How Travis Graves went from Xtreme sports to sporting the acoustic

     

    As
    you’ve probably noticed, skateboarding and skateboarding-related
    entities have skyrocketed in the last fifteen years. Commercials,
    X-Games, Mountain Dews, ESPN have all contributed to a
    hyper-commercialization of this sport and art form. The lay person, the
    casual observer, and the passerby would probably associate the sport
    with commercially viable pop-punk meets manufactured emo, a sound that
    would only resonate with the mildly antagonistic teen. But that’s
    really just the surface.

     

    [more:]

     

    “There
    is lots of different skating than from what you see on TV and the
    X-Games. I mean, it’s had a history that dates back to the ’50s. There
    is so much that is going on in the underground that isn’t indicative of
    what’s in the mainstream,” said Travis Graves, a.k.a. Mt. Egypt, who’s Perspectives
    was released by Record Collection last year. Graves has been pegged as
    a professional skateboarder turned musician, but it’s not like that. He
    was a sponsored amateur — the level right before turning full pro.

     

    If
    his flirtations with being a professional skateboarder have faded, his
    full-on courting of being a professional musician are in high gear.
    When Graves speaks, his tone is easy going, very calm and at peace.
    Which ends up translating well into song. Neil Young, Leonard Cohen,
    and Will Oldham
    are his primary influences, and Mt Egypt sounds like a cross between
    all three at times, although he’s never redundant. “I think I bring my
    unique voice to the songs; I have my own little nuances,” said Graves.
    “I think I often write about nature and going into nature — trees,
    oceans, the rawness of it all.”

     

    Indeed,
    Mt. Egypt, the moniker, stems from the name of a hill close to his
    father’s house, where he spent some time living. It’s about forty-five
    minutes north of Raleigh, North Carolina, and it’s where he laid down
    his first four-track recordings. Natural locations steep through in a
    lot of Mt. Egypt’s lyrics, but Graves has spent most of his life in
    bouncing from place to place. He started pursuing the music project
    when he lived in New York a few years back, in between drinking a lot
    and working minor service-industry jobs.

     

    The
    concrete-jungle gig eventually ran its course, and Graves found himself
    living in his van in California, shuffling between Los Angeles and San
    Francisco. But he doesn’t consider himself homeless. “Because I can’t
    have a job, and I’m trying to make this music career work, I have to
    save what little money I’m given, so I just live in my van,” Graves
    said. “That’s my residence. My manager and Record Collection get my
    mail for me.”

     

    Perspectives is
    singer-songwriter bliss: no clichés and a little depression, as the
    genre tends to lean toward. The album is infused with Graves’s air of
    humbleness. “Every song has a different way of looking at life and
    dealing with it,” he said. “It’s an affirmation on what’s good about
    living.”

     

    ***

    Mt. Egypt is opening for Band of Horses on its current U.S. tour. They’ll perform at New York’s Bowery Ballroom Friday, June 16 and at the Echo in Los Angeles on Friday, June 30 and a whole mess of places in between.

     

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    Mt. Egypt Web site

    Record Collection Web site

    Streaming audio

    “St. Augustine’s Road” MP3

    “When Sad at Night” MP3

    “Strange Sad Air” MP3

    “Song for My Mother” MP3

    “Snow Through the Pass” MP3