1. What separates your new album, Aquatic Hitchhiker, from your previous releases, and what keeps it in line with Leftover Salmon’s classic sound?
Leftover Salmon: While this album contains all the things you’d expect from a Salmon record—Cajun calypso bluegrass rock ‘n’ roll—the process of generating the material was a lot more collaborative than in the past. The band had several writing sessions months before making the record. We were really looking forward to recording our first album in eight years, and we knew we had to step it up. Another aspect of this recording that really excited the band was that we were going to actually make records—this is our first vinyl release! The feeling of actually holding the weight of the record…that was a great feeling.


2. No band member can be replaced, but we were happy to read that adding Andy Thom to the band has led to a revival you hadn’t seen since Mark Vann passed away. We really liked a quote we read from Vince, that there’s something about playing with Andy that makes you and Drew smile. Can you tell us about Andy, and the gift or quality that sparks those moments?
LS: Well, he’s just got that patented North Carolina grin that makes you feel good, and then when he starts playing, he has endless ideas and he can execute anything he hears…and we like the way he hears music! Added to that, he’s just a joy to be with on the road. Few people know that he is also the 2009 state lawn bowling champion, but he doesn’t like to talk about it.


3. What inspires you as artists?
LS: The great deep well of American music in all its forms. Especially old guys.


4. What would you like your music to accomplish?
LS: Bringing communities together to celebrate the joy of being alive. Sometimes with songwriting, to let people know about things that maybe they aren’t aware of that need to be fixed in our culture.


5. What do you hope you’ll experience in Des Moines?
LS: We hope to see old friends–we’ve been doing this for twenty-two years and traveling now seems like a reunion. We also want to turn on a whole lot of new folks to our version of high-county slam grass.


Don’t miss Leftover Salmon on Saturday, July 7, at 7 p.m. on the Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield Stage.


Learn more about Leftover Salmon at http://80-35.com/lineup/2012/leftover-salmon/