Interview by Natalie K.
October 4, 2009
Estrella: Can you please state your name and what instruments you play?
Andrew: My name is Andrew Belle and I perform acoustic guitar and a little bit of piano.
Estrella: Right now, you are on tour with Ten out of Tenn, what exactly is that?
Andrew: Ten out of Tenn is a group of ten artists from Nashville, TN and we tour around. Every night we each play 2 songs and we play it as a collective group. I’ll play a song and the other 9 will play behind me as a band and then when I’m done with my song I rotate into the band and the next person rotates to their song. It’s a whole twenty song set which is a really cool thing.
Estrella: How did you end up on this tour?
Andrew: Well I was a fan of Ten out of Tenn for a while, maybe a few months and then I randomly met Trent Dabbs and his wife Kristin Dabbs who created the whole concept for the tour. I met him randomly at a photo shoot with a friend and kind of dropped my name to him and a copy of my record, we stayed in touch and started writing music together when I was visiting in Nashville. He liked what I was doing and asked me to be apart of it.
Estrella: Do you always play the same two songs of your own, or is it switched up?
Andrew: We rehearse it to be a really tight show, so we had boot camp rehearsals for 4 or 5 days before we left. The set list is the same every night for consistency purposes.
Estrella: What are your tour plans when this one ends?
Andrew: We only have three or four more nights and we have been out for two and a half weeks, so three weeks when we are done. I have to go out and do CMJ conference in New York and then I’m doing some opening dates with Ben Folds.
Estrella: Oh really, that’s cool! Then are you coming back to Chicago?
Andrew: Yeah, we are doing some random one off type dates here in Chicago as well as my CD release show for my new album here in January.
Estrella: Your new album comes out in January, what was the recording process like for it?
Andrew: Well I met some friends in Nashville who said, “You should come down here and make a record this time” since I made my last one in Chicago. I went down there to visit and I really liked the overall artist community and integrity that everyone had there as far as creating music, it’s a little bit different than Chicago. I met up with some friends and we started working in the basement of a house, just started tracking drums than layering the instruments one by one. It was a really casual recording process. I slept in the house we recorded in so we would hang out all night than wake up and work together and hang out and have dinner. It was like friends making a record together, which is probably the best way to do it.
Estrella: Is the album completely done?
Andrew: The recording is done, but it is being mixed and mastered right now. You know, putting the final touches on it.
Estrella: How did you come up with the album title The Ladder?
Andrew: Well, the whole record is kind of a transitional type record as far as the content. Going from one place to another was the theme for me when I wrote all of the songs so I liked the idea of The Ladder as from one place to another. The first track of the record is called “The Ladder From There to Here”.
Estrella: Is it different musically from your EP All Those Pretty Lights?
Andrew: There’s a couple of songs that act as a bridge from the EP to this new record that maintain the same level of pop/rock high energy type song. Then we also took it up a notch in the artistic creation. The music is a little more inspired, real, honest….
Andrew: Yeah, there are some raw elements to it as well. There’s some slower moments and that is one thing I was excited about this record was to display more of a diverse view of my songwriting rather than the five songs I’ve released. This one has ten and I think it’s much more of a wider spectrum that I am capable of writing.
Estrella: I read that you just won the Chicago VMA break out artist, how exactly does that work and when did you find out you were even nominated?
Andrew: My manager Seth called me in July and said, “Hey man, you are in the top twenty for this VMA contest that MTV is doing for local artists in different markets,” and I was really surprised I was in the running for it but obviously flattered and excited. All we had to do was wait and see what happened, sure enough we got narrowed to the top 6 and from there the top 3. We had a show in Nashville the night before and we had to be in Chicago at 8AM the next day at Great America. We competed in this battle of the bands type thing, so it was three bands judged by this band called All Time Low. They were the judges and we competed in front of all of there fans which was 2,000 fourteen year old girls. We were the third band to play and I guess we did really well because we won and it was a really exciting experience I felt.
Estrella: My friend actually watched the VMA’s and saw something about you winning during commercial break.
Andrew: I knew that, I was in Nashville at the time though so I didn’t see any of that coverage at all. I think we just got the link though.
Seth (Manager): I just got the link, you look great (everyone laughs). I watched it about five hours ago for the first time.
Andrew: My family has seen it, I have not yet though.
Estrella: What is something you have always wanted to do but have not done yet?
Andrew: I want to travel outside of the United States. I’ve been to Mexico on a missions trip and that’s it, I want to travel to Europe, Asia, Russia, somewhere that you will need a passport.
(Singer/songwriter/Ten out of Tenn artist K.S. Rhoads walks onto the tour bus)
Estrella: What is one of your favorite lines in one of your songs?
K.S.: One of your favorite lines? One of the ones you remember or don’t remember?
Andrew: Kevin teases me because he sings with me word for word in one of our songs so that means I have to really know it, I can’t make up lyrics when I forget so he keeps me accountable. I’ve been on like sixty percent of the time.
K.S.: Is it faithful or faithless…
Andrew: The first one is “faithful than faithless” and I flip those up a lot. Kevin what’s your favorite lyric in my song?
K.S.: Oh man that’s a good question, I like “gaze on you discretely” because it sounds like you are looking through someone’s window.
Andrew: That’s funny because I like the second half where I say, “Slow your speed and turn yourself around and I’ll be the one who prays upon you sweetly,” I like that prays upon you sweetly line because it is kind of contrasting.
K.S.: What about, “I would of let you leave”?
Andrew: “I would of let you leave” from ‘Static Wave’. I’m sure if I sat down and analyzed I could really come up with something.
Estrella: What’s a song that you never get sick of hearing, and it doesn’t have to be one of your own?
Andrew: Oh, I get sick of my own songs very quickly so you don’t have to worry about that. K.S. Rhoads “Dark Hotel” I’ve listened to that song a million times and it is the coolest thing ever.
Estrella: If you could see any band or artist perform any song live what would it be and why?
Andrew: Rage Against the Machine “Bombtrack”. I’ve never seen Rage and I was always a big fan growing up and kind of got into them late because they already broke up so I didn’t get to see them. Then they re-formed and did Coachella but I was in Chicago way too far to see them. Then they played Lolla last year and I just have not gotten to see them live and at some point I would love to see Rage Against the Machine play anything off of Battle of Los Angeles record.
Estrella: Is there an artist out there right now that you are really into that people may not know of?
Andrew: Yeah there is probably two, I mean they are somewhat large but in the big picture maybe not. I really like Landon Pigg and he is going to be here tomorrow night actually, he is a Nashville guy. I really like Greg Laswell from Los Angeles, both are singer/songwriter and do what I do. For my newest record I looked to those guys for inspiration in song-writing.
Estrella: Do you have any final comments?
Andrew: Estrella is the best.