Vol. 2, Issue #18 Sept. 28th - October 11th, 2007

David Terry of Aqueduct
Interview By: Graham Lee Brewer

Tulsa native-turned-Seattle big wig David Terry is the driving force behind indie sensation Aqueduct. Terry manages to combine dark, often brutal lyricism with dreamy, bouncing pop-rock with surprising ease, making some of the catchiest yet wonderfully deep music I’ve ever heard. When speaking to him, it’s easy to see that even though he has been on the receiving end of a lot of favorable attention and success, Terry still has the humility and kindness that defines so many of his fellow Oklahomans. Terry and crew will stop through the Conservatory in OKC October 3, then will play Cain’s Ballroom in Tulsa two days later.

Graham: Are you pretty excited to play some shows back in Oklahoma?

David: Yeah I am. It should be pretty cool. I got a chance to come by earlier this year to play Tulsa and Norman. It will be great to play the Conservatory and Tulsa again. I’m looking forward to it

Graham: What was it like relocating from Tulsa to Seattle?

David: It was crazy for one. I had such a hard time moving out of Tulsa. There were so many pitfalls and unexpected things that came up on my way out of town, I wondered if somebody wasn’t trying to keep me there. I burst through and made it to Seattle finally. It was cool because I kind of planned my move around this show, opening up for Modest Mouse, in Seattle. So, I really had this great thing set up for me there and played this great show to 200 people and really introduced myself to Seattle about the best way I possibly could have. It really opened up some doors as far as playing other clubs and getting a booking agent and things like that. It kind of made things happen pretty quickly when I got there. The city is great and the scene is great, so it was a worthwhile move.

Graham: I bet that first day, moving to Seattle and then opening up for Modest Mouse like 12 hours later, was a pretty intense day.

David: It was. I gave myself about a week to get up there and then I had car trouble and all this other stuff came up. I got there literally late the night before the show. I hadn’t even unloaded the moving van yet by the time I played the show. I went home after the show, crashed out, then woke up the next morning and started moving myself in. It was funny.

Graham: It’s hard to make that adjustment from Oklahoma to a big city. I’ve tried to do that before, and money is such a big issue, coming from a place where the cost of living is so low.

David: Yeah, totally. But I wrote a good song about it: “Tulsa Trap.” It was all about how hard it is to move out of your comfort zone and try to do something. It was fitting for that experience for sure.

Graham: What was the music scene in Tulsa like when you were living here?

David: I have to say maybe not as good as it is now. My experience with Tulsa is that it waxes and wanes over the years. In 10 years there might be two peaks of artistry and creativity in the scene overall, and then people either move away or the authorities that be try and quash any cool things happening. It just seems like things are in and out all the time. There wasn’t a whole lot of clubs to play. When I was there starting off I really tried to work outside of Tulsa to places like Norman, Fayetteville, Denton, Lawrence, and things like that to really try and get out as far as I could. When I was in Tulsa I attempted to do some national touring and really just got a lot of puzzled looks. By that point I was like ‘Man, I gotta get out of here.’ The idea was to kind of move to one of the coasts and bridge the gap between that coast and the Midwest. At the end of 2003 I moved and by Spring of 2004 I had phase one of my master plan done, which was to set up a tour of the West coast. That really attracted Barsuk (Records) and showed them that I was willing to do a lot of work on my own and wasn’t just a fly by night guy who made catchy music.

Graham: It’s kind of funny that you had to go establish yourself on the West coast to get noticed by a label in Seattle, even though they do have a lot of Midwestern artists...

David: You know, it’s been cool coming back to Oklahoma since I moved. Maybe it’s a ‘heart grows fonder’ mentality. I think when I was there everybody’s attitude about Aqueduct and a lot of other bands was that ‘I can see them next month, or two weeks for now. So, I won’t go to this show.” I’ve noticed, coming back, that we’ll maybe only get to come twice a year so people know they should come out. It’s been fun, productive and awesome to come back and play hometown shows.

Graham: One thing that stood out to me about “Or Give me Death” was how it seemed to go from one end of the emotional spectrum to the other several times. Was that period in your life an emotional rollercoaster?

David: Not really. In my songwriting, I’ve always kind of believed that good music comes from dark places. I write about myself and people I observe and try to blur the lines between all that. Basically, with that album I kind of lyrically let the words set a tone and tried to juxtapose it with upbeat, rocking songs.

Graham: I’ve always felt that your music is often dark, emotional song matter disguised as catchy pop.

David: Exactly. It makes me feel better. It’s kind of cathartic to write songs like that. I can tap into an emotion and kind of amplify it and then move on.

Graham: Are you going to bust out your R. Kelly cover song or your rendition of “Damn It Feels Good To Be A Gangsta” when you come back to Oklahoma?

David: The “Damn It Feels Good To Be A Gangsta” started to get a little dangerous. We decided to hang that one up. People wanted it so bad that we were worried that people would just know us for that. But we haven’t run away from doing awesome covers like that. This summer we went to Lollapalooza and worked up R. Kelly’s “I’m a Flirt” off of his new record. Just to slide the people in Chicago a hometown bone. It went over really well. We had a kickass time playing it. So we’ll probably bring it out for you guys.

Graham: Doesn’t that song have an incredible amount of words in it?

David: Yeah, like a million.

Graham: How long did you have to prepare for that?

David: About a van ride from Seattle to Chicago. We decided a little late to do it. We honestly just sat in the van and listened to it over and over and worked it out. We practiced it one time before Lollapalooza at the show the day before. We all looked at each other and said ‘Okay,’ then debuted it a Lollapalooza.

Graham: Did you grow up listening to gangsta rap and R&B?

David: I was just thinking about this: one summer, I think it was ‘88, I was at camp and was introduced to both NWA and Easy E and all that stuff and Skid Row. What a summer! It’s pretty fitting, I think. As far as the summer of musical influences, it really hit home. And then like five years later I discovered how awesome the Beach Boys are and it all wrapped together.

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