M. Lockwood Porter is not eager to join the 27 Club. After releasing a well-received tribute to Chris Bell—Big Star frontman and notable member of said club—in March, he’s now mere days away from releasing his latest full-length, 27. While Porter has typically turned to the past for inspiration, 27 is a record that takes a long hard look at the road ahead.
In anticipation, he’s shared a track, “Restless,” with us, which you can stream below. We decided to take this opportunity to ask him a few questions about his career thus far.
The Bay Bridged: Your latest record, 27, is about reaching the end of your 20s. Did something happen to you that got you thinking more about this?
M. Lockwood Porter: I think I had a realization that a lot of people have in their mid-to-late twenties. It felt like I just woke up a year or two ago and realized, “Oh, I’m not on the path I want to be on,” and it suddenly didn’t feel like I had all the time in the world to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. That led to a lot of analysis and searching, and these songs were written during that period of self-analysis, while I was wrestling with a deeper understanding that my options and time on Earth are quite limited and finite.
TBB: As one of our many transplants, you moved here from Oklahoma a few years back. What made you choose to settle in the Bay?
MLP: I actually left Oklahoma to go to college at Yale University nearly 10 years ago
TBB: What got you into the folkier corners of music?
MLP: I started listening to more singer-songwriters and folk and country when I left Oklahoma to go to Yale because it gave me a template for how to write music without a band or collaborators. I started playing in bands when I was 12 or 13, and was part of a small but thriving music scene in Oklahoma, and I had trouble finding people to play with when I left. The bands in that Oklahoma scene in the early 2000s were mostly punk, hardcore, and emo. I had already grown out of playing that kind of music by the time I went to college, and it’s pretty much impossible write those kinds of songs alone in a dorm room anyway. Also, I was an English major and interested in becoming a better writer, and the folk and country traditions seem to value strong songwriting more than the riff-based music I had been playing up until that point.
TBB: Tell us a little bit about this song we’re about to hear.
MLP: I wrote “Restless” about a year ago. I spent several days alone at my friend Peter’s family cabin near Santa Cruz. I wrote a lot of the songs on the album during that long weekend, actually. I wrote the song pretty quickly. I had recently started treating music as something more than a serious hobby at the time, and I sensed disapproval from some of the people around me. I felt a bit frustrated and defiant, and those pent-up feelings came out as a fully-formed three-and-a-half minute rock song.
TBB: If 27 is about your late 20s, how do you think you’ll view this record when you’re 40?
MLP: At its best, music – and art in general – allows you to connect with someone else at his or her most vulnerable and open, and you feel less alone. You don’t necessarily have to identify with every detail of a song to have that kind of connection. I hope I still connect with these songs when I’m 40, because that means I’ve created art that transcends the specific circumstances of its creation and connects with people on that deeper level. I don’t think you can set out to do that, though. You just work hard to make the best art you can, and hope for the best.
Porter will be touring for the duration of the fall, starting in San Francisco at Brick and Mortar Music Hall.
M. Lockwood Porter Tour Dates:
10/10 — San Francisco, CA — Brick and Mortar w/ Victor Krummenacher
10/17 — Oklahoma City, OK — The Blue Note
10/18 — Tulsa, OK — Mercury Lounge
10/19 — Lawrence, KS — Jackpot Music Hall
10/20 — Iowa City, IA — Gabe’s
10/21 — Chicago, IL — Reggie’s
10/22 — Eaton, OH — Taffy’s
10/23 — Philadelphia — The Grape Room
10/25 — NYC — Wicked Willy’s (Official CMJ Showcase)
10/26 — New York, NY @ Rockwood Music Hall Stage 1
10/27 — Charlotte — Thomas Street Tavern
10/28 — Chapel Hill — The Cave
10/29 — Nashville, TN — The 5 Spot
10/30 — Huntsville, AL — Maggie Meyer’s Irish Pub
10/31 — Clarksdale, MS — Shack Up Inn
11/01 — Lafayette, LA — Artmosphere
11/02 — Austin, TX — Sahara Lounge
11/03 — Dallas — Opening Bell