Ringing in the new: The Infamous Stringdusters’ Andy Falco looks to the future

The Infamous Stringdusters made Charlottesville a place to call home in 2012, among other fine achievements. Image:Tom Daly The Infamous Stringdusters made Charlottesville a place to call home in 2012, among other fine achievements. Image:Tom Daly

The Infamous Stringdusters are closing out a monumental year. The upcoming New Year’s Eve gig at the Jefferson will top off 2012’s release of the band’s fourth studio album, Silver Sky, its own imprint, High Country Recordings. The video for the album’s first single, “The Place That I Call Home,” debuted nationally on CMT this fall, and The Festy, which the band curates along with its local management firm The Artist Farm and Cerberus Productions, was bigger and better than ever, drawing crowds with notable acts like Rubblebucket, Trampled by Turtles and the suddenly everywhere Lake Street Dive.

The Infamous Stringdusters is a band set smack in the middle of the new bluegrass crusade. Active curators of the genre and tireless, intrepid meddlers, playing the spirit of the music however it manifests, and damn the math. Surgeons of the genre, helping to save it by cutting it open and expertly futzing with the innards. And they want to make our corner of the world into a Mecca for the likeminded, fostering a community of explorers, and providing a soundtrack as well. C-VILLE spoke to guitarist Andy Falco by phone about what the new year holds.

C-VILLE Weekly: What’s been unique about this year? What are you guys celebrating on New Year’s Eve?

Andy Falco: “Well, I think that every year has its own sort of thing. This year, you know, we feel like we’ve grown as a band, as songwriters. The live show has grown quite a bit this year. We’ve focused a lot on developing the production and we’re really excited about that.”

You guys have a reputation for pushing into new boundaries with each album. What’s new about Silver Sky, and why did you want to do this particular album at this particular time?

Silver Sky is the first album we’ve worked on with producer Billy Hume, who’s better known for doing rap records and hip hop. He’s a majorly creative guy without any sort of expectations of what bluegrass should sound like, or acoustic instruments should sound like, he just knows what great, powerful records are supposed to sound like. He worked with us on the live release (We’ll Do It Live) before that, but this was the first bit of studio time we could get with Billy.”

“Also, when we released it, we didn’t do any distribution on it at first but at the back half of this year, we released both albums together in a deluxe edition, where we had the We’ll Do It Live record packaged with Silver Sky, but we bridged it with a…sort of a track that wasn’t really intended to be released in the beginning, it was just sort of a jam in the studio. So there were a few different things with this record.”

Speaking of High Country Recordings, The Stringdusters have a reputation for taking the reins, so to speak, with your own record label and music festival. What kind of freedoms does that afford the band that you otherwise wouldn’t have?

“It allows you to sort of control the experience. You know, as far as The Festy goes, we’re able to envision what the experience will be for the audience and the campers, etc. And the same thing for the record, you’re able to really put your own vision into it.”

“With your own label, you know, the music is never affected by how and when you release it and what you can do with your live recordings. Labels get real restrictive on what they’ll allow you to put out and when, and sometimes you’re just like, ‘Hey man, I just want to put this stuff out.’”

“We want to make that live music, we want to make it available for our fans. Which is what we do now, we have a thing called The Show Hive on our website, where you can go to the site, click on the Show Hive and watch the shows. Our magnificent live sound engineer Drew Becker works really hard to get those recordings up, usually by the next day they’re on our website. Things like that, that we wanted to do, that the traditional record label mentality sort of shies away from, they’re so concerned about it taking away from CD sales, but seriously, what are CD sales? Get the music out to the people, you know?”

So, where’s the music heading? What’s next?

“Well, we’re about to go in to make a new record, which will probably be done somewhere in the first quarter of next year. We’re taking the songs to pre-production right after New Year’s. But, you know, we’re going to try to find what the next thing is.”

“Oftentimes we get together and start showing each other songs, it starts turning into a record and that’s what we focus on. It’s the early stages but so far, we’ve done a little bit of getting together and show-and-tell, we’ve worked on a few of the songs and, honestly, I’m really excited about it. On this next record, I think everybody has grown a lot as songwriters, and I think that this next record is going to reflect that. I can’t wait to get back in the studio.”

Did you see an Infamous Stringdusters show in 2012? Tell us about it below.

The Infamous Stringdusters/December 31 at 7:30pm/The Jefferson Theater