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Reid Genauer Conspires To Smile

A performance of “Amplified Messiah” with AOD. The song is one of the compositions on Conspire to Smile.

I also wanted to ask you about the theme of the new Assembly of Dust original that’s gonna be on the record “Amplified Messiah.” Does that fit into the puzzle that we’re kind of sifting through right now, in terms of the theme with the record?

Totally. It’s a song that we’ve had for years, but we never recorded. The theme of it is basically “Rock n’ roll is my religion.” There’s a horizontal spiritualism to music. You don’t have to pledge allegiance to any vertical like you do with religion, let’s say. It’s just universally acceptable and all you have to do to experience it is listen. Or if it’s a concert, show up. And that’s what “Amplified Messiah” is all about. My Buddha is the horizontal spiritual sensation I get from music.

You had a bunch of contributors on the record. On a daily basis were you taking these recordings from all over the map and then piecing them all together?

Yeah. It’s a little collaborative; it’s a collective. The folks that have been most involved with the recording process are Jake Alexander, Dave Diamond is more or less producing it and he’s gonna mix it. Jon Trafton from Strangefolk really has been helpful in thinking through feels and ideas and really jumped right in. Everyone has, but Dave’s really running the show. I’m sort of the man behind the curtain and Dave is getting it done.

You kind of have this three-tiered thing going as Strangefolk and Assembly of Dust, and now you have this Conspire to Smile stuff. Do you feel like that’s just three different creative gears that you can kind of shift into?

Definitely. There are nuances to all of it. With Strangefolk, we learned how to be a band together, what being a band met. It’s almost like twins who have an unspoken understanding of each other because they were in the womb together. We’ve had our ups and downs, and we have warts and scars, but we’re a family and it sounds cheesy but it’s true.

And then the truth is, I see it as all one connected thing. Somebody asked me, “Do you think of this song as a Strangefolk song? as an Assembly of Dust Song?” Maybe there’s a few that I park in one camp or the other, but it’s like having children with a different partner. They’re still your kids, regardless of if they have a different mother, and that’s how I feel about the material. And so it feels like one connected thing.

Actually, I’ll reverse my answer. What’s cool about Conspire to Smile is it erases those boundaries. And even the show at the Great American had gone draft from Strangefolk, Dave Diamond and Jason Crosby and John Leccese from AOD and it was one thing. And this record is one thing; not just across the band, but that’s where it’s pointing out. And there’s incarnations of members of each band playing on different songs together. And then the guests. So that’s how I think about it broadly. And then there are nuances within that. So doing a solo record frees you from the expectations of the audience, where I have to sound like one band or the other, and it frees you from some of the mechanics of how you interact as a group ‘cause you’re breaking it and you can kind of be a little more free in how you approach it. There’s no expectation; it’s open. And then yeah, back to talking about Strangefolk. There’s this one thing, that family thing I was describing. And Assembly of Dust, I’m trying to think how to best summarize that. It’s something else. It’s related, it’s my second marriage, and there’s components of it that are more functional because we weren’t in the womb together. It’s just a different beast. It’s more intentional.

Wow, interesting. I like that. I’m starting to wrap it up here, Reid. Is there anything else we should mention?

I guess my closing sentiment is that Conspire to Smile is my brainchild, but what’s important to me is that it’s a celebration of the collective. Musicians share their hearts and souls and time and talent. And the reciprocal nature of music is not one way, you know? It sounds cliche, but it feeds me: making it and sharing it and collaborating. And it’s a positive reinforcing loop and that’s, again, the whole exercise. And it’s just as much about the audience as it is about the musicians. The music plays the band kind of thing

...It’s not about me, it’s not about the songs, it’s about the power of belief in music.

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