Artists in their own words: Rathbone Debuys
Where: French Quarter (He lives on Bourbon and promises that, “Even though it sounds noisy on paper, it’s actually a really quiet part of Bourbon.”)
Q: What book can you never get rid of?
R: I have a few: the 9/11 Commission Report, The French Quarter by Herbert Asbury and Tarantula by Bob Dylan.
Oh, and Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol. That’s the book he never finished. It actually stops mid-sentence. I think he went insane and burned the rest of the manuscript, so it was unfinished by the time of his death. Despite that, the book is unbelievably amazing. He must have been close to rounding it out, but knowing that the novel ends without any real resolution is great.
Q: What is your favorite form of storytelling?
R: Songwriting. That’s probably why I’m a songwriter. I love stories, and when you tell a story through song you can be more abstract than, let’s say, a novel.
Specifically, I’ve become very interested in the folk tradition and that kind of storytelling. The verses are the story, and the song comes back to one line that puts everything in context and makes you reflect on what you just heard. Brilliant.
That also means you can find inspiration everywhere. Books, experiences, even headlines are inspirational to me. Things that are happening in my city and personal experiences are highly influential, with the abstract you can personify places or experiences. I could very much be describing New Orleans in a song, and it could easily be interpreted as a lover. They say that New Orleans is like a long-lost lover, and sometimes that comes across in music.
Q: How would you train a dog?
R: With love and patience and kindness, and a lot of petting. Also, I would pitch my voice an octave higher than it is supposed to be.
I’ve never actually trained a dog, but I’ve always wanted to be given a puppy [laughing] and be told, ‘Here you go.’ Then I’d have to raise it.
Q: When do you know it’s time to start a new project?
R: When I stop feeling inspired, or when I feel stuck. Right now, I don’t feel that way, thankfully. I just started a new band with two really great musicians, Marc Linam and Warren Coker, and the energy has been great. I wanted to encourage people to come see us play. We are at the Old Arabi Bar next on August 3rd!
This new project feels liberating and it feels inspiring, and it is also risky, but if you are not going in a little bit deeper than you were before, you should probably move on because you're too comfortable. Comfort and being safe is often rather uninspiring.
Q: Who do you feel like should be a New Orleanian?
R: I would say our president because he could use a lesson in southern manners.
Rathbone’s music is available on soundcloud and bandcamp. Catch his band at Old Arabi Bar next Thursday, August 3 and be on the lookout for his debut EP coming out September 2017. To learn more about Rathbone and upcoming concerts, make sure to check out his facebook page.
Kelley Crawford is a professor, writer, mentor, dancer, and constant questioner. If you would like to contact Kelley Crawford, you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.