Amid the adversity of life, Americana Rock singer-songwriter Stephen Kellogg found himself at a crossroads. His band, The Sixers, went on hiatus after nine years of playing together at the end of November 2012. And for the first time since 2002, Kellogg was in a place where he could release a solo album.
“Blunderstone Rookery,” which is scheduled for a June 18 release, comes after the loss of Kellogg’s mother-in-law, grandmother, and the roof of his house. The album features a collection of honest songs written with the hope of leaving behind a positive legacy for his family — a feat that Kellogg encourages all people to strive for in their own lives.
Rachel: “Blunderstone Rookery” is being released at a unique time in your life and you’ve drawn inspiration for these songs from personal stories. What would you say are the biggest challenges you’ve faced while writing and releasing this album?
Stephen Kellogg: The amazing thing about life is that it’s always a unique time in one’s life, because it’s the only time you’ll ever be where you are. We can look back with hindsight and kind of understand or make sense of what was going in a given moment, but often it’s tough to fully appreciate where we’re at while it’s happening. While writing and releasing this album I was very aware that I was in a challenging place because I had lost my mother-in-law, my grandmother, the roof of my house, and my band in the course of about five weeks. Not surprisingly I got kinda sick, and found myself knowing that was going to be something I was going to have to “go” through and “grow” through.
R: How does it feel to put out a solo project with your band, The Sixers, on hiatus and what are the biggest differences you’ve encountered when it comes to executing a solo project versus a full band project?
SK: Well…it feels good because I love writing songs and sharing them. The hiatus was a decision motivated by some of the guys in the band needing to do other things, but it wasn’t my call. I love everyone in the SK6ERS and I wouldn’t want to push them into playing through their instinct to pause, even if I could (which I couldn’t). Because of that, breathing an album like “Blunderstone Rookery” to life feels like a major victory.
The vehicle through which I’ve shared my music for almost a decade was broken and my ability to get these song out was momentarily threatened, so it feels like a real triumph over adversity, to push through and continue making music.
As far as the differences, I think the key there is that it’s no longer a democracy and while that can feel lonely, I like it 90% of the time.
R: “Blunderstone Rookery” is your first solo release since 2002. How would you describe your growth as a songwriter between then and now?
SK: I’m still the same at my core, but I just have so much more experience and that really helps with songs. When you’ve felt what it’s like to sing a song that’s go not chorus in front of an audience, you’re highly motivated to start writing a stronger chorus.
R: What are you most excited about with the impending June 18 release coming so soon?
SK: I can’t wait for people to finally hear it of course. I’m excited for it to find its way into the hands of the people that want and/or need to hear it. It’s always so important I think to manage one’s own expectations. As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Comparison is the thief of joy,” and so often we make a great deal about the first few weeks of a record and how well it sells, etc. The way I look at it is, this is one piece in a body of work that will span my life, and I’m excited to see it start doing its thing, but I don’t get really excited about numbers on way or another these days.
R: Your hope for this album is to leave a positive legacy for your family. Do you feel you’ve accomplished that with the songs you’ve written for “Blunderstone Rookery?”
SK: Leaving a positive legacy for my family is my hope for life. Imagine if that were everyone’s? It would be a pretty awesome world! Although I’m sure lots of us would have very different versions of what a positive legacy was exactly…but to your question, I do think so yes.
“Ingrid’s Song” was the eulogy given by me at my mother-in-law’s funeral, “Men and Women” is for everyone…yeah, I do. I try not to say things I don’t mean and there is a lot on “Blunderstone Rookery” that I mean from the bottom of my heart.
Stephen Kellogg will be playing a sold out show at Jammin’ Java in Vienna, VA on Monday June 10 in support of his new solo album “Blunderstone Rookery” which will be released on June 18.