ARTIST SPOTLIGHTS: HOSTS, Driveway Thriftdwellers
HOSTS held their “Wade Low” album release show at Linneman’s Riverwest Inn on Friday, joined by Derek Pritzl and Driveway Thriftdwellers. With a packed room of friends, family and community, it was an unforgettable evening of warmth and celebration.
Driveway Thriftdwellers consists of vocalist-guitarist Jon Knudson, lead guitarist Kyle Rightley, bassist Aaron Collins, pedal steel guitarist Ryan Knudson and drummer Jon Storey. The band’s style encompasses old school country and Americana rock; the Knudson brothers are based in the Milwaukee and Racine area while the other members live in Madison. They cite Flying Burrito Brothers, Tom Petty, Gram Parsons, Dwight Yoakam and Bob Dylan as some of their biggest influences.
On how Driveway Thriftdwellers formed, Jon Knudson explained, “I had a band called Polydream back in the day and we stopped playing around 2009 or so; I took a big road trip in a camper all around the country for like six months, came back and played duo shows with my friend from high school. We started calling ourselves Driveway Thriftdwellers, and then my brother Ryan told me he had a pedal steel that he wanted to learn how to play, so he asked if he could play some shows with us; he got very good at it and we built the band around it. I had also started playing ukulele with our original bass player Stephen in his backyard, and we realized that we both really liked the Flying Burrito Brothers and the same brand of old country and rock. We were originally a nine piece when we started.”
“We played one venue all the time, Minocqua Brewing Company,” Ryan Knudson added. “We had piano, ukulele, fiddle…we poached a few players from a jazz collective in Madison…we had some really great musicians who came for a time and then left, and now we’re going on ten years with this lineup.”
Driveway Thriftdwellers’ name came from a dream that Jon had. “I went to a garage sale in high school with my friend Luke (who I played music with) out in this lady’s driveway, and while I was sleeping I had this dream we were there again and the lady said, “can I help you driveway thriftdwellers find anything?” – when I woke up, I wrote that down.”
The band’s self-titled sophomore album was released in 2018, and they have been enduring a long process in getting their next record out. “We were ready to pump out another record in like 2019 because we had the material and laid down some basic demos around that time. It slowed down because we weren’t really satisfied with where it was, and then the world shut down. We’ve kind of wanted to just play music again so we’ve been out playing shows, but we’ve been talking to Ian Olvera about doing another record again for like over a year now. We played a few of our new songs tonight. It’s going to be a little different than what we’ve done in the past; there’ll be some country to it but also some spacey rock and roll.”
Driveway Thriftdwellers have been playing every 2nd and 4th Tuesday of the month at Promises with Derek Pritzl & the Gamble so they will be there on June 13th and 27th. Then they play The Vines in Sauk City on July 23rd, North Star Fest in South Madison on August 5th and Wise Fest in Eagle at the end of September.
HOSTS consists of vocalist-guitarist Miles Patzer, guitarist Tyson Allison, bassist Brian Tapola and drummer Aaron Reinke. A country-Americana band that pairs well with whiskey (according to their website), HOSTS was formed in 2014 while Patzer was still living in Nashville. Touching on the project’s evolution into what it is now, Pazter recalls, “I moved to Nashville in 2011-2012 and started off playing solo; I’ve played way more solo shows than I have full band shows. We’ve mixed and matched people with the shows we’ve played and albums we’ve put out. I moved back here in 2016 and met Aaron; I’ve known Tyson for a while, and the two of them kind of brought it back to life – Brian followed along shortly after. I’ve never felt this kind of energy before and it’s so good to have wonderful people playing with me and with each other.”
For the project’s name Patzer wanted a term that was inclusive of others while also drawing upon himself, explaining, “The term is a descriptor of including everybody in what you can, being kind to those around you and finding the path that works out.”
“Wade Low” is HOSTS’ fourth album and is out now on all streaming platforms. On what went into the writing and recording process, Patzer shared, “I probably hadn’t written a song since like 2017, and then in about 2019 I started playing a little bit here and there until the pandemic shut everything down. I think we all found ourselves a little bit closer to ourselves during that time, and that became a catalyst to try and do something more. I did some solo stuff after lockdown, and shortly after that Aaron and Tyson came along; I credit Aaron for pushing me in a new direction and changing my mindset with having more people to play with. Me and him played as a duo for a few months with just drums and acoustic guitar, kind of like stripped down White Stripes vibes. We had a lot of fun; he’s a punk rocker who came into this country-Americana-folk world but he just wanted to be a part of it. Tyson came along after, and at that point I had some new songs I was writing with playing with these guys in mind, which changed the dynamic and feeling. All the sudden we had a record, and we’re already ready to do another one.”
Patzer said about the lyrics on the album, “A lot of it is me having conversations with myself. “Wade Low” is a term that popped in my head one day and it describes getting in a little too deep, whatever that may be. Drowning is my biggest fear so that’s always been at the forefront of my mind; “Wade Low” is like saying that you need a little rest and a little discomfort…you’re diving in and going as deep as you can go but you can’t drown. The point of the whole album is to do that but get to the point where you need clarity – you’re not going to have clarity without needing it first.”
Accompanying “Wade Low” is a music video for the song “Marginal Man” directed by Bailey Fiste, featuring the band getting into a barfight in a West Allis pub. “We met Bailey at Blackbird and storyboarded a little bit over a few beers, and I had a dive bar for us with the old Randy’s Neighbors Inn. It was the day after they closed and the day before demolition, so we had one afternoon to trash this place. I bought some breakaway bottles on Amazon – $18 a pop, expensive as shit – and we staged a barfight. The song is about the fact that we’re so insignificant, but the fact that we’re here *is* significant, so let’s fight and then make up from it. There’s some anger, some stupidity, some fighting, and then we have another shot and walk out the door as best friends. We had a great happenstance for that and a lot of fun filming it with a few too many PBRs that day (laughs).”
HOSTS are excited to play more shows this summer yet to be announced, so stay tuned!