I first met Gary Floater at February’s International Folk Alliance in Kansas City. He performed “The River Flows,” out today on his new album Who Cares, a release party for which happens Sunday, April 6, at Cheatham Street Warehouse in San Marcos.
I covered the song during South by Southwest because I was so taken with the lyrics: “The river flows down to the river, just like a river should. Standing here, by the banks of the river, can’t help but say, ‘River, you’re lookin’ good.’”
Austin Chronicle: To confirm, you grew up in Miami, Missouri, right?
Gary Floater: Yes, but sometimes I think it’s Miami, Kansas, or Miami, Oklahoma. It sounds like a glamorous place but it’s not. Still, if you take me to any one of those places, I have somewhere to sleep.
AC: What was the music scene like?
GF: My first duet partner was a Speaking Spell. I’d sing along to that when I was a kid, so I’m good at singing with computers now. You know, I’m a fan of technology, but I’ve heard that those E-cigarettes are really addictive. I went to a lot of karoake bars too, so between those and the Speaking Spell I got a lot of good practice.
AC: At what age did you start playing?
GF: I didn’t speak until I wrote a song. The first word that I spoke was the first song I’d written. That’s how I first started playing music and you could say that playing music comes as natural to me as speaking.
AC: What were your parents like?
GF: Very good question! That’s why I did this interview, because I hoped they might read this and recognize that I’m a forgiving person. If they would just step forward, we could maybe write a song together. They called my father “Big Floater.” He’s part Native American, but I think they called him that because they tried to drown him a couple times.
AC: Critics have compared you to songwriters such as Bob Dylan. How does that feel?
GF: If Bill needs more songs, I have thousands of notebooks full of songs for those willing to pay.
AC: Tell me about some of your onstage highlights?
GF: Well, playing with Anita Feelgood at the Cheatham Street Warehouse last year was fun. People know her as Betty Soo, but I call her Anita Feelgood. Performing with my ex-wife, Lacey Lakeview, is always a thrill as well. We met in Pigeon Forge and we were married for a week. It was a great week.
AC: Who are your favorite bands and songwriters?
GF: After myself? Let me think... pass.
AC: Where did you record the album?
GF: These guys B.W. Akins and Puffy Dan Walters came to me and said, “You know your songs will be lost if someone doesn’t record them.” So a bunch of people did one of these Kickstandard campaigns to raise the money for the record. And these boys sang it out at a studio out behind Kimmie Rhodes’ house.
AC: What do people not know about you?
GF: I don’t think people realize everyone that’s been in my bands. I gave a first start to people like Scrappy Jud Newcomb, Adam Carroll, Owen Temple, Matt the Electrician, Anthony da Costa, Michael Fracasso. All those guys were in my bands. I actually hoped they’d mention me a little more than they do [laughs].
AC: What do you wish people knew about you?
GF: You’re going to make me cry here. I guess that’s what I want people to know: that I cried. It wasn’t today, but you almost did it. Good job, but you fell short.
AC: Who are your heroes?
GF: Well I did write that song “A Hero Never Learns.” I guess that my heroes are anybody that falls down eight times, gets up eight times, falls down another 20 times, gets up 20 times, falls down 500 times and gets 500 times. I guess I’m my own hero.
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