Dig Baton Rouge

Getting On the Road

By Pat Gunther

Boston native Saul Conrad is a storyteller, like any other, who is shaped by his experiences and his vast array of emotions throughout his time. “Rather than looking to other songwriters, I’m looking to poets and writers, people who write verse without any music,” he said. “Guys like William Blake create new words, new characters and new topographies that are rhythmic and melodic like a piece of music.”

Though Conrad falls in line with many of these powerful wordsmiths, he does not fit into the typical trope of a modern day folk singer and songwriter due to his unusual methods and penchant for incredible abstraction.

“Before I started making records, I was trying to write short stories and poetry and I don’t think what I meant was coming across to people,” Conrad explained. “With music I could sort of be free with a literal story that works and I could explain them with how I sing and what’s happening in them.”

By creating his music story-first, Conrad embodies characteristics often associated with poets and writers who focus primarily on crafting a universe that draws their audience in from the get go. Conrad, who adapts his tunes to the epics he creates, is a very atypical figure in an industry that has grown increasingly astray from ephemeral sagas and tales in favor of catchy instrumentation.

“I’ll write pieces of music and they’ll trigger memories and remind me of my sketches,” he detailed. “Then, I record the version without lyrics, and just start trying to sing and see what works as I put it together while I’m making the melody and thinking about the vocals.” 

As many concertgoers in today’s landscape of what could be deemed as indie rock are lured in with catchy hooks and pop lyrics, Conrad strives to elicit a deeper emotion, and reflection, from each crowd he plays in front of.

“I can do a bad job at making people party and dance or do a good job at making people discover some shit about their lives,” Conrad said. “I try to get them to sort of lay back and listen and as I go through the set, and I’ll go to slightly more upbeat or more emotional things, if they seems like they’re into it.”

“I can do a bad job at making people party and dance or do a good job at making people discover some shit about their lives.” 

Above all though, Conrad’s music is fodder for the thinking individual’s soul, interlaced with rhythmic and soothing instrumentation along the way.  “I’ll try to take them on a really strange, wild trip and people just let their minds go crazy. It seems to work if I build it up like that.”

Conrad, who played Baton Rouge in the spring of 2013, is a man of specific intentions and desires, all of which stem from his introverted nature as a child and the themes he deals with in each track.

“If you can find people who sort of have gone through intense things in their lives, and instead of shutting down and hardening and forgetting who they used to be, have plunged in and have tried to understand what happened and how they’ve responded,” Conrad said before pausing, “You can start to recover and wake yourself and get on the road.”

SAUL CONRAD

At Chelsea’s

Friday, June 13th

Doors @ 8PM

Pat’s Picks: Three tracks to check out before Saul Conrad’s Friday show:

1) “Where You Been” from A Tyrant And A Lamb– Conrad repeats the phrase “where you been girl”, falling in line with his constant search and longing for something that’s just not quite there, over a twangy and relaxing acoustic lick.

2) “Sycamore”- Saul evokes reminders of Jerry Garcia with his light guitar work and haunting melody that compliments his vivid and short tale.

3) “Galga” from A Tyrant And A Lamb– Conrad’s personal favorite track to play, Galga employs methods of classic country acts with his steady finger-picking and a voice that is reminiscent of the great Neil Young.

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