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Thirsty Jones

An interview with Mark Fairchild

Thirsty Jones on the cover of Maximum Ink in May 2016 - photo by David Luciano Artist's Facebook
by Laura Sorensen
May 2016

Thirsty Jones is a four piece contemporary country / rock / blues / funk band from Madison, Wisconsin. Following a change of two of the band members last fall, the group has wasted no time performing live. Their first performance with the new lineup left them with less than a month to prepare. They rose to the occasion and have been busy performing and recording since December 2015. Members include Kirstie Kraus (Lead Vocals), Jacob Vance (Lead Guitar/Vocals), Jeff Root (Bass) and Mark Fairchild (Drums). I recently had an opportunity to talk with Mark about the band and what they are currently up to.

MAXIMUM INK: Tell me about the name of the band
MARK FAIRCHILD:
That goes back to before I joined the band. The first part comes from our lead singer’s name, which is Kirstie, i before the r. Everyone would call her Kristie. Apparently she had a nickname at some point “Thirsty Kirstie.” It rhymed and it helped to remember her name. The Jones just sounded good. Together it sounds like a good country band name. So half of it’s a story and half of it just sounds good.

MI: How did the four of you come together as a band?
MF:
The band started I believe in April or May of 2014. Kirstie Kraus and Jacob Vance got together and formed a duo then added a bass player and drummer. There was a friendly parting of ways about last September. That’s when she brought myself and Jeff Root into the band.

MI: How did she find you guys?
MF:
Funny story, I was her landlord awhile back. They played at my stage at Make Music Madison last year. That was our first experience together in a professional environment. We started talking. We ended up having a two hour phone conversation. Our goals were we want to play a lot, we want to write a lot, we want to do something big. All four of us have been in other long term projects spinning our wheels. This is the first project where we actually have some direction, we have some common goals. It’s a machine, it’s working. We are all putting in long hours every week, hitting the pavement, doing what we have to do. There’s not just one person in charge. It’s the first band I’ve ever been a part of that’s leading from all directions. Jeff and I joined about two weeks prior to Freakfest. That was our first gig. That was a lot of fun to be part of something that big. It’s been snowball after snowball since. It’s been fantastic and this summer is looking really good as well.

MI: You currently have a three song EP. Do you have plans to release a full length CD?
MF:
Absolutely. Last night was a two hour rehearsal.. We worked on a couple of original songs. We have a pretty busy festival season which makes it difficult to make time to record. If we’re lucky it will happen by the end of this year but early 2017 for sure.

MI: You refer to yourselves as primarily a country band. Based on the songs I listened to you are more contemporary, very versatile, not exactly hard core country.
MF:
My previous band was definitely more of a rock band. When Kirstie approached me I said “Okay, maybe I can get behind this.” I’ve really grown to appreciate the genre. We’ll do whatever we need to play. We have a lot of rock covers that we do. We’ll even throw in some pop stuff.

MI: What’s the farthest you’ve traveled so far to do a show?
MF:
About four and a half hours. We played Springstead Lake Lodge in Park Falls, WI for Braapfest . Great bar, very small. I’ve never played in a smaller space in my life. They had 200 people in a bar that holds about 25 people. It was fantastic. The furthest the representation of the band has gone though is Nashville. Kirstie and Jacob were there a couple of months ago. They perform as a duo so they played some shows down there. That is something I definitely want to do. They are making a national presence and I don’t think a full band trip there is far behind. We’re coming up on our six month mark and that is usually a turning point for a band. We do have plans to tour probably this year if not then early next year.

MI: Do you all have regular jobs besides playing in the band?
MF:
We all work in some capacity other than Jeff our bass player who retired about two weeks ago. We are all on the edge of doing music full time. We really want to thank the Madison music community for the inspiration they’ve given us. Not only are we becoming more relevant, I really appreciate the love that Madison has for music. No one is pretentious. Everyone is congratulatory of everyone else.

MI: Meanwhile how do you fit your music schedule in around your normal daily obligations, especially if you plan on touring?
MF:
We don’t sleep. We all have amazing support in our jobs. The Google Calendar is a life saver. We all know that this is our number one priority and we’ll all do whatever we need to do to make it happen. We also have our personal lives and our families so we make sure we block off time specifically for them. That’s the most important thing. We will take a week off here and there as a band where we hardly talk to each other, then we’ll hit it hard for three weeks. It’s a check and balance system. As far as a full scale tour that’s yet to be seen, but it’s coming.

MI: You originally started playing outside of Madison. Are you starting to book more shows in the Madison area?
MF:
We have quite a bit going on in Madison in the next few months. We are starting to become a regular at Hody Bar & Grill in Middleton every two or three months, we have a show there on May 20th. We are playing Bratfest on May 27th. After that we also have Make Music Madison in June and Taste of Madison in September.

MI: Do you have any goals for getting radio exposure?
MF:
Absolutely. There is a country station that’s playing our music now. The DJ wears our Thirsty Jones hat that says “#alwaysthirsty” on the back.

MI: Is there anything we haven’t talked about that you want to add?
MF:
I want to say that Kirstie is the driving force behind this band, it’s her brainchild. She’s in Nashville right now doing a few acoustic shows. She’s done a really nice job coordinating the writing effort. We’re like the Beatles with “Yellow Submarine.” Whoever has the best idea that’s the one that we go with. We’ll try every idea once. It’s usually a unanimous vote. Our new writing is very creative. Last night we worked for an hour on one of our new songs then everything started falling into place. After six months together we can read each other on stage. It’s been a great experience to play with some of the best musicians I’ve ever played with.

Check out Thirsty Jones’ upcoming performances - May 14th on State Street, May 20th Hody Bar and Grill in Middleton, May 28th Bratfest.


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