Music

Road Music

One-on-one with Providence's traveling troubadour Joe Fletcher

Eric Smith
Posted
Joe Fletcher and the Wrong Reasons' most recent album is White Lighter Photo by Jesse Golding

With the dreamy indie gospel of the Low Anthem and the MTV-ready rock of the new Deer Tick record soaking up all the attention here in Rhode Island, you’d think the members of Joe Fletcher and the Wrong Reasons would be holed up in a bar somewhere, conspiring over whose van tires to slash first. But, when you’re among the nicest group of guys in the one of the nastiest bands in Providence, it might make more sense to stick to what you do best: put out another rollicking, greasy, country-blues album, leave the day jobs behind and hit the road again. Fletcher had much to say about the last year-and-a-half in the life of his Wrong Reasons, their excellent LP White Lighter and the best new way to get a record made: get the money up front.

Not all Rhode Island bands get to tour and travel. What’s the most striking thing about touring the country?
Honestly, it’s how much friendlier people are once you get a certain distance south or west of New England. I blame the weather for making us they way we are here. I am currently sitting in the Berkshires in Western Massachusetts and it is two degrees outside. That’s not the wind-chill. It’s actually two degrees. How could we possibly keep as cheery a disposition as folks in warmer climates? If it weren’t for modern conveniences, we’d have deemed this place uninhabitable a long time ago.

Is New England’s reputation as being a “tough crowd” accurate?
Music scenes obviously vary from place to place. I spend a lot of time in the south where live, original music seems more ingrained in the culture. People go out and just want to dance and be entertained; they’re less concerned with deciding what your music is a cross between. There is a more instant acceptance of our kind of music in places down there. New England has been very good to us, but it can really take some time to find your audience. We’ve been very lucky to find a very loyal and (relatively) polite one.

What are the best and/or worst things about being based in Providence?
The best thing is our proximity to other major metropolitan areas. You can play in Manhattan or Portland and come home that same night if need be. You’ve got Boston, Burlington, New Haven, Northampton. The list goes on and on. We do a lot of three- or four-day weekend trips around New York and New England. It doesn’t make financial sense to be driving back and forth across the country all year long, so this is a good place to live in while still playing out of town all the time.

You were one of the first bands around here to use Kickstarter to help fund recording. How did that work out?
The Kickstarter fundraiser that we did in 2010 was specifically to pay for the mastering and packaging of our most recent record, White Lighter. A small amount also went to getting the rewards for the fundraiser produced and mailed. It was a generous amount of money, but we spent it all in about two hours that November. While those funds didn’t go towards our touring cash, I have been living off of the money that I generate by playing for a while now.

What are your plans for the spring?
We are working on getting the songs together for the White Lighter followup, which we expect to have out by mid-summer. In the meantime, we’ll be going on tour to Texas and back, and working on securing both new management and a new booking agent.

You must feel a strong kinship with all the other rootsy, country, bluesy and folky artists from RI. Who are the most criminally under-appreciated artists in Providence right now?
I am a big fan of Keith McCurdy and his band Vudu Sister, as well as another up and coming young man named Jonah Tolchin. I was fortunate enough to do some recording with both of them recently and they are monstrous talents. Their official debut albums should be coming out sometime this year.

Joe Fletcher and the Wrong Reasons’ latest full length album, White Lighter, is available on the band’s own Wrong Reasons Records. Be sure to catch them live at one of their many local appearances around Providence – or better yet, hit the road and see them play to a room full of drunken people.