This Charming Man; An interview with Adam Remnant

One of Athens, Ohio’s greatest exports was folk rock collective Southeast Engine, who released four albums of critically-lauded, and character-driven folk rock. However, after years of touring, in 2012 the band called it a day and began an indefinite hiatus. That’s when songwriter Adam Remnant began writing and recording songs that began to see light of day when he released his debut EP, When I was a Boy, on Friday, July 29 via Trailer Fire Records.
Remnant’s latest EP is a self-directed affair; he wrote and recorded all the songs himself in his southeast Ohio home. The literate work contained therein finds Remnant treading evoking ground as he reflects on both his childhood and becoming a grownup.
Ghettoblaster caught up with Remnant to discuss Southeast Engine, his EP, a forthcoming LP and being a parent.
Is Southeast Engine on a hiatus or is the band done for now?
I’m still really close with all the members. The door isn’t closed, but there’s no plans or expectations to pick it back up. I was having a hard time balancing the band between work and family, and the other members had their own pressures as well. All added up, it was taking a toll on the group. We needed to remove the expectation, and I think it’s been healthy for everyone to pursue their own projects.
When did you begin writing your solo debut?  Was any of this material written when you were doing Southeast Engine?
I wrote these songs around the time Southeast Engine was wrapping up, and I was starting to envision recording a solo record. I suppose I wrote them in 2012 and 2013, which seems so long ago.
Where were you finding the inspiration for these songs?
I’m always drawing on my own experience and life. The last couple Southeast Engine albums were very character driven. I wanted to write more directly with these songs. Songwriting has always been a therapeutic process where I’m making sense of my world. The songs aren’t always directly autobiographical, but they’re always personal. These songs specifically deal with the dissonance between expectations and realities. Adulthood has arrived, and the struggle of keeping up with bills and numerous responsibilities looms large in these songs.
You recorded these songs yourself, correct?  Did you play all of the instruments on the album?
Yes, one of the reasons it took so long to create was that I was recording everything myself. I didn’t have any recording equipment when I initially undertook this project, so I was slowly piecing together the basic gear I needed. I started with a Tascam 1/2 inch tape machine and mixer. I only used about four microphones in total. Eventually, I got a computer equipped with Pro Tools to finish tracking and mixing the record. My days were filled with work and family, and I would steal away in the evening to my unfinished basement to track the instruments after I got the kids to bed. I play nearly all the instruments aside from a few instances where I thought someone would specifically help a song.

How has being a parent affected you as an artist?
You can really lose your identity in your role as an artist or performer. I feel that every time I go on tour and come back home. There’s always an adjustment when I get home – it can feel like you lead two different lives. I think this is a common problem for musicians and artists who have children. Becoming a parent creates real limitations on your ability to dedicate yourself to your art, and you feel that tension. I really need a sense of home though, and my family creates that. Despite the disconnect, I imagine my family life has a vast influence on the way I write and what I write about. I suspect it allows me to write about struggles that people understand. I wouldn’t have it any other way, but this way is still really difficult. Ha!
How did it feel to be in the driver’s seat on the production end?
I learned a ton on the technical front. I spent many hours watching YouTube tutorials and reading books to learn the craft of recording and mixing. I got really into it. I had already recorded several albums in studios with engineers, so I think my ears were pretty adept at discerning what I want and what I don’t. However, learning how to produce those sounds on my own was a whole new endeavor. Ultimately, I followed my instincts with each song in terms of arrangement and sound.
You also recorded an LP in tandem, right?  Do you have plans in order for releasing that?
Yes, my original goal was to put out a full-length. I decided to narrow in on an EP in order to get something out sooner than later. However, I have eight songs largely completed for a full-length, which I plan to release next year. The songs are similar in theme, but they’re more on the folky side musically.
You have plans to support the EP with some touring?  Who is in your touring band?
The touring band consists of myself and a few Columbus, Ohio musicians. My brother, Jesse Remnant, plays bass guitar and sings harmonies. Ryan Stolte-Sawa plays violin, keyboards, and sings harmonies. Jon Helm plays drums and offers the occasional harmony. We started playing together a couple years ago at these informal shows at a brewery in Lancaster, Ohio. We got stalled out though because I had a vocal cord injury which took a long time to treat and heal. I’m super excited to have my voice back and have these great musicians joining me.
(Visit Adam Remnant here:
See him live here:!live/e5cdp)