Journalist, artist investigates international music scene
A Gardnerville native is taking a piece of home across the world, through his music and his journalism. Fil Corbitt will be heading to Nepal this month to investigate the Nepalese metal scene for his radio podcast, “Van Sounds.”
Growing up in Gardnerville helped shape his passion both as an artist and a journalist.
“In the ideal world, things in small towns are more honest,” Corbitt said. “You can be upfront; there’s a straightforwardness that people are very proud of in small towns. That lends itself to my songwriting in a really beautiful way, where you can just be straightforward in what you’re thinking without masking it under hidden layers. “
Corbitt has been involved with several music projects over the years, including Earthscraper, a six-month music, film and performance project that captured the essence of Northern Nevada in 2013 with fellow band mate, Nevada native Kent Irwin.
“Kent grew up in Reno, I grew up in Gardnerville; both of us use a lot of history and Nevada identity in our writing. He writes from a city perspective, I write from a small town perspective.”
After the project ended, Corbitt, who had just graduated from the Don Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada, toured as a drummer with Buster Blue, a band also out of Gardnerville. He realized he needed a creative outlet, and in the back of the tour van, Van Sounds was created.
“It’s a podcast about movement,” said Corbitt. “Which is purposely vague. It covers travel and music; it’s about chasing things I’m curious about, and generally speaking, talking to musicians and artists who are touring, trying to capture a sense of place while moving through that place.”
Corbitt, along with Irwin, formed their new band People with Bodies in 2014. They tour about twice a year, and always make sure to stop in Gardnerville for a performance.
“We want to play at DST again, as well as some other venues in town,” Corbitt said. “In addition to Gardnerville, we want to play in a lot more small towns in Nevada in general, because a lot of bands silo themselves to the same routes, hitting only major cities in a circuit. Both Kent and I have travelled extensively in Nevada, and we love all the small corners of it. We hope to play in some unconventional places, which we feel is a part of what People with Bodies is about; playing in places we’re not ‘supposed’ to.”
People with Bodies has also toured South America twice, including Brazil, Uruguay, and Argentina, which lent several episodes to Van Sounds during their tour.
“Touring is completely wrapped up with Van Sounds,” Corbitt said. “We’d play shows, I’d host interviews.”
Their last tape “Quitter” was recorded in February in Gardnerville, in Corbitt’s mother’s living room, on 24 individually recorded tapes.
“We heard this legend of the band 7 seconds, who were from Reno,” said Corbitt. “They apparently recorded a bunch of demo tapes in the 80s by setting their Walkman on the table, playing the whole EP, popping the tape out, putting a new tape in, and playing the whole EP again.
“They didn’t have the technology to copy tapes, and they were broke, but they had 20 tapes and a Walkman. And we thought, ‘we have a Walkman, and we’re broke, why not do that?’ So we came down to Gardnerville with a tape machine and a microphone and played 24 versions of the tape. Some have the sounds of the canons being fired by the Heavenly avalanche crew. Each is unique, but they’re tied together by where we made them.”
You can learn more about People with Bodies at peoplewithbodies.bandcamp.com, or Van Sounds at filcorbitt.com.