Crow Moses Talks New Album Nightshades Produced by Pat Sansone

Meredith Schneider

Crow Moses is someone that should be on your radar. That is, if he isn’t already. The indie/folk singer from Chicago has operated under the moniker Musikanto in the past, and has garnered a lot of attention in the industry on several other projects. His follow-up to Horse Heaven Hills hit the scene on April 26th, and we recommend you give it a listen. It’s titled Nightshades and it’s pretty rad.

In fact, check out his single “Different Man” below, accompanied by an interview we conducted with Crow Moses himself, as well as some words of wisdom from Pat Sansone (Wilco), who co-produced Nightshades.

Nightshades is something we can enjoy on a lazy summer night while watching the sunset from the backyard. How do you envision people enjoying this album?

Crow: Now that you mention it, I can definitely see people enjoying it on a lazy summer night. I like to think that Nightshades embodies a lot of who I’ve become musically over the years.  To me, this album has a very “classic” feel and  in some ways is  an homage to those who have inspired me.  I hope that it can be enjoyed in any time or space. 

Pat: That does sound like a nice way to enjoy this record…or any record really!  I think it’s also a good driving record.  A good one for a road trip, which is one of my favorite ways to get to know an album.

You worked together on Nightshades, describing the collaboration as “organic”. How did you get in cahoots, and what was that experience like?

Crow: I met pat via Gary Louris at a Jayhawks show in Chicago. Gary worked on my last record Horse Heaven Hills and I think Pat heard a couple tunes on the radio. Pat added a tremendous amount of character and warmth to this album. His foot print is clearly marked and I love the layers and textures that he added to the songs. Pat has a way of letting the song stay pure but adds his own ingredients to the recipe.  

Pat: We have a common friend in Gary Louris who produced the previous Crow Moses record, and I think that after that meeting we soon began kicking around the idea of working together.  Coincidentally, I had just heard a few tracks from that album on WXRT the night before the Jayhawks show, and really dug them, and had discussed this with my studio partner Josh Shapera who co-produced Nightshades with me.  So it seemed like there was some Kismet there.

Pat, what do you love about Crow Moses?

Pat: The first thing that comes to mind is that there is something surprising in Crow’s songwriting, even though he is working in a fairly classic form.  I think that is a great balance, and one that is difficult to achieve…making songs and tracks that seem already familiar in a way, but throw the listener meaningful curveballs.  Crow is a natural at writing these kinds of songs.

The song “Stand Up Man” is a very vibey, kind of declaration song. Where did the idea come from?

Crow: In some ways its kind of the brother song to “Different Man.” I remember thinking that it’s kind of weird having two songs with such similarly declarative titles but then someone mentioned  Pearl Jams vitalogy that contained both “Nothing Man” and “Betterman”. I must have been channeling something there.  

“Gallows” hit us hard with the opening guitar. What specifically inspired that song?

Crow: To me “Gallows” is kind of like an old western.  I love the urgency and the “on the run” outlaw feeling  I get when I listen to it.  In a sense it’s the most fictional and character driven song on the album.   It’s also definitely the most fun to play live. 

We heard you’ve got a video for “Different Man” coming soon. What can we look forward to from that release?

Crow: The “Different Man” music video will premier very soon. I wrote and co-directed the video and I’m super proud of it. I treated the video with it’s own integrity and not just a backdrop for the song. Making a narrative style music video comes with several unique challenges but I feel the video matches the sensibility of the song.  

Neither of you are newbies to the music scene. Any fun anecdotes from touring or recording you’d like to share with us?

The name “Nightshades” was actually in reference to a diet that our engineer and co-producer Josh Shapera was telling me about. It’s when you eat fruits and vegetables that only grow at night. I loved the sound of the word but not so much of the diet.   

What inspired the royal theme with your press photos? 

Those props are remnants from the last record I made, Horse Heaven Hills. We used it on set for the making of the HHH video and we took some shots. There is kind of a hackneyed image of a “roots” songwriter and I wanted to defy that.  

What do you think is underappreciated in the world, and why? 

Pat: I think writing postcards is a very underappreciated thing.  I think people should write more postcards.

Do you have a favorite superhero? Who is it, and why?

Crow: I’m not sure if this counts but I would have to say “The Escapist.” The Escapist is a superhero from the novel “Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon. Although, I suppose all superhero are fictional, this one was created specifically for the novel. The “Escapist” is a WW2 anti-fascist crimefighter in the spirit of Captain America  with the powers of Houdini.  

Pat: I always dug Spiderman…maybe because he was silent?  At least the Spiderman I am remembering was.  Is that right?  I haven’t seen the recent movies…he just seemed cool in a zen kind of way.

What’s up next for both of you?

Crow: I’m working on feature length screenplay along with the score. When I write an album it’s typically on a song to song basis so writing for a grander vision is a really great challenge. 

Pat: I’ll be on tour for most of the rest of 2016 with Wilco…and fitting in a couple of production projects in the little bit of off time.  I’m also trying to get my new studio in Nashville finished so that I can really dig in to more recording in 2017.

Night Shades is available now.

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