The Loyal Order Interview
The Phoenix native has released a handful of successful albums and worked within multiple realms of Universal Records–from producing albums to sharpening songwriting skills.
In recent years, he released his first record under the moniker, Ancient History, with plans for a follow-up in 2016.
In Pittsburgh, Ducote’s planning to change the game by bringing musicians back to their roots: raw, unpracticed and unfiltered. His plan for Loyal Order–a new Monthly he’ll be hosting at Spirit in Lawrenceville–is to encourage musicians to branch out of their own comfort zones. Bands and artists will have free reign to collaborate with others, debut full or partial projects, or jump between genres.
Essentially, it’s watching a creation process unfold from the beginning stages, which may not sound so beautiful, at first. But the combination of persistence, forward-thinking attitudes, and a mental connection between band members becomes a force that transforms the beauty of creative, free thinking into beautiful music.
This month’s Loyal Order showcase will feature various musicians from Pittsburgh’s local music circuit, including Derider, Wreck Loose, SFX, and Ducote, under his Ancient History moniker. Here, artists will be put to the test to get their creative juices flowing, amp up their working knowledge of music, and improvise on the fly during projected episodes of “The Twilight Zone.”
We got a chance to catch up with Ducote about what to expect at the upcoming showcase, and what he hopes will come of it:
Nak You Out: What inspired the creation and development of Loyal Order?
Donny Ducote: It was pretty clear, pretty quick that there was a solid community of indie bands in Pittsburgh. I want to work within that community; I want to make it stronger. This open-ended, ever-changing indie night seemed like a good idea.
NYO: What will be the basis of choosing artists–is there a strategy or thought process behind specific artists that are chosen, or are you just going with the flow?
DD: I’m just going with the flow at the moment. Anybody can perform as long as they’re cooperative and ask nicely.
NYO: How do you think challenging these musicians to branch out of their comfort zones will benefit them and/or further engage their fan bases?
DD: Could care less about engaging their fan base. Local shows everywhere are so bogged down by bullshit like Facebook Likes, paying a cover, mailing lists and merch sales. I want this to be all about [artists] exploring and honing their craft. Maybe they stumble onto a riff they end up turning into a song. Perhaps they realize that their bassist and keyboardist are capable of switching roles on a song-to-song basis, thus really opening up their sound and sonic spectrum. Watching other bands experiment is always gonna lead to new ideas that one can apply to whatever planet they are currently inhabiting. I want them to try things and fail, I want them to embarrass themselves because that’s how you grow. I don’t want this event to be about looking cool on stage… Let them get laid the hard way.
NYO: Can you share any sneak peeks of what we can expect from this month’s artists on board?
DD: Besides that the bands will be improvising scores over the top of projected Twilight Zone episodes? Derrider is bringing contact mics for their drums, and Ancient History is bringing vintage drum machines….
NYO: How will Spirit’s recently acquired jukebox tie in with Loyal Order, and how will it amplify the experience?
DD: Ideally, we want it to be the next step in the evolution of Loyal Order. It’s important for an artist to never feel like he or she has reached a destination, or an appropriate stopping point. There is no appropriate stopping point… I remember hearing Bob Dylan say that in an interview and it’s something I have certainly come to believe. I think everybody working at Spirit would agree with that, as well, and I think it’s something we practice and apply to every aspect of the Lodge, from the food, to the drinks, to the events–musical and non-musical. And the juke box will be the first application of that principle to Loyal Order. If we can get people uncharacteristically excited about local music, maybe we can get them to play a roll in the proliferation and financing of local music… Most people believe we’re in the dark ages of recorded music–it looks that way from where I’m sitting–and I want to believe that the jukebox idea provides a glimmer of hope. We can load it full of local music and sell the records from behind the bar. We’re not taking a cut, and one hundred percent of the money will go back to the artist. If these Loyal Order events catch on, maybe we can record some highlights and sell them out of the jukebox, as well. We could employ a download system and eliminate the cost of printing, packaging and shipping records. We can get more jukeboxes and get other local businesses involved. Who knows… In a few years, we could expand to other cities. Let each town or business curate their own musical culture. Grassroots iTunes.
NYO: What do you hope guests and artists will take away from Loyal Order each month?
DD: A new idea. Inspiration for something. Respect for their local artistic community. The desire to start an art project of some kind. A buzz. Maybe a hangover. It would be cool if two people fell in love.
NYO: Do you have ideas or lineups in mind for future events?
DD: I’m currently working on a Rock Lottery event for February. We’re trying to track down 30 local musicians [who] would show up Saturday night and we would put everyone’s name in a hat. There will be five team captains and they will draw names until we have five brand new bands. Those newly-created bands will have 24 hours to write three original songs and one cover to be performed the following night at Spirit. Other ideas involve a couple of local MCs that can (and want) to freestyle over the instrumental sets of a couple local bands. Also, I’m working on a dodge ball night… I’ll leave the specifics to your imagination.
According to Ducote: “Music can’t progress without risk, and musicians can’t grow unless there’s a place where the rules don’t apply.
He hopes Loyal Order will become that place.”
Stop down to Spirit for this month’s edition of Loyal Order on Sunday, December 6 at 9PM. Loyal Order will take place on the first Sunday of every month at Spirit. Musicians wishing to reach out and perform at future showcases can contact firstname.lastname@example.org.