If you were to write an intro for “Hard Times” before it played on the radio, what would you want listeners to know about the song?
6 Things You Don’t Know About Us:
Formed the newgrass quartet in 2015 at the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point. Released your first album in 2018 and move to Madison in 2020. Can you share a bit about each of your individual musical backgrounds?
Each of us came from pretty unique musical backgrounds. I [Ed. Note: Ben Majeska] personally grew up playing a lot of rock and roll on electric guitar before finding my way to bluegrass via some Yonder Mountain String Band shows while I was in high school. Augie (banjo) and Eli (bass) were in an indie-rock band before Armchair. Denzel (drummer) was primarily a guitarist and pianist before joining the band and had hardly heard of bluegrass before entering the world of Armchair Boogie!
What are some of your musical influences, both within and outside of bluegrass?
Banjo with acoustic and electric guitars backed by tight, driving rhythms on electric bass and drums. How do you balance staying true to your bluegrass roots while also experimenting with different styles?
It’s something that naturally occurs. All of us bring something unique to the table. All of my songs tend to be on the funkier side of things, while Augie has a lot of driving bluegrass tunes as well as country feels. We’ve never tried to strike the balance, it just happens which is nice. And because of our unique lineup, we can cover a lot of genres while remaining true to our original sound.
Live performance is a defining element of bluegrass. What are your favorite aspects of playing live? What are some of your most memorable onstage moments?
We love feeding off the crowd during jam segments where we have no idea where the music will lead. The crowd plays a massive role in that energy, and if they are fired up, it helps push us to new heights. As for memorable moments, they happen all over the country but perhaps the most special ones happen at our very own festival: The Boogiedown. Our whole community shows up for it and we are guaranteed to blast off during each set.
If you could collaborate with any musician, living or dead, who would it be and why?
John Hartford! We all love him, he was insanely creative, funny, and talented on so many instruments. We all collectively draw a ton of inspiration from him.
What are some of your hobbies and interests outside of music?
Augie and Denzel do a lot with tree work, forestry, and hunting! I personally love any outdoor activities from hiking to kayaking, but also cherish quiet time with a good book. Eli is quite the movie connoisseur and has plenty of pets to look after.
Can you share 12 songs that have influenced your lives and careers?
Countrified – John Anderson
(often play this jam as we pull up to venues cause it’s fun as heck to sing together)
Country Boy – Ricky Skaggs
(classic tune we’ve jammed in the van for years)
Send Me On My Way – Rusted Root
(tour song we play on the road, mostly because we think it’s funny)
Life Is A Highway – Rascal Flatts
(another funny tour song)
Boogie Man – Speedy West & Jimmy Bryant
(epic jam we hope to cover someday)
Bang on the Drum All Day – Todd Rundgren
(go pack go!)
Super Power – Jim Lauderdale
(we look up to him)
Old Train – Tony Rice
Steam Powered Aeroplane – John Hartford
(one of the first covers we did)
Dixie Chicken – Little Feat
(classic tune to jam and get ideas from)
Gold Rush – Tony Rice
(we all learned this one on stringed instruments)
Satisfied ‘N’ Tickled Too – Taj Mahal
(one of the best songs written)