Allen Thompson Band‘s new album, Brace Yourself, is still kept under top-secret guard, but the stories leading to the title seem surreal. Thompson and band mate, Clint Maine, both broke their backs in separate accidents within a month of each other. The following year helped them expand their sound and get weirder, as they describe. Thompson called on a slew of music friends to contribute to the record, including the first single, a duet with Elizabeth Cook, “Long Time Thinkin’,” out now.
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Automated Transcript. Hilarity ensues.
Welcome to country friend rock I’m your host. Slan Spencer this week Paul Allen Thompson a country
fried rock alum from our very first season comes back via a little bit of a touchy cell
phone connection. It’s Alan Thompson of the Alan Thompson band. Their new album coming in the next
year. Brace yourself.
My guest today on Country fried rock is Country Rock and now my personal
buddy Alan Thompson. Welcome.
Hey it’s going to be here.
So I’m thinking you know not to be trite or silly or anything but in your case it’s good to be
here on a lot of different levels.
Yes. KEITH RICHARDS I say it’s great to be here. It’s great to be anywhere.
There’s definitely been a long hard few years for not just me and
everyone in the band.
We did a lot of really adult stuff this last couple years.
So about a year ago I went to the swimming Percy Priest Lake and there’s these
really talk with them that we’ve grown up the mountain river right on the river I’d always go
swimming with comfort and stuff.
And so I was doing what I normally do. And you did it
wrong and broke my back. I’m not really sure because of the 50
foot drop the 50 feet of water. So there wasn’t really like anything
hard there for the Impac other than just the impact. I think
probably it was one of the reflex thing where my
obliques and back muscles tensed up before I even hit the water and
crushed like 12 vertebrae.
Holy cow. Thankfully there were people there and they were able to get you out of the water.
Yeah. Because that was the one at the bottom of your rib cage. You know I thought I
had the wind knocked out of me because all the pain is on my diaphragm and so I ran back to the
It was cold so I was trying to climb up the ladder that I realized my arms and legs were together
and something had happened that was bad.
I stood up for about a month after that just try to recover hey this is
something you listen to country fried rock.
Look for new stuff from us. THOMPSON You got got. Our new single long time thinking will
be on all your favorite music playing apps on September 9th.
Holy cow. So a medical catastrophe like that is something
nobody ever wish for but as an independent musician I mean it’s almost
worse because then you’re out of work as well.
Yeah there was no day job bartending there was no playing. I mean I had to relearn how
to hold a guitar on my back. Couple of months after I got out. And you
know on top of that I didn’t have inherent. So I am just getting bill after bill after bill
after bill and getting more and more scared every day. It was it was tough. It was really
tough. Luckily as far as the medical bill part goes with the help
of needs that half lives and needs the care that I was able to get charity some still pay in on a little
bit of it but that’s down through 230000 Polichinelle.
Then it’s not just the physical recovery but the weight of that emotionally is enormous.
Well and that’s something that I really didn’t couldn’t take into consideration you know
until really probably about a couple of months ago and then I realized just
how much you know I guess for lack of a better diagnosis like
PTSD There was right in terms of and the accident self you
know just all of these things. The bills like there’s pretty much no way to feel more isolated
than to not be able to walk or play guitar or do anything. And I didn’t
realize until probably about a couple of months ago how severe it was. You know you’re trying so hard to
get back to your normal self physically that you know once people see you out and see you
walking around and you know you can go and have the years or whatever. That’s all fine.
So like when I’m not I’m a total mess. But yes I am moving. You did see that
My experience was that it wasn’t so everything was physically OK
that suddenly it all kind of crashed down on me once I mean physically
OK. Then you can give yourself the emotional face. Did you think about it and then just
Yeah I’m really lucky in that one of our band members quit
Maine a month after I got out of the hospital. He had an accident and
broke his back as well. And so you know we kind of were able to go through a lot of stuff together and
then you know there’s a few folks around town. And my roommates
Terryand Laur Joamets were there to help them Lauren sprout
and Elizabeth Cook and Rorey Carroll all definitely stepped up and drew up to
take care of me as well.
So it was tough as I was really lucky to have the support network that I had
bad stuff like that happens it’s the friends that show up and do it are a whole
Exactly. And you know these are all very sweet people who are also going to a lot of difficult
things or have gone through a lot of difficult things are at the same time. So you know we’re definitely all
there for each other and I’m so thankful for that.
In the mix of all of this where did the record fall when.
Well Clint finally had a lot of free time where
we were able to be on the road and so we and him and grace and just
sort of sat with each other as often as we could and
finished up all the stuff we’d been sort of playing around with. And then you know we realized we had
nine songs and then Robbie Crowell and Dean Jackson reached
out and said that they wanted to produce whatever we were working on. And so
we took some time about tapes and just went on and on because I
didn’t really know how long we could last every day or
anything like that. You know a lot of friends came to supplement and so it’s it’s
it’s a weird thing.
I look at you know records especially ones made in Nashville and you know when you see a bunch
and famous names on them you kind of go like OK you know your favors
and I guess we kind of did that but we didn’t ask everyone kind of
stuff started showing up you know in a very
southern way like when someone dies or stoned for you know great food or whatever we’ll just
you know grab their instruments and their town.
So that’s a really long time for all.
Yeah absolutely. I had had enough green bean casserole.
you and I had hung
out well before this happened and we’re just talking in general like
non-specific terms about what the next record might look like. And at the
time you were saying I think I want to do something to lose it.
How did that end up happening since it all came about quite differently. I think that you.
Well we had been already trying to do stuff that was a little bit weirder than
a little bit more rock n roll.
There were influences that we all share that we weren’t really sharing with our audience
specifically Big Star, REM, and the Grateful Dead
and we just felt like we weren’t doing ourselves or our audience any favors.
But tensions are more how much we love those bands and how much we wanted to do
something and those in the same vein. So we’re in this record and with this song cycle we just
we were like you know let’s show that off then we can.
And I think we did you know we had started doing some REM tunes we play fall
on me every once in a while and I love when you sing that. I love it. This may be
my favorite time to be a singer. I love singing that song and
I’ve heard you perform before and I was
like This is a religious experience.
Man thank you so much that means. That means a lot. I know I think about like being a kid and
watching that unplugged 91 in that moment a second chorus
where he’s just like so into it that his eyes roll back in his head and they’re just like oh my god
that could not be more in love with Michael Stipe like he’s a mate and so many levels.
Absolutely. He’s such a special day.
Now that you’re physically recovered and the record happened and friends
came from near and far and you helped make that happen. It’s been a little while since it’s been
wrapped and you’ve been out and about a lot.
Quentin I kind of both decided that what we were recovered it was important
for us to just be doing as much as possible and be visible as possible
after being hidden away for so long.
I picked up a side gig and the Grateful Dead cover band called the Stone.
It’s the best man. I love playing with those guys so I’m playing the songs and really digging
into studying Bob Weir and his style of guitar
playing in his writing style and all of that like I’d always been like everyone in the Gary guy and in
Nashville like I’m not a good enough guitar player to be the very guy that I started realizing that this
rhythm guitar parts are difficult. He is an amazing guitar player and the fact that he’s still so
innovative and so fresh and on top of it at 68 blows me
away. I can only hope to keep that up for myself.
The record is not out yet. It’s going to be a special thing coming down the road. There
is a single coming out with some pals. Tell me about that one.
So Mark Fridson who wrote a lot of the tunes on Urco wrote a lot of the
tunes on the new Margrove price record and was an amazing band called The Lonely H.
Defunct but at the time I mean where are all the players are either in Nikki wains
band or the wagons band or get some time with Sturge as well. Mark
Fridson and out’s caress have a record coming out with his great group little band that
plays piano for Adia Vitoria now.
Well lots of overlap here with people now.
Yeah. So the three of us wrote this song and basically the two of them wrote this
song and I just came back into the house and they were having a point and
I sort of helped them fix it then I was like Man I really want my band to record the
You know it’s it’s it’s it’s a tune about divorce and I had just gone through one when we wrote it
and there’s just a lot there that I felt like I wanted to say. And when it
came time to make the record Aaron Lee Tasjan was in the studio already to
help quit now if we got tired. He’s got this really great
Keith Richards the sensibility about him and the song kind of itself to that. And
so we just sort of let him take over on the guitars. And then Elizabeth
Cook and I were talking about the record and I was telling her about the
song and she had mentioned that you know on her record she had a tune
that she’d written with Todd Snider about her divorce and then on the new hard working record there was
a duet with Todd about his. So I was like What would you like to
sing with me on line. And she said yes and I couldn’t
believe it. And it’s amazing. I can’t believe how well our
voices blended together. I mean I guess I can say this is a good one. She’s one of my favorite singers
but it turned out perfect because she actually changed the last
line of the song. I think that that’s sort of what makes the song is
that vulnerability in her voice. And you know when she says people are really kind of
before I walked out of the room for a minute because I was so kind
of not believing the seriousness of the entire situation. And when I came back in and
Jeremy Ferguson the an account with this man and played it and
I was just like oh my god I’ve never loved Elizabeth Cook more. She’s
so great. But then again I can’t say enough good things about her.
You know Aaron Lee Tasjan’s new record over two years and this record I mean is is generally well
and so much going on.
Well we had a day back in February where Lawrence ratline who’s
was the tour manager and Aaron Lee and me and Elizabeth and
Dexter all sat together. Once we finally got our final
mixes and we listened to the new hard working Americans and the new Elizabeths
record and Aaron’s new record and ours.
And it was like when regular people were watching sports you know like we would just say
jump up and cheer and it was crazy because we all made these things
independent of each other but around the same time and all going through similar
experiences and it was just so wild to hear how
much the four of those records sounded like. I mean they
don’t in the sense that like you can tell who’s who for sure but there are so many little
similarities in all four albums that really gave me a lot of hope and a lot of
encouragement because obviously I mean I look up to the three of them so much. You know I care so much
about what they’re doing all the time because they’re so talented and so it was nice to know
that like we were all kind of on the same page and I remember asking what are
people going to do with this. And Elizabeth honey they’re going to do what
we tell them to.
But I think this sounds certainly for the record and
for Aaron’s record I think were unexpected some people who only knew them through
their previous albums.
Right. The same you know can definitely be said for time. And for myself even
with that first hard working record that was the covers and stuff. And this is still
weirder than that and I you know I don’t listen URWIN really was expecting it.
But I mean I think for my money that’s the best thing that Constantine has done.
I love the artwork and record. I love it and I guess and I don’t get any inside
information at all. But I guess that I thought that that project was solely
for them as a collection call active to be able to see whatever they want. So for
me the only reason that one wasn’t as unexpected was because I didn’t know what to expect
anyway which is totally understandable.
That’s probably kind of where most people’s heads were at what it seemed like just sort of a fun
side thing that they were all due to blow off steam. And then when they made
this very serious very beautiful album and then decided they were going to like
really get out there or behind it. I think that took everyone by surprise in a super
amazingly beautiful way.
When you get up here back here how do you navigate. What do you do.
I mean you. I know that there were times that ultimately we’re able to
provide some help and support you have these and find them being in Nashville as long as I
And I’ve done volunteer work with this group that you go and you
play for people that are in the trauma unit and stuff like that. And so through them I was kind of
the captain with music cares and the health alliance. But then also through
Shilah Morrow & Polly Parsons they do a lot of work for these affairs and so they you know got
me in touch with them as well. I already knew that I had a network of people it was just a
matter of when am I going to be able to get out of this hospital bed to start reaching out. I I never knew it
wasn’t going to be OK. I just I just it’s I’m a very patient person. It took me a
while for like to get to the point where it was actually OK. And I knew it.
The thing that made that period for me is not living
there and not being involved in the day to day life with my friends who are in Nashville. Was that
not everybody has knowledge of what do you do when things go really really
really wrong. How do you reach out to who can actually help.
And that was kind of the thing I try to be a fully independent person anyway and I
didn’t know who to reach out to. You know one of those things were I just kind of had to watch it
see and figure out and learn who my friends were who they were. And that was
just real lucky that I had a core group of buds that were just
right there and right off of it. Yeah.
We’ve had it over the years so it kind of ended up coming up with
a plan to have a fun night that gives back in a very direct
Talk a little bit about what we’ve got our sleeves
approached me about doing a benefit for Loo-Choo space
programs for the kids who don’t like sports to be able to learn more about music and
performance. And you know that kind of thing is always something that’s been very important to
And having lost two people have raised me to mental illness and
struggling with it. You know on a daily basis myself that’s obviously something that’s very important to me as
And so you know of course I wanted to reach.
I wanted to do that and do something good for them. And you know I got to think in
that Nashville sort of nicknames always been the absence of the south which is Kukes is already in Athens in
the south but whatever you know
and I thought about how much you know I loved R.E.M. and the
B-52s and how sweet and kind the folks from
widespread has then to me you know after the accident and stuff I was like Man
wouldn’t it be cool if we put together a band and just had a
bunch of guest singers sing their favorite albums and songs and just have it be like national
salute to Athens. And then I was lucky enough to run it by their Serrano who just
put the band of Nuci’s space campers together to be the backup dancers and the
actual Athens band back in us all of which since I can’t be happier about
that I’m so excited about this I can hardly stand it.
It’s going to be so fun. It’s just going to be the best. I’m so excited.
It’s going to be awesome like it said to camp and kaftans is what they call their kids rock camp. The
camp is going to be the actual band. There are players from that band
that they have there and there’s all kinds of you know the thing about
mental health care in the music community and anything that you know is
access to being able to play is obviously all of us who are in this kind of
thing really care about that and intimately know how much it matters.
And so it’s been one of those things that everyone I’ve mentioned that too has been like you have
Good. It makes me feel so great to see stuff like that.
And when I’m having my own bad days you know or meltdowns or whatever you know I can
think about the fact that there are that many people that do care and do get it and do want to help
and it makes it a lot easier for me to get it on for sure.
Totally and especially because I live in South Carolina and I’m not surrounded by the community of
people with whom I actually work. I get isolated in a different kind of way and
I don’t I’m like does this even matter. And then when we’re doing stuff like this I’m like
holy cow this matters because this is where all these great people and I have connected over the
years. And so it does matter you know and and on a greater level.
So I’m super psyched people are going to come in are tickets on sale can be
happening at the basement east on October 20th. Thursday night plane tickets are cheap hotels are
cheap. Come and join us. Yeah it’s going to be awesome. I hope
we sell out. I hope it’s amazing. If it’s just me and the audience it’s going to be the best night of
I’m so excited for this. I’m so excited to sing the tunes I’m
singing. And to hear everyone else’s take on everything and it’s so I’m.
I’m so excited. Can to be super fun. Got lots of special guests and we can’t wait for you all to be there.
Obviously anybody who knows me when they say that they think R.E.M. because of course that my core
there’s so much in the music history of that area I think Chuck levels band
sea level from the 70s. OK.
You know Jimmy Nalls produced my first record that sort of section
making the math in the family has always been super important to me and I mean and that’s kind of how I
met and started to fall in with the widespread guys because of book who who’s really
good friends with Jimmy and Dave Pinkston And that whole Caprock Coker.
I can’t wait I can’t wait for anybody listening to Come and join us. It’s going to be such a cool night.
Oh yeah I know that and I’m so excited for it. And I’m so excited to be able to pay tribute to
all of those bands that have been so instrumental and from
what I have what do you have going on for the next couple of months.
Well we are playing at the Americana showcase Wednesday
night at Acme. After the awards show which we see from the
Ryman everyone should walk straight there as soon as they’re done and. Watching Bob
receive his lifetime achievement award. And so I’m excited for that. And we’re recommend
he is playing before us and she’s just an angel and one of our favorite singers and so
she’s actually going to sing with us that night and do the duet that I do
on the record.
Yeah. So cool. I’m so psyched for that. It’s going to be real fun.
We’ve got some surprises. It’s going to be good. And then after that just touring a lot
a lot of dates coming up over in November. Clint’s having a baby in November
so that’s awesome.
Yeah. So we’re going to be on the road a lot or not be
on the road quite a lot during that month. But you know I’m sure after the first of the year we’ll plan
on getting hit pretty hard again.
I’ve gotten a little sneak peek of your album cover. Tell me about that. I can take it.
Oh man this guy just will mark Levy from Asheville who does
amazing album art and posters. He did the packaging for the Black
Crowes record war paint and that was this is how he got my attention
because I don’t know if you’ve noticed but I’m pretty pretty big.
Chris Robinson fan. Yes. I dig that
And so I reached out to and when I knew we wanted to do something a little bit weirder and a little
bit less traditional and a lot less Nashville. You know I told him our story
and he thought it was amazing and came so soft in Asheville. And by the time our set was done he had
already drawn a sketch of what was going to be the cover. And we all went out to dinner
afterwards and the band minus Clint because he was in the hospital
and rich Meaan was subbing for him and Lauren Spratlin came out to tour manage and we all
sat down and just said this to us and Rick Warren and I just like started crying
and we were just like yeah this is going to happen. This is so sad.
Yeah yeah. You’re happier with it it just looks so weird and so cool
and it’s so much different in everything we’ve done before and it doesn’t have my
face on the cover which nothing I it rested just like
staring at me while I’m at the.
You know it’s weird. Yeah.
That’s cool. You know I love hanging out with Mark that makes me super happy with the album
art is a fucking piece especially like this one is Rob Crowl producer record
his likes to have fun with Photoshop and so on.
I’ve posted the cover for the single online for a few weeks ago and
we had some comment like this really cool man I was like I think it needs to be more psychedelic.
And so Rob took a picture of it and put Aaron Lee’s face on that that
Bhuta that when the physio said I think I’ve figured out how to make it more
psychedelic than Mission Accomplished
and I almost wanted to like put that up
as the single cover and put it up on Spotify and
What was Harry testin space doing on that boot.
Plenty of people out there who would get to exist.
Exactly yeah me and Rob inerrantly and Todd and Elizabeth would all think it’s so
amazingly funny and everyone else is going on here. Terry and I had a birthday a couple of
years back and we were shooting B.B. guns in the backyard and he came and that was the first
time I got to spend time with him but like you know for the last two years like ever since that
day been one of my very best friends and he’s just like all so inspirational like
you know whenever I’m kind of worried about whether I’m doing the right thing or if I’m you know if I’m being weird
enough for whatever like I can just look at him I know you’re not being weird foul and get weirder.
You can do whatever you want. That is the best kind of inspiration
in this sort of life that there can be. Yeah.
I’m so thankful for the testing and he’s an angel.
Allen Thompson looking forward to the band’s new record. Brace yourself. In the single that
comes out on September 9th. Thanks.
Cool. Thank you.
Allen Thompson bands new single longtime thinking will be available on
iTunes Spotify and whatever else is out there this is starting September night.
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