Artist: Arlo McKinley
Hometown: Norwood, Ohio
Latest Album: Die Midwestern (Oh Boy Records)
Rejected Band Names: Hatchet Wounds, Black Locust Inn, Thousand Dollar Car
Which artist has influenced you the most … and how?
With so many influences I could name, I always go back to Blaze Foley. His ability to put so much feeling and emotion into a simple song without ever taking himself so seriously. He always influenced me in my writing, and has been a reminder to always be myself.
What’s your favorite memory from being on stage?
I would have to say that performing and knowing that one of my heroes, John Prine, had taken the time out of his day in the middle of the week to come see me play would probably top the list. He came to watch the band play at the High Watt in Nashville. That was a night I’ll never forget.
What other art forms — literature, film, dance, painting, etc. — inform your music?
I read a lot when not listening to or writing music. Charles Bukowski, Hunter S. Thompson, Greil Marcus, Ted Chiang and many others. Ted Chiang writes very smart, socially-conscious science fiction that really stands out to me. I highly recommend checking him out if you haven’t already.
What was the first moment that you knew you wanted to be a musician?
That would have to be growing up in the Baptist church. Seeing that music could be so much more to people than just a sound and evoke real emotions in people appealed to me in a way that is hard to put into words. Along with that I grew up constantly surrounded by so many kinds of music that my family would be listening to. Country, punk, bluegrass, folk, metal, hip-hop, etc. It’s the only thing that I ever thought that I should be doing so I’d say the simple answer is, from the moment I discovered music I knew that’s what I wanted to do with my life.
If you had to write a mission statement for your career, what would it be?
It would be to keep pushing myself to grow as a musician, always pushing myself to never create the same album twice. It would be to also keep creating music that people can correlate to their own lives in one way or another.
Photo credit: David McClister