The Untitled Interview #92 – SXSW Edition: Starring J. Tom Hnatow (These United States)

The days are getting longer, the nights are getting shorter and sweeter, and that, my little vixens, can only mean one thing: it's getting close to being almost time for the one and only SXSW. And of course, that means I had to ask some questions of the bands I'd sure want to see if I was heading down to Austin for the 25th annual SXSW-stravaganza.

By now, you know These United States to be one of, and quite very probably my absolute favoritest thereof, DC bands (and definitely my favorite DC/Lexington, KY band!). These timeless troubadorian souls are once more taking their beautiful country-fried folksy romper stomper sound to Austin, where sonic triumphs shall certainly transpire. Especially if there's a sunset involved. Below, J. Tom Hnatow takes some time to talk turkey with yours truly.

Les Enfants Terribles: How are you getting to SXSW: plane, train, or automobile?
J. Tom Hnatow: We will be arriving via Evangelina 2, our 2001 Ford e350 XLT. She's a 15 passenger beast with a raised roof and a cage in the back. Holds us, our gear, and our personal stuff comfortably. Once we arrive in Austin, I hope to do most of my motorvation on my new, as yet unnamed, collapsible bike.

LET: Inevitably, you will forget to pack:

JTH: I've been doing this long enough that at this point, I truly hope I have all the essentials, namely: Good walking shoes, sunglasses, sunscreen, and a good hat.

LET: How many showcases/parties will you be playing?

JTH: At the moment, we're playing 5 day parties, 1 official showcase, and 1 "secret" show that we'll happily tell you about if you ask us.

LET: Band you're most looking forward to seeing at the festival?

JTH: We have a lot of shows and will only be around the fest for a few days, so it'll be really hard to get out and see bands. On the positive side, just about every band on every show that we're playing is pretty awesome, so I'm excited to finish playing and get to watch. Plus, with so many bands, I always discover someone that I've never heard of before.

LET: What's the first thing you plan on doing upon arrival in Austin?

JTH: Heading to Torchy's Tacos and chowing down.

LET: What was the first festival you ever attended, either as a musician or member of the general public?

JTH: Bethlehem, PA, not far from where I'm from, has a cool festival called Musikfest every year. My first festival memory is sitting on a lawn under the stars, probably only a few years old, eating a picnic dinner, listening to Don McLean play "American Pie.”

LET: Favorite thing about festivals?

JTH: Our band is somewhat split on this, but personally, I LOVE festivals so much better than rock clubs. The downside is that it’s usually a huge rush on and off stage, no soundcheck, and you're usually soaked through with sweat just from carrying your gear. On the positive side, I love finishing and then getting to wander around, see other bands, run into old friends, and just take in the experience. We've also played a few sets just as the sun is setting, and that is an absolutely magical experience.

mp3: Water & Wheat (These United States from What Lasts)


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