HEADS TALKING is an interview series where a shared love of music bridges divides and starts friendly conversations about the world around us. They are dialogues between musicians and their fans [via Facebook Live] meant to inspire participation beyond the ballot box. A recent guest was Timothy Showalter, the man behind Strand of Oaks. The full conversation can be viewed here and the highlights are written below. Please note that the views expressed by artists are live and uncensored and do not necessarily reflect the views of the HeadCount organization.
HeadCount: Let’s kick this off with the question we’re kicking off every Heads Talking episode with, what do you wish more people were talking about?
Strand of Oaks: Nothing’s simple these days but there’s something simple about not being cynical and not feeling defeated. There are many more eloquent people that have explained it than I, particularly David Foster Wallace talked about the problems with postmodern behavior and I think we’ve sucked that dry at this point and it’s time to be genuine even though we feel disconnected with technology and our lives it’s just better to make efforts and the smaller you start the more effect it’ll have and then it grows and grows. I always say help somebody shovel the snow and you’ll see instantly. I live in Philadelphia and when it snows even if you’ve never seen your neighbor everybody has to shovel their car out and if you do that then suddenly you’re talking to someone ‘oh you’re my neighbor’ and then you can grow that from there.
What is something that you might see that might make you feel cynical and how would you idealistically respond to that?
Everything can make you feel cynical but I think it’s harder on your soul and it sucks you more dry and quicker, your fuel reserves will go down if you spend your time trying to con your way out of feeling life. it’s a lot easier to just embrace it. I get cynical and I get dark I get incredibly dark but I have no other choice because that’s kind of my safety net because if I would give in to it, it’s not needed
Who are some of the musician activists that you look up to?
I think Arcade Fire has always done an amazing job as far as peer groups, you know obviously the Woody Guthrie’s and Pete Seeger’s, but I think Arcade Fire, that’s actually who runs this organization called Plus One that we partner with, members of Arcade Fire and the National. Plus One is the facilitator you choose a dollar and choose an organization, you choose your charity of choice and they facilitate that to the charity it’s amazing and I think all different kinds of bands and it can happen in any way shape or form.
If you could lock any three artists living or dead in a room to write a new american national anthem, which three would you put in that room?
Nina Simone, Jimi Hendrix and…who’s someone new that I would love to see in there? Maybe Kanye, he produces. I’d like to hear that. Kanye uses a lot of Nina Simone samples anyway.