Learning to Love the Stranger with Friendship

By: Sarah Cline

If you are one of the foolish souls that haven’t been paying attention to folk and country music, let Friendship get you back in the loop. Following the recent release of their album Love the Stranger, we sat down with Dan Wriggins of Friendship to talk about the album, creative outlets, and favorite roadside convenience stores. 

Check out the full interview here!

I wanted to start by asking you, I know we’re coming up on about a month since the release of Love the Stranger, how does it feel to have it out on its own in the world?

I don’t know, good for sure. Yeah, I mean that’s the whole point you want people to hear the stuff, so.

Do you stay tuned to what people are saying about it or do you just let it be?

Oh man, I mean the real kind of baller move would be to not care and I’m not that strong and I never will be. Whenever someone tweets about it and says it’s good I get happy and when there’s a review that isn’t so great I get sad. That’s both ego and hope, wanting to keep doing a career in music so hoping that it goes well. 

I find that one of the reasons that I’m drawn to country and folk music is the playful nostalgia and inherent vulnerability that I find in a lot of it. What draws you to the genre?

Oh well, you mentioned two really important things for me. Vulnerability, I don’t know that it’s necessarily more vulnerable than other genres but maybe it’s easier. With country songwriting, it’s a little easier to get to the point than with some other mediums. And that playful nostalgia is something I certainly am drawn to. I think sometimes I make the stuff I do because I want to put a lot of jokes in it and make fun of things in a way that isn’t ironic, but it’s fun and playful, and open.

One of the things that I thought was really cool about Love the Stranger were the interludes named after all the different roadside convenience stores. I spent a lot of time traveling around the Midwest in an RV when I was a kid so I have a particularly fond association with Love’s. Is there a particular roadside convenience store that you like the most?

Love’s is tough to beat.

The bathrooms are always clean.

The bathrooms are clean, they always have Imagine Dragons playing in there. You can buy like a sword or a CB radio. So yeah I definitely enjoy those. We like stopping at Sheetz even though we’re from Philly, and Wawa. So Sheetz and Wawa are definitely both pretty frequented stops by the Friendship band. I’m in Iowa right now and there’s a lot of QuickChek and Kum & Go’s.

I know that everyone in the band has their own music ventures, when it comes to constructing an album how do those other projects influence the record?

Well, I’m not the expert cause I’m the only one who kind of does only one thing. I put out solo music and that’s still just songs I’m writing. I can’t answer too well, the other guys could. It sure feels like the more experience we all get, the more that the other members explore other projects, the more ideas they’re able to bring, the more perspective they have on what’s right for Friendship and what’s right for something else. It’s all good, and those interludes you mentioned are a pretty clear example. Michael is like a compositional genius. He’s got such a great mind for composing instrumental music and producing it to make something really cool and so he was kind of the mastermind behind most of those. 

The whole album feels like a journey and those interludes make you feel like you’re really going somewhere. Props to Michael.
Obviously, you take inspiration from other artists, who are the artists that you find yourself going back to?

I guess the obvious big ones, Joni Mitchell and Dylan. You’ve got like pantheon type artists and then Kath Bloom and Vic Chesnutt and Lambchop are the next-gen after that, sort of people that I can always put on one of their albums and feel good, and feel at home with their songwriting. Someone else just asked me who my top five artists of all time were, it was kind of a dumb stoner conversation. I think I said Joni and Federico Fellini, I’m obsessed with that guy, and WG Sebald, he’s an author I love. I can’t remember the other ones, it was fun though, we were having fun.

I know that you also do some poetry. Do those inspirations come from the same place and how do you funnel out what’s going to be a song and what’s going to be poetry?

Well, the way you’re phrasing it is kind of perfect. The answer is yes they come from the same place but the end products are so different. And the funneling, it is a funneling. The funneling and the process of editing are kind of the same thing. So all the source material is the same and cranking out two very different types of things and each one is just the product of hours and hours of editing. The editing, I mean, that’s what uncovers it.

Do you find that one medium is more personal than the other or are they relatively equal?

I’ve been thinking about it a lot. On a deep, deep, like soul level, I would say that it’s too intangible to say. On a more practical level, it’s a lot easier. The limits and the possibilities that poetry has are a lot different than the limits and possibilities that songwriting has. In songwriting you are limited. You can go in way weirder places with poetry, you can go anywhere. I guess what I’m trying to say is that in a pretty practical sense the songs are a little more personal, in so far as they’re almost always describing a set of events or emotions that one person goes through from that person’s point of view type of thing. Poetry can get as abstract as you want.

The music you grew up with, what kind of music was that and how do those influences stay with you?

My parents both had pretty good taste and it was pretty standard. It’s kind of what I mentioned before, Joni, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, The Beatles, Dire Straits, The Rolling Stones. They grew up with that stuff and liked it and they had CDs that I listened to. That was what was in my house, and then high school rolled along and I got more into classic rock as people do.

Sorry, my dog was with me but now he’s run away.

You’re all good. I think the best part of being virtual is getting to meet the pets that inevitably make their presence known.
It’s bound to happen.

What’s next for you? What does Friendship have coming up in the future?

Well, in about a week Friendship’s leaving to do a little tour. It’s just four shows that we’re doing with MJ Lenderman.

Very excited about MJ Lenderman joining you guys.

Yeah, I don’t know if you’re a Donna Summers fan but I’ve got a version of “Someone Get The Grill Out Of The Rain” that goes that way. We end at Hopscotch and both bands are doing three shows at Hopscotch so that’s coming up soon. We don’t have any plans after that for a while. We’ll see, something will come up, I’m sure.

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