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I've been following Elam McKnight since 2003 and his first album Braid My hair.  I've always enjoyed his work because while he keeps one foot firmly in the blues, he has no issue with adding surprising little elements of hip hop, gospel, and rock and soul which keep things interesting and moving. This is McKnight's first album since 2007's terrific Supa Good.  
I gave him a holler to see whats up.

Your last album Supa Good, came out in 2007. Where you been, man?

I have been being a father to a baby and I love that baby more than anything I could have ever dreamed up. Bob and I started working on our first effort together back in the summer of 2008 and I also had begun working on a similar project in the vein of Supa Good that previous fall with Ringo Jukes. I became a father and focused my energies on being the best one I could. We played a few shows here and there but other than that I wanted to be there for my child. That took and takes priority over any and everything in my world and gladly because I love being a father.

We talked some time ago about a follow up to Supa Good.  As I recall you were leaning towards a  darker, heavier stew of hiphop and blues. This album is straighter into a heavier blues vein. How did Zombie Nation come about?

The initial project with Bob, which was really going to be more acoustically based, and the follow up to Supa Good vein project all got "transmogrified" and commingled into what you have now: the beast that is ZOMBIE NATION. I kind of like the way it worked out. We did a live session at Bob's Place acoustically and then met up at the studio with Tom Hambridge one Sunday in Nashville. Did some overdubs over the preceding months and poof there you have it. I think the lay off made it more intense actually because I had been writing, stewing, plotting, and itching to put some things down properly and Bob also, so this really contributed to some of the intensity I think, that and Tom Hambridge beats the Hell out of the drums! Now we have a band that is pretty committed to making things work so things kind of have their way of rolling back into place. We have already laid the groundwork for the next joint in the studio so expect some things to be more regular in the coming couple of years, might be a few surprises along the way.

How'd you get hooked up with Bob Bogdal? 
What's his story?

Bob and I had known one another kind of like you and I had known one another, through online stuff, specifically
with Bob a site called Tweedsblues. He and I were both always on there ranting and raving about the same things. We got to know each other on some really long car rides to some shows and immediately "got along" which to me is crucial when playing with someone. I know there are some people out there that try to maintain a band or group thing with people they are not so fond of but for me, if it is going to be a long term thing, that is just impossible and Bob and I gel well, not just as musicians, but as friends. He is a great guy. He and I got hooked up back in 2008 when we met and played the Folk Alliance together in Memphis. We used that time to talk about doing something musically together and then started that summer working on an album. We did some shows together (Nashville and SXSW) and were selected in the summer of 2008 to represent the Sonny Boy Williamson Blues Society in the IBC as their acoustic duo act. We also played the King Biscuit festival together as a duo that fall. That same year I found out I was going to be a father so things kind of went on brief hiatus until I was at a point where I could give it the time it deserved.

Tell me about the album title Zombie Nation and the cover art. What's it about?

Bob and I talk a great deal when we are traveling and one thing we are struck with is how people these days are very easily duped into ways of thinking that sometimes are not based in reality. Where that becomes frustrating to us is it creates all these figurative zombies stumbling around our country simply droning on about talking points that have been programmed into them. Discourse in America seems to be pointless, because there are certain segments of our country who only want to tear things apart in favor of starting from where we are and getting our act together. You want to ask them why, and have a discourse or discussion with some of these individuals, but they abdicated their minds a while back and are now, well, zombies. We can all be different folk and still sit down and have a reasonable discussion and healthy disagreements which can then lead to solutions. We cannot do much of anything if there is this big "group think" thing as an undercurrent the entire time. To simply discount something or an idea because you want to fit in and be part of a herd of some sort is dangerous and we are better than that in America, or at least we deserve better than that for ourselves and our children.
RE: The image:

We took that concept and elaborated on it with a bit of a shocking image from Bob which is basically a little boy who has been zombie-fied by all the nonsense that surrounds it. It was Bob's creation and I think he nailed a very classic image for a cover. The zombie child could maybe be seen as the end result of where the "group think" thing leads. Or he could simply be seen as the collateral damage that we are doing by not getting our act together and fixing the things that need fixing instead of walking around trying to eat brains.  

McKnight and Bogdal - Pojo's Place mp3
McKnight and Bogdal - Red Wheel Barrow mp3