Behind The Lens: Ink To Spill
What is the backstory to your name?
We started as The Quills and were granted the trademark. As we began to market, we realized there were bands with similar sounding names. After the last administration described the free press as ‘the enemy of the people’, I knew I couldn’t just let that pass. I was headed home from Chicago and wrote our self-titled song ‘Ink To Spill’. I thought, wow that’d be a really cool name for the band.
I shared the lyrics with my friend who threw the party I was at in Chicago, who also has a band, and his immediate response was ‘That should be the name of your band’. It took a little convincing for the rest of the band, but it really does fit this project and, let’s face it, it works on so many levels.
How do you describe or build music for the next generation?
I don’t know if I have that answer. We are deliberately eclectic though, so hopefully if someone may not like one track, they still may gravitate to another. The sound is meant to fit into the Alternative Rock space, but some have sort of an Americana vibe, some a little more like a 90’s rock sound and one was deliberately designed to sound like what I call Fargo Blues in the manner of Johnny Lang’s Wander this world LP. We constantly say that the lyrics drive the vibe of the sound & I just let Gus and Ernie take it from there. I sometimes think amongst your friend’s a younger generation might not embrace every genre, but once alone or with your family, you find yourself singing along.
Who influenced your career the most?
Well, without a dare from our aforementioned friend, Jim, I would have never started this project. He dared me to write one song and then regretted (jk) how many songs I sent his way. Without telling me, he eventually sent one to founding members Ryan and Gus. When they brought the Fargo Bluesy track (HYD’N) back, I was like ‘they nailed it’. It took me a little time to research what I’d be getting into and weeks later said ‘Let’s do it!’.
Musically, there’s many influences, but I have no musical talent outside of lyric writing and knowing how I want the song to sound. So, Elton and Taupin are a huge influence on me in how to start concepts for stories. I love the lyrics that Vetter developed in his early days with Pearl Jam. I’ve always liked Bowie’s eccentricity and ability to reinvent himself. Of the more current artists, Florence Welch’s/Kid Harpoon’s “Ship to Wreck’ is a masterful illustrative writing that just paints such a vivid picture that inspires me. I’ve always enjoyed the humor Rivers Cuomo puts into Weezer’s tracks.
Do you produce your music?
Yes, it’s a kind of a bare bones, virtual effort and we have a network of support members/freelancers after Ryan’s initial mix to get through Mastering and video development.
Do you write the lyrics first or create/pick the music first?
To date, it always starts with the lyrics. Definitely, a lyric driven project. Then usually, Gus will take it from there to develop the demo. Early on, Ryan would lay down bass and keys, then Ernie lays down the percussion and sometimes other instrumentation. In the future, Anthony will take on bass and additional guitar and develop the mixes. Once in a while, when the song calls for heavier percussion or if he’s really feeling the song, Ernie will take first crack at the track to set the vibe and Gus will pick it up from there. We’re currently experimenting with Gus laying down a track first and myself adding the lyrics. We’ll see if I’m up to the challenge.
If you weren’t a recording artist what would you be doing?
Well, by day I’m a commodities guy & I haven’t quit my day job. Without this though, who knows, probably wasting my time on the beach watching the waves roll in. Actually, I’m also writing a couple books and a screenplay, so maybe more focus on that.
What are you going to do first when all COVID restrictions are lifted?
Take my wife out to dinner every night of the week for the first week, then resume walking my dog Cooper every day in the woods, and then host the best Thanksgiving we’ve ever raised a glass to. Hopefully, we’ll start gigging a bit too.
Would you use or become a ghostwriter?
I doubt I’d ever use one. I was cleaning up my archive recently and eliminated 200 of 800 titles, so there’s no lack of material. I’d be very open to sponsor other projects and write for other artists, as not all the titles fit Ink To Spill. And I think I’m adaptable enough to take a concept from another artist that wants a song and create something unique for them.. For now, I’m very content to learn the business from this vantage point, but always open to working collaboratively.
Describe the perfect summer drink?
A tall Long Island Iced Tea with a little extra sour mash with my wife, Dina, and the band and their mates watching the sunset.
What's your next move and where can people connect with you at?
We’re just following the leads the Universe provides us.
Everyone can connect with the web site at ‘inktospill.com’. We’re also on the mainstream social media platforms. We’re beginning wave 3 for ‘22, I guess, where the lyrics and music take a subtle turn from what’s been released to date. A mix of a little less daring topically and a little more daring in other ways. I think in ‘23, it’ll lean more heavily into ‘a little more daring in other ways’.
We’re also starting a very unique partnership with a local friend and partner, Mike Harvey, who happens to have risen rapidly in the Professional American Cornhole Circuit. I think he’s now ranked top 27 in the world and top 5-10 in the USA, and he’s only been at it a short time now. So, we’re sponsoring him over the next year and he’s wearing our gear for local and national events, some of which are broadcast on ESPN2, etc. He’ll also be helping us promote new releases and I imagine we’ll work some of his events into social media and/or videos. Mike’s a great guy and his sister, Ashley, is his amazing manager and they’ve come a long way in a short time. I’ve attended some local events and it’s a fun, diverse community. Hopefully, it will lead to some partnerships with those events and some live gigs.
To wrap this up, I want to thank CEL and Marilyn Reles of Present PR for making this moment happen. We’re so thankful for those that give us a voice and lend us an ear. They are part of the family and we fondly refer to them as ‘Spillers’. Thanks again, Bob, Gus and Ernie.