What is your name and role within Simo?
I’m JD and I sing and play the guitar in the band.
Where are you currently based?
We all live in Nashville, TN
Most of last year was was spent on the road, playing 215 shows across different countries, this is a huge feat in itself, what were the high’s and low’s of such a vast tour?
The highs are too many to mention really. I broke my left knee onstage in Paris at the beginning of the first European tour last year. It was insanely painful and obviously was quite a hurdle to overcome! I finished the tour sitting down and couldn’t really walk for a few months. But I healed and all was cool. Was a rough thing to deal with amongst the insane schedule though for sure!
How did your live show change over the period?
We where able to try out everything that ever came to us. We where able to refine it. Find out what works and what doesn’t. Now it’s really a fully realized show. Then is was a bit haphazard sometimes.
Which country do you most enjoy touring?
I like it all!
What equipment do you take on tour?
I take several guitars and a few amps. Not much compared to most.
How did you feel at the end of the tour?
I feel very relieved. After a week or so I’m ready to play though.
Would you embark on a tour of this length again?
No I wouldn’t. I learned a lot from it but endurance wise, I don’t think I could do it again.
The majority of songs on your album Rise & Shine we’re written on the road, hashing out chord changes in hotel rooms, and tweaking song arrangements during sound checks, do you find that writing on the road allows you to venture into different area’s of your song writing capabilities?
Not necessarily. I found myself as a person while traveling last year. That in turn opened me up as a writer and that was the big turning point for me. Up till then writing was something I just did now it’s a part of my life.
How do you usually find inspiration when song writing?
It happens any which way. Usually for me it just comes out really quick. I know the feeling when it’s about to come and I just make sure to stop what I’m doing and get it down.
Who are you listening to at the moment?
I’m enjoying Lillie Mae’s new record. She’s on Jack White’s Third Man label and she’s an old pal of mine. It’s a great record!
The band began recording Rise & Shine in February in Nashville’s House Of Blues Studios, how did you find recording at such an iconic studio?
It was very comfortable and we where able to move all our stuff in and just come and go as we pleased for several weeks. It was low key and very conducive to being creative.
What equipment and programs were used during the recording process?
Oh man, anything you could think of. We tore the studio apart for every individual tune. Different setup, mics and signal chain for everything. It was a huge, huge undertaking but very worth it!
What did you find most challenging about the recording process?
I don’t actually. It’s something I love and very comfortable with. I guess leaving the studio haha. I’d record everyday if we could.
Rise and Shine is self-produced by the band, with the help on engineer Don Bates, why did you decide to produce the album yourselves and would you do it again?
We had a very specific goal and plan for it. In the end we didn’t feel anyone else would really help us realize it. We had such specific thoughts and visions for it that it wasn’t necessary to have someone else do it.
The band pulled long hours, beginning at 3pm every day, and finishing up at around 6am the following morning, how did you manage to keep up such an arduous schedule?
I couldn’t wait to get back to work. I love recording and the stuff we where working on was the best we’d ever done. So it was hard to stop! Plus those are my hours anyway. I like being up at night and sleeping in the daytime.
The album is about change – how the world is changing, and how that dictates personal change, could you please explain this further?
I changed a lot last year. It was intensely personal and difficult. I wrote mostly about all that. My observations on things outside of me are just that. My observations. In the end I just wrote what I felt and didn’t question it. It just happened that there ended up being a theme somewhat.
What has been you favourite show in the last few years and why?
My favorite show was when I broke my knee in Paris. It was awful but that injury spawned me to take stock of myself and that was a turning point for me. Had I not gotten hurt, I wouldn’t be who I am right now.
Favourite food and place to hang out?
Gus’ Fried Chicken in downtown Memphis, TN. I like to hang out at my home.
When and where are you playing next?
We start the US Tour this Saturday in Oklahoma.