SCOTT GAGNER – Pins & Needles (Q&A)

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‘I’ve been listening to lots of Guided By Voices and remembering that things don’t need to be so slick.’, says Scott Gagner about the new record he is working on.

But we need to talk about his 2017 release Pins & Needles first. So we did.

 

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What was the biggest fun during the making of the last album?

 

That’s easy: tracking seven songs live with a killer band in seven hours. The drums were being handled by the legendary Pete Thomas, of Elvis Costello and The Attractions fame. He was friendly with an acquaintance of mine, Jason Weinheimer, who introduced us. Pete seemed to like my demos, and agreed to fly up from LA for the one-day session. Once that was set, Jason and his friend Chris Michaels decided to fly out from Arkansas to play guitar and bass, respectively. Add to that my guitarist friend, Arnie Kim, and I had somehow assembled a world-class band, virtually overnight. I sang live vocals with the band, often playing rhythm guitar as well. The whole day had a very fun, loose vibe. We didn’t have time to get precious. Still, Pete was often the one encouraging us to “try one more.” He was by far the biggest name in the room, but was easily the most prepared, and always listened to playbacks with his eyes closed, in total concentration. He even indulged us with old “war stories” from his 70’s touring days. I’ve been obsessed with his drumming since I was a kid, so, in all honesty, this ended up being one of the biggest days of my life thus far.

 

 

 

Which is the song you wish you had written every time you hear it? And why?

 

I have thousands, but let’s go with two. First, “Something so Right” by Paul Simon (off the fabulous LP “There Goes Rhymin’ Simon”, 1973). This song contains one of my favorite lyrical passages of all time:

 

They’ve got a wall in China,

It’s a thousand miles long,

To keep out the foreigners,

They made it strong,

And I’ve got a wall around me,

That you can’t even see,

It took a little time,

To get next to me

 

It’s relatable, funny, macro, micro, external, internal, wry, vulnerable, and incredibly clever. Paul has an uncanny ability to take a well known cultural phenomenon and use it as a vehicle to dissect some internal emotional truth. The song “Graceland” is another great example of this.

 

The other song I wish I had written is “Solar Sister” by The Posies (“Frosting on the Beater” LP, 1993). Melody is extremely important to me, and this song has one of the best verse melodies ever written, fabs included. It’s fairly straightforward if you try to analyze it (a little 3-note ascending melody that repeats, slightly higher, harmonized), but there’s something magical going on that defies analyzation. I’ve been lucky enough to work with the song’s author Ken Stringfellow for a few years, and I asked him about writing it. He just shrugged and said it sort of tumbled out of him in 30 minutes. Then I quit music.

 

 

Magic can happen when you are playing in front of a crowd. Can you recall such a moment?

 

My last show in San Francisco (as part of the 13th Annual “International Pop Overthrow” Festival) was very special. I’ve started experimenting with going off-microphone for small portions of the show to help draw people in by singing softer. I did so for a song called “I’ve Taken a Shine To You,” standing right on the edge of the stage, barely strumming my guitar. Luckily, the approach worked, and you could hear a pin drop. The song was written for my daughter, so it’s already fairly emotional for me to sing it. I got to the third verse which goes “Like the seasick to the land / Like the fallen to the helping hand / Like the broken heart to the blues / I’ve taken a shine to you”, made eye contact with a few members of the audience, and nearly fell apart. In that moment, I was connecting the lyric to each person I scanned in the crowd — how every one of us needs a helping hand from time to time. I pulled it together and finished the song, but it was a very intense, very real moment of connection to the crowd. The applause at the end seemed to indicate that they felt something too.

 

 

So what about putting your ultimate band together? No restrictions. No limitations. If you want David Bowie on backing vocals and Prince on guitar, go ahead. What would the band look like? And what is the song you will start jamming on. To find out it if this really works?

 

Pete Thomas, Drums (Elvis Costello, Ron Sexsmith, everybody)

Gerard Love, Bass, Backing Vocals (Teenage Fanclub)

Ken Stringfellow, Keys, Guitars, Backing Vocals (The Posies, Big Star, REM)

Doug Gillard, Lead Guitar, Backing Vocals (Nada Surf, Guided By Voices)

 

We’d probably start with “Rain” by The Beatles. The fact that I’ve played/recorded with two of these people is still staggering to me.

 

 

She tells you she will decide on a 5-song-mixtape if there is going to be a second date. Which 5 would you put on?

 

Not a Second Time (The Beatles)

The Second Time Around (Frank Sinatra)

I Second That Emotion (Smokey Robinson)

Second Hand News (Fleetwood Mac)

 

and:

 

Don’t You Want Me (The Human League)

 

 

What’s up for the rest of the year?

 

I’m 75% done with the follow-up to 2017’s “Pins & Needles.” Most of the basic tracking is done. I just need to rewrite a few lyrics, sing, and fix up a few instrumental parts. I’m doing things a little differently on this LP, playing all the drums and most of the instruments myself — not because I think I play better than anyone, but because I think my particular approach to playing will give it more of a distinctive stamp. I’ve been listening to lots of Guided By Voices and remembering that things don’t need to be so slick. Anyway, the LP should be out mid-next year, 2019.

 

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The Rubs – Impossible Dream (Q&A)

‘Working on the next LP at the moment. Hoping to get it released in a year. It’s gonna be all over the place with a loose space/future theme a la Electric Light Orchestra’s ‘Time’.’, says J. Montanaro (Joey Rubbish).

Well, I just found out about ‘Impossible Dream’, brand new to me (Thanks to The Power Pop Show).

Recommended If You Like: The Nerves, Donny Denim, The Jeanies, The Toms, Plimsouls, Nick Lowe, Real Kids, The Fevers, Dutchess & Duke, Nobunny, Rockpile, Wreckless Eric

 

 

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If you could tour the world with 2 other bands, who would you ask to join?

I’d ask my other band, The Whiffs and maybe we both could open for Nick Lowe…that would be tite.

Magic can happen when you are playing in front of a crowd. Can you recall such a moment?

I wouldn’t describe it as magic, but I’ve always enjoyed it when some sort of technical difficulty or mistake happens on stage and the band just keeps plowing through it. For me, it’s like a little-unplanned challenge to overcome and laugh at and the audience always appreciates it when they know something’s fucked up and they see it doesn’t bother you. I used to play drums in a band called Uh Bones from Chicago and my drum set would inevitably fall apart every show and I would have to finish a song with a collapsed floor tom leg or a busted kick pedal. That’s fun for me- something different to mix it up.

 

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If the budget was unlimited, how would you record the next record?

Hire Todd Rundgren to produce it and let him decide the rest.

What would change if Disney would call and tell you they are going to use your song in their next movie?

I’d actually make some money for once.

What’s up for the rest of the year?

Working on the next LP at the moment. Hoping to get it released in a year. It’s gonna be all over the place with a loose space/future theme a la Electric Light Orchestra’s ‘Time’. Lots of different synths and keyboards, mellotron, sound clips. I think we’re gonna call it ‘Dust’.

 


 

Joey Rubbish must be stopped, but it’s too late for that. As the architect of every note on this immaculate new LP, he joins the ranks of other groundbreaking modern home-recording luminaries such as Jay Reatard, Nobunny, Mikey Hyde of Medication, and Rich Crook of Lost Sounds/Lover!, all able to cover every instrumental note recorded, as well as the vocals & recording. Not a small feat and worth noting since it’s such a rare thing to pull off, especially when it’s this nuanced and complex, even by power pop standards. And with that, The Rubs second offering is finally here with Impossible Dream, a full spectrum of songs so tightly-knit, so cleverly-written, and so impossibly dreamy, you won’t be able to pull them out of your skull for eternity. Agonizingly articulate pop that can barely contain its own excitement, these songs just keep hitting you, one after another, each better than the last, just continuously pounding their unwavering contagiousness into your brazen heart.

It’s not like The Rubs are reinventing the guitar with Impossible Dream, but this LP has something brilliant humming at its core, something stark, genuine, and extremely vulnerable. And yet so charming and confident, it’s almost dizzying in its bravado. From the instant “Wrong Right Girl” kicks off, it’s a tense and tender tear through the highs and lows of girls, summer, breakups, and tight jeans, drizzled with a reduction of those irresistible vocal hooks. With a run through a series of songs all named after individual heart-breakers (Judy, Amy, Ruby, & Emily), from slow-burners to hyper-charged rockers, there’s such a great variety of styles and deliveries you just don’t see very often in modern power pop. And let’s not forget, the attention to detail, as well as the overall production control, is top-notch, which really adds depth to these incredible songs. Timeless stuff that avoids any & all modern pitfalls, Impossible Dream is a new high watermark in Chicago pop lineage you really need in your life.

CAR CITY (Q&A)

‘There was really no expectation for an LP when we started. We just wanted to try a couple songs and see how it went. We were all into the songs and we seemed to have good chemistry together and we were having fun so we kept going. After getting several songs down it felt right to try and make an LP.’, says Jason Lemke.

With that attitude, Lemke wrote at least one song that hasn’t left my mind now for a couple of weeks. Check out ‘(Don’t) Give Up on Love’ and then check out the rest of this self-titled debut.

 

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What was the biggest fun during the making of the last album?

 

the best part was recording the basic tracks: bass, drums, guitars. The basic tracks we did live together and I think it comes through the live feel. It was so fun to bring these song ideas into the studio and hear them come alive. The basic song was there but the arrangement was all done in the studio with everyone contributing.

 

At what point, during writing, rehearsing, recording, did you knew you were on to something special?

 

I think really after the first couple recording sessions we knew it could be more. There was really no expectation for an LP when we started. We just wanted to try a couple songs and see how it went. We were all into the songs and we seemed to have good chemistry together and we were having fun so we kept going. After getting several songs down it felt right to try and make an LP.

 

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The music industry has changed a lot (or so they say). What did it bring you, what not?

 

With the way, music is so accessible these days it is very difficult to get your songs heard. Social media has changed the way people experience art and you have to try and find a way to stand out. You have to capture their interest very quickly. Touring is so critical to bring the music to the people directly. Car City is not a touring band so we will have to utilize the social media outlet and slowly keep trying to create a buzz that way.

 

She tells you she will decide on a 5-song-mixtape if there is going to be a second date. Which 5 would you put on?

 

Oh man …Just off the top of my head-

1 Sam Cooke -Bring it on home to me

2 Little River Band -Cool Change

3 Fleetwood Mac – Go your own way

4 Superdrag – Sold you an alibi

5 Weezer – December

 

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The meaning of ‘success’ has changed over the years. When will the new record be a success?

 

When we sell out the first pressing

 

Can you still recall the moment music became important to you? What happened?

 

Yes at a very young age I recall my dad playing records and I would jump around and dance. It was a lot of Beatles and other British Invasion type stuff and it fascinated me and I was so happy when these songs were playing. I wanted to keep feeling that way and began listening to everything I could find. Later it became a way to escape but at a young age I just loved how it made me feel and I wanted to keep discovering new music.

Which is the song you wish you had written every time you hear it? And why?

 

So many, let me think…how about “Hot child in the city” by Nick Gilder Its got that great build up to one of the catchiest choruses with that cool guitar hook love it

 

If the budget was unlimited, how would you record the next record?

 

I wouldn’t change a thing. We recorded Car City at Crutch of Memory in Appleton Wisconsin which is full of all these vintage amps and instruments and just has a really great feel. I’d want to be back there. What would change if Disney would call and tell you they are going to use your song in their next movie? I’d be wanting to go back in the studio a lot quicker. I just want to keep creating. Having some extra money would allow me to have the time to focus on the music.

SUPER 8 – HI LO

Robert Pollard and R. Stevie Moore. Eat your heart out! There is a new kid in town! Paul Ryan is about to release his third record this year (end of October on Futureman Records). That, on itself, is enough to talk about, so we did.

 

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Three albums in one year, that was not your goal for 2018, was it?

No, it’s just how it panned out really! “T-T-T-Technicolour Melodies!” was the first album of 2018 to get released (through US label ‘Futureman Records’) but, on the run-up to its release, I’d put out a cover of the BMX Bandits classic ‘Serious Drugs’ song. When the first album came out I think some folks were disappointed that ‘Serious Drugs’ didn’t feature on it so, around this time, I started thinking about maybe putting together another album.

I had a few songs kicking about and this BMX Bandits cover at this point. Once I had got it into my head to perhaps make another SUPER 8 album the songs started flowing and it all just came together really quickly. I think the thing that took the longest time was coming up with an idea for the cover. Once I’d decided on that (ie: me dressed up as a Mexican Bandito filming a giant octopus with a Super 8 camera – and why not, eh?) I had the album ‘in the can’ as they say.

That was Album No.2 ‘Turn Around Or …’ and it got a June release (again through FMR). I don’t know how I ended up doing Album No.3, to be honest, it just sort of happened! I have a vague recollection around about the time of the ‘Turn Around Or …’ release of someone laying down the sonic gauntlet as it were and saying: “I bet you can’t release three albums in one year”. It’s all a bit hazy really but, never one to turn down a musical challenge that’s what I ended up doing. Literally, right off the back of the second album’s release, I started penning what became this third album namely: ‘HI LO’.

 

What overarching theme will we discover in 5 years time? Or is the theme already there?

That’s a hard question! 2018 has been a bit of a musical whirlwind for me really! I’ve stumbled from one album into the next without looking (nor listening!) back. I haven’t really had an opportunity to digest what I’ve put out this year, to be honest, I’m too close to it all to be subjective. There hasn’t really been any master plan, it just sort of happened!

If there is some theme or thread running through this hat trick of albums then I guess it’s just trying to stay true to myself as a writer of songs and try not to let the quality control slip. To just keep striving to release good songs to the best of my abilities. As things stand I feel pretty confident that I’ve put out three strong albums this year but only time will tell really I guess. Like I say, I’m still too close to them right now. Ask me next year!

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What was the biggest change since the last one?

I guess it was the realization (finally!) that: “Yeah, I can do this!” That, as a person, it is music that pretty much defines both who & what I am – it’s my voice! This I reckon has been the biggest change for me. To at last have the confidence to actually believe myself when someone asks me what it is I do and I reply: “I’m a Songwriter”. For such ‘a simple thing’ it’s taken me a long time to discover and accept this and this personal discovery sort of clicked into place somewhere between the making of the second and third album. Prior to that, I felt I’d just been winging it (‘Imposter Syndrome’ I think they call it!)

You lost your faith in social media and found it back again. What happened?

Oh that, yeah! Ha! Ha! Let’s just say I have a bit of a like/hate relationship with Facebook. I signed up to Facebook because I was told that, as a musician in the modern age, you HAD to have an online presence and that Facebook being the biggest social media platform in the world would perhaps be a good place to start. I was totally rubbish at it when I started but I’ve gotten somewhat better at it as time’s gone by … I think! That said, I still see social media as very much of a time suck and much prefer to spend my time making rather than trying to promote music! Anyway, being more of ‘a studio musician’ these days, I see Facebook (et al) very much as a necessary evil to be honest. Without it I wouldn’t be doing this interview for example!

The thing is, for all the time I spent updating stuff and trying to build a fan base for this music I make I sort of hit a virtual brick wall with it all a while back there. In hindsight, I think it’s because I was feeling a little burnt out. On the musical front, I write, perform, record and produce everything myself these days. It can be very rewarding but conversely, it can be very tiring too! I’m also prone to bouts of insomnia and, truth be told, I’m also a bit of a perfectionist on the quiet too! This can be a somewhat heady concoction at times and it has been known for me to work on a piece of music until it’s done (is it ever ‘done’ though?!) … sometimes for days without sleep! It was after one of these music marathons where I almost pulled the plug on the whole social media thing.

I remember thinking at the time that I’d had enough of trying to promote what I do online and that I’d just concentrate my efforts on the music making. I’d had enough of looking at cute cat pics (LOL!) and I’d decided that my time would be better spent just doing what I felt I did best. I didn’t really need social media, did I? It was making me miserable so, really, why bother? No one was listening anyway! Or so I thought … I switched the laptop off and battened down the studio hatches as it were. The thing is, a few days later when I next switched my laptop on, I was inundated with messages from folk all saying pretty much the same thing as in: “Don’t give up!” “Stay with us!” “We dig what you’re doing!” etc. It was a nice feeling and helped changed my mind somewhat. As such I’ve realized that social media does indeed have its place (even for Luddites like me!)

 

 

 

 

Proud?

That’s a short question there Patrick! Proud of what exactly?? Of myself? Of releasing three albums in a one year period? Hmm … no, not really! We’re all just on a journey really aren’t we? There are a hundred different paths to the top of the mountain, you’ve gotta find your own way. CHEERS!
😉

The Foreign Films/ Bill Majoros interview

‘Personally, this album is a defining artistic statement, that was one of the main goals. It’s a personal high water mark, I consider it a success as of now. I set out to create my own musical world, a triple vinyl album with creative artwork and a short story. It was a creative marathon but we crossed the finish line.’, says Bill Majoros about The Record Collector, a labor of love and a tour de force, his pièce de résistance.

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What was the biggest fun during the making of the last album?

I loved the moments of magical, spontaneous collaboration!

I played many of the instruments on the album but the true joy was when musicians I love made brilliant contributions.

It’s like telepathy; the chemistry between people can create wonderful, unexpected results.

That’s when a song comes to life;

the second the music transforms from black-and-white into technicolor!

Everyone’s heart and soul illuminated the songs.

Lovely moments of joy frozen in time.

Carl Jennings would always come up with mind-blowing bass lines and brilliant recording sonics. Kori Pop, Wim Oudijk, Rebecca Everett and Steve Eggers would create imaginative and beautifully soulful parts.

There was a magical, creative flow to every song on the 3LP set.

Recording can often be a very difficult process, this was the complete opposite..this was highly inspired.

It was amazing fun to work with great visual artists/friends as well. The album has elaborate artwork and a short story included, I truly enjoyed working with everybody. Brilliant people like Greg Vickers, Jenna Gregory, Madoka Kumagai, Brian Hetherman, and Bob Rich.

It was a fantastic day when we finally picked up the finished records from the pressing plant.

It was a wonderful feeling to put the needle on the vinyl and spin the album for the first time!

A dream come true..pure fun.

It was a long, challenging creative and highly emotional process.

There were also moments of deep heartache; ultimately making the LP was a joyous and adventurous journey.

I’ll always remember the small pleasant details and funny,  conversations about everything under the sun!

I even recall a couple of spontaneous “dance parties”!

 

 

 

The meaning of “success” has changed over the years. When will the new album be a success?

To me, success is living a creative, compassionate and loving life.

It’s about pursuing dreams and enjoying each day. It’s about lifelong friends. My definition of success has little to do with economics.

Personally, this album is a defining artistic statement, that was one of the main goals. It’s a personal high water mark, I consider it a success as of now.

I set out to create my own musical world, a triple vinyl album with creative artwork and a short story.

It was a creative marathon but we crossed the finish line.

The ending is now the starting point for the next album because I love the process; it gives me hope for the future.

As I was saying, my idea of success is based on striving for creative goals and day to day happiness & the happiness of those around me.

It’s the pursuit of artistic excellence and the grand unknown. In other words..the song I may write tomorrow.

It’s also about the artistic adventure and following creative bliss.

Success is continuing to grow as an artist and contributing something positive to grand tapestry of music, no matter how obscure.

Commercial success and personal success are different animals.

The two can co-exist but that’s not necessarily the case.

One of my favorite movies “It’s a Wonderful Life” was a commercial and critical flop at the time of release, decades later it’s considered a masterpiece.

Artists such as Nick Drake and Big Star were considered failures initially but are now very highly regarded. Everything is relative.

I always hope that my music reaches a wider audience but that’s not how I define success.

It’s a deeply personal concept.

Being successful is interwoven into positivity, kindness, enjoying life and doing what you love.

Shining a little bit of light in a dark world.

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Do you feel part of a Community, The power pop community?

I think so…Yes!

I’m from Hamilton Ontario which has a fantastic musical community in general.

Ever since I began playing music artistic friends have always been there to help each other.

It’s a diverse, incredibly creative town.

Local luminary Daniel Lanois (Bob Dylan, Neil Young, U2) was very helpful in my early days of recording and writing for example.

Dave Rave from preeminent Canadian bands Teenage Head and The Shakers is always a highly inspirational and supportive friend.

The international “power pop” community is supportive and vibrant. Record labels like Kool Kat Musik and festivals such as the IPO

(International Pop Overthrow) have been very good to me.

Psychedelic/power pop radio has been kind as well.

I’ve very lucky to receive thoughtful, articulate and very enthusiastic press operating on the fringes various genres.

 

 

Can you still remember the moment when music became important to you? What happened to you?

When I was very young I’d run home from school and watch The Monkees on TV! I was also hypnotized by rock & roll magazines and record stores.

I clearly remember the first time I listened to The Beatles Revolver.

That was the moment, it sent a lightning bolt of emotion through my heart!

Around the same time I had 45’s such as Good Vibrations by The Beach Boys, I listened to it a million times.

The local AM radio station was very eclectic. It had a major impact.

I’d stay up late at night and listen to mysterious music I’ve never heard before;

David Bowie to Stevie Wonder.

Pink Floyd, Fleetwood Mac, and Led Zeppelin to The Cars and XTC. Kate Bush and Neil Young to Blondie.

To this day when I’m writing an album, I think of it my imagination’s radio station or jukebox.

All of this music was incredibly exciting. I was inspired to learn drums and guitar. My parents were wonderful and supportive.

Life in a band seemed like so much fun! Right out of high school, I went out on the road playing across Canada. All of this wonderful music gave my life direction.

The music industry has changed a lot (or so they say). What did and didn’t it bring you?

It’s always been a challenging labor of love.

It’s a mixed blessing.

When I first started playing live there was more money for new and mid-level bands.

A band/artist would work hard to get a local or national following then save money to make a record and try to sign a deal.

You could make decent money as a young, relatively unknown musician 5-6 nights a week.

Now it’s almost the opposite, the floodgates have opened.

The middle-class musician is disappearing, all the money has gone to the very top.

Having said that, home recording equipment is much more affordable and Everyone has access to a platform.

I think that’s a good thing but there’s also information overload and a devaluation of music.

It’s a fractured mirror.

I’ve personally been honored and humbled to receive wonderful feedback from all over the world.

Without a major label record company this would not have been possible years back.

I truly believe if you make good art people will discover it…

Eventually.

When things change there’s always room for new ideas and creative opportunity. I’m a very nostalgic person yet change is elemental in life. It’s likely best to embrace it.

Hopefully, artists of the future will take things to a higher level.

Magic can happen when you’re playing in front of a crowd. Can you recall such a moment?

When the chemistry is right between the band members and the audience it’s definitely magical!

I’ve been lucky to play some legendary venues such as The Cavern Club in Liverpool, CBGB’s in NYC, Prince’s club in Minneapolis, The Stone Pony in Asbury Park NJ etc. These places all had an incredible vibe and enthusiastic reaction!

Sometimes a show in the middle of nowhere with a small audience can be just as exciting.

The stars can align when you least expect it!

Which is the song you wish you had written? Why?

Wow, it’s hard to pick one.

Pretty much any Beatles song, because I love them all!

Other than that maybe a standard like Moon River, What a Wonderful World or Somewhere Over the Rainbow.

The other songs that come to mind are The Things We Do For Love by 10cc, Good Vibrations or Waterloo Sunset. Perfect, lovely songs that feel like musical sunshine!

Now that I think about it more I’d pick Happy Birthday Lol!

It’s a pure and simple song with a truly beautiful wish and sentiment.

If the budget was unlimited how would how to record the next album?

Imagination is more important than a big budget, limitations often create the best art.

Having said that I’m sure we could have a good time with an unlimited budget!

I’d artistically approach it in a similar way, using many of the same people and pay them incredibly well lol

It would be an amazing adventure to record in exotic locations and try out a few legendary studios.

Various cities/countries would have a truly interesting creative impact.

I’d definitely bring my talented musical friends along for the ride…

In the private jet lol

It would be fantastic to have unlimited time with total focus.

Having said that I wouldn’t change anything about my 3LP set.

Musical creativity, tasteful sonics, good songs, and playing don’t require a big budget.

You can’t buy heart and soul.

Every family birthday same story. Again, you have to explain what kind of band you’re in. What’s the story this time for Aunt Jenny and Uncle Clive.

I’m very lucky to have a wonderful and supportive family! I truly love them for the support and encouragement.

When describing my music I’ll say

something general “It sounds like 1960’s and 70’s pop/rock”

I’ll name a few influential artists they may know-

Beatles, David Bowie, Pink Floyd, ELO.

I won’t mention really obscure influences. That gives people a general picture.

I think many creative people have an odd relationship between the art they create and relatives/friends.

I think I’m a mild curiosity who makes slightly strange music and doesn’t have a “real job” lol

My family and true friends are absolutely wonderful, I’m forever grateful and thankful.

Kai Danzberg – Pop-Up Radio (Q&A)

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‘Sometimes it’s very hard to compose great harmonies but I love layering my vocals on about 6-10 tracks. Sometimes I even get addicted to it, so I need to find the point where it’s sufficient.’, says German Power Popper Kai Danzberg.

 


What was the biggest fun during the making of the last album?


When I have all the instrumentation of a song finished, the most fun to me is to find out what vocal-harmonies I can come up with.


Sometimes it’s very hard to compose great harmonies but I love layering my vocals on about 6-10 tracks. Sometimes I even get addicted to it, so I need to find the point where it’s sufficient.


But it’s a difficult question as I do love everything about making music.


She tells you she will decide on a 5-song-mixtape if there is going to be a second date. Which 5 would you put on?

01. Oh! Darling – The Beatles
02. The Diary of Horace Wimp – ELO
03. Baby Be Mine – Michael Jackson
04. Give Me Just A Little Bit Of Your Heart – Chris Rainbow
05. Physical – Olivia Newton-John 😉 

Do you feel part of a community, the power pop community?


Definitely of the power pop community. Over the last years, I have got to know so many great people and artists. With some of them, I am currently working on music.
I am a big fan of Jellyfish, which are the power pop-pioneers to me. When I heard their record „Spilt Milk“ it changed my life in a way. And now I definitely know what kind of music I want to do!

It all started for me when I found out about Jellyfish. Now I am part of the power-pop community as a fan and as an artist, and it feels great.

If the budget was unlimited, how would you record the next record?

Oh, that’s easy. I’d take my whole family to England. The record would, of course, be recorded at the Abbey Road Studios.

I’d choose Roger Joseph Manning Jr from Jellyfish to produce the new songs with me. I’d also definitely take my friend

Dana Countryman with me, I’d definitely want to have him on that record. Everything would be produced without any digital instruments. I would take my time finishing it so I could get as close as I can to it being perfect… Well, let me dream 😉


What would change if Disney would call and tell you they are going to use your song in their next movie?


Well, actually I had an offer to sing a song for a movie (i guess it was from Disney) a few years ago. I didn’t do it…  Don’t ask me why! I can’t remember anymore. I guess I was an idiot back then.

Anyway, in the English version of the film Bruno Mars sang the song in the end. If I’d get such an offer again I’d definitely do it. But first I’d freak out. 

What’s up for the rest of the year?

Only great things: hopefully in November my next single will be released. The song is more of a rock song and it’s a duet with Lisa Mychols, which I love! She released some great records in the past!

But that’s not everything:  since finishing my latest record „Pop-Up Radio“, I have been working on the next record and it’s almost finished. It will be released in January 2019 and aside from Lisa Mychols, it will have many guests on it. I really can’t wait to release those songs. The title of the new album will be „Not Only Sunshine“! 🙂

 

THE MAUREENS – Something in the Air (Q&A)

‘It all sounds a little more ” to the point” than earlier recordings (there are fewer instruments/ layers), but the Maureens-sound (especially in the harmonies) is still there!’, says Hendrik-Jan Wolff about Something in the Air, the new record by Dutch band The Maureens, out February 2nd on Meritorio records.

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But you can already check the new single!

 

 

 

How did Something in the Air come together?

 

After the release and tour of “Bang the Drum” 3 members left the Maureens: Bas van de Looy (guitar/vocals) and Randy Linskens (bass/vocals) were busy with their own songs/ band and Bas van de Waterbeemd chooses to have more time with his family. In the summer 2016, Wouter Zijlstra (bass/vocals) joined the Maureens, which is a 4 member band since then.

In the last two years, several songs have been written. In March 2017 and in March 2018 the Maureens recorded songs in the studio (Mailmen, with engineer Martijn Groeneveld who also mixed the songs). The new record (” Something in the air”) contains 14 songs from these sessions and all songs will be played during live gigs.

 

 

On Bang the Drum, the last record, the sound changed ‘a bit’ from Power Pop to Westcoast/Americana. What can we expect this time?

 

I think the album has both vibes: powerpop songs with a lot of harmonies like the first album, but also more introspective, Americana-ish songs. It all sounds a little more ” to the point” than earlier recordings (there are fewer instruments/ layers), but the Maureens-sound (especially in the harmonies) is still there!

 

The music industry has changed a lot (or so they say). What did it bring you? And what not?

The positive part is that the world is small nowadays: platforms like Facebook, Instagram etc. give us the opportunity to reach people in, for example, Spain and Brazil. There are small music-loving communities everywhere and those are the places we want to be heard. We’re not very comfortable with MTV and big radio stations, that’s not where we should be or want to be. Besides that: the Looks and the stories seem more important than the music itself.. the Maureens try to be authentic and ” real”, that’s when we feel comfortable.

She tells you she will decide on a 5-song-mixtape if there is going to be a second date. Which 5 would you put on?

 

– Teenage Fanclub- Ain’t that enough

– Wilco- Via Chicago

– the Chills- Pink Frost

– Posies- Solar Sister

– REM- Man on the Moon

… and tomorrow it will be 5 other songs.

The meaning of ‘success’ has changed over the years. When will the new record be a success?

 

If we succeed in reaching more “new” people, make new friends in Spain (our new album ” Something in the Air” will be released by Meritorio records from Madrid), see old friends again at our shows and if we enjoy listeners and ourselves during hopefully a lot of gigs!

Which is the song you wish you had written every time you hear it? And why?

 

Ballad of El Goodoo/ Big Star. The melody, the shivers, the harmonies. The song brings back memories I didn’t even remember. Unbelievable chorus.

What’s up for the rest of the year?

 

We’re rehearsing our new live set. In the next few months, we do a few try-outs in Holland. On February 2nd our album will be released. After our release show, we’d like to play a lot of shows in Holland and Spain. We’re already writing new songs too, so we hope the release of our next record won’t take too long.

MOONER – Satisfaction​-​promise (Q&A)

‘When the world ends and God comes to judge the living and the dead, he will find the music industry of the20th century to be the most baffling sin man ever committed.’, says Lee Ketch.

His band Mooner just released ‘Satisfaction​-​promise’.

 

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At what point, during writing, rehearsing, recording, did you knew you were on to something special?

As we were recording it! The band played the songs amazingly. They are very talented musicians and patient, thoughtful people. We all endured a lot of preparation and that really paid off when we went to record. Most of what you hear on the album was captured live in a few takes.

The music industry has changed a lot (or so they say). What did it bring you? And what not?

I’m not professional, but from my perspective, the music industry is the healthiest it’s ever been in history. Bandcamp is the only essential industry tool. Everything else from copyright to payola has been mercifully dismantled. When the world ends and God comes to judge the living and the dead, he will find the music industry of the20th century to be the most baffling sin man ever committed.

Can you still recall the moment music became important to you? What happened?

Definitely. The chorus of “Part of Your World” from The Little Mermaid. A very important activity in my childhood was sitting on the piano bench next to my dad as he played and sang from a big Disney songbook. My eyes were level with the keyboard and I loved watching him hit all the keys. My earliest musical memory is the part of the song where it goes “up where they walk / up where they run…” with all that building tension in the chord progression. It left quite an impression watching this giant person with a booming voice play these big dramatic chords and then slow down for the big release of “up where they stay all day in the sun.” I probably thought “Wow, my Legos can’t do this.”

Magic can happen when you are playing in front of a crowd. Can you recall such a moment?

In high school, my band played the Battle of the Bands. I found in a closet an old wireless mic rig and adapted it to my guitar so I could run all around the stage. The other guitarist in the band bought one too and for our performance, our plan was to jump off the stage right as we hit my big guitar solo. When the time came, we both hopped off the stage which was a three or four-foot drop into complete darkness. I sort of crumpled to the ground and the shock of the landing caused the batteries in my wireless transponder to spring from their place. When I was supposed to be playing this screaming solo, my guitar was completely silent. There was a single spotlight on me as I scrambled around for the batteries on the floor of the auditorium. I somehow got them back just in time to run up on stage and play a single lick. It was the biggest adrenaline rush of my life followed by the biggest anxiety attack of my life.

Which is the song you wish you had written every time you hear it? And why?

“Hello, Hooray” by Alice Cooper. It’s a song about the power of music and it expresses through music how playing music makes me feel. If I could write something that moves, I’d die happy.

 

 

 

 

 


 

released August 4, 2018

Produced by Mooner and Kit Shields
Recorded and mixed by Dorian Gehring at Fox Hall, Chicago, IL
Mastered by Mike Hagler at King Size Sound Labs, Chicago, IL
Additional recording by Mark Greenberg and Lee Ketch.

Nick Harris – Bass, vocals
Andy Ketch – Drums, vocals
Lee Ketch – Guitar, synth, vocals
Joe Pruitt – Guitar, vocals
Steve Slagg – piano, synth, vibraphone, vocals

Kit Shields – Vocals
Sydney Shields – Vocals
Allison Van Liere – Vocals

Mike Pace and the Child Actors – “Smooth Sailing” (Q&A)

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‘I’ve always been “too heavy for the pop crowd, too pop for the heavy crowd,” that sort of thing.’, says Mike Pace.

I really like those ‘in between’ records. Check it out!

 

 

 

 

Real Gone wrote a great review. Detailed and written with so much care. What’s it like for you to read such reviews?


I appreciate a thoughtful, well-written review as much as the next person, as I’m not above reading criticism of my work.  Sometimes it provides momentary validation and a slight ego boost (when it’s positive) and it’s satisfying when someone else “gets” what’s you’re trying to do, or interprets it in a meaningful way.  Ultimately it’s one person’s opinion about a very subjective art form, so I try not to get hung up on reviews one way or the other.

There is a layer of ‘chaos’ on top of these beautiful melodies. Does that make sense? Makes me like the record a lot! And couldn’t that be the definition of good music anyway :-)?
Yeah!  I’ve always been interested in well-constructed music, and lately, that’s taken the form of denser songs that have a lot going on, but hopefully not at the expense of the song itself!  I think it’s also a result of the older, messier DIY punk in me meeting the newer, more progressive-rock inclined version of me.  Trying to come up with new and interesting ways to present melodies sometimes leads me to mash a bunch of things together, and occasionally they wind up sounding pretty good!


The music industry has changed a lot (or so they say). What did it bring you? And what not?


It’s now easier than ever to make a record outside the trappings of the old “record label/expensive studio” paradigm.  I was fortunate enough to have a very fulfilling experience year ago playing in a band on a big label and making records the “traditional way.”  While I miss spending time in studios, I love making records with like-minded individuals on our own time, in our houses and without the constraints of expectations and budgets.  That’s just a more realistic way to work these days.  The flipside to the democratization of music is that there’s just so much of it out there, and while getting records out there isn’t a problem, getting people’s attention (especially if you’re not touring regularly, like me) is always a challenge.

 

Do you feel part of a community, the power pop community?


Not really.  I’ve always been “too heavy for the pop crowd, too pop for the heavy crowd,” that sort of thing.  In my band days, there was a kinship with other bands we toured or people in the scene since we were always out and about.  Now that’s I’m a married dad with a job who’s making music in my basement (essentially), there’s a lot less camaraderie.  I will say that folks in the power-pop community have been very receptive about Smooth Sailing, which is really nice to hear.  You guys are a supportive group!


Every family birthday, same story. Again, you have to explain what kind of band you are in. What’s the story this time for aunt Jenny and uncle Clive?


Usually, the answer is some variation on “it’s a rock n’ roll band” or “it’s alternative rock.”  The question that inevitably follows is always, “covers or originals?” which is just the worst.

The meaning of ‘success’ has changed over the years. When will the new record be a success?


Recalibrating your expectations when you’re making music on your own terms is a must.  To me, the new record’s already a success because I’ve been able to make the album I wanted to make the way I wanted to make it. Everything that follows is gravy!

What would change if Disney would call and tell you they are going to use your song in their next movie?


First, I’d want to double-check and make sure no one over at the Mouse House had lost their mind.  Second, I’d go buy some Disney stock because it’s about to go through the roof, baby!  Most likely nothing would really change, but maybe it would pay for a trip to Disney World.

THE DAVENPORTS – Don’t Be Mad at Me

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‘There’s a lot of great music that’s qualified as power pop, and a lot of great people who love it. But sometimes I think there’s just as much that’s kind of boring because it just tries to hard to play to that formula. I’d rather just consider myself part of a community of people who like melodic pop music.’, says Scott Klass.

Check out the Don’t Be Mad at Me, the new record by The Davenports.

 

 

 

What was the biggest fun during the making of the last album?

Probably in all the cameos. Other people were involved in a way that we hadn’t done before. Like having Shirley Simms from Magnetic Fields take lead vocal on “Miranda in Her Room.” I get a little tired of hearing my own voice all the time, so this was sort of a breath of fresh air. Originally I wrote that to be 2 part harmony the whole way through, but we really loved what she brought to it so we dropped me out in a bunch of parts. Shirley’s an incredible vocalist.

I also did my first co-write – with that guy David Myhr, a Swedish popster who did a ‘songwriting tour’ of the states, meeting with a lot of like-minded folks. Our song “I Don’t Know What to Do” was output from that. He also did vocal parts from Sweden, which cost a lot to bring over to America because, you know, plane fare. On that same song, my daughter added a line to the chorus. Then she got mad because I wouldn’t pay her.

DAVENPORTS-CD-COVERART

She tells you she will decide on a 5-song-mixtape if there is going to be a second date. Which 5 would you put on?

– song for the dumped (ben folds five)
– soho square (kirsty maccoll)
– lonely boy (Andrew gold)
– have you never been mellow (ONJ)
– supper’s ready (genesis)
I never liked that girl anyway.

The meaning of ‘success’ has changed over the years. When will the new record be a success?

When more than 26 people listen to it.

Do you feel part of a community, the power pop community?

That’s kind of a tricky one. There’s a lot of great music that’s qualified as power pop, and a lot of great people who love it. But sometimes I think there’s just as much that’s kind of boring because it just tries to hard to play to that formula. I’d rather just consider myself part of a community of people who like melodic pop music.

Which is the song you wish you had written every time you hear it? And why?

Maybe ‘Valley Winter Song,’ because it’s fucking perfect in every way—simple sentiment, the poetry, the melody you feel like you’ve been hearing your whole life. I also think I dream about having written God Only Knows on a weekly basis.

Well-known for “Five Steps,” the theme song to A&E’s Emmy-nominated Intervention, Klass has licensed numerous songs to TV in addition to putting out three critically acclaimed records—Speaking of The Davenports, Hi-tech Lowlife and Why the Great Gallop—which set tales of love, lust, mean, money-dangling mothers, superstitious panic attacks and the like to a torrent of melodic rock. 

The Davenports’ latest release, Don’t Be Mad at Me, marks a series of firsts for Klass. Shirley Simms of The Magnetic Fields takes lead vocal on “Miranda in Her Room”–the first Davenports song to ever feature a lead vocalist other than Klass. While the duet comes across as seamless, Klass and Simms recorded their vocals in different cities (New York and Boston, respectively), and they didn’t actually meet in person until the following year at a Magnetic Fields show. 

Another song–”I Don’t Know What to Do”–marks Klass’s first co-write. He penned the tune with Swedish popster David Myhr (The Merrymakers) while he was doing a “co-writing tour” of the U.S. last year. As with “Miranda in Her Room,” the recording of “I Don’t Know What to Do” was a long-distance collaboration (in this case, international). 

In addition to his own output, Klass/The Davenports are regular contributors to a popular series of cover projects. They recently contributed renditions of Wham! and Randy Van Warmer songs to the compilation series’ Drink a Toast to Innocence (covering the ’70′s) and Here Comes the Reign Again (covering the ’80s)–records which also featured Mike Viola, Freedy Johnston and Rachel Yamagata. 

Klass is also a member of Look Park, the new project from Fountains of Wayne frontman Chris Collingwood which also includes Philip Price of Winterpills. Last year, the trio played Japan’s Fuji Rock festival and opened for Britpop legends Squeeze on their west coast tour. This past April, Klass and Collingwood opened for British invasion staple Dave Davies of the Kinks.