them. And I like rooms like that. The attendance was pretty light, but it was at least intimate enough and dark enough that it still felt okay, as opposed to the rooms where it’s huge and bright and just looks so empty. But I get excited whenever I play a city I haven’t before and Philadelphia is one of those, as was Detroit and Milwaukee. It was the same thing in Milwaukee. There weren’t a lot of people, but it felt relatively intimate.”
While recent years have seen many musicians and artists relocating from more “glamorous” settings, like Los Angeles and New York City, to the more DIY, Bohemian Portland, Oregon, Buddy did the opposite. So I’m inclined to ask what inspired this relocation, but he tells me the move actually happened more organically and haphazardly than he originally intended.
“I’d lived in Portland my whole life and just wanted a change. I thought LA would be temporary. I hadn’t planned on moving out here to play music, but it just kind of happened and it grew on me like a fungus. It’s a really supportive environment that gave me roots here and just kind of kept growing on me and, at one point, not to sound lazy, but I just thought, ‘If I go anywhere else, it’s going to be hard to get something going like this.’”
Last Call for the Quiet Life includes contributions from many of his LA peers, including songwriting partner, producer, and engineer Will Golden, in addition to PHILTHY endorsed artists Holly Conlan and Morgan Nagler (and even the likes of Michelle Branch and Cary Brothers… among many others). I tell him that my initial attraction to the album was actually my fandom of his close friend Holly Conlan and he explains that the collection of musicians he works with in LA weren’t necessarily people he sought out, but that happened to be there, supportive, and doing things that he really admired.
“The scene for me is just great because I found one. It just kind of fell into my lap. They’re just people I like hanging out with. 95% of it is just this community of friends that are musicians and we all just help each other out. [Holly]’s one of my besties and it’s just like help each other with different things. If she’s recording, I’ll come down and help her and if I’m recording, she’ll just come down and help me out. It’s all just friendships and we like what each other are doing. We’re fans of each other.”
The sounds found on Last Call for the Quiet Life merge the refined aesthetic of a singer/songwriter with that of a larger, more collaborative, rock collective. It’s actually not too far from Tom Petty on his most soulful and communal efforts. It’s introspective, but also a bit of a rally for existential reflection. I ask Buddy about the actual process behind the writing and recording of the songs and he tells me that his work with Will Golden is certainly the most significant variation from his previous work.
“It’s totally different from the first EP and full-length. When I started, it was just very singer/songwriter. When I wrote the songs it was just at the edge of my bed at 4 in the morning. This was a collaborative effort with Will Golden. It was fun for me to collaborate on a record and it pulled me and stretched me a little, like to get out of your comfort zone. It felt really organic. It felt like we left the studio every day with a new song. On my other records it’s easier to pinpoint my influences because, with Will, we were never going for anything. We just kind of let it happen. We wrote like 30 songs and the songs on the record just seemed to fit well as a group.”
I ask Buddy about how he plans to spend the rest of the year and he tells me that he does plan to spend some time on the road, but that his bond with Will is as strong as ever and has already propelled the duo to composing new music: “We’ll do some touring. I don’t know exactly what or when, but I’m going to do a solo tour in Australia in October, which I’m really excited about, but Will and I have already started writing the next one. We started writing the day we got back from tour.”