Interview

One-Man Band Lincoln Durham Releases Revelations of a Mind Unraveling

Photo Credit: Jay Trevino

Lincoln Durham unleashed his new release, Revelations of a Mind Unraveling, at the end of March. This small-town Texan is an edgy, one-man band tour de force with a powerful, compelling sound. Durham, whose music has always danced towards the shadows, is exorcising some serious demons on this latest disc. Like a beautifully crafted Day of the Dead calavera, his art is as much colorful, clacking bones as it is a gorgeous and soulful celebration of the darker side of the human experience.

With an eclectic array of traditional, and not-so-traditional, instruments, Durham creates a gritty mix of soul-fueled blues and punk-laced folk. A true performer, his solo show is an evocative, percussive, and emotive event – a musical feat with a pleasing dose of performance art.

A contest fiddle player in his youth, Durham has no shortage of musical chops. Like a kid set loose in his grandfather’s workshop, he’s constantly experimenting, adding and subtracting new instruments to and from his arsenal. Beat up old guitars, stomp boards, and tambourines are all part of his toolbox.

“This year I’m rolling with a few more cigar box guitars and leaving the fiddle at home,” Durham said of his latest collection. “The banjo is still in play, a couple kick drums, floor tom, snare, harmonicas, guitars, a bucket of percussion stuff and suitcase with an ever-growing hole in it. I’m chronically plagued with an obsession to add and experiment with new toys and tones. In the next year, I’m wanting to try out more foot percussion, like another snare, cymbals or a hi-hat to add a little shimmer. A keyboard or old vintage Moog would be amazing. It’s always about adding layers of tone in my live shows so I’m always tinkering, modifying and experimenting. Once I’m happy, I’ll probably retire.”

For now, Durham has chosen to remain a solo act.

“There are definite pros and cons,” he commented. “So far, in my opinion, the pros have outweighed the cons, but that may not always be the case.”

With just one band member, Durham is concerned with maximizing his sound.

“The element I like most about the one-man band is the challenge: How can I make the biggest, fullest tone with just one person? Over the years, it has come to identify my sound and the spirit of my songs. When I write, I write to the one-man band, and my songs come out as they do. I think my music could have a drastically different sound if I were writing for a band,” he explained.

“I’m also a fan of the ‘spectacle,’” Durham continued. “I kind of fell into my niche. There are plenty of people doing the one-man band format, but even so, it’s something people usually walk away talking about. Something they buzz about.”

Alone on the stage, Durham has sole responsibility for pulling off his live shows.

“The biggest reoccurring con is the loneliness on stage. On the road it’s my tour manager, Alissa, and me, so that aspect isn’t lonely, but the stage is. You rely solely on the audience and/or yourself to feed the energy of the show. If the audience is rabid - at the stage and banging heads - all is good, but if they are lethargic and passive, you don’t have band mates to feed off of. You have to close your eyes and grab some fire from within so you can still give your best performance possible. It’s always about bringing the fire, every night, for five or 500 people.”

There is an element of art and design to everything Durham does, from his album covers to his videos and even his onstage persona.

“Along with the music, I was always a traditional artist - painting, sculpting and drawing as a kid and adolescent. Then, one of my first and longest running jobs was working for an advertising agency,” Durham recalled. “I drew from this background to create content that would describe and illustrate what I was trying to convey through my songs. I’ve always been a fan of flamboyancy and things and people bigger than life, but with an understated coolness that comes across as ‘too cool to try too hard.’ Sometimes my ‘taste’ filter doesn’t work very well, and I get gaudy, but for the most part, I try to draw from this attitude when creating anything from art to music to my appearance.”

Just as Durham continues to tweak his stockpile of instruments, he is constantly exploring and experimenting with his music, which has continued to change and evolve over his career.

“I feel that my music is changing drastically. At least in my head it is,” Durham commented. “When I first started, I was trying to be something that I wasn’t. Over the course of my career, I’ve found my voice, or myself, I guess you could say. As a teenager my roots were always in punk and harder rock. I’ve stopped trying to keep those influences at bay and am letting them dictate my writing more and more. I have opinions and views of the world, and I put those opinions and angst into my writing. I don’t write for the ‘hook’ anymore, for the radio play. I write to expel the demons in my head. I belch out the bile and form it into a song that hopefully other people understand and connect with.”