A Sit Down with The Settlement (It's as Raw as This Salad, Over Here)
The Settlement are going on tour and making new music, and they want to tailgate with you.
Huntington, WV's The Settlement sat down with our teammate Michelle, and talked about their music, their projects, marching band, how much they love their fans, and so much more. Read on:
"We were sitting in the upstairs of The Adelphia Music Hall in Marietta before their show on Saturday, and Colten told me The Adelphia was the best venue in our area, to play.
HTN: So, what do you love about (The Adelphia)?
Colten Settle: High ceilings, a real stage, lights, great food, full monitoring. The Adelphia has great light and sound. And even though we’ve had different people working with us (as sound techs), it’s always been good.
*When asked how they got this particular gig at The Adelphia*
CS: We actually went directly through Charles (the headliner for the show that night). I was looking at the dates for the Adelphia, looking for a show to share…and I’d seen them (Charles Walker Band) a couple of times, and knew they weren’t from here-we’re trying to play with bands where we can show-swap (play a show for each other in a town where you’re lesser known, to help build your fan base). And we played Funktafest with them. They’re part of our Funktafest community.
And we’re from here (Colten is originally from Williamstown)…
HTN: So the Charles Walker Band, you’ve seen them play before…
CS: Yeah we saw them play Funktafest, they’re a great funk band. Kinda soul, R&B…they’re from Milwaukee.
HTN: That would be fun to play out there.
Al(ex Cardwell) : That’s the idea.
CS: That’s the whole idea. We’ve done show swaps with bands from Bowling Green, Greensville (NC), and we’re trying to keep that goin’. And the thing is, we have a lot of connections with the venues in Huntington and downtown Charleston. And a lot of the bands we’re playing with, they’ve never done shows in the area. So we’re able to help give them a first-time show in the area, and get in front of a decent crowd. And then they return the favor.
HTN: You help each other out.
CS: Exactly. Another thing we like to do with other bands is collaborate with them. Charles (Walker) is gonna sit in and play a song with us, and I think some of us are gonna sit in and play with them.
HTN: That’s awesome. You were also telling me when we were downstairs, before we started recording, that you’re working on building up a tailgating scene.
Al: I’ll answer that. Yes, we’re trying to build up a community of tailgaters. We want to bring a party.
CS: Yeah, we want to have a good time. So this is an example: We played at Smoke on the Water Chili Cook-off (in Charleston), at 12:15 pm. But we had to be down there at 9 (am). And we had our evening set at the Boulevard Tavern at like, 12:30 am. So we tailgated at our own event. And this is the third time we’ve played The Adelphia, and it’s the second time we’ve had our own little tailgate. Bring a little food…
HTN: Is this something that is common fan knowledge?
CS: I would love for it to be common fan knowledge, because then maybe they’ll come earlier to the show, hang out with us, and we can get to know them. That’s one thing we’ve really been trying to do this year. Every time we get done (with a show) I say “We’re gonna be tearing stuff down for the next few minutes, come talk to us”.
Al: What it also does is, it builds capitol for the places we go to...everyone’s here longer.
HTN: One thing I noticed with your band, is that “niceness” and including other people-artists, fans…has been important. Care to expound with any stories of what inspired you to be this way, and just what inspired you to be musicians?
Al: If we’re talking about one institution that drove us forward our mission, and what we were gonna do as musicians, it was marching band.
HTN: All of you?
Al: Yeah, all of us.
CS: Everyone in the band was in marching band.
Al: From a young age, it instilled a sense of honor, discipline, careful practice and teamwork. That (marching band) in and of itself had the roots to being a proper band.
Isaac (Evans, General Manager for the band): I found the part she was talking about: “The main goal of The Settlement is to bring people together and to spread the love through the universal language of music.”
CS: Yeah, I think that’s part of it (marching band). And most of our music is about basically the same, overall concepts. Most of our music is about love, and about expression and about being yourself, and being confident in who you are. It’s also about realizing you do affect other people. It’s about taking a risk and going for it.
HTN: Which plays a lot into the way you perform. I mean…
Al: Truth telling is what it comes down to. I feel like a lot of songwriting that’s been done recently has been truth telling. Being honest with your emotions, your feelings and how you write…it's revealing in a piece of music, and it builds a connection in a new way.
HTN: So you’re tapping into your own authentic story?
CS: Right. I think I used to write more from a perspective that was trying to be more universal. These are things that multiple people agree on, but aren’t necessarily about a specific instance or a specific person. And that’s something about the overall sound that has changed. The lyrics that I write are more personal, and more about a specific idea I have in mind. They’re less about something the average person already knows.
A lot of our older music is kinda touching on the exact same concepts: Play, be yourself…they all have the same underlying concept. You have stuff going on, but if you stay true to yourself, you’ll be alright.
CS: And not that we’ve strayed away from that message, but I don’t know if I have to write another song like that. The thing about this band is that we play a lot of different genres of music, and we play different intensities of music.
Al: Really a lot of us are jazz-ers. We bonded over the jazz department (as Marshall). Gordy was…
CS: I’d just call him the original bass player. Even though he’s our oldest bass player, he’s our favorite sub. Our bass player is playing a gig in Bristol (TN) with ScroungeHound. It’s raw. It’s like if Black Sabbath and Phish has a baby.
Mason (Bartlett): It’s as raw as this salad, over here.
HTN: That might be the title of this interview. (We talked about starting over at this point, with a band new direction, being as raw as the salad)
HTN: So there’s six of you?
CS: There’s usually five, unless someone wants to sit in.
Al: We welcome any and all musicians-whoever wants to tap in-to jam. That’s where we try to shine. Anytime someone comes into town, we want to be hospitable, and we want to get a chance to play music with them. So, we’ll say “Oh, you cover this (Grateful) Dead tune. We cover this, too! Let’s play together. “
HTN: So it takes paying attention a little bit.
Al: It takes communication. And really just being kind. The band(s) you’re playing with is in the same boat as you are.
HTN: And you’re described as a “Jam Band”. You do write songs, but then there’s a certain jam element to them-especially in live performances. I’d say it’s very important to understand how to communicate on a pretty high level. Especially in your bringing quasi-strangers into the mix, and live.
CS: Yes, people who have never heard us before, and they're hearing something that’s only happened once, and may never happen again. It’s a little scary.
HTN: I would think that’s really exciting, too!
CS: It is. You don’t know what’s gonna happen. A song that might be 3 minutes, might turn into ten minutes. Or a song that might go longer, we might derail it.
Al: It comes down to who we’re inspired by, and musicians who we look up to. Ella Fitzgerald, for instance, was famous for never having one performance exactly the same (as another). It could have a personal connection with each audience she was playing for. That’s a big factor (for us).
CS: Like the set we picked tonight. Aside from one song… 5 our of the 6 songs we’re gonna play tonight are old songs that we played and wrote with Gordy. So that’s why we’re playing them, tonight. Not that we wouldn’t have done maybe 1 or 2 of those songs, but probably not all 5.
So we’re looking at set lists…we’ve played the V-Club 4 times this year. Every show has been slightly different.
HTN: And that’s rewarding for your fans.
CS: They’re spending their hard-earned money to come see us. If they’ve come out more than once, they deserve a new set, new material, a new jam.
Al: A new experience.
HTN: So say someone was coming to your show tonight, and they’ve never seen you perform, they know nothing about your music. What would you hope they would tell their friends about you at the end of your show?
CS: We had a great time. We danced the whole time. And those guys were so nice. We talked to them afterwards, and they were really cool to us.
Al: We made them smile. We brightened up their life.
Isaac: Some of the best feedback I got was “Okay, you’re a jam band, but your songs aren’t 20 minutes long.” Which is ironic…
CS: You actually have songs!
Isaac: Cause our opening song has been about 20 minutes twice on this spring tour. But it makes the music more palatable, for people who’ve never really gotten into jam bands.
**At this point, Charles Walker came up to us and started talking about how they connected.
CS: You played Funktafest with us. We look forward to playing with you again, tonight.
I saw you when you played the V-Club. I like your command in general. I was hanging on your every word. That inspires me.
CW: Thank you, that’s cool. I appreciate it.
**The conversation then went to soundcheck discussions and then on to a jam planning session, right before my eyes and ears.
CS: And you’re more than welcome to come jam on a tune with us.
CW: Just call me up…
CS: Our first song is really long. But the second in the set..
CW: Okay, cool. You said it’s E and A, right?
CS: Yeah, it’s E7 and A7 dominant, and just rock out. The sky’s the limit.
CW: Okay, I didn’t know if I should play for like, 12 measures, or…
CS: Aww, no. Actually this is great, because we’re doing an interview right now, and this is the whole exchange, happening. It’s great!
And if you wanna have any of us sit in, we’d love to jam with you guys, too. We’ll play all night long.
**There was a side conversation about which My Morning Jacket was the best album. Al felt it was clearly “Z”, while Colten felt strongly about it being “The Waterfall” (100%).
HTN: So outside of marching band and The Settlement, what are your musical backgrounds?
CS: I grew up playing Bluegrass music. So that was my big thing, until I discovered the electric guitar. And then I was really into punk music and rock music…
HTN: And you still have another project…
CS: Yeah, I’m in another band called Friendly Fire. We’re a little more like, Pop Rock/Alternative Rock. And we put out our first single with Bud Carroll. And that was awesome. And now we’re gonna release another single. And actually The Settlement will be recording two singles with Bud in July.
And this is exclusive...
HTN: Will these songs be part of an album?
CS: These will be standalone singles. For the rest of the year, we’re gonna try to do singles with different producers. We’ll go to different studios, do live streams at different studios… we’re working on something that’s very big-much larger than ourselves.
We really should talk about the summer tour…
So, we’re going to be doing the first show of our summer tour at 123 Pleasant Street in Morgantown (this coming Saturday). We’re going to be playing with The Waitmen, and the opening band for that night is gonna be Weary Space Wanderer, and then the Waitmen, for their album release are actually gonna play with middle slot, and we’re actually gonna play, for our first time at 123, we’re going to be playing last. We’re gonna play the closing slot. It’s pretty exciting. I think we’re gonna get in front of some new people.
And then we’ll be playing in Greensboro, NC. Apparently they have a great music scene, because both of the bands that (we’ve seen) that came from there to Huntington were freaking amazing. One was called Twisted River Junction and the other was called The Right Avenue. And we show swapped with them, and they hooked us up with a show in Greensboro. So we’re gonna be doing that at Wahoo’s Tavern on July 19th.
Then we’ll be recording with Bud at the end of July.
And the big show that I’m really excited about is we’re doing Live on the Levee (in Charleston) on August 10th. This was maybe our 3rd or 4th year applying for it…We got on this year, and we’re actually opening for Beggar’s Clan. Those guys are our good friends, and a really great band. And we’ll actually be playing with them again the next night, at Melody’s (in Beckley). So we have a lot of really fun shows this summer, and we’re already planning for fall and next year.
HTN: The Tailgate Tour… CS: The Tailgate Tour: 2019. Let’s say it picks up, and one of our singles takes off. People could say “Well, if we come to the show early, we can go hang out in the parking lot with the band.” I know I would go do that. If I was going to see a band that I liked, and I knew they were going to hang out before the show, out in the parking lot with everyone else, I would want to go.
HTN: Anything else we need to know?
CS: You can find us on Facebook at /theSettlementBand, and we’re on Twitter @settlementwv and Instagram @settlementwv
And we’re also on alllll the major music platforms: Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon…
Our self-titled album that we put out 2 years ago (in late 2016), all original music that can be found on there, as well.