BEING HUMBLE IN AN INDUSTRY THAT TENDS TO FAVOR EGOISM IS NO EASY FEAT. BUT REUBEN BIDEZ’S OFFSTAGE PERSONALITY IS REFRESHINGLY MODEST IN CONTRAST TO THE POWER THAT HIS MUSIC EXUDES.
BIDEZ MOVED TO NASHVILLE FROM ATLANTA A FEW YEARS BACK, BUT HIS MUSIC DRAWS FROM ELEMENTS THAT CAN’T QUITE BE ATTRIBUTED TO ANY ONE REGION. HIS MOST RECENT EP, TURNING TO WINE, DRAWS ON AN INTENSE VULNERABILITY AND EXPOSED EMOTIONS, WHILE HIS SINGLE “TOO MANY ALARMS” HAS A MORE LIGHTHEARTED FEEL THAT HE SAYS TENDS TO LEAVE LISTENERS WITH THEIR OWN UNIQUE INTERPRETATION. WE RECORDED THIS VIDEO ON THE DAY OF REUBEN'S BONNAROO PERFORMANCE, IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWING THE RELEASE OF THIS SINGLE, "TOO MANY ALARMS". WE SAT DOWN WITH REUBEN TO TALK ABOUT COUNTRY MUSIC, MUSIC FESTIVALS, AND THE NOSTALGIA HIS MUSIC TENDS TO PROVOKE.
So what have you been up to?
I’ve been out on the road for the past week. I played some shows in Charlotte, NC and Washington D.C. and New York City. This whole tour was kind of an excuse to go hang out at Newport Folk Festival, so I spent three days in Newport and had an amazing time. The shows were great, too. In New York we had like 70 people come out and it was a cool little hotel that we did the show at - kinda a nonconventional show, but everybody’s so attentive and it was a lot of fun. Newport was really great. I got to see the legendary John Prine do his thing. Roger Waters came out and played a song with him. It just really felt like a big family reunion. A ton of my friends were there playing and hanging out and so we had a grand ole time. A lot of late night jamming around the fireplace. It was actually cold enough that we could have a fire. One day I was so cold - I didn’t pack a jacket because it was like 100 degrees in Nashville when I left - and a cold front came through so it was like in the low 60s and all I had on was a short sleeve shirt. So I was going to buy a Newport hoodie but they were all sold out of hoodies. I guess a lot of people had the same idea I did. So I started poking around vendors and I found a lady that sold Mexican blankets. Best 20 bucks I spent all weekend was a Mexican blanket that I wore like a poncho the rest of the day. But it did the trick though!
You’ll probably use it more than the hoodie after the fact.
That was kind of my thought. Definitely a better story.
Can you tell us a bit about the single we did the video for and the experience of playing Bonnaroo [where we filmed the video]?
The single we put out, it’s called “Too Many Alarms”. We just did it as a stand alone single. It’s a song I actually recorded with my bass player Wyatt Funderburk and we recorded it together as well. It’s been a cool song to play live and also people really grab hold to it in different ways. It’s funny, people say it means things to them that when I wrote it, it didn’t mean that to me, so it’s really cool to see this song take shape in different people’s lives and kind of mold itself into maybe what they needed to hear. We debuted it the day before Bonnaroo. Americana Songwriter put it out on Thursday, it came out Friday, then we played Bonnaroo on Saturday. PLaying Bonnaroo was a huge honor and it was a lot of fun. It’s such a big event that it’s hard to take in the magnitude of how many people are there. It’s a good thing I didn’t think about how many people were there or it probably would have freaked me out. What if they just started stampeding and crushed me? [laughs] This is probably a form of claustrophobia that I probably have. I don’t know; this is really weird.
The performance was a lot of fun and we had my friend Claire Indie Nunn, who has played cello for me over the past few years. We had her come and play cello on the song “Intruder” that’s on the EP I put out last year called Turning to Wine. So we really pulled out all the stops. And I mean, the shows were great, top notch. I felt really honored to play the same place that all these folks were playing. Hopefully we’ll do it again.
The new single is a stand alone, but you just put out the EP this past Fall?
That was September of this past year, so we’re actually coming up on a year, which is crazy, but it’s still new to a lot of people so it’s still got some legs on it.
I feel like the new song has more of the traditional country country elements and some of that Texas sound, and the EP has bit more pop elements. Are you planning on moving in the one direction or are you just kinda trying new things right now?
I think for me it definitely has some traditional country elements to it and I think for me, I can see myself go in that direction. But I’m also the kind of person not wanting to get bogged down in one genre. I also think the sound of the EP versus the single “Too Many Alarms” has a lot to do with who produced it. When you work with the producer you kinda let them mold the sound a little bit. Funny you should ask about Texas and stuff, I’m actually going to Texas next week to record some songs out in Dallas. Not everybody knows about this yet but I’m going to record some new songs. Some guys in the Texas Gentleman are going to play on the record, or EP, I don’t even know what it is yet, but it’s going to be a few songs. My buddy, Jeff Saenz who runs Modern Electric Studios in Dallas is going to produce it for me. The thought behind it for me was - let’s put Reuben in a different environment and see what comes out. There’s probably going to be a little bit of like rockabilly kind of vibe to it. I always say that my definition of country music and my music is like when you say George Harrison played country music. He’s not your traditional country artist at all, but he definitely had some country influence and country vibe to it. And I can’t deny that maybe Nashville has rubbed off on me a little bit.
Hayley [Reuben’s wife] had said something to me that I thought was funny - that it’s always older people that tend to like your music. Do you have anything to say about that?
Yeah, I’ve noticed that and it’s like the more mature listeners tend to like my sound, although I do have some young fans, although they probably have old souls. I don’t know, it’s hard to explain it, but I definitely feel like I’m cut from old cloth if that makes sense. I feel like I’ve always been drawn to older music and I also have older parents so maybe that has something to do with it too. I think maybe for the older folks that like my music, it might just be that they like what they hear and maybe it’s reminiscent of something. Maybe there’s a little bit of nostalgia happening and I don’t mind that at all. I don’t care who you are, where you’re from, what you did, as long as you like my music. [laughs] That was the Backstreet Boys I just quoted, by the way.
It was? It sounded so genuine!
Well when you say it with inflection it’s suddenly not so cheesy.
You’re playing AmericanaFest coming up? What kind of showcases are they?
I’m actually playing Wednesday, September 13th 10pm at ACME Feed and Seed on Broadway. I’ve never played on Broadway before so this is actually the first time. They say the neon lights are bright on Broadway [laughs]. It’s a cool venue. One of these days I need to play Robert’s Western World. Robert’s is the most traditional...So yeah, we’ll be at ACME and I’m bringing the whole band. I’ve got some other Nashville shows coming up. You can check out my website and they’re all listed there.