[Interview] Have You Met Sinners & Saints?
Cover photo: Daniel Coston
A sunny and beautiful day in Charlotte as I walked down the sidewalk to meet the guys, Perry Fowler and Mark Baran, better known as Sinners & Saints, who were wrapping up soundcheck at The Neighborhood in Noda (Named after the road North Davidson to which it is located on in Charlotte). It is known for being the Arts & Entertainment District and encouraging diversity in people, art, live music, and supporting small business. Fitting this would be the grounds for the tonight's events: hosting a band native to Charlotte, playing live original music, in a venue owned by a small business owner, with a collection of diverse fans in attendance. I digress.
Making our way quickly across the street to Smelly Cat Coffeehouse we grabbed a table outside and started chatting. Side Note: This is the point where I usually start internally falling apart. My voice does that professional weird shaky thing where you're like "Who is this talking??" and you're coaching yourself on how NOT to be weird....but as I settled in, it didn't happen. I felt comfortable in their presence, maybe it was their welcoming smiles, the fact that they could easily be the most genuine and nicest guys on the planet, or relaxed demeanor, whatever it was, I was about it.
Returning to the city and seeing the loss of venues such as The Chop Shop, The Double Door Inn, Amos Southend, what are your thoughts on losing venues to progressive movements in the city?
Perry: Not trying to take anything away from the venues, but nothing progresses without a little bit of loss. Jay, the owner of The Chop Shop, knew full well what he was getting into with that venue and that the time would come to close and he did a great job until that time. The Double Door has been around what, 44 years, they've had a great run! You can't really combat progression, so you take the memories away from these places and you let them go and look forward to what's next.
Tonight's show is a dual album release party with your album On The Other Side and your opener Bombadil and their album Fences. Anything special planned and is there a difference in having an opening here versus other cities?
Perry: We feel like this entire tour has been an album release party, but Charlotte being our home city, this is our base ya know? The fans here are our friends and family so it's a special one for us, getting to share it with them.
Mark: It feels like a vacation being back, but so much has changed. We got in at 3 a.m. and we were like it's weird being home, looking around so many things have changed like roads have literally changed in the month we've been gone, it's crazy.
With that mention, being on tour and away, do you guys have your family out for stints of the tour and join you for shows. How do you guys work that out?
Mark: My wife came out and made it to a show but for the most part no.
Perry: Yeah, we don't bring them on tour, it wouldn't be fun. Tour is only fun if you're the one touring. Otherwise, you're just along for the ride. There's no time for sightseeing or vacation, you drive all day and get to a spot then you have to load in and soundcheck and then you're kinda stuck there for the rest of the night until showtime. Then you play and go to bed to get up in the morning and drive to get somewhere else and do it all over again.
This repetition has perfected itself in the setup of the show. That night, watching them swiftly move from Bombadil to Sinners & Saints, by hand mind you, no stage crew there for assistance, the guys from Bombadil loaded equipment quickly and in behind Perry and Mark jumped on stage laying out their rug, set up the mics and keyboards, plugged in the electric guitar. Their guest artists for the evening, Geoff White on the fiddle/banjo and Wesley Hamilton on the pedal steel guitar were ready in mere minutes.
The intimate crowd full of familiar faces, some receiving smiles and hugs. The guys moved about the venue prior to the show, waited patiently refilling drinks at the bar.
"Thank you guys so much for coming out tonight for us, we're Sinners & Saints!"
Their opening moved straight into "Up Like the Sun Down Like the Rain" from 2017 On The Other Side. Perry laughed after the first song wrapped to tell us, "We're going to move through the album just like it is if you go buy it and listen to it. Which you can do, in the back."
How did you guys feel as artists about the artists that canceled in Charlotte due to HB2? Would you have taken similar stands for certain political points or do you feel there was a better way to go about it?
Perry: It was really tough, there were some really big cancellations. I mean obviously everybody has the right to protest and being on their side of the isle I agree with why they were protesting but at the same time, there were artists who chose to play the show anyways and make some kind of financial contributions to one of the groups affected by the bill. I feel like that was a more healthy way to handle it because like you said why punish people who didn't have anything to do with that bill being enacted? At the end of the day, it's everybody's right to chose who they wanna be and how they wanna be and I'm not gonna be mad at an artist for taking a stand because it's their voice it's their art and you can't crush that. It's hard to be mad at anybody except the system that made it happen.
Any music scenes during touring you've been super impressed by?
Mark: Pretty much the entire midwest in general, was very supportive.
Perry: Milwaukee and Tupelo, to name a few. It's hard because in a lot of cases we were the single act on the bill so we were playing in these bars to the patrons and it's hard to gauge if they are there because they are supporting this place and because they know there's always a good band playing, or if they came out just to see you. Raleigh is another one who was surprisingly very good to us, and they've never been good to us so that was great. Check out their local band local beer showcase, that's what we just played and it was really cool.
"Old Bones" an upbeat tune had hips moving throughout the crowd. Partnered couples made moves to the front for swing dancing and twirls on twirls. The lyrics "It ain't right what you're doing, it ain't right what you did, it ain't right how you're treating me, and I don't ever get any sleep at night," received head nods and cheers from agreeable attenders.
The dancing and smiling continued the length of the show. The grateful duo thanked everyone for coming, staying, dancing along. Completely unaware of the down home, foot stomping, swing your partner time they naturally delivered to us in their two-hour set. This made all in attendance that much more grateful for the opportunity to be among local superstars.
I was reading the Glide Magazine piece and because it was so thorough I didn't want to ask the same questions.
Perry: Yeah it was a good one. Thanks for reading it, that's nice that you did that.
Yeah, that's the worst to sit in an interview and it is the exact same thing you just answered 15 minutes ago. It seems counterproductive.
Perry: I'm just glad you didn't ask us what our inspiration was. *laughs*
I don't think it's necessary to assume something inspired you to be creative. I think that as a creative you just wake up in the morning and that's just who you are and what you do.
Perry: Yeah it's just being alive and it's what you put in the world.
Now everyone, go do yourself a favor and buy the On The Other Side album. I did and haven't stopped listening to it since.