Living with your significant other can be nice and cozy…now and again, but imagine going on tour with them? Yes, as in, bringing whatever crap you deal with at home and loading it into a compact car, traveling throughout this great country, and praying it doesn’t end in separate plane tickets back to New York.
Alright, so we’re being a bit cynical, but that reality is what makes this story we’re about to share even more incredibly lovely.
Filmmaker Tara Autovino (Ultimate Christian Wrestling, For A Swim With The Fish) and her boyfriend Jason Sebastian Russo (Hopewell, Common Prayer, and Mercury Rev) will be departing fairly soon on a month-long tour. The duo, who live together in Williamsburg, are embarking on a 10,000-mile journey, and will be recording their adventure every inch of the way. The project will culminate in a film and album titled Guiding Light.
The couple launched a fundraising campaign, via the British site Sponsume.com, which ends Tuesday night, and has only reached 25 percent of their goal. Part of the campaign isn’t just to raise funds for the project, but to acquire creative content. Their aim, through outsourcing, is to get in touch with other artists who’d like to participate with them on Guiding Light. We chatted with this brave pair about their expectations regarding the making of this album and film, whether this could actually work, and, more importantly, which one of them is driving.
How did you two first meet?
Jason: I got an email from Tara after she auditioned for my last band saying it was okay for her to join. I hadn’t even offered.
Tara: I was dancing every day with the Stanley Love Performance Group then, so I only met with him to see if was worth my time. I told myself if I got a [New York Foundation for the Arts] Fellowship I’d buy a keyboard and give it a go. NYFA emailed me the next day, so here I am.
What sparked the idea of hitting the road together?
Jason: Last year we drove down to SXSW to play with Daniel Johnston, one of our heroes, and bonded over our mutual love of the road. One of the perks of being a musician is travel. I haven’t made much money, but I’ve gotten to see a lot of places thanks to music.
Tara: I’d rather be on the road than not, which is partly why I gravitate toward things like film and music. I’m at my finest unshowered and living out of a suitcase. We also travel and work well together.
Without trying to sound like a complete buzzkill, are you at all concerned that too much togetherness could affect your relationship? And as a result damage this creative adventure?
Tara: Nice question. There’s a fair amount of head-butting that happens in any worthwhile collaboration, and I’d argue that things turn out better as a result. Plus, we’re talking about two Sicilians trapped in a car together for 10,000 miles. If you’re asking me whether I think we’ll survive the trip and return with great work and our relationship intact, my answer is a resounding hell yes.
Jason: Hmmmm, tension seems to be part of collaboration in my experience. Also, being in a van for weeks on end with your collaborator is pretty par for the course in the music world. My creativity seems to thrive in relation to others, just like the rest of my life, I guess. (You have to watch this video!)
Can you name some of the artists you’ll be recording with while you’re out on the road?
Jason: We’re recording with a bunch of people we’ve met on tour with our previous bands. Excellent folks from bands like My Jerusalem, The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Miracle Falls, and The Dandy Warhols. So far it looks like we’re doing the bulk of the work in Austin, L.A., and Portland. But we’re adding folks that people have suggested to us via this campaign, so the list is growing every day.
What kind of equipment will you be taking with you?
Jason: On the audio end we’ll be bringing an Mbox, a laptop with Pro-Tools and Logic, 2 condenser mics, one guitar, possibly Tara’s Nord and a squeezebox. Oh, and an old Walkman-like cassette recorder, for vibes.
Tara: I’ve always been a pretty low-brow filmmaker. I’m shooting on an iPhone 5 using a lens kit, shotgun mic attachment, monopod, and tripod. I would’ve shot on tape if I didn’t sell my now-worthless DVX100 for rent money a few years back. My father and grandfather worked at Kodak their whole lives, so if we can swing the film and processing costs of Super 8, I’ll definitely be bringing that stuff along.
What type of vehicle will you be driving, and will you both be taking the wheel equally?
Jason: Hopefully some sort of hybrid car, and, yes, we share driving. I like night driving, hate the morning. Whoever rides shotgun will be working in some fashion — shooting, editing, writing postcards to our supporters. Or, as was the case with last year’s SXSW trip, Tara will be playing squeezebox whenever she’s not at the wheel.
Tara: I generally drive all day because I can’t see at night if I’m honest about it. I’d love a vehicle we could sleep in, but fuel and finances dictate otherwise, so we’re bringing a tent.
Any fears about this trip?
Jason: Gas prices and that the trip will be over too soon.
Tara: Dealing with the IRS from the road should be fun.
What are you most excited for?
Tara: Getting the fuck out of Brooklyn.
Any shows planned in the City when you return?
Jason: We’ve been road testing new material at a local theater/art space, Standard Toycraft. It’s a great place to experiment with works-in-progress. People are generally down for anything. I imagine that after we get back and start to sort through all the material, we’ll book an inaugural show there. Stay tuned!