#MTST Donald and I started this project at the tail end of 2012. Us collaborating together was originally for the sole purpose of raising fund for this Summer’s “Green Sundresses” tour. But of course, I possess a tendency to romanticized and idealize. I insisted the new-found duo become a lasting force of it’s own. Fortunately, Donnie agreed and here we are.
If you don’t know, I’m a singer-songwriter and Donnie is a very talented spoken-word poet. We’re both huge participants of live performances, and have individually been involved with our respective local art scenes. There is also shared ambitions of travel and expansion. I like to have at least one venue booked every weekend, I’ve been in the habit for 4 or 5 years. Needless to say, through all the coffeehouse renegades and art crawl meet ups, I’ve had the opportunity to get to know many acts, young and old alike. Donnie stood alone in my mind, not only for his clever diction and emotional drive, but his clear ambition. Like me, I could see it in his eyes, I could tell from his mannerisms, this was no hobby. That poem wasn’t just some artful assortment of words, the little 10 minute dialogue directed at an inattentive teenage audience, that wasn’t just a performance, not for Donnie, it was his life. Those moments were what he derived his meaning from. It seemed obvious. But, I think it was obvious to me simply because it was familiar.
Donnie and I share a rare determination, it’s sort of like a curse. We experience an inescapable need to throw yourselves inside the material. The more the wheels turn, the more reflection of self is given away through our expression. Personal life, muse and career become indistinguishable. Eventually expression itself is transcend, reflection becomes unnessicary when the reflecting self is already exposed in it’s entirety. At that point, where we are, it’s all essentially a surrender. This strange common ground is the reason I asked Donnie to come on tour with me last Summer.
We met up over coffee a few times to discuss dates and location. After some considerable downsizing and revisions we haphazardly booked a four day exertion to the coast of North Carolina, back through the piedmont to the Appalachian mountains and back again. Quite simply, Wilmington, Raleigh, Asheville and Davidson. Though it was a short run we had a great time bumming around the cities, talking about music, meeting people and being kids. Though it was short lived it hit me with a substantial amount of motivation and inspiration. On the last leg especially, Don and I opened up to each other about the aspirations of “really doing this”, touring as a profession.
The next tour has been in the works since the day we got back from the last one. We met over coffee in December and started cooking up ideas like we always do. The idea to collaborate quickly spawned our first release “Green Sundresses”. Out of the 5 songs on the EP, 3 were written the first night of tracking. The other two happened the next week. A few people were curious as to what it was like, or how difficult it was to combine our style’s together to make the songs and the record. The truth is it was considerably easy. It honestly didn’t even feel like we were forcing anything by writing together, it felt incredibly natural.
Although we employ different mediums to illustrate our expressions, the two of us have a very similar method and purpose to our writing. While our sounds might differ and voices might contrast, there’s a definite aura of transparency and confession in both our compositions, our inner thoughts, memories, doubts and ambitions make themselves known through our work. Listeners might find fancy adjectives, alliteration and other little knickknacks thrown in to make the flow sound pretty, but it doesn’t take much digging to reach the core substance to my songs and Donnie’s poems, their thesis often overt and shameless.
That’s why I dig working on this project with Donnie and am pumped to see where it lands. Because this time, there’s not those usual questions that accompany the genesis of a band, like “who are we going to be?” or “what are we going to sound like?”. Don and I have already gone through the growing pains of being young artists individually. We’ve done our share of experimenting, had our identity crisis and have found our sound through the late night writers blocks and mis-matched, awkward live shows. We’ve reached a point of self-realization as artists, not only grasping our own persona, but each other’s as well. Bringing those identities together as a unit, “Welch & Penn”, there’s this unique ability to focus on moving forward with who we already know we are, rather than building up something new from the bottom floor. I think our material, our live performances and everything you’ll see from this duo will reflect that.