Sunday, February 26, 2012

Chicago band Archie Powell and the Exports releasing new album of well-crafted pop songs


Chicago musician Archie Powell's well-crafted pop songs give one hope that the art of songwriting is not dead.

Powell and his band the Exports,, on May 1 will release their second full-length album, "Great Ideas in Action." Hopefully they will give people a sneak preview of the album when they play March 3 at Township, 2200 N. California Ave., Chicago.

Rodeo Ruby Love and The Noise FM also are on the bill. The show starts at 10 p.m. and tickets are $5, available at

I had the chance to talk to Powell about the album and the impact he has been making on the Chicago music scene.

Q - "Great Ideas in Action" is your second full-length album. In sitting down to make the album, what goals did you have in mind? Did you achieve them?

Essentially I was going for a sound that was more akin to how we come across at a live show. That ultimately meant giving ourselves a country-ectomy and upping the feedback.

Q - What constitutes a good pop song?

Is it dynamic? Is it memorable? Most importantly, is it honest?

Q - What were your reasons for moving from Madison, Wis., to Chicago? What have you discovered about the Chicago music scene since moving here?

Ultimately it was about getting a change in scenery. The Chicago music scene has been very kind to us. 

It's a big pond with a lot of fish, but if you stick around long enough you'll find the right folks to tag along with. I love it here.

Q - Did you write the songs for the new album collaboratively with the band? How does that process work?

I write all of the songs in my bedroom before I show them to the band. Essentially I bring them a plain cheese pizza and they make it better by putting a bunch of actual toppings on it.

Q - Given the new technology available to bands these days, do you think being a musician these days is harder or easier? How have you tried to tap into that technology?

As far as the Internet is concerned, the whole thing can be a bit of a double edged sword. On one hand it's very easy to get your material out there for public consumption.

On the other hand, everyone else knows how to do this as well. You've got a lot of white noise to fight through out there.

Q - Are you and the rest of the band still juggling making music with day/night jobs? Did you write "Job Fair" out of empathy for those looking for work?

We all work to support ourselves and the band. I'm not exactly looking for a "career" job, so to speak, but the song speaks to the bullshit a lot of my peers are going through at this point in time.

Q - Given that your dad is a musician, was it a given that you would also become a musician? How much influence has your dad had in your musical career?

My Dad was always incredibly supportive of my ridiculous fantasy lifestyle. I couldn't have asked for more.

On one hand you might be able to say that I've "got the genes" for this line of work, but if I hadn't been nurtured to do it I'd probably be doing something else entirely right now.

He passed away last November, the album is dedicated in his memory. A true legend of the game.

Q - Your songs have drawn much critical praise. How important is that to you? What are your goals as a musician?

I write songs for my own fulfillment. I'd be lying if I told you I didn't enjoy the validation that comes from third party praise, but that's ultimately just a bonus.

I don't put out anything I can't stand behind. If you like it too, then that's lovely news.

Q - What are the band's short-term and long-term goals?

Short term - get this damn record out. Long term - get more damn records out. As long as the music's still good.