Artist Interview: 1-on-1 with Russ Baum

Artist Interview: 1-on-1 with Russ BaumThe guy I am sitting with today should need no introduction. But because he is new to Indianapolis and because people are scared to experience something new and fresh when it comes to live music I feel obligated to tell you about this kid. Imagine you took the smooth grooves of Jack Johnson and tossed them into a blender with Jason Mraz’s skilled songwriting, out would come this kid. He has been pushing his name and tracks all over the Circle City and has been getting a lot of buzz surrounding his talents. I first met this guy at Birdy’s on a total whim and after numerous emails and banter I decided to get to know him on a more personal level. So, sit back, relax, and try to understand where this guy comes from. I am proud to introduce you to the soothing and smooth grooves that are produced on the guitars of Russ Baum.

How do you pronounce your last name exactly?

Baum sounds like “Bomb”.

How long have you been playing the guitar?

Going on nine years now.

What is your first memory of the guitar?

My father’s old acoustic; he had it before me.  He only played about five songs and I don’t even know the brand it was.  I mostly enjoyed the scent of the wood when you opened the case.

Do you write all of your own lyrics?

Yes I do.

Describe your genre in one word.


Tell me about the new album.

“Goodfish” is my first studio album.  It is an acoustic based/full band stroll on love, lessons, and life. It is my first publication and it is meant to be innocent.

Do you prefer playing full band or solo?

Full band definitely! For the comfort of sharing the load and having friends close to laugh off the mistakes.

Tell me a little bit about the other guys in the band.

The group is simple to describe.  They are talented, driven, and loyal. It consists of John Alexander on drums and Shawn Bryant on bass.  John Alexander is a self taught percussionist that brings his own unique style of 80’s pop and modern rock beats.  He is an eager learner, a showman and an artist.  On the other hand you have Shawn Bryant who is a smooth musician and performer with a vast musical background.  He carries his own through funk, blues, rock or any other genre you can throw his direction.  He has traveled throughout the U.S. as part of the Max Allen Band and a short European tour recently with the Travis Fiester Band. Shawn is the real deal.

Who designed your MySpace page?

Nick Mills of NM design.

Speaking of MySpace, what are your thoughts on the service?

I am comfortable with using MySpace. You just have to remember that you get what you pay for.

Are you on Twitter?

No, not currently.  It is on the list of to-do’s though.

Do you have a job outside of music?

Nope.  But I read electric meters for ten years up to March of 2009.  That’s when I dedicated my time to music.

I see you are friends with Landon Keller. How do you know him?

I’ve have only spoken to Landon a hand full of times.  He is another artist on Stormy Tuesday Records.  I am a fan of his music and I also believe in supporting the family at Stormy Tuesday Records.  I imagine I will get the chance to make better friends with him in the future.

So who is Stormy Tuesday Records?

The record label is out of Clayton, Indiana. It consist of a well equipped studio, video recording capabilities, and in house graphics and design.  Mike Perry is the sound engineer, he is a solid teacher and a good soul.

What in the is world is in Gosport, Indiana?

Not much.  We have a Casey’s General Store and a Dollar General.  Other than that, no corporate business.  Mom and Pop shops own every other business in town.  It’s been that way since the 1800’s.  It’s a self operating/friendly community.  The best thing in Gosport is the peace and quiet, which I find priceless.

As a matter of fact, where in the world is Gosport, Indiana?

It is forty minutes southwest of Indianapolis.  Straight down SR 67.

Does being from a small town help or hurt your ability to write songs?

It helps me stick to the simple life morals that I feel are important, but I can’t help being a bit nervous about how the music will be taken by the larger populated areas.  Time will tell.

Do you ever play outside of Indianapolis?

Yes.  A long list of small towns, plus Bloomington, and a couple of original sets in Tempe, Arizona.

If you could live anywhere in the world where would you go?

I believe in strong roots, give me the Indiana countryside!  If it had to be outside of Indiana then I would say Australia.  It is a very unique continent.

What is the biggest crowd you have played for?

Packed house at the Bluebird in Bloomington about three hundred people.  Sadly it wasn’t at all for me.  I was opening for Zoso, the Led Zeppelin tribute. It was a great night.

The smallest?

Me and the bartender at the Mooresville Grille.

Who are some of your biggest influences?

Green Day, Towns VanZant, and Jack Johnson.  Many more, but these are the most predominant.

Do you ever take off that hat?

I have been wearing the Beanie for over three years straight.  It has become a staple in the wardrobe and I’ve been trying lately to break ties with it.  Right now I have to wear it on stage to keep my hair from going in my mouth when I sing.  Maybe I’ll have a public unveiling someday and it’ll be fun!

Sporting any tattoos?

Yep.  I have two of them.  A symbol of free spirit with a bird silhouette on the back of my neck and a collage of stars with a Scorpio symbol on my fore-arm and wrist that represents my freedom in love with my wife.

What are you drinking on stage?

Just one Bud light Lime if I’m in a bar. But I prefer a few bottles of water.

Do you have a favorite venue to play?

The Bluebird in Bloomington has always sounded great and I have a new found/good sound at Birdy’s Bar & Grille lately.  Solid stages with solid sound.  Hats off to the sound guys!

Let’s say that you are about to headline a show out at Verizon Wireless Music Center. Who is your opening act?

My first thought would be Micheal Franti with Spearhead as they would produce an energetic and message driven show that would compliment our production nicely.

If you could be any cartoon character which one would you choose and why?

Shaggy!  Because I love to munch and I would rather chill with my buddies than go lookin for trouble.

Where can I get some of your merchandise?

Indy CD and Vinyl on Broadripple Avenue., Six Strings Down in Plainfield, and Vibe Music Store or Champlins Music in Martinsville, Indiana.  Our online store will be up soon and you can always get your gear at the shows.

If you could only play one song for the rest of your career what song would you choose?

If You Go.  It’s one of mine.  I feel the message is strong.  Here’s a piece of it:

“Don’t forget where you came from,
and don’t rely on anyone,
In your life you will find,
that most people lie,
but they do what they do as a means to survive
It’s not right, and I know it’s all wrong,
but we can change the way that this world has turned for so long.”

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I see myself having a well structured fan base in the Midwest.  At least three more album releases.  Pushing my way and using my friends and connections to grow into what I will eventually become.

What do you want to be remembered for when this is said and done?

For being a lover and bringing smiles, because sometimes all I have is a smile to give. I am Russ Baum, a master of acceptance.

I always let the artist get the last word. Go.

To my fans, I love you and I thank you!  I am looking forward to spending time with you!