After a decade of success with Leftover Salmon, revered guitar, fiddle, and mandolin player
Drew Emmitt tried his hand at a solo project in 2002 and toured as the Emmitt-Nershi band with Billy Nershi of The String Cheese Incident, playing events like the High Sierra Festival and the 7th Jam Cruise. Currently, Drew is back on the road with Leftover Salmon, and they will be coming through the area after Halloween. Leftover Salmon will be playing The Ark in Ann Arbor on November 12th.
Author Marisa Williams: What is your home town, and is that where you live now?
Drew Emmitt of Leftover Salmon: I live in Crested Butte, CO, and I been here quite a while, but I grew up in Boulder. That’s where the band is based right now. It’s amazing here right now.
Marisa: How did you get started in music? Did you come from a musical family? What were your biggest musical influences?
Leftover Salmon: I’ve pretty much been playing my whole life. I do come from a musical family of writers, musicians and singers, so I was playing as a kid, but I got serious as a teenager. My musical influences are so diverse, I don’t know if can name them all. I love all kinds of good music, and I prefer good music to the alternative.
Marisa: What instruments do you play, and how old were you when you learned to play them?
Leftover Salmon: My main instruments are the lead guitar, fiddle and mandolin, both electric and acoustic. That’s what I focus on now. I’ve played others in the past, like flute, sax, banjo and bass, but I’ve narrowed it down to these. I started playing guitar at 10, and I went from there. In my teens, I experimented with instruments. I started playing the mandolin at 18, and the fiddle at 28.
Marisa: How do you go about writing music? What comes first for you: drums, guitars, vocals or something else? Has the process of writing changed for you over the years at all?
Leftover Salmon: There’s no one way to write music. It happens in different ways. Sometimes you get a melody in your head. Sometimes, it’s the words, and sometimes it’s both. It comes from life experiences. It’s the things you’re going through and things that inspire you. For me, there’s no one way to write a song, as there’s many different ways.
Marisa: What was the first concert you attended, and what was the first concert you played?
Leftover Salmon: The first concert I attended, the first big concert, was in Boulder at Folsom Field. It was the Doobie Brothers, War and Golden Earring. The first one I played, as far as a concert, that’s a tough one. I mean, I started playing in bars at 14, and on open stages, but I started probably playing real places when I was in my early 20s. There were so many different things that were happening, I don’t know really; that’s been a while ago.
Marisa: What’s your favorite musical technique?
Leftover Salmon: Underwater banjo playing.
Marisa: How did Leftover Salmon get hooked up with Breckenridge Brewery, and how can people outside of Colorado pick up a sampler?
Leftover Salmon: That was something our manager put together as a new way of releasing music, instead of just putting out a CD. We do plan on doing a full CD after all the download stuff, and as far as being able to get the sampler, you can go to our website, www.leftoversalmon.com.
Marisa: What’s the coolest thing about your latest project?
Leftover Salmon: The coolest thing is having new songs to play. I think, more than anything these days, making a record is more about just having the music.
Marisa: What is the scariest thing about being on the road?
Leftover Salmon: Oh, it’s not scary, it’s fun. Fear is your enemy.
Marisa: Best or worst tour moment?
Leftover Salmon: I don’t know, goodness. Probably the worst might have been after playing 42 shows in 49 days, being completely burned out on one tour. That might have also included the best moment; there were some great moments in there, too. Worst was being really burnt and done with touring at that point. Best moment, wow, there’s a lot of those. Probably the best is when I was on tour and got to play with Neil Young.
Marisa: What’s your favorite way to travel and why?
Leftover Salmon: Sometimes it’s a jet, because you get there really fast. Sometimes it’s a tour bus, because you get to settle in, relax and enjoy the ride.
Marisa: What’s your favorite place to travel to, and is there anywhere you have not been to that you would like to go to?
Leftover Salmon: I think my favorite place is the West Coast; and as far as where we haven’t been, we haven’t been to Europe yet, and I’d love to go there.
Marisa: What’s your biggest musical fantasy?
Leftover Salmon: I have several, but if I had to narrow it down to one, it’d be playing with Led Zeppelin. It wouldn’t matter where; could be anywhere.
Marisa: I have three personality questions that I ask everyone. They might sound like hogwash, but I promise, there is a psychological basis to the answers ;-) First, if you were an unicorn, and you could be any color but white, what color would you be and would you have any special powers?
Leftover Salmon: I’d have all kinds of special powers. I’d be silver, and I would have magical powers beyond belief.
Marisa: If you were yogurt, would you be mixed fruit, fruit on the bottom, what flavor and why?
Leftover Salmon: Well, I’d be fruit on the bottom, organic yogurt, served with granola and fruit on the top.
Marisa: Describe yourself as either a dog, a cat or a cartoon.
Leftover Salmon: Definitely a cartoon, though I’m not sure which one. I’d be a person, and I’d have a cape.
Marisa: Do you collect anything?
Leftover Salmon: I collect everything. I’m a collector. I have collections of various things, like cars instruments, and boats.
Marisa: What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?
Leftover Salmon: Coffee.
Marisa: Do you have any hidden talents or special skills?
Leftover Salmon: I have lots of those, but I can’t divulge them.
Marisa: What’s the most important thing to remember?
Leftover Salmon: Breathe.
Marisa: What was your most influential moment?
Leftover Salmon: Seeing my kids be born.
Marisa: If you were not doing music, what would you be doing?
Leftover Salmon: I’d be a ski bum.
Marisa: What are three things you must have with you when you are on the road?
Leftover Salmon: My clothes, my instruments, and my iPad.
Marisa: Any advice for musicians starting out?
Leftover Salmon: Don’t give up your day job. Nah, I’m just kidding. Practice a lot; don’t give up.
Marisa: Where can people find your music?
Leftover Salmon: Check out www.leftoversalmon.com, and www.drewemmitt.com. I have a facebook, but I never use it, so the websites are probably better.
Marisa: Closing thoughts and additional comments?
Leftover Salmon: Just that this is going to be a great year, and I hope to see a lot of folks out there looking into Leftover Salmon.
The author of more than 100 books, Marisa Williams earned her Master’s in Writing from the Johns Hopkins University; for more on Marisa, visit www.lulu.com/spotlight/thorisaz.