No Depression Magazine review

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FEBRUARY 1, 2016

“I know a boy who/Stays in his bed/Says he’d much rather/The life in his head” were the first lines of “Come Away From The Silence”, off the upcoming album by August Wells. It was breaking through the chat in a Waterford pub on a dull winter night, and had that  very specific August Wells’ feel to it – honed from the crooned baritone of Ken Griffin’s charmed well of a voice, and the understated keyboard foundation of John Rauchenberger. This live version also carried a vague Irish air to it, a swaying stroke of Griffin’s guitar that buoyed it off-stage.

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Superb August Wells to showcase their songwriting skills


The superb August Wells make a welcome return to Galway with a free show in Róisín Dubh next Thursday, January 28. The project is the brainchild of Ken Griffin and John Rauchenberger, both based in New York.

Griffin is a former member of Irish indie legends Rollerskate Skinny, whose 1996 single Speed To My Side remains a classic.

An August Wells record, will feature a saxophone player, a violinist and a French horn player. But the core of the band is the partnership between Ken and John Rauchenberger, whose style has been described as ‘Sinatra singing Lou Reed songs’. How did the pair meet?

“I met him through a circle of friends,” Ken says. “We were all walking home and he wanted us to show us his house. There was a piano there – I’d known him for two years and didn’t even know he could play!

“He sat down and started playing for a minute, and I thought ‘that’s interesting. Those weren’t very predictable notes’. So I suggested ‘why don’t we just get together and play?’ He lives a hundred yards from me!”

The collaboration has resulted in some fine songs that have a melancholic, Nick Cave feel to them.  August Wells recently opened for Glen Hansard for some of his tour dates, and their work will appeal to anyone interested in the craft of songwriting. Unmissable. Doors for their show are at 9pm.

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Festival and Gig Guide review


2016 breezes in with a chorus of brass, strings and shuffling guitar as the first bars of August Wells’ ‘A Little Too Real’ permeate the January air. Ken Griffin’s baritone returns with the New Yorkers first release of the new year and a taster of their new album ‘Madness Is the Mercy’ due out later this Spring on FIFA Records.

‘A Little Too Real’ is a sensitive ode to those who feel the world can be a daunting place. August Wells emotive first singles ‘Here in the Wild’ and ‘Come on in out of that night’ set the tone and tempo for a band writing and exploring music that rolls in like dusk; warm yet tragic, inclusive while conveying the outsider.

August Wells finished on a high note, supporting Glen Hansard at a sold out show at New York’s Beacon Theatre, before they return to Ireland and Europe at the end of January for a number of dates. Ken Griffin (ex-Rollerskate Skinny, Favourite Sons) and pianist John Rauchenberger have met in the middle of differing musical pasts to form a band who would sit easily at the same table as Scott Walker or John Cale.

‘A Little Too Real’ eases us into a new year full of promise for August Wells and is a tantalising hook for their imminent long player.



Pure M reviews Alice, Dear Alice

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When American artists Ken Griffin and John Rauchenberger came together for a passion project entitled August Wells, they already had an extensive amount of experience between them. In the past, they have been associated with acts such as Favourite Sons, Rollerskate Skinny and Kid Silver. Now though, they’re firmly focused on expanding their audience as a duo beyond the borders of their homeland.

They’ve already managed to make an appearance in Ireland at Electric Picnic and are planning a return at the end of January to embark on a tour of the country. But before that, they’ll be busy promoting their brand new single, “Alice Dear Alice”. Having first featured on their inaugural album, A Living and a Dying Game, the track tells the tale of “a magical woman’s character”.

It reverberates in gently, then wastes no time breaking into some soft but vivid vocals. The instrumentation grows gradually, remaining warm as it establishes an affecting ambience. There’s a sense of solemnness to the singing that’s eventually offset when the music begins to build brightly in the background. Pleasant pianos add a dreamy undertone to uplifting trumpets which sooth the senses as the piece progresses.

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Hot Press – New August Wells Video


August Wells have come up with this very fetching promo for ‘Alice, Dear Alice’, one of the standouts from their A Living And A Dying Game album which follows in spring 2016.
The band, who open on December 1 for Glen Hansard in New York’s Beacon Theater, are lead by former Rollerskate Skinny and Favourite Sons man Ken Griffin.

“I have no idea who Alice really is,” says the owner of one of the richest baritones in rock. “She just arrived in my head one day. I wrote down quickly what I thought of her, then she disappeared. She seemed mischievous and aloof; she seemed to represent the other side of things.

“Someone who saw the worth and worthlessness of living, the point and pointlessness, the hope and hopelessness. She seemed to walk around in the truth, looking with pity on the rest of us. We tried to make the video a simple odd portrait of Alice, nearly coming apart, nearly taking part, almost laughing.”

We’re not ones for over-using the ‘m’ word, but we’ve been listening to that new LP of theirs and it’s a bit of a masterpiece.

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Hot Press – August Wells Interview


The voice behind Rollerskate Skinny is back with a new project called August Wells. Ken Griffin left Dublin in the late ’90s for New York, where he formed Kid Silver and Favourite Sons. Griffin still calls NYC home. Indeed, the singer has just returned to a still scorching Big Apple, despite it being September, which is a shock to his system after a brief Irish tour that included a set on the Other Voices stage at Electric Picnic.
“For the very first time in twenty years it has really crossed my mind to move back to Ireland,” Griffin reveals. “There is something in the air and environment, which is now harmonious with who I am. I actually feel a little behind and I need to do some catching up. The Ireland of my mind doesn’t exist anymore.”

Griffin has been round the block with a major label deal, but is much happier with the more modern, independent and self-sufficient way of doing business. “I can play a show now and sell twenty albums directly to people,” he enthuses. “I understand there is less opportunity to make money, but there are communities making exciting things happen. In the late ’80s and early ’90s, anybody who had any integrity in music wanted the industry to die anyway. Who gives a fuck about the music industry? They never gave a fuck about me.”

Griffin is embracing these new opportunities wholeheartedly. “The power is back in the hands of the musicians,” he says. “I did Other Voices for TV and Electric Picnic. It was all arranged in about two or three direct emails. Before, you would have to go through such rigmarole. The next thing you know you’re being interviewed in Dingle by the guy who was in Game of Thrones.”

While he was home, Ken went into the studio with Girl Band to record a version of the old Rollerskate Skinny song ‘Bow Hitch Hiker’. “In the modern world your work lives forever,” he says. “It is incredible for me to play the Workman’s Club at the age of 45 and the crowd love it. The work is still being found by people.”

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It’s time for August Wells


“Underrated”, “Lost Classic” “Hidden Musical Gem” are phrases that you see in abundance when you read about Kenneth Griffin, now a part of August Wells, formerly of Rollerskate Skinny and Kid Silver. Limerick Post meets the genial and inspiring New York based musician who puts more stock in the present and the future rather than dwell on past opportunities and “What might have beens…”

August Wells: Kenneth Griffin and John Rauchenberger
August Wells: Kenneth Griffin and John Rauchenberger
by Eric FitzGerald

NEW York based duo August Wells are Ken Griffin (Rollerskate Skinny, Kid Silver and Favourite Sons) with New York pianist John Rauchenberger.
Cork based FIFA Records is releasing their material here and the duo appear on ‘Other Voices’ on RTE this Friday 28 before touring nationwide, playing Electric Picnic and then Dolan’s in September.
A search for Rollerskate Skinny’s ‘Speed to my Side’ on YouTube reveals one of Irish music’s lost classics, a shoegaze anthem from 1995 that has lost none of its vitality and relevance today. In the comments below from that YouTube clip, a young man called Jude Griffin states “my Dad was the lead singer in this band, he’s Kenneth Griffin”.
What follows in the replies is a flow of well wishers praising the band, telling you most of what you need to know about Kenneth Griffin: “great band”, “definitely one of the best Irish bands ever”, “your dad is an Irish music gem”.
Rollerskate Skinny were NME’s “Top Ten New Bands of the Year” in 1992. The Rollerskate Skinny album ‘Horse Drawn Wishes’ features in the top 20 best Irish albums ever released, according to Irish Times and Hot Press writers.
Though signed to Warner Brothers, success illuded Rollerskate Skinny while contemporaries My Bloody Valentine, Mercury Rev and Flaming Lips have forged a longer legacy. Does the praise in retrospect heaped on Ken’s work annoy him today?
Ken laughs, “I used to joke that if you are ahead of fashion then you are out of fashion. My timing is not very good with the zeitgeist or whatever is going on out there. But it is tasteless to be bitter about not being famous. The thing is I love making music and playing and doing all these things. I make a living part time from this and I live in New York and I get to come back and do a two week tour which is far from a sob story.”
New York city is Kenneth’s base for over a decade and where he met Irish/German pianist John Rauchenberger.
“John and I met through friends, he has a house very near my apartment. When we played together we realised we didn’t have to talk very much to each other!”
The more restrained, understated approach to the music August Wells make is very much in contrast with the sound associated with Griffin’s previous musical endeavours.
“It takes a long time to develop a relationship with silence, I think artists tend to move towards the more minimal approach over the years. There are no drums on the album so it has that almost coming apart feeling that it is not going to hold together but it does, I like that sort of feeling in the music.”
August Well’s new single out on Cork based FIFA records is called ‘Come on in out of that Night’. It has a spiritual uplifting melody telling a very New York story, Kenneth’s story, perhaps with lyrics

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“I’ve had jobs gave me less pay
that what it takes to survive.”

Kenneth explains that he, unlike some other working musicians, has never made any money out of the business.
“I have actually been down a couple of roads in my life where you find yourself standing on a corner not knowing whether you should go left or right. We live in a world where it can be very paralysing to be broke and worried.”
New York remains an inspiration in Kenneth’s music and the pared back approach of August Wells is winning the duo a new generation of listeners.
He wryly comments, “There is a very active illusion here that it is the centre of the universe. It keeps people trapped here in a weird way. It’s a great city to write in. You can pretty much keep yourself stimulated for the whole day and night here.”
I ask Kenneth about possibilities of the Rollerskate Skinny back catalogue being reissued or dare we say, a reunion?
“The back catalogue is out of my hands. I could spend a few months getting on top of it all. I kinda like to move forward.”
But an Irish film called ‘Dare To Be Wild’ due for release in 2016 features ‘Speed to my Side’ by Rollerskate Skinny in the film’s pivotal scene, so we might just be hearing a whole lot more of that song next year.
I remind Kenneth about the YouTube clip that I watched of ‘Speed to my Side’ and the comments from his son Jude which he is obviously very happy about.
“That was a very sweet moment”, he comments.
And Jude is playing a bigger part in his dad’s music project today. The current album from August Wells is ‘A Living and Dying Game’ which features sleeve artwork from Jude Griffin.
“Yeah, we were looking around for artwork and John Rauchenberger liked this picture that Jude had drawn. It strangely works with the music.”
“He wasn’t commissioned and he didn’t receive any money,” he laughs.
August Wells feature on ‘Other Voices’ along with Young Fathers and Buke & Gase RTÉ2 at 11.30pm this Friday August 28.
August Wells play Electric Picnic, Other Voices stage on Sunday September 6 (6.15pm) and play Dolan’s on Saturday September 12.

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