An interview with J. Roddy Walston

As this is the first time TSU is doing an interview, I figured I’d leave it as raw as possible, but first let me give you a bit of context. I discovered J. Roddy Walston & the Business while driving around Baltimore with Elana, and listening to WTMD, Towson University radio. We both loved the title track to the album (“Don’t Break The Needle”) and were wondering when we’d hear from the band next.

A few days later, I got an email from the band’s management asking if I wanted to feature the band on the blog. How’s that for coincidence? So, in Mr. J. Roddy Walston’s own words – here are a few thoughts about life, music, and everything in between.

Let’s talk about the band name. Who is J. Roddy Walston?

Me… that’s what my mama named me the day i was born.

How long have you guys been together as a band?

Eight years sort of… 5 really touring and all that.

If you guys couldn’t be musicians, what would your jobs be?

Subway sandwich artists.

Can you give me your Top 3 Albums of all time?

My top 3 changes from time to time……. usually in there is Damien Jurado “Rehearsals for Departure,” Led Zeppelin “Physical Graffiti” and Rolling Stones “Exile on Main Street.”

Getting back to the music – I absolutely love Pigs & Pearls, possibly because of how much it reminds me of Exile On Main St by the Rolling Stones. I was entirely sure that the song was a rip off of one of the tracks on that album, but I listened to the album (Exile) over and over and could not find any resemblance. Were you guys intending to capture that raw, laid back rock and roll sound with this track? If so, how did you manage to get it?

I definitely love that record too… a huge part of what I love on that record is the mystery of the different parts and sounds; you are never sure if you are hearing something or just imagining it. I think we took alot of cues from that mentality on our record….the modern way of recording and being able to hear everything perfectly really takes the fun out of music for me…..just put some mics up in a room and let the band play.

Would you list the Stones as an influence?


Who are your other influences?

Led Zeppelin, The Band, Bob Dylan, The Replacements, old Weezer, Beastie Boys, Humble Pie, James Brown, Van Halen …..everything ever.

Tell me about where you see this band going? Is this album “your sound?” Or should we expect different stuff from you guys in the future?

I think this record has the most cohesive sound we have put out… but if you went back through all the recordings we put out on our own it’s pretty obvious we are going to constantly be changing.

We’re all from Baltimore (I grew up in Pikesville). Tell me what you think about the local music scene there. What veterans of that scene should be more famous? Which groups do you think will make it?

Yowsers that’s a question that could take up this whole page… i think the oranges band should have been way bigger….. As far as a scene goes Baltimore seems more like a good hub for touring than a place where a bunch of bands hang out and do super local stuff.

Are you guys Orioles fans, and if so – how do you deal with the yearly depression of being a baseball fan? (As a fellow fan, I’m looking for advice here more than anything else.)

I am not a native so orioles are not a big thing for me …. Billy [C. Gordon – guitar] and Steve [“The Sleeve” Colmus – drums] seem to self medicate their Orioles derived depression with liquor.

What’s the greatest concert you’ve ever been to?

Carmen…. Radically Saved Tour….there was a part where the devil was killed on stage.

What’s more important to you – a perfect studio sound, or a raucous live show?

Live show for sure music should be live …. recordings are just a bi-product of something real.

If you could jam with any musicians – living or dead – who would it be, and why?

[John] Bonham …. because he wins

If a girl asked you to make her a mix tape (let’s pretend they still exist) right now, what would the first song be? The last song?

Track one….Thirteen by Big Star….last track I’m Gonna Love You (like nobody’s loved you) performed by Chet Baker

Vinyl or mp3?


As real musicians, do you see any value to shows like American Idol and video games like Rock Band/Guitar Hero? Or do you think those are trash?

I don’t really think about them to much…bummed that kids practice fake guitar….glad that they are hearing some real rock…..

What’s your favorite new band of 2010?

Free energy

What are your feelings on Vampire Weekend?

They are great… I didn’t get it at first but the songwriting is really great.

J. Roddy Walston & The Business – Don’t Break The Needle

J. Roddy Walston & The Business – Pigs & Pearls

Note: Tracks available for download with the permission of the artist.

2 responses to “An interview with J. Roddy Walston

  1. That was awesome! May it be the first of many, a segula for a year filled with interviews!

    Also, lets see a post on the “oranges band”… hu?

  2. This is cool. You may now be big-time.