Feature ·

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.

 

Discuss this feature at the Prefix Message Board  

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

Busta Rhymes - Back to the beginning Week in Preview [June 20, 2006] Heading to the record store? Here's what's new.
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