Lost Companion will play at 6 p.m. Feb. 17 at Alabaster Coffee Roaster and Tea Co., 410 Pine St. Mosey on down to the coffee house and don't forget your sorrow.
Lost Companion's Joe Gaultier is a solo act based in Harrisburg. His sound is reminiscent of Johnny Cash and Jim White and the meandering, narrative lyrics are a delight.
APRIL LINE: Have you always lived in Central PA?
Lost Companion will perform at 6 p.m. Feb. 17 at Alabaster Coffee and Tea Roaster Co., 410 Pine St.
JOE GAULTIER: Yes, for the most part. I grew up in the Harrisburg area. I was living up in the Catskill mountains for a little while in New York. But, for the most part, born and raised. I keep coming back to this area because I like it. Being a musician, I get to travel around a lot. Makes this area better: being able to leave and come back.
AL: How long have you been doing music stuff?
JG: Pretty much my whole life I've been banging around and playing on something. In my early teens, I got really into playing guitar. I went to college in Boston and studied music. Then when I lived in New York, that's when I really got into playing music and getting out there.
AL: Talk to me about your songwriting process. Are your songs autobiographical?
JG: Yeah, I mean, as a writer you pull from your life - whatever you can, really. [laughs] My songwriting process I tend to think of myself as a guitarist before anything else. So it tends to start with the music. I'll be banging away on guitar, banjo or piano, and then I'll piece together a story. I think it's because of what I grew up listening to, but my songs are very much story-based songs. They're not very abstract. So, I tend to start with the music and then I'll try to build a story, lyrically, and go from there.
AL: I was struck by the slow, sad energy in your songs. Are you a sad person?
JG: Um, no! I'm actually the opposite! I am a fun, easy-going guy. I was talking to a friend about this the other day. My songs are really depressing. I'm really into old country, folk, bluesy tunes. All those songs, you know - Appalachian - are depressing.
AL: In the pictures online, you look like you're saying, "I'm very serious and I have a large beard."
JG: Those pictures are all from me playing. And I didn't realize how hard it is to do the solo thing. It's so much harder than being in a band. Everything's on you! If you play an acoustic show, you walk on stage, people quit talking. So, the next thing they hear comes from you. So, when I'm up there, I look pretty serious, because I'm concentrating so hard. In between songs, I smile and take a breath.
AL: Do you always go alone?
JG: I have always loved folk music - Bob Dylan, Neil Young. So, I've always kind of leaned toward this. I love bands - good rocking bands. But I've been in bands and they always turn out being bad situations. All this fighting between members and ego trips, and what always ends up happening is, I'm the default guy, writing the songs and booking the shows. So I was like, "I might as well just do it by myself." Seems like an easier thing to do than trying to find musicians that are into stuff that I'm into. It's hard to find a drummer who's into Johnny Cash.
AL: Are your friends and family supportive?
JG: Yes, yes they are. That makes all the difference. My friends, especially in this area, having moved away for a bit and coming back, they all support me. They try to go to as many shows as they can. My parents are super supportive. They go to shows if they can. They've been supportive my whole life. I know a lot of parents wouldn't be. They want their kids to be accountants.
AL: And lawyers.
JG: Yeah, my sister's a lawyer. And I'm the musician. [laughs]
AL: Do you have a day job?
JG: Yeah. I work at two local theaters: The Whitaker Center, which is a bigger venue where they have live music and shows and a bunch of different stuff. I also work at a smaller theater called The Theater Group and they do children's theater and Shakespeare.
AL: You have a cool day job.
JG: The pay isn't cool.
AL: What are your goals as a musician?
JG: I would love to make a living - a comfortable living, not rock star status - making music. One way or another, whether it's performing or writing. I wouldn't mind being a [song] writer. I actually think that's something I'd prefer. If I could make a comfortable living doing music but easier said than done.