Andy Thorn: Singing and Picking Upstream with Salmon
Andy Thorn is officially a cold leftover piece of fish.
“I just feel like the luckiest guy in the world to be doing this,” said the 30-year-old North Carolina native, “and getting to spend my life doing this with awesome people.”
Thorn, who plays banjo, joined Leftover Salmon in 2010 and no longer feels like the new guy.
Leftover Salmon, whose musical journey began in 1989, also features mandolin wiz Drew Emmitt, guitarist Vince Herman, bassist Greg Garrison and drummer Jose Martinez.
The band kicks off an extensive fall tour Sept. 11 at the Metropolitan Theatre, Morganstown, W. Va.
Jambands.com interviewed Thorn by phone from his Boulder, Colo. home to discuss a variety of topics pertaining to the band.
How was your summer? What were some of the highlights?
It’s been great. It hasn’t been too insanely busy during the summer. We kind of do weekends, so that’s pretty great. I think my favorite part was Telluride because I can drive my own car there and put the bikes on the back, all my camping gear and make a big trip out of it. And this year was supercool, because Jackson Browne sat in with us, so that was pretty unreal. He came in and rehearsed with us in the middle of the day. I didn’t even realize he was coming to rehearsals. At the condo I was staying in, I went downstairs to let the guys in and there’s Jackson Browne standing there with his guitar. That was definitely a highlight
The other highlight was a few weeks ago when I got to do the Forecastle Incident with String Cheese Incident. They got to put together an all instrumental set and I got to play banjo with Sam Bush, Josh Carter and Ronnie McCoury. That was a really cool set of music. The fun never ends.
So what was it like rehearsing and playing with Jackson?
We do this Jackson Browne cover quite a bit “Under The Falling Sky,” and Vince usually sings it, so we told Jackson that and he sang it with us this time and Vince kind of chimed in. It was a really cool moment. And not to mention Sam Bush jamming with us too at Telluride.
What can fans expect for the upcoming fall tour?
We just did that new recording for the Breckenridge Brewery partnership. Basically, it’s hard to get the band to practice unless we have a reason to or work on new material. So, I think it was smart to say: OK. We’re going to do this. We’re forced to break out new material, so everybody shows each other what songs they’ve been working on. We have all these songs now from working on this project. We’re playing a lot of that stuff now. We’re playing two or three songs from that project and we’ll be playing more on the fall tour. It’s going to be fun to break out a bunch of new material and see how it goes live.
How did the partnership with Breckenridge Brewery come about?
They’re based out of Denver and friends with our manager. They were talking and they were like: Hey, let’s partner up. So, what they come up with was releasing some of our songs through a 12-pack of Breckenridge Brewery Beer. If you buy a 12-pack, there is a coaster inside. Each song has a different coaster with really cool artwork on it and on the back is a download code for a song. We got four songs that are coming out. Each song is out for a month or two, and then, they’re going to bring in new songs. That just started, so that’s going on, all fall.
Did you write any of the new songs?
I wrote two of them. The one I’m most excited about is called “High Country.” I wrote it about a year ago while on a hike. Literally, we just started singing I want to be in the high country and kind of wrote it without a guitar and put some chords to it later that day and I finally got to show it to the guys a little while ago. And it turned out really cool because everyone sings a verse: me, Drew and Vince, and we harmonize a bunch on it.
The other song is an instrumental called “Thornpipe”: a little play on a hornpipe and my name. It’s a banjo tune and we got Casey Driessen (Bela Fleck and Tim O’Brien) to play fiddle on that. He’s an amazing fiddle player. Drew also has a really great tune and Vince does too, and there are six more songs that we recorded that are coming out at some point.
On your stop at the Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, NY, you’re on a bill with Assembly of Dust and The Infamous Stringdusters. I would imagine they’ll be lots of collaboration going on that evening.
That’s going to be a really cool night. The Stringdusters are really good friends of ours. I was in a band with their bass player, Travis Book. for years and their banjo player, Chris Pandolfi, kind of recommended me to Drew six years ago and helped me get the gig, and he used to play with Drew, so I’m sure we’ll have some double banjos going on and guests up there.
Assembly of Dust are really good friends because when I was in Emmitt-Nershi Band, we did two tours together. We didn’t really know those guys that well beforehand, but we got to be really good friends and sat-in with each other each night on different tunes just to keep it fresh and mix it up, so I’m sure we’ll be doing some of that.
Will there be any special theme for the Halloween performance at the Variety Playhouse in Atlanta?
I don’t think I’ve heard what it is yet, but it’s usually parade-related, costumes, the festiveness of the holiday. There will be a theme but it hasn’t been thought of yet.
If you had to take a guess?
I really haven’t heard anything. They don’t tell me. (laughing) They might have something in the works that I should have figured out. I just kind of show up and play which is a good job for me. I don’t get too involved in the planning.