The Lunar Laugh – Goodnight Noises Everywhere

The Lunar Laugh is a pop band based in Oklahoma City. At the group’s core is the singer/songwriter trio of Connor Anderson, Jared Lekites, and Campbell Young backed by Jimmy Jackson’s powerful drumming. Their music draws inspiration from the classic pop masterworks of the 60’s and 70’s, with fully realized arrangements and lush harmonies in the foreground.  “Goodnight Noises Everywhere” is their third album (and Kool Kat Musik label debut).

Buy at Kool Kat Musik

 

 

 

 

Jared Lekites explains.

For every song, you record, how many end up in the bin?

 

We tend to have a lot more written than we eventually record. On this particular album, we had about 25 contenders that we narrowed down to about 14 to record which we then had to narrow down to just 10.

 

With every song you write, are you still learning to become an even better songwriter?

 

I think we are always trying to better ourselves as writers but we also approach each song as something new. I mainly try to focus on creating something I am proud of and something that means a lot to me.

 

Lunar

 

As an artist, you chose to show your emotions to the world. Is it always comfortable to do so?

 

I sometimes find some things a little embarrassing, especially if one of the other guys also has to sing or harmonize on a particular line that I feel is pretty personal and close to me. But the other guys are also pretty reassuring and they never object to anything I bring to them.

 

Is recording a record easier than getting it heard nowadays?

 

It can be a struggle to do either depending on what you’re going for and who you’re trying to please. You can spend a fortune on creating music that maybe only 5 people will ever know exists. Sometimes you just have to not think too much about that. We are making the music for ourselves mostly and it’s certainly rewarding if anyone else listens and enjoys it. But I try not to get too hung up on “getting heard”. Once the album is out there, it’s there.

 

Recording music. What’s all the fun about?

 

We had a ball making this album as a band. We would lay down simple foundations to start and then just see what we could find laying around the studio that might work. On “Another Casualty” for instance, we scavenged around trying to find some different percussion sounds. We tooled around hitting a cowbell with different types of mallets and sticks and using different microphone placements on shakers and maracas to get a combination of sounds we thought were cool. Then as we were looking around, we stumbled upon these roto-toms that were just shoved in a corner of the studio. The light bulb went off in our heads and we had our drummer Jimmy record this amazing sounding drum fills with them. Those fills absolutely take the song to a new level. So all the fun is really in trying new things and creating a world for the songs to live in.

 

Playing music in front of a crowd. What’s all the fun about?

 

The energy of the audience and the sort of ‘feeding frenzy’ feel you can get out of it. When you give your all from the stage, and they send it right back to you with their applause and their yells, it’s an amazing feeling. I’ve heard some musicians compare it to really intense sex which makes a lot of sense to me because a good show should have that kind of arc; passionate and a hell of a mutual climax at the end.

 

Always proud to answer ‘I am a musician’ to the question ‘what are you doing?’?

 

Most people are pretty impressed or at least intrigued with that answer. It’s more interesting than saying “I’m self-employed” or “I’m between jobs”.

 

You can’t control the way people ‘hear’ your music. But if you could make them aware of certain aspects, you think, set your songs apart. What would they be?

 

Well, I would always like to point out the things I always listen for in music which is things like chord changes, harmonies, and melodic structure. Those are typically what musician-types or songwriters like to listen for. On this new album, I’d like people to be able to hear the way Connor, Campbell and myself are layering our voices around each other and the way certain vocal lines are ping-ponging along. I think we carved out something with our vocal work that sets us apart, as you say.

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Sofa City Sweetheart – Super​(​b) Exitos

The L.A.-based solo project Sofa City Sweetheart is the centerpiece around which (Juan Antonio) Lopez shapes his masterworks. Writing, arranging, recording, and engineering all the music himself, Lopez tangles together his spectrum of childhood influences into stories of acceptance. Over layers of gentle guitar sit toe-tapping melodies and intermingling harmonies that merge art and feeling, spinning stories that tie the persistent tragedies in his own life to the stuck-to-it-iveness that’s often required in any contemporary artist.

Buy/Listen here 

 

 

 

 

Sweet Sweet Music talked to Juan about his new release ‘Super​(​b) Exitos’.

 

For every song you record, how many end up in the bin?

WAY too many. But the bin is more of a “to do” bin instead of a trash bin (or do you guys say “rubbish” over there?) Most of them are just unfinished, or need better/completed lyrics and are waiting for their day to shine. There are literally hundreds!

 

As an artist, you chose to show your emotions to the world. Is it always comfortable to do so?

It’s kind of funny, because I am a naturally shy and private person that doesn’t always like to reveal too much or be the center of attention. But this is essentially what I’m doing when I perform and release my music to the world. It’s a strange dynamic, but I think I feel most comfortable expressing myself through music. You can feel it more when the words and feelings are delivered with a soundtrack.

 

 

Any ideas about how to turn this one into a million seller?

If I knew that, I’d be flying in my solid gold spaceship right now. Maybe legally changing my name to “Adele”?

Honestly, I think my music tends to be most popular with musicians and other music/songwriting nerds (of which I am proud of!) so I’m not sure if I will ever have a mega platinum hit. (But maybe if enough nerds come together and form a union I can start making payments on that spaceship!)

Recording music. What’s all the fun about?

I always say that writing songs is the closest I’ll ever get to giving birth. And recording is where you get to see the song “grow up”. This is where the greatest magic happens. It’s important for me to not only write a great chord progression and melody, but to write all of the other parts that add to the song and make it more beautiful and powerful. Countermelodies, bass lines, guitar parts, harmonies, etc… That’s the fun stuff! Only when the song has grown up is it ready to go out into the world.

You can’t control the way people ‘hear’ your music. But if you could make them aware of certain aspects, you think, set your songs apart. What would they be?

Maybe just exactly how much work I put into every single aspect of my songs. From the writing, to recording, producing, and mixing… I spend a lot of time at every step. I’m basically a mad scientist in the studio and try everything I can to make the song come out just right. Then eventually, one day, lightning strikes and… IT’S ALIVE!

Meet Lannie Flowers

 

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Check Lannie’s FB for updates on new releases.

 

Sweet Sweet Music is in love with the Texas-flavored Power Pop Lannie Flowers has been producing for years.

Make sure to check out all the new music Lannie is releasing and if you, by any change, are not aware of Lannie’s music, buy Live in N.Y.C.  today!

 

 

For every song you record, how many end up in the bin? 

Quite a few. Although, not as many as when I was younger and just trying to figure out how to write songs. Sometimes there are songs I like parts of, and they usually get used in other songs that need a break or verse.

 

 

 

With every song you write, are you still learning to become an even better songwriter?

Oh yeah. I don’t think you ever quit learning. If you do and you quit trying different things, then you start getting in a rut. That is a really hard thing to keep from doing.

 

 

 

As an artist, you chose to show your emotions to the world. Is it always comfortable to do so? 

I don’t really have a problem with that.   It’s easy to draw from your past experiences and the emotions you were or are going through.

 

 

Any ideas about how to turn this one into a million seller?   

If I knew, I would’ve done that a long time ago.   So, obviously no, I don’t. Wish I did.

 

What’s the gig you will always remember? And why? 

Can’t think of any right off hand.  Done so many over the years.

 

The first gig I ever did, I was 12 years old and we talked the high school into letting our band play at intermission for their beauty contest. We got to play one or two songs and (as I remember it) girls were screaming, So when we got through, these older girls were coming up to me and talking to me. Just 15 minutes before, they would have nothing to do with me. That’s when I figured that this would be a pretty good occupation.

 

There are a few others. Opening for Cheap Trick was really cool.  Playing on the beach to 50,000 kids, opening for some of the Beach Boys. The one I’d like to forget is having to go on after Quiet Riot. That was not an easy task.

 

 

 

When was the last time you thought ‘I just wrote a hit!’?

Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever thought that. I don’t really know what a hit song would be. I just try to write what I know.

 

Is recording a record easier than getting it heard nowadays? 

The recording is the easiest, fun part to me. Getting it heard is a whole completely different thing.   Although there’s internet radio and different outlets that weren’t there before. So many people can record and release songs themselves. So there are so many choices out there for the buying public.

 

 

Which 5 records,  that everybody forgot about, would define ‘our time’ on earth?

Don’t really have a good answer for that. Probably different for everyone.

 

 

Recording music. What’s all the fun about? 

For me, the fun of recording is creating something that didn’t exist before. You can do anything you want with the song. When it all comes together as you hear it in your head, it’s pretty amazing.

 

Playing music in front of a crowd. What’s all the fun about?    

The fun for me sometimes is the feedback you get from the people in the audience. Other times, it’s just playing with the band and clicking on all cylinders.

 

 

 

 

Always proud to answer ‘I am a musician’ to the question ‘what are you doing?’?   

I always add “and I use the term loosely “  to that answer. Ha!

 

You can’t control the way people ‘hear’ your music. But if you could make them aware of certain aspects, you think, set your songs apart. What would they be?

I’m not doing anything that hasn’t been done a million times before. The only thing that is mine is the way I see the world and the way I put that vision in my songs.

 

The Resonars – No Exit (Q&A)

 

AllMusic writes: No Exit is another home-cooked, perfectly baked album that fits right in with previous albums. It’s loaded with brilliant songs, from the jangly Byrds-ian “Days Fade Away” and heart-tugging minor-key ballad “Dull Today” to the pulse-quickening power pop rush of “Louise Tonight” and the beat-group peppy “Fell Into a World.” Rendon claims to have had something akin to writer’s block — which helps to account for the many-year gap between Resonars records — but by the time the tapes were rolling it’s clear he had conquered it. He certainly was in full control of the sound, too. Each song has an immediateness that’s welcome in an age of gauzy production techniques, the arrangements are simple but powerful, and the guitars have a majestic crunch and chime that is hard to get at any price point. Rendon seems unable to put a wrong foot forward, and even after doing basically the same thing for so many years, the Resonars have yet to sound even a little tired. No Exit can be counted among their best work, which is saying a lot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sweet Sweet Music talked to Matt Rendon.

 

For every song you record, how many end up in the bin? 

Well – I record every song written but half of them end up on albums. There is a downloadable album on the Resonars Bandcamp called Apostasy, Impatience, Power & Volume that is a collection of rejected songs.

 

 

With every song you write, are you still learning to become an even better songwriter?

 

 

Yeah, I’m never satisfied with my songwriting so I try to listen to as much new music and new old music as possible. Lately, I’ve been working on condensing songs and writing more inventive bridges so they keep your interest from the beginning to the end.

 

 

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As an artist, you chose to show your emotions to the world. Is it always comfortable to do so?

 

In the early days, it was not comfortable. Now that I’m older I’ve become more open and honest and I no longer give a shit.

 

 

Any ideas about how to turn this one into a million seller?

 

None whatsoever haha.

 

 

 

What’s the gig you will always remember? And why?

 

Resonars played a show in a boat in Stockholm and it was Isaac’s birthday. We all got hopelessly drunk but played great and it was the most fun I’ve ever had playing a gig.

 

 

 

When was the last time you thought ‘I just wrote a hit!’?

 

Never. I have thought ‘I just recorded a hit!’ though.

 

 

 

Is recording a record easier than getting it heard nowadays?

 

Oh yeah – we have our own studio so that’s always easier.

 

 

Recording music. What’s all the fun about?

 

For us, meaning the Midtown Island circle of bands, we have a very supportive, encouraging environment. Lenguas Largas, Freezing Hands, Free Machines, Sea Wren, Anchor baby, Resonars, Harsh Mistress – they’re all made up among the same 10-12 people and each one is a talented songwriter, so when somebody has an album full of songs, the others get behind the project. In fact – we just started a record label called Midtown Island so we can have complete control of the release process.

 

Always proud to answer ‘I am a musician’ to the question ‘what are you doing?’?

 

Always! It’s the only thing I know how to do.

 

 

You can’t control the way people ‘hear’ your music. But if you could make them aware of certain aspects, you think, set your songs apart. What would they be?

 

I think sometimes people expect something different from us aesthetically because of the sound – like dressing in Beatle boots, fringe, and striped shirts. This was particularly apparent in Spain when we played the Purple Weekend festival – there were so many bands dressed in their late 60s regalia and we show up in jeans and t-shirts like we just got off work. People were taken aback by us.

 

We’re a bunch of hicks from Tucson who, while making music steeped in 1960s influence, are fully aware of the time in which we’re living. Our country is a fucking mess right now and has been for a while – how that’s affected the well-being of friends and family is the main source of both my songwriting and that of my friends.

 


 

Tucson, Arizona’s Matt Rendon has certainly done his homework. Over the course of 22 years and six albums as The Resonars (seven if you count the Butterscotch Cathedral album; a one-ff psychedelic magnum opus released in 2015) for labels like Get Hip & Burger, Rendon’s musical vision has remained unwavering; a paean to a lost-era of analog recording, whip-smart, dynamic songwriting, and soul-stirring anthems to ignite generations. “No Exit” is his latest album as The Resonars. 

“No Exit” kicks off with the epic clang of “Louise Tonight”, which merges dive-bombing guitar licks and bombastic drumming, hinting at the controlled chaos of a modern day Townshend/Moon. Elsewhere, “The Man Who Does Nothing” evokes the shimmering harmonies of The Hollies atop a persistent backbeat, and tunes like “Before You’re Gone” “Beagle Theory” sidle up to a dreamy kiwi-jangle strong enough to make Martin Phillips jealous. Conversely, tunes like side two’s “All Those Hats” rages with an amphetamine-laced melodic tension reminiscent of The Buzzcocks or The Undertones. Rendon has consistently proven to have a knack for an everyman style of songwriting that doesn’t seem rote or tired, lacing his melodic vocal harmonies with that melancholic joy omnipresent in the best numbers by bands like The Beach Boys, Big Star or even Simon & Garfunkel’s pop hits.

Rendon typically handles all aspects of Resonars albums from the recording & engineering (at his own Midtown Island Studios) to the performance of every instrument, but for “No Exit” he employs the help of some friends & colleagues; Resonars live drummer Johnnie Rinehart plays on half the tunes, while sometimes live members Ricky Shimo & Travis Spillers play bass & sing (respectively) on two numbers. Despite being the first Resonars album in 5 years, Rendon shows no signs of stopping; He’s a rock & roll lifer, having been raised in a musical environment & osmosis thru older sibling’s rock fandom. Once it’s inside you there’s no escape. “No Exit”, if you will. 

David Brookings and the Average Lookings – Scorpio Monologue (Q&A)

 

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Watch, listen and Buy

 

hoponpowerpop.com writes about Scorpio Monologue: It’s gripping but it also makes you wish you were drinking something with an umbrella in it. I guess what I’m trying to say is if I were quarreling with a lover and trying to cheer myself up with a windows-down-solo-drive to the beach, this is the album I would blast the whole way and I would cry my eyes out with a big smile on my face. 

 

Sweet Sweet Music talked to David.

 

As an artist, you chose to show your emotions to the world. Is it always comfortable to do so?

 

For me, it is usually comfortable, yes. I’m pretty open with my feelings, but I think writing songs for so long has helped me to be in touch with my feelings, and with what I want to say. Every once in a while though, something will surprise me emotionally. I was recording vocals for ‘Rainbow Baby’ (on the new record), and it’s about my youngest daughter. I got a little choked up singing about her. So it took me a few different takes to get through it in the studio

 

Any ideas about how to turn this one into a million seller?

 

Haha. I would settle for turning it into a 500 seller. My idea is that people have to give new bands a try. I’m not new. Scorpio Monologue is my 8th record. But I guarantee you I am new to most people – so they just have to give it a shot, and I think they might like it

 

 

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Is recording a record easier than getting it heard nowadays?

 

I always say that recording is the easy part. The tough part comes after that once it is released and you’re trying to promote it / get people to listen to it, etc. But that’s where Sweet Sweet Music comes in, lol.

 

 

 

 

Playing music in front of a crowd. What’s all the fun about?

 

I love playing live because you never know what’s going to happen at a show. I don’t know how many people will show up on a given night, or what new friends we’re going to make afterward, or what new band we might like that is also on the bill with us. So its always a new adventure, plus we try to mix up the songs in the setlist, so that’s fun too

 

Always proud to answer ‘I am a musician’ to the question ‘what are you doing?’?

 

My answer to ‘What are you doing?’ would be that I work on both sides of the music industry, b/c my day job is working in the digital music business, but my heart is in writing songs, putting out albums, and playing gigs. So I feel like I’m sort of a double agent who can appreciate both sides of the music business. Absolutely yes, I’m proud to be a musician, and I’m proud to work in the music industry in general.

 

 

 

The Bobbleheads – Myths and Fables (Q&A)

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The Bobbleheads are an indie pop-rock band, formed in 2003 in San Francisco, CA. Their sound is best described as upbeat,but sly, hard-hitting pop with melodies that stay with you for days. But don’t confuse catchy with kitchy, they turn a tad serious on their new album, Myths and Fables.   

 

John Ashfield explains.

 

For every song you record, how many end up in the bin?

 

Many songs are written and tried out by the band, but only a few get considered to be recorded. A lot of these songs are demoed at home, but just never get too far. When a song works it’s really clear. The ones that work get recorded.

 

 

 

With every song you write, are you still learning to become an even better songwriter?

 

Well yeah! You are always trying out a new idea or approach… in some ways its still a mystery if it’s actually gonna work. When it does it’s exciting!

 

As an artist, you chose to show your emotions to the world. Is it always comfortable to do so?

 

No, it is not. Any ideas about how to turn this one into a million seller? HA!!!! Just you wait and see! It’ll be groovy.

 

What’s the gig you will always remember? And why?

 

Every gig is exciting and new really. It sounds ridiculous to say that but for me it’s true. You always want to win the crowds attention and keep it.

 

 

 

When was the last time you thought ‘I just wrote a hit!’?

 

I always think every new song is!! Every time! You get a little more critical as the days go on.

 

Is recording a record easier than getting it heard nowadays?

 

Oh yeah. So many people are making cool music. It’s impossible to keep up, and it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle. I am really thankful when anyone pays attention to our music!

 

Which 5 records, that everybody forgot about, would define ‘our time’ on earth?

 

This is a hard one. Things in popular music and pop culture are so fragmented. I remember being a kid in the ’70s and ’80s and there were songs EVERYONE knew. Now even big hits can sail under the radar of many. So, instead, I will list 5 songs that define my time on earth at this very moment. In no particular order!!! “You’re So Good To Me” – The Beach Boys, “Eyes Of The World (live 1982)” – Fleetwood Mac, “Man Blir Yr” – Gyllene Tider, “Senses Working Overtime” – XTC, and… there is always some new song that grabs my ear for a week or so.

 

Recording music. What’s all the fun about?

 

You get to experiment with sound! You get to try out ideas out and then hear the results straight away. When it doesn’t work, you know it quick! It’s like playing dress up.

 

Playing music in front of a crowd. What’s all the fun about?

 

It feels like magic, making all that sound. Seeing people react to it feels great Always proud to answer ‘I am a musician’ to the question ‘what are you doing?’? Oh yeah. No shame in being a musician ever. I’ve defined myself as one

 

You can’t control the way people ‘hear’ your music. But if you could make them aware of certain aspects, you think, set your songs apart. What would they be?

 

I believe in the power of a great chorus…

Johnny Stanec – Things Were Better, When (Q&A)

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Seventh full-length solo record from Youngstown, OH’s Johnny Stanec. Featuring ten new songs and a more straightforward rock and roll sound. For fans of hooks and harmonies.

 

 

 

 

 

With every song you write, are you still learning to become an even better songwriter?

 

I think that songwriting is hopefully always something I’m getting better at doing. Every time I finish a song or a record, I hope I’m putting something different into it to set it apart from the previous ones. Even if what I’m putting into that song is that it feels like it happened naturally and wasn’t something forced. It’s hard to judge your own work, but I like to think that with every release I get a little better at what I’m trying to do. I’ve released music at a pretty steady pace for the last twelve years, so I hope it’s a gradual incline as far as quality goes. I’d be happy if that never changes.

 

As an artist, you chose to show your emotions to the world. Is it always comfortable to do so?

 

Not really. I mean, I’ve written songs that are lighthearted and uptempo, which go down a lot easier than the songs that I’ve written that are slow, dark and acoustic; so it just depends. I just hope that whatever the case is, that the songs come across as honest and something people can relate to. It will always be weird waiting for some kind of reaction to a new record or trying to win over a crowd for the first time, but it’s something I like doing, so it’s just part of it.

 

 

 

Is recording a record easier than getting it heard nowadays?

 

Absolutely, yes! There are just so many people trying to get your attention now that if anyone listens, it’s an accomplishment. I’ve never had a label or booking agent or any type of assistance getting my songs out there, so it’s always uphill. I suppose every time I release something there is a slightly larger group of people interested in it than the one before, but unless there happens to be some kind of breakthrough, it will always be difficult.

 

When was the last time you thought ‘I just wrote a hit!’?

 

Every now and then you’ll be sitting around, strumming some chords and then all of a sudden you hear something in your head. Even though you’ve played those same four chords a million times, you hear them differently and a melody comes out. When that happens, it’s a good feeling. When I started writing for this last record (Things Were Better, When) I went into it with a few songs already written, but as they were being arranged it opened up some new ideas and then I wrote nearly all of the record in a few weeks. I can’t say if any of them are hits, but there is definitely something fresh about this set of songs. They were arranged with a band instead of just in my own head, so that definitely made a difference. The drumming is also very driving and gives the tunes movement. That’s a big factor. They sound urgent and immediate. None of them are longer than three minutes, which is a first for me. People should check them out!

 

You can’t control the way people ‘hear’ your music. But if you could make them aware of certain aspects, you think, set your songs apart. What would they be?

 

I think lyrics, in general, are what set all songs apart. There are plenty of people who can come up with some kind of melody or arrange a song in some way, but it’s hard to fake lyrics. When the lyrics are weak, the song suffers. I like to think that I write better than average lyrics, so I hope people pay attention if they ever listen to my songs. Not everything has to be a massive statement of importance, but at least the lyrics need to be clear and clever. Something that shows the writer cares about what they are doing. If you can manage that, then that’s at least something to hang your hat on at the end of the day.

 

Colman Gota – And The Losers Choir Sings (Q&A)

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“Smart lyrics, catchy melodies, and a sparkling guitar, for a good song you do not need much more. On his new record ‘… ‘ Colman Gota takes it one step further.  He does not add any new elements, but his lyrics are just a bit more challenging than just exciting, his melodies are more pleasant than just easy on the ear and his guitar sounds crispier than crackling candy tastes.

 

What about that?

 

Fine!

 

 

 

For every song on the record, how many ended up in the bin? Do you write a lot to make a selection of eleven?

 

A lot of them ended up in the bin. I wrote around 50-60 songs this time around, and I kept at it till the very last moment. I was lucky to hit a winning streak, with “Catholic school”, “Practice room” and “Do you really want to know”, at the very end of the process. These songs raised the bar!

 

With every song you write, are you still learning to become an even better songwriter?

 

Absolutely, I´ve written a lot of songs, and with the best ones, I always have the feeling that I´m getting nearer but  I still quite never get there. The more you practice, the better you get at it that´s for sure, I´m still growing as a songwriter, so expect great albums in the future!

 

As an artist, you chose to show your emotions to the world. Is it always comfortable to do so?

 

I try to avoid cliches and the well-trodden path. I´m a very private person, and I´m not fond of extremes, but I´m also honest with what I write, and you definitely have to follow your instincts wherever they may you. I´m not very good with breakup songs, I must say, but It would be very cool to write a love-ridden luminous album, but I doubt it will happen.

 

 

 

Any ideas about how to turn this one into a million seller?

 

Hahaha, that´s what I ask the few industry people that I know. I haven´t got a clue and I´m pretty hopeless at selling myself, that I know. I ´m also pretty naive, in the sense that I think that the word is going to be spread, regardless of any other facts, just because I have some great songs. Well, I´m afraid it doesn´t work that way. ”

 

fotocolmanPasillo

 

Gretchen’s Wheel – Moth to Lamplight: A Tribute to Nada Surf (Q&A)

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What’s the story with you and Nada Surf?

I first heard Nada Surf in 2013, which was relatively late considering their first album was released in 1996. I would’ve loved to have discovered their music earlier, but in a way, I found it at exactly the right time in my life.

At the time I first heard them, it had been about ten years since I’d written or recorded any of my own music, and I barely considered myself a musician anymore. I hadn’t even been seeking out any new music to listen to for years. I’d had some health problems that reduced my energy and motivation, plus I stayed busy with my graphic design job.

In mid 2013, after my health started to improve, I felt more energetic and interested in things, and it was around that time that I started listening to iTunes Radio which had just been launched. Right away I was introduced to a ton of great music that would inspire me to get back into playing and recording again. “Inside of Love” was the first Nada Surf song I heard – I immediately had to find out more about the band and listen to all of their albums. Pretty soon I found myself wanting to play and record again, and the first thing I did was a cover of “Jules and Jim” from The Stars are Indifferent to Astronomy. The result was honestly quite awful, but it was my first baby step in the direction of becoming pretty decent (I hope!) at home recording.

The other band I first heard around this time that made a huge impact on me was the Posies. They’re a big part of the story too, not only because of contributing to that initial burst of inspiration but also because Ken Stringfellow (of the Posies) would produce my first album the following year. And Ken knew Ira Elliot (Nada Surf’s drummer), which was how Ira came to play drums on that album as well as my second. It still amazes me that members of the two primary bands that influenced me to return to music would end up appearing on my own albums.

Other than that, I’ve been fortunate enough to meet the band a couple of times after their shows in Nashville, and I’m beyond thrilled that Matthew Caws (Nada Surf singer/guitarist) was supportive of my music even before the tribute album came to be.

 

gretchen2

Deciding on what songs to cover was never easy, I guess? What were the criteria?

The idea that I’d do an entire album was somewhat borne of frustration – I definitely wanted to cover a Nada Surf song but could not decide which one or in what context to release it: standalone single or included on my next regular album. I was aware of some recent single-artist tribute albums (like Juliana Hatfield’s tribute to Olivia Newton-John and Ben Gibbard’s cover of the Teenage Fanclub album Bandwagonesque), and suddenly one day last year it occurred to me that I could do that, too. I first made a list of songs that was unreasonably long but made myself narrow it down to a number I felt I could manage in a relatively short time.

I eliminated songs I’d already “informally” recorded over the past few years and didn’t allow more than 2 songs from any one album. I tried to choose songs that I would be able to play without making compromises, since I wanted to be pretty faithful to the originals, and I had to be able to make it work in a key that fit my vocal range if the original key didn’t. I also wanted the album to have a good variety of tempos and styles. Here’s a reason for one specific song choice: I’d read that “Rushing” was originally written (by Matthew and Dan Wilson) not necessarily for Nada Surf but possibly for a female singer. So I’d been keeping that in the back of my mind, thinking one day I might try it, especially since the lyrics were so meaningful to me. I don’t know if I’m anything like the female singer they envisioned for this song, but I hope they’re pleased with the result!

 

 

 

 

How did you make these songs your own?

My intention was to stay mostly faithful to the original versions – with the exception of “Rushing,” which was still not a radical departure but more bare-bones than the original. One of the things I like to try when covering a song is changing the instrument that plays a certain part so that the part isn’t lost but takes on a different character. So I used a keyboard for one of the parts in “Rushing” that was originally guitar. On “No Quick Fix” I added a keyboard part that wasn’t there in the original, and on a few songs, I added a backing vocal part that wasn’t in the original (like the descending “aah” part in “Amateur”). I’m sure I’m forgetting some!

My goal was to keep the original “feel” of the song intact… I wanted to be able to recreate the magic that made me love the songs in the first place – without making an exact copy, or else there’s no reason for my versions to exist in the world. I certainly struggled with worry that the album was very self-indulgent and presumptuous – who am I to think I’m worthy to be the one who tackles this project?? But I hope my deep respect for the songs and the band is evident and that people will enjoy the result!

I saw Nada Surf playing live for the first time last year. Besides those great songs, they have so much class. But it’s hard to describe what ‘class’ is. Can you help?

I totally agree! They are a fantastic live band, and I hope I have the opportunity to see them play many more times. They’re such genuinely nice people, generously spending time talking to fans after the show. I think a big part of their class is their positivity and sincerity.

How ‘popular’ were you ?

Well, in high school, not at all! But then again, I didn’t hear about “The Teenage Guide to Popularity” until I was in my 30s.

Eytan Mirsky – If Not Now … Later (Q&A)

 

 

 

 

 

PowerPopNews writes: With Eytan Mirsky’s Funny Money having made the top 4 on this website’s best powerpop albums of 2016 list, the anticipation has been building for his new one. Here’s the good news. If Not Now….Later is every bit as catchy, clever and engaging as its predecessor.

 

 

Sweet Sweet Music talked to Eytan about the new record, playing in front of a crowd, and how to sell a million copies.

 

For every song you record, how many end up in the bin?

 

I really haven’t recorded many songs that haven’t been released one way or another. There are songs that I have written and sung an acoustic version of on Youtube that I never recorded a full band version of. But once I record a full band version I almost always release it — if not on my own albums then on a compilation.

 

With every song you write, are you still learning to become an even better songwriter?

 

Yes, and no. In a way, I think I have developed more skill at songwriting. But at the same time, every song is its own challenge, and you’re only as good as your last song! The fact that the last song you wrote was great is no guarantee that the next one will also be one. You still have to do the work.

 

As an artist, you chose to show your emotions to the world. Is it always comfortable to do so?

 

 

I don’t consider myself a “confessional” writer, so I don’t really have this problem. My songs aren’t strictly autobiographical and they are not deeply emotional in the way you describe. Sometimes I envy people who do write that way, though, but I approach it more in the way of making an idea come to life.

 

eytan

 

 

Any ideas about how to turn this one into a million seller?

 

Yes: Step 1: Win the lottery.

 

Step 2: Buy a million copies.

 

 

When was the last time you thought ‘I just wrote a hit!’?

 

In my dreams the other night.

 

Recording music. What’s all the fun about?

 

The fun for me in recording is having an idea and then trying to make it a reality. Sometimes things don’t work out the way you envisioned them; good surprises can happen that can make things better than you imagined. I also have fun singing my songs. It’s always interesting to develop the vocal interpretation of a song.

 

Playing music in front of a crowd. What’s all the fun about?

 

 

The fun part of performing live for me is when the crowd is really into the songs. It’s fun when you can tell people are really listening. For instance, I have a song called “My Dog Likes Your Dog,” and there’s a surprise in the lyrics about halfway through. When people start laughing at that point of the song, I can tell that they were really paying attention. I also enjoy between-song banter and being as funny and as entertaining as possible. I don’t like acts that just play one song after the other without any interaction with the audience.

 

You can’t control the way people ‘hear’ your music. But if you could make them aware of certain aspects, you think, set your songs apart. What would they be?

 

 

I would definitely say that people have tended to enjoy my lyrics, and I do try to make them as good as I can. Now, it’s true that a lot of people don’t really listen to lyrics, but I think good lyrics make you focus more.