Albatross on ‘Desperate Times Best Forgotten’

On Friday, Nashville’s Brighton, England transplant, Adam Stockdale – under the banner of Albatross – released his latest album, Desperate Times Best Forgotten. Similar to Stockdale’s previous work, the album maintains a poppy folk thread throughout, yet he’s been influenced by his new surroundings and has layered in a Nashville sound.

“I think the interjection of bluegrass and country in my music has been the best thing to happen to it thus far,” he said. “The quality of Nashville players is beyond excellent. And they all have this unspoken repertoire of songs which are so fundamental to the roots of this great country’s musical culture.”

Adam Stockdale (a.k.a. Albatross)
Adam Stockdale (a.k.a. Albatross)

Stockdale had been immersed in music most of his life through family, but hadn’t experienced bluegrass or country music until coming to America for the first time in 2007. A few years later, he moved to London where he first encountered Mumford & Sons – a band he toured with in their early days. “My first gig was in a 150 cap pub in Hoxton, if you can believe it,” he said. “I had met them briefly through other mutual musicians. I had done a few shows with Laura Marling when they were playing with her, and they were the backing band on my housemate Derek Meins’ album called ‘A Famous Poet.’” He formed a bond with the band and thereafter toured with them and played pedal steel on the band’s 2011 E.P “The Wedding Band.” That kinship also brought him closer to the now defunct Aussie band, The Middle East – a band that invited Stockdale to perform lap steel on a great tune called “Deep Water” off of their 2011 release, I Want That You Are Always Happy.

Catching up with Stockdale, I asked him about his latest project and his interesting approach to funding it that he hopes to eventually extend to other artists.

GH: Desperate Times Best Forgotten is a hell of a name for an album. Is there a backstory and how connected is that title to the songs on the album? With songs like “Game of Love” – seems like this could be tied to a relationship?

AS: The album represents a real emotional and physical journey for me. I had the name really early on. As heavy as it can seem depending on the context, I liked that no matter what, there was an underlying message of hope. I think that’s what the songs represented in terms of my journey. Here’s a bunch of shit I have overcome to get from A to B. Most of my songs are about sad things, not really intentionally, but life is tough and I express my experiences of those times in songs. Both to help myself but hopefully letting others know they are not in it alone either. I’m yet to decide whether I think it is an emotionally “strong” person who feels deeply, and so the impact of pain is more severe, or whether it is an emotionally “weak” person who allows themselves to be so affected and vulnerable. Either way, us “arty” types are feelers, for better or worse. My life is the search for the rainbow whilst constantly in the rain. There are definitely a few songs about relationships.

With the Word of Mouth Project you’re taking a different approach to crowdfunding. How’d you decide to do that?

I have always thought the relationship between artist and audience was paramount. The other things that become a part of “music” that aren’t music, I find, can often be a barrier between the two parties. I wanted to remove that and allow those who believe in the art and put their neck on the line for it, to be part of it and benefit from it too. Starting my own label allowed me to do this, and without compromise. I’m not a big fan of crowd funding. There’s some level of expectation I’m uncomfortable with. Plus the all or nothing nature means you are trying to “sell” it. I see this as completely different. Its about the “giving back” and the community. Its there if people are interested, but there is no pressure or manipulation.

Desperate Times Best Forgotten is out now. Catch Albatross live at the The Bluegrass Situation’s AMA showcase in Nashville on September 15th and on a Midwest Communion tour.