Name Of Artists: Joseph Arthur
Hometown: Akron, Ohio
Bio: If there's such a thing as the opposite of writer's block, Joseph Arthur has it. The Akron, Ohio-bred/Brooklyn, N.Y.-residing singer/songwriter, who once released four EPs in the span of as many months, has demonstrated his unwavering proclivity yet again with the digital release of Redemption City, a 24-song dual download that Arthur is giving away for FREE at www.josepharthur.com
Growing up in the '70s and '80s in Akron, Arthur's musical life started off like many others, with mandatory piano lessons. But once he realized he could use the piano to conjure up his own musical worlds, he took to the instrument and began writing songs, eventually playing in bands while in high school. Days after graduation, he moved to Atlanta with a band, playing bass and supporting himself with day jobs at a music store and tattoo shop. At the time, Arthur aspired to be a world-class jazz or fusion bass player in the vein of the late Jaco Pastorius. But when a demo tape of Arthur's songs somehow made its way to Peter Gabriel and his Real World Records label, "I came to find out that Peter thought the bass playing was weak on my stuff, but what he liked was the lyrics."
Next thing Arthur knew, he was playing at Gabriel's WOMAD festival (despite having played solo acoustic "maybe one time before"), jamming with Gabriel and Joe Strummer in Real World studios in Bath, England, and was subsequently signed to Real World Records. "It was crazy," Arthur says. "I think I like repeating the story more the older I get." And while Arthur's 1997 debut, Big City Secrets, attracted a substantial following abroad, the artist didn't connect with Stateside listeners until Come To Where I'm From, which features his signature song, 'In the Sun'. That track was covered by R.E.M.'s Stipe and Coldplay's Chris Martin in 2006 on a charity single to benefit victims of Hurricane Katrina, having previously been recorded a decade earlier by Gabriel for a Princess Diana tribute album.
Redemption City comes fresh off the heels of 2011's The Graduation Ceremony, which saw Arthur team with producer John Alagia, at whose Village Studio Fistful of Mercy (within which Arthur plays alongside Ben Harper and Dhani Harrison) had played its first public gig in 2010. Alagia had previously produced 'You're So True', Arthur's 2004 contribution to the Shrek 2 soundtrack.
Previously nominated for a best recording package Grammy for his 1999 EP Vacancy, Arthur is an accomplished painter, having displayed his works in galleries around the world. His online-only Museum of Modern Arthur (www.museumofmodernarthur.com) serves as a repository for his creations.
What are your most recent activities?
Just put out a double record called Redemption City which is available for free on Josepharthur.com. Also been spending time in Mexico.
How do you feel about being picked by Greg Dulli and how excited are you about playing the event?
Greg is a friend of mine but still to be picked by him is a great honor. I think he's one of the best songwriters out there and his voice is his own. ATP is a festival I've heard about for years and I know they have a history of picking great bands so of course I'm thrilled to be on it this year.
Are there any other currently confirmed bands you are excited about seeing?
All of them.
What else will be be doing whilst you are in New York for this event?
Well I live in Brooklyn and have for many years so I have the luxury of staying at home. So I'll do what I always do which is ride my bike all over town and get lost in the city's potential. Either that or try and get Greg to come over to record something.
What's your most memorable NY show (if you've played one)?
Since it's home I play here a lot but recently we opened up for the Afghan Whigs at the Bowery Ballroom which was their first show in many years. It was great to be a part of that.
If you were curating name three bands you would pick to play your event:
What record are you currently listening to more than others?
Talk Talk - Laughing Stock
If you could pick one of your records for ATP fans to listen to, which would you chose?
I would say Redemption City as it is the newest and it's easy to get cause its free.