Songwriter Spencer Albee on Palomino Motel and the next Word Barn show
On Friday, October 14, Palomino Motel will set up shop for a stay at the Word Barn. The Motel, which is overseen by Portland-based (and locally revered) songwriter Spencer Albee (Rustic Overtones, As Fast As, Spencer and the Walrus), has released a few singles and has plans for a full album. sometime in 2023. Seacoastonline caught up with Albee to discuss a life around music, being born here in Granite State (Dover!), and what keeps him from plugging in.
seacoastonline: Let’s talk about Palomino Motel, which fyou and Natalie Mishell. How was this group born? Why was this group born?
Albee: Natalie and I met just before the pandemic. She had just moved here from Brooklyn (via California). After the lockdown, we reconnected at a livestream event she was hosting and invited me to play. Shortly after, I asked him to join us in Spencer and the Walrus, our Beatles band that plays a three-night stand at the State Theater in Portland every year. In this band, we started harmonizing as a band and that led to us playing gigs together and eventually writing and recording together.
Seacoastonline: You have been at the heart of so many musical explorations over the years; Rustic Overtones, As Fast As, Rocktopus, your solo adventures, that Beatles project that got you talking about Rolling Stone… When do you decide to move on to “the next thing”? Or are all these elements part of a whole?
Albee: It’s usually time to think about “next thing” when something ends. Rustic ended after years of problems with the label, then As Fast As was born, and so on. It’s not like a timer is set on every project. They just follow their natural course.
Seacoastonline: In general, why the music? Why are you looking for it? Why are you creating it?
Albee: It’s in my bones. I also like comedy, but I just don’t have the aptitude that I have for music. Music, I just understand in my own way. It makes sense to me how to put it together. When I hear other people putting music on in a way that I like, that’s when I look for that. It is food for your heart and your soul. That’s all I’ll go with the self-care talk.
Seacoastonline: Palomino Motel has just released their second single, “Hold My Feet To The Fire”. What were the objectives of this song? Do you and Natalie co-write these songs, or take turns? What do you like about working together?
Albee: Some songs, like our latest single “Make This Easy”, are more of a co-write. Natalie came in with the bones of this one and we fleshed it out. “Hold My Feet” was my song that Nat had good suggestions on. . There are other songs where she is the songwriter and still others that are fuller collaborations. Working with someone you enjoy writing with is a treat. It can also seem like less work, because, well, it’s less work. You You don’t have to find all the answers on your own. It can be fun sometimes, but I think for both of us, we were just sick of being solo artists and wanted to be part of something collaborative.
Seacoastonline: What are the plans for a proper full release (are there any plans for a proper full release)? Where is this thing going?
Albee: Working on a feature film release likely in the spring of 2023. Where are you going? Well, we’ll keep playing for people as long as they want to listen. So far we’ve had a really positive reaction to what we’re doing, and that’s been great. I hope we can make a good clientele and come back regularly to visit our friends.
Seacoastonline: You’re heading to I-95 for a gig at the Word Barn in Exeter. What excites you about the show? What can people expect?
Albee: I’m excited to play the venue because I really like what Ben (Anderson) and his family are doing with the venue. It’s a good central atmosphere. I’m also thrilled to share the stage with our friends Dwight + Nicole from Burlington. People can expect a sincere show from people who will be very excited to perform for them.
Seacoastonline: Do you have a newfound appreciation for being able to share your tunes with a live audience (after the year-plus layover we all experienced in 2020)?
Albee: 100%. The break also helped me focus on the part that really matters, which is making music that speaks to you and sharing it with people who want to hear it and give you that energy back. … The rest is all bulls — and doesn’t matter.
Seacoastonline: I I think a lot of people think of you as a “Portland guy”, which obviously makes sense, but you were born in Dover, here in the old Granite State. How has the New Hampshire version of the “Seacoast music scene” influenced your approach to your art, if any?
Albee: It’s true that I was born in Dover and raised in York, Maine, which is much closer to Portsmouth than Portland. I also consider myself a bit of a child of Portsmouth. So I grew up with The Elvis Room and Stone Church and Groovechild and Percy Hill. It was part of my imprint on live performance. I also used to frequent Sessions Music, which was located in downtown Portsmouth in the old theater next to Eagle Picture. This was before Bull Moose at Portsmouth. Also, my mom is from NH, so I have a lot of roots there. Also, a big fan of the White Mountains. I grew up going there too. Also, I grew up watching PBS on Durham channel 11. All of these things put together absolutely clarified who I was when it came to attitude and pop culture references. There is a Portsmouth sensibility that I understand. Like music, it’s in my bones.
seacoastonline: Considering the name of the place (the Word Barn), what is your favorite word? What word do you tend to overuse? What’s a word for living? What is the word that sums up where you are at this stage of your career? And finally, what is a word that envelops what you yearn to find as you continue to navigate this lifetime?
FAVORITE WORD: in accordance
LIVE BY: responsibility
WHERE I AM: Acceptance
MOVING FORWARD: Opportunity!
Check out thewordbarn.com and palomimotelmusic.com for more information.