Since 1995, Scott Garred has been presenting his insights on the world through albums replete with low-fat, highly catchy, folk-pop tunes. He releases one per year, and this Sunday will be the avant garde release of Volume 12: There’ll Be Diamonds on Tender Loving Empire Records. Thirteen years ago, after Garred graduated from Washington University, he met up with an old friend, Tom Hudson. Realizing he had never lived more than a skip away from home, he decided to embark upon an impromptu change in locale to pursue a collaborated musical effort.
Since 1995, Scott Garred has been presenting his insights on the world through albums replete with low-fat, highly catchy, folk-pop tunes. He releases one per year, and this Sunday will be the avant garde release of Volume 12: There’ll Be Diamonds on Tender Loving Empire Records.
Thirteen years ago, after Garred graduated from Washington University, he met up with an old friend, Tom Hudson. Realizing he had never lived more than a skip away from home, he decided to embark upon an impromptu change in locale to pursue a collaborated musical effort.
“We flipped a penny on a map,” Garred says. “It landed on Austin so we went to Austin. But I think he nudged it over.”
While in Austin, Garred was dismayed by the tiny-town feel, but continued to create.
“While we were looking for a new bass player, I had amassed a bunch of recordings,” he says. “And [Hudson] said ‘Scott, you should just start making cassettes and releasing the stuff.’ That same day, I worked in a photo lab doing black and white printing. We used to use an old Kodak film called Super XX. I was sent to the store to buy more and they didn’t have any, they had discontinued the film. So I wrote this song called ‘Super XX Man’, and that became the name of the project.”
Hudson eventually parted ways and Garred and became the sole driver in the Super XX Man project. He never had a monopoly on the spotlight, however, always looking for talented musicians to inspire him and co-create independent, classic folk rock music with a modern twist.
“Sometimes Super XX Man is just me, and sometimes whoever I can talk into laying down a track or two,” Garred says. “Right now we’re playing as a five-piece band. The door is always open.”
There have been over 13 members in the band, each joining, contributing to the ever-growing anthology of Garred’s music, and moving on allowing for the next installation to form. Josh Woods, an honorary member for life, played on the album, but due to scheduling and distance conflicts, passed the pick to Kelly Datchler.
Allison Wesley–who maintains a solo project as well–sings, plays the flute and has been known to drum when needed. Bob Ham, borrowed from “Parks & Recreation”, and currently working with Mercy Corps in Afghanistan, heads up the drums while Mike Johnson adds guitar, harmony and melodica. Michelle Garred, Scott’s wife, plays accordion and piano while Scott writes, sings and plays guitar.
“Harriett our dog always makes it on our record,” Garred says. “She has a collar that kind of rattles and she’s on every album I’ve done since Volume Six.”
Family man by day, and man of music by night, Garred spends his waking hours working at a hospital, where inspiration seems unusually but constantly abounding. He explains much of the new record is a product of his environment.
“It’s based loosely around the work I do as a musical therapist with persons diagnosed with mental illness,” Garred says. “For example, if I was facilitating a drum circle, I would be encouraging people to connect with other people in the group, make eye contact and socialize. Just connect to something outside of themselves, for maybe the first time all day.”
With songs such as “Medication” and “Crazy People,” the impact Garred’s work has on his art is clear. What becomes most apparent on his records is that this is an artist who pays attention. His music seems to be a filter for his experiences. Everything falls into it, but the finished product is a simple, polished and poetic interpretation of his life.
“My music is pretty much what I observe,” Garred says. “I’m just kind of looking around, trying to put what I see in an interesting way in a song that has a nice melody and a nice simple song structure.”
With fans that have been loyal and passionate for over a decade, including the owner of Tender Loving Empire, it’s obvious why each new record continues to receive praise and enhance Gerrad’s success.
This week, Garred and Datchler did a special on OPB. Super XX Man has also been recognized by Willamette Week, Portland Tribune and had songs featured by NPR. Through all of his touring and successes, Garred’s goals remain as simple and honorable as the music he creates.
“I want to find an audience, I always want the audience to grow,” he says. “My hope is that people listen to the music, find something about it that they like, think ‘Gosh, that’s a really interesting way of looking at that and it’s a really nice melody’ I just hope that people react to the music that way.”
He’s hoping to pursue this goal at Sunday’s CD Release show, which is, really, so much more than that.
“From 7 to 8 p.m. we’re going to have a reception with art, and we’re going to try to display some of the art that has graced the Super XX Man covers,” Garred explains. “I think we’re probably going to have some people on hand to do sketches of people. Our drummer’s going to DJ [that part]. The whole night is sponsored by OPB music. We’re going to do raffles too, and everybody will have a chance to customize a ‘Cautious Like a Panther’ mask. It’ll be kind of weird, kind of something special.”
If things continue as they have been, it is inevitable that Super XX Man will make a name for himself as a Portland music legend, with a staying power similar the diamonds that inspire his heartfelt songs.
Super XX Man CD Release PartySomeday LoungeNov. 23, 7 p.m.$6 advanced tickets, $7 at the door21-plus