An Interview With Metric Guitarist, JOSHUA WINSTEAD On His Debut Solo Album, Balancing It All, Favorite Artists and More!
Posted On 03 Jun 2016
Joshua Winstead, bass player, and long-time member of critically celebrated quartet, Metric, released his debut solo album MMXX via Royal Cut Records today on June 3. The Pay-What-You-Want, 11 track album is now available at Winstead’s website joshuawinstead.com.
After more than a decade playing with Metric, and contributing to all six of their critically acclaimed albums, Winstead set out to record his first proper solo music with a desire to “just try to establish my own voice.” He notes, his desire to make a solo record “stemmed from writing all these very personal songs and served as a way to connect with his lifelong love of singing.”
“I grew up singing and I played in a number of rock bands where I was always a singer/guitar player. I realized that I really missed singing, and knew it was time to make an album.”
Primarily recorded at Brooklyn’s Mission Sound, as well as studios across the world while on tour with Metric, each of the tracks was written and produced by Winstead, with the exception of some live drums, the multi-instrumentalist made the record entirely on his own, recording all the vocals, playing piano, guitar, bass, synthesizers, harmonium, and trumpet.
Winstead says that “while the record is largely concerned with matters of the heart, there is also a deep political component to MMXX.” He explains, “MM stands for Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr., while the two X’s have a double meaning representing love and death. These two men loved you in different ways and fought for you in different ways, and they essentially died for the same reasons. Growing up as a biracial person, it was a deep and difficult thing to figure out what it means to be both black and white. The record among other things has a lot to do with coming to terms with racism and generally being an empathetic person.” MMXX is a record about love and overcoming fears.
Learn more about Joshua in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time today! So, how’s 2016 been treating you so far? What were some of the highlights for you and your music in 2015?
The year has been really great to me, I’ve been really lucky. The year is only half way done and already I have been involved in two great tours with amazing bands, released a music video and the release of my solo album is happening now. It’s one of those times in life where I feel like I might look back one day and be surprised at all the changes that were talking place.
In a couple of months, you will be releasing your debut solo album. How long have you been wanting to put this out? What do you think got to you switch gears and do it? I read that you had been missing singing. Is that correct?
Actually the idea for a solo album had been circling around, but hadn’t become concrete until about 2 years ago. But I think as far as wanting to do something like this probably my whole life. I’m very excited to finally get the opportunity to get it done on my own terms. To get the album written and done didn’t require me switching gears at all, it actually just required having the time. In the last two years there was finally the time for me to dedicate myself to finishing the project.
I did miss singing, singing was the first part of my musical vocabulary and that hadn’t been utilized for quite a long time. There is something much different about performing using your voice as the instrument, its both rewarding and challenging in a way I have been looking forward to feeling.
What was it like recording “MMXX” while on tour with Metric? Was it easy to transition between the two?
It was really great to do be able to do both the tour and recording at the same time. I found writing/recording/editing to be a great way of productively spending my days off. A lot of times on tour the days off can be the hardest part. You find yourself in an unusual place trying to live a normal life in a completely not normal situation. But with the album on my mind I was excited to get up and get to work. The transition was perfect for my time on stage as well. I found it useful, it kept my mind agile and focused on music. Which was positive for my work in Metric as well.
I am curious as to why you decided to record all the vocals, piano, guitars, bass, synthesizers and trumpet for the record? Why did you decide to do all that on your own?
It wasn’t a decision, more of just the way the process turned out. Playing music is very natural to me so jumping from instrument to another is just part of the fun. Also one of the reasons I decided to make this a solo project is most of my time is taken up with being in Metric, so I don’t have the time required to commit to being in another project. It wouldn’t be fair to the other musicians and music that might be part of it, because it requires dedication.
What’s been the most challenging or surprisingly easy aspect of establishing your own voice away from Metric?
The most challenging part will be getting the music out in the world and listened to. There is a lot of music in the world these days, we all have many so choices on how and where to spend our money and more importantly our time. The easy part is the music itself. Writing music is something that just comes natural and is inspired by what’s happening around me.
Do you think that Metric fans will enjoy “MMXX”? How different do you think the subject matter of it then previous Metric albums? What are some standout tracks on this record?
I absolutely think Metric fans will enjoy the album. I’m not saying they will find it similar, but most people listen to many styles of music these days, so transitioning to another style won’t be odd. I actually think the subject matter is very similar. Emily writes from the heart and is inspired by the world around as us, as am I. As far as stand out tracks that’s an odd thing for the artist to pick. That is more up to the world to decide.
Do you still plan to tour and write with Metric in the future?
Absolutely! There are no plans to stop being in the band Metric by any means. Metric is just beginning another phase and I’m very excited about both projects.
How was the US headline tour with Metric? How’s the Canadian arena tour going with Death Cab For Cutie?
Both tours were surprising excellent. By surprising I don’t mean that I thought they would go badly, but that I am surprised how fun and successful they actually were. We have been doing this for almost a decade and for a tour to be as fun as these two were after this much time was really great. We had the pleasure of playing with really great bands who we connected with both musically and personally. Really good times!
What artists have been inspiring you since you first became a musician? Who would you love to work with in the future?
The list of musicians that have inspired me during my life is crazy long. I am a huge fan of music, all sorts of styles, genres and generations of music. Here a just a few Miles Davis, Nina Simone, Jimi Hendrix, Beach Boys, The Beatles, Charlie Parker, Devo, The Velvet Underground, Sly and the Family Stone, Fela Kuti, Duran Duran, N.W.A, Prince, Sam Cooke, I mean the list is endless…That’s the just the 60’s-80’s I love music!
As for people I would like to work – James Blake, Feist, Sufjan Stevens, Rihanna, Jamie XX, FKA Twigs, again the list is long, I really enjoy collaborating.
At the end of the day, what do you hope is the message of your music and your songs?
I would hope the message people walk away with after listening to my music and songs is a sense that they can be brave enough to face the world with love, compassion and empathy in their hearts. Bravery through love and love through bravery.