Sweet Sweet Music spoke to Will Harris about being a bottler-upper, creating a sound that was just perfect, Grandaddy, and seeing Brian Wilson perform ‘God Only Knows’.

What was the moment you knew you were on to something?

The moment came remarkably early on. Our old drummer had moved away, and we needed a new bassist too, so we put out a call. We weren’t expecting much response, but we were overwhelmed with offers! Two of the first to respond were our now drummer, Simon, and our now bassist, Robin. The first time we all practiced together, I thought “This is it!” We were instantly tight, singing great harmonies and creating a sound that was just perfect for the songs I had in my head. We’ve just got better and better ever since and our musical connection grows and grows.

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

No, not at all. Ironically, I am not good at talking about my emotions at all. I’m definitely a bottler-upper, and my music has always been an outlet to release emotions that I might not want to actually express in person. I find it very strange when people 100% understand what I’m saying in my songs, as it feels as if they’re getting a bit too close! It might sound strange, given we sing these songs onstage and release them to the world, but I have a few songs that, despite being available globally, are still intensely personal and almost even private to me. But I also know that these personal songs tend to be the ones that resonate the most with people, and I really love the thought that people might feel a real connection with them too.

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

Last week, actually. I’ve had an idea going around in my head for months, and it was always clear to me that it was a good idea, but I couldn’t quite place how it would work. Last week, I was just messing around on the piano and came up with a totally new, totally different, piano part, and I thought, quite literally, ‘I just wrote a hit!’. I can’t wait to play it with the band.

You can pick 3 co-writers to write new songs with. Who? and Why?

Oooh, this is a good question, and my answer would probably be different every day. But for today, I pick Jason Lytle, Jimmy Webb, and Bjork.

Jason Lytle, because Grandaddy is probably my favorite ever band (and also he was kind enough to allow us to use one of his photos for our album cover). Jimmy Webb because he wrote Wichita Lineman and that is the only song I can think of that is literally perfect (there are a few others that are very close to perfect, their only flaw being the fact that they aren’t Wichita Lineman). And Bjork because she is a creative genius, and I think it would be awe-inspiring (and an awful lot of fun) to work with her.

What’s the gig you’ll always remember, and why?

There are loads of amazing gigs we’ve played that will always be wonderful memories, but for a single gig that I’ll remember I have to go with seeing Brian Wilson at Kendal Calling in 2017. Kendal Calling is a wonderful festival located about 2 miles from my house in Cumbria. They always punch above their weight in terms of line-up, and in 2017 they got Brian Wilson playing Pet Sounds. I’m a massive Brian Wilson and Pet Sounds fan, so the idea of seeing him live, essentially in the woods by my house, was utterly insane! We had just finished our set and were dropping our gear back at the car, and a bus drove towards us, with Brian Wilson in the front seat. That memory is indelible. And then to see him perform God Only Knows, surrounded by my friends, there… Words can’t describe what that meant to me.

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Marshall Holland – Paper Airplane (Q&A)

Sweet Sweet Music spoke to Marshall Holland, who has just released one of this year’s finest singer-songwriter pop record, about swimming in a mixture of depression, anger, empathy, dread, exhaustion, apathy, restlessness, peacefulness, hopelessness, and hopefulness.

How did this record come together?

There’s so many reasons how and why, but for one, I was laid off from a 6 year long (mentally taxing) day job due to the pandemic. I finally had some genuine time off to myself, but at the same time, I was swimming in a mixture of depression, anger, empathy, dread, exhaustion, apathy, restlessness, peacefulness, hopelessness, hopefulness, and pondering my own future and life & death on top of it all. When a family friend of mine, Michael Brooks, began sharing his own original songs that he was working on with me, it gave me a spark to get back into the momentum of writing and recording on my own again in my home studio. I began sharing my songs with him and with his encouragement I don’t think I would have even bothered to finish any of the music for the album, as I was still in a mental-funk, so I gave him some credit on this album as I’ve always admired him as a songwriter. That’s the “how” in a nutshell.

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

Good question, as I’ve never felt uncomfortable giving people glimpses of my emotions, but I think there’s a time and a place for it, and it’s a natural reflex for me to show emotions in life and art. I’ve always been a very shy, quiet person, and as a kid, I was more of an observer of the world than an instigator, but I was always eager to please. When I wear my heart on my sleeve it’s just by default. Emotions can be a universal language, and my music is a part of the translation. 

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

Although that would probably never happen, it can just be luck, maybe good karma will come back around for me, but more money just causes more problems as everyone would probably just want a piece of it, so I’ll let the music itself hold up value and not worry about the dollar amount in my pockets. At the moment I’m very grateful and honored that the great Rodney Bingenheimer played two of my songs–“When the Rain Comes” and “She Buys a Dress (to Match with Her Pink Belt)–on his SiriusXM show in just two weeks, back to back, and that’s freaking cooler than cool! I don’t know if I could ask for anything more.

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

It was my freshman year of high school and I was invited to some sort of teachers’ convention to perform solo on acoustic guitar. I was just discovering songs by The Monkees and The Partridge Family during this period as I bought a best of CD as well as acquiring cassette tapes of some of their albums (this is a time far from the technology of online streaming services and MP3s). I learned a bunch of songs to cover just for this gig, but for my own pleasure as well–I love music. I remember seeing their faces when I performed  as they were amazed that I even knew who the Monkees or Partridge Family were–I even tried my best to sing like David Cassidy and Davy Jones, which was an extra bonus. That was a lot of fun to connect with those people that were 1. surprised that this kid could sing and play guitar, and 2. this kid was playing songs he shouldn’t even know about at that age.

Is recording a record easier than getting it heard nowadays? 

Without a doubt, in fact, the technology today has nearly leveled out the playing field in recording a professional sounding record, but on the other hand, if you’re putting out music just to get heard, it’s almost unfair competition out there–some would say–it’s getting out of hand as everyone is coming out with music quicker and trying to be heard all at the same time would be one argument. However, I think it’s much easier today for ears to hear your music, but it’s just that you’ll have to hustle and put some leg work into it for that attention, as the world of listeners and music lovers are just flooded with content. You just need to know where to submit your music and there’s a ton of college/independent stations out there playing new stuff. New music is more alive than it has ever been before, thanks to technology.

The digital technology has made art easier to create and easier to release and access, as any listener can dip their hand in the bottomless cookie jar of content, but it’s just the question of which cookie jar you find and which cookie gets placed on top.

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The Rockyts – Come on and Dance (Q&A)

They are young, ambitious, good-looking, have a good logo, a ton of great songs, a young following, can actually play, and they work with Eddie Kramer.

Sweet Sweet Music spoke to Jeremy.

How did this record come together?

We wrote the songs intending to make a sound that would mix modern pop and 60s style rock, and also picked a few songs from the era to re-make that we thought could be made to sound relevant today. We really wanted to make an album that would be energetic and catchy from beginning to end. We recorded it at Noble Street Studios in only two days, using a mix of modern and classic techniques to make it sound modern but also have a hint of classic flavor. One example of this blend is how some of the songs were mixed by Kevin O’Leary (Shawn Mendes, Barenaked Ladies) and some by legendary engineer Eddie Kramer (The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Kiss).

Recording music. What’s all the fun about?

Recording is one of the best parts of the job because you get to spend your whole day around music, playing in an ideal environment for sound. You get to arrange everything the way you have been imagining/planning for months and hear it in top quality. Some of the most fun we had during our two days recording the album was on the song “Espresso”.

For the intro, we recorded a real espresso machine in the studio! We had to move the cups just right and pour the coffee perfectly to get the right sound!

What’s the show you will always remember and why?

There are probably two shows that stand out for me. One is our first show which we played in a beautiful park, on a big stage surrounded by water. It was a sunny day and since it was a festival, there was a decently sized crowd. I’ll remember it because it was like a perfect day. To hear ourselves echoing through the area on loudspeakers and have the crowd really enjoy the show was amazing.

The other is a pre-game show that we played in a baseball stadium for the local baseball team here in Ottawa, Canada. Standing on the home plate of a stadium and playing to our biggest crowd yet was a lot of fun. What was the moment you knew you were onto something? When we made Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube pages, we were thrilled to find out that people loved the sound. People of all ages were liking it but the majority of the new fans we were gaining were under 25. We knew if young people loved the sound it could really take off. The meaning of success has changed over the years.

What would success look like for the new record?

One of our goals is to make it on the commercial charts. We have already had our songs played on many commercial radio stations and Sirius XM satellite radio so we are hoping it can happen!


Rob Clarke And The Wooltones – Putting The L in Wootones (Q&A)

Sweet Sweet Music spoke to Rob Clarke about his new record ‘Putting The L in Wootones’, and … and about many other topics.

What was the moment you knew you were on to something?

I’d been working pretty much as an acoustic singer/ songwriter and began to fancy getting the electric guitar out again. For some of that feeling of when you started your first school band. You know, the excitement of turning up and freeing up. I live in Woolton, Liverpool, and woke up one morning thinking ‘what about the Wooltones as a name?’. I mentioned it to Fran Ashcroft who’d been producing my solo stuff as it seemed so obvious someone must have done it, or that it was a stupid idea. When he said he liked it I thought ‘hmm maybe we can do this’.

So I wrote a song called ‘Are You Wooltoned’ that I thought would suit a band. And when I, GP, and Pepe played it for the first time, there was the excitement there that made me think ‘yes we’ve got something worthwhile here’. And that was the take we used for our first single.

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How did this record come together?

Well, we finished ‘Big Night Out’ and pretty much all the next songs were ready or at least nearly ready. So the expectation was this one would be done quickly. But it then took about a year to get what I and Fran agreed were the right takes to work on, what with everyone’s availability, holidays, illnesses, the odd hard drive or technical issue, other commitments, gigs, etc etc etc. Basically all the stuff you could imagine that might hold things up. Even COVID had an impact. To finish the album, on the last song we ended up adding the bass with GP in headphones on the lawn while I was inside as the engineer.

On this and our previous albums, I like to do the basic tracks completely live so the guitar, lead vocal, and drums are what we use on the master. And then we add a few overdubs or edits that seem to add something without detracting from the live feel too much. In other words, we try to work as much as possible as the bands did in the 60s – so it’s a live take, no click, and the minimum of overdubs.

I went to Nashville a few years back to work with Elliot Mazer who produced some of Neil Young’s stuff like Heart of Gold and the Harvest album. He was well up for the live approach too as it was what had worked so well back then. So although it’s probably unusual to do things that way now there are still some people who are prepared to take the gamble to do it.

Anyway, due to the delays in the end we virtually ended up working on each song at a time rather than doing them all as a batch. And that took time too. There’s a lot to debate putting an album together. I’ve done three solo albums, 1 country album, and three Wooltones albums plus a load of other stuff with Fran so you can imagine that’s a lot of decisions to be made between you. Because you can disagree about anything from what’s on the songs, what’s in the songs, the order of the songs, or even the gaps in between the songs! Let alone artwork and other things.

So there comes a point where you almost need to think like a record company ie ‘We need ‘product’ out NOW! Stop mucking about or arguing about mixes and overdubs and finish it!’

When did you decide to start asking for opinions on the new songs?

I take all my ideas for songs to Fran since as the producer he’s going to have strong thoughts about the structures, treatments, and every aspect of them. So you might as well get his input early on rather than wasting time recording stuff that’s not going to make the cut later.

So we play through the songs and hammer them into shape before taking them to the band. As ever some ideas make it through pretty much as intended some are changed out of all recognition. Personally, I like getting that input early on. Particularly when it’s going to be played as a band. It’s not like it’s a solo kind of thing where there’s a bit more of a personal feel to it.

The meaning of success has changed over the years. What does success look like for the new record?

More of everything. More sales, more good reviews, more plays, more audience, more coverage, more respect for what we’re doing. Just more!

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

Very. Of course, it’s a good point as to how much or what someone is actually showing. There can be a certain amount of role-play – at least that’s what I see in others and I’m sure it’s the same with me.

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

None whatsoever.

You can pick 3 co-writers to write new songs with. Who? … and Why?

That’s very easy – John, Paul, and George, what could be better?

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

We did one at St Peter’s Hall in Woolton to commemorate the 60th anniversary of when John met Paul. Colin Hanton of the Quarrymen the drummer who played at the original gig sat in with us for the whole set and we recorded it as a bonus disk for our previous album ‘Big Night Out’. We tried to do it as close as we could to how things went on the famous day – just one microphone, tiny PA, same songs, same set, same check shirts, same wrong words (because John could only try to pick them up from the radio), same drummer! It was great when I was saying a bit in between the songs to turn round and check the story with Colin – he knew the truth because he was there!

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

I can’t recall ever thinking that – people might have said it but not me! Maybe I should be thinking more like that!

Is recording a record easier than getting it heard nowadays?

I think it’s about the same – it’s easier to record as everyone has the stuff on their computer to do it and easier for people to hear it because there are so many radio and internet stations and sites like Bandcamp. It’s probably easier to get on the BBC too without having to pay pluggers and promo people because it’s so much easier to communicate around the world and reach out to anyone you want to.

Cassettes are back. Which 5 five songs would definitely make your first mixtape?

I’m happy enough with CDs or even downloads, although as we know CDs are phasing out. It’s as important or more what you’re playing it on as what the medium is. So I haven’t played a vinyl record in a long, long, long time. I’m not a vinyl or cassette freak and don’t really see all that as being very important. It’s more critical what your speakers or amp are doing and how your EQ’s set or even where you’re listening. I’m not sure how many people would pass a blindfold test if everything was equaled up. It was always meant to be a disposable thing. If people want to get all collector about it that’s up to them. But it’s meant to be rock n roll, not stamp collecting. Record players used to sound great at parties back in the day or if you were listening to something more intimate on your own.

And the records were made with that in mind. And of course, you do miss sitting staring at the cover for hours and scrutinizing it. But that was because there was nothing better to do! Whereas now there are so many things to do. I did a thing on Woody Radio recently where I picked 6 songs that influenced me. That’s pretty difficult and would no doubt change almost every day.

But I picked Fool on the Hill (Beatles from Love), Gimme Shelter (Stones), I Can See For Miles (Who), Ramble Tamble (CCR), Cowgirl in the Sand (4 Way Street), and When TheMusic’s Over (Absolutely Live). Who knows?

The 80s/90s stuff seems to have dated somewhat and more recent stuff may be fantastic but more difficult to put into a context. In the 60s/70s music was so important that the songs and performances seem to resonate more. But then again I’m completely biased of course. I do like contemporary stuff but there’s not the same context of needing to buy it as there is when you’re young and building your identity and music is the main thing helping you to do it.

Recording music. What’s all the fun about?

The fun to me is in the performance. That’s the good bit. Everything else is a bit of a pain, like filling in the colors on a sketch long after you actually had and were excited about the idea! But it has to be done otherwise you’ve got nothing! Luckily there are people around like Fran or Elliot Mazer who like doing that part of it! You have to finish things whether it’s songs, singles, or albums – get them out and move on. The one thing that Elliot said to me that I always remember is you have to keep writing. But it’s easy to put that off especially if you’re having to promote your own stuff.

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

Well, that’s a good question. To me, you’re trying to create a better world. One that’s based on music and universal thoughts and sentiments. One that you’re in control of. And you’re showing yourself off in the best possible light. As someone worth listening to with something to say and an attitude as to how to deal with the real world that doesn’t involve getting sucked into some of the crap that surrounds us all.

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

In the current situation being a musician isn’t like working in a hospital or driving a bus or even feeding people. It’s not a necessity – it’s a luxury that’s nice to have and worth preserving if we can. People might clap at the end of a song but they’re not going to be standing in the streets applauding us musos – much as that sounds like a great idea!

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 the control element is in overseeing what goes out in your name – the songwriting, the recording, the production, the videos, the promotion. That’s the ‘content’. Once you’ve done all that who would want to control any more?

Vinyl is back, Spotify is ruling, tickets for concerts are becoming more and more expensive, everybody can record songs, social media is the marketing tool, Coldplay stops touring … how will the music industry look like in 5 years?

I can’t understand why the current deals with Spotify and the likes were made. But as soon as you ask the question the answer is obvious – it must have been in someone’s interest, just not mine or yours. The deals should all be renegotiated. People that write great songs need to be rewarded just as film writers and makers/novelists/sports people are.

Ideally from the royalties generated by their work. If music has no value then to me that’s a problem. Because it’s maybe one of the few things that actually does have some value. It’s just that you don’t see a lot of people prepared to put their hand in their pocket to prove that, especially if they can download someone’s masterpiece for zilch. But at this stage, you’d be pleasantly surprised to see that change.

As regards the future there’s the effect of COVID. Some people who were in the music industry in various capacities probably won’t be in the future. How many people work in the docks or down the coal mines now compared to the 70s?

For good and bad things change. And this does seem like one of those turning points. Anything to do with people socializing and meeting is in trouble at the moment. But people will always want music. I understand the venues we need to play in to hone our craft are facing extinction if nothing is done. And the equipment companies and everyone who earns their crust out of it. Anyone can see that. The thought of a music industry permanently or even partially subsidized by governments troubles me too though. Rock n roll or whatever you want to call it is meant to be anti-authority. Because we don’t want to be told what to do.

It’s meant to be a struggle and hard work. Involving times when you’re really out on the edge with no money and nowhere to live. That’s what it is – it’s not meant to be for everyone or something that’s subsidized by anyone. Arguably the early days of rock n roll were exciting because it was all on the hoof and people thought they could make money out of it.

Big money. It worries me that we’ll end up in a situation, even with the best intentions, in which music is supported and subsidized and ultimately pasteurized. Rather than being a visceral product of the chaotic free for all of the glory days. And that as a result, we’ll end up with some even worse art than we currently have. In other words, music that sounds like it was produced by people who’ve never done any of these things, sponsored, written, and produced by committee. In which case it won’t make much difference if it’s on vinyl or not!

Gretchen’s Wheel – such open sky (Q&A)

Sweet Sweet Music spoke to Lindsay Murray about Gretchen’s Wheel‘s new record ‘such open sky’, her background singers and how it feels to keep getting better at what you love to do.

If I asked you who did the backing vocals on ‘Such Open Sky’, could you answer that question without putting a big smile on your face?

Nope! 🙂 I was so happy to get to work with all the musicians on this record. They’re all so amazing, and their involvement means more to me than I can say. But there is something extra thrilling about hearing some of my favorite voices in the world singing my songs along with me! While working on those songs, it felt kinda like I was getting a behind-the-scenes preview of new works in progress by my favorite artists. As a fan, I was just enjoying the privilege of getting to hear what they recorded and forgetting it had anything to do with me, haha. Matthew and Brendan absolutely stole the show on their songs, and I couldn’t be happier about it!

I like every record you make even better than the last. How do you notice that you keep getting ‘better’?

Thank you, I’m so glad to hear it! I think it’s like any skill that gets better with practice. The gap between what I heard in my head and what I was actually able to produce gradually got smaller over the first three albums and was basically gone by the fourth (Black Box Theory). It all starts with the songwriting, and I’m working a lot harder now to get songs where I want them to be. I’m much more relentless with rejecting anything that doesn’t hit the target. So it’s not that it’s getting easier (it isn’t!), it’s that I’m not as quick to be content with any aspect of the songs, sounds, performances, etc. If something feels like it’s not going in the direction I want, I’ll keep throwing it away and starting over until it gets there.

It’s quite striking that your music is embraced in such a way by the Power Pop community, isn’t it? I mean when I listen to your music it sometimes reminds me of the music of Cowboy Junkies or 10,000 Maniacs and a little less of The Knack or Cheap Trick.

I didn’t really appreciate how unlikely that was at first! The majority of what I’d grown up listening to and considered to be an influence was associated with power pop, so when I got started I assumed that whatever I was doing would automatically be that too. I’d always been an isolated power pop fan, never part of any community either in “real life” or online (didn’t join Facebook until 2014), so I was ignorant of controversies about power pop and had almost zero awareness of the genre prior to the 90s (except Big Star!). So my earliest attempt at putting my music out there was directed at the power pop community, just because I didn’t know any better! Thankfully some power pop fans heard something in it they liked, whether or not it fit into any particular genre. Maybe my voice and/or just being female will for some people automatically disqualify me from being considered a legitimate Power Pop artist no matter what I do, and that’s fine – the only time I worry about genre anymore is when I have to select something from a drop-down list. Gotta say, if I’m a Power Pop black sheep, I can’t complain because I’m in some awesome company. But I think there have been at least one or two songs on every album that could be called power pop, so maybe that’s enough to keep me from getting kicked out of the club a little while longer! 🙂

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Rick Hromadka – Better Days (Q&A)

Better Days gets great reviews. Rick Hromadka has managed to write and record 10 fantastic songs.

Sweet Sweet Music spoke to Rick about a writing spurt, writing autobiographically, and being honest about it, and practicing karate on a stage.

Buy at Kool Kat Musik or Sodastar

How did this record come together?

I was going through a writing spurt, as one does from time to time, and some of the songs went to my main band Maple Mars and others were just not right for that sound so I decided to release a solo album.

What was the moment when you knew you were on something?

After the very first song, Better Days, was completed. I felt like that song was the blueprint for the rest of the album. I also felt like I had something after the first recording session with drummer Eric Skodis. I realized bringing in other talented musicians would be a really fun and interesting process.

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

Of course not! The hardest thing is writing autobiographically and being honest about it. You have to measure just how much you want to share. It’s like letting somebody take a peek at your diary.

When was the last time you thought “I just wrote a hit!”?

Searchlight and The Ever After from my new album Better Days gave me that feeling. Both have a very nostalgic feel to me.

Recording music. What’s all the fun about?

For me, recording music is almost an extension of writing it. It’s taking the song you’ve written on your guitar or piano to the next level. It’s taking that little piece of art you created in your head and committing it to a viable statement that can last for years.

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

It was probably playing the annual Elvis Birthday Show at the House of Blues on the Sunset Strip. That show would sell out every year with a variety of artists playing it. My band at that time was Double Naught Spies and we were in the middle of playing Viva Las Vegas. We went into a rhythmic break and my rhythm guitarist grabbed a piece of balsa wood, which to the audience looked like a thick board. I slung my guitar around behind my back and proceeded to copy Elvis‘s karate moves at which point I then karate punched the wood into pieces that shattered all over the people standing right at the front of the stage. The crowds went absolutely wild and we felt like big stars!

Leslie Pereira & The Lazy Heroes – Good Karma (Q&A)

Sweet Sweet Music spoke to Leslie Pereira about Good Karma, Big Stir, the art of writing a memorable A-B song, and feeling at home on stage.

Buy it here (at Big Stir)

How did this record come together?

This is our second recording effort as a band and we’re excited to be releasing this album with Big Stir Records who we happened to meet while playing out in support of our first CD. Rex and Christina began to include us in their live shows and it was a perfect fit. With this record, I wanted to stick to the 3 piece punky-surf-pop style but felt great harmonies would further the pop element of my vision. I feel lucky to have great musicians Jeff Page and Rob Lontok at my side as well as my wife Paula Venise who helps with background vocals and percussion. Rex and Christina introduced us to their friend and colleague Karen Basset (from The Kariannes and The Pandoras) and we hit it off right away. We recorded 13 songs in one day with one pizza break at her studio in Hollywood Hills. Here we were with 13 songs recorded and ready to mix then BOOM, the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Karen and I had no choice but to mix and produce the CD remotely. I had never worked that way before so there were some challenges but Karen and I forged ahead. By the end of the summer, we had 13 rockin’ songs. I wanted to put out an album of songs that would remind the listener of a favorite childhood memory, a rekindling of love, or encourage them to keep rocking no matter what age. It’s no secret we are all seasoned performers and just want to have fun and act like teenagers sometimes. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.

You can pick 3 co-writers to write new songs with. Who? … and Why?

Tom Petty because he knew the art of writing a memorable A-B song with a rockin’ feel that made you want to listen to over and over. John Lennon because he knew how to collaborate with other songwriters, understood harmonies, and lived by the motto less is more which I appreciate in songwriting. David Bowie because he is the best performer of all time and I loved his fearless attitude.

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

One of my favorite gigs was playing a Summer Series Band Contest at Universal City Walk with my band It’s Me, Margaret. The contest was all summer long and we played in front of thousands of fans including my mom and Paula’s parents. We won, of course, and were pegged the best band in Los Angeles. It was epic!

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

I’ve been playing in front of audiences for a very long time. It’s the ultimate reward and why we rehearse so hard. I love it! I feel most at home on stage. I know I can speak for the rest of the band on this that performing well-rehearsed original songs is thrilling. We love it when fans come up after the show and express their love for certain songs and appreciate our set. It’s really fun!

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 part of what sets our songs apart are that all our songs are written and completed in “The Magic Cave”. They come from an organic feeling or mood. Some start with a guitar melody, then a drum beat along with the bass line. We are such a good ensemble of musicians that even an idea from Jeff or Rob can turn into a whole song within minutes. It does take some time to add the vocal melody and lyrics. Then we arrange by “trimming the fat” and voila, we have a great new song that embodies our sound. It’s truly thrilling to hear the final results of our creative collaborations.

Joe Giddings – Better From Here (Q&A)

Sweet Sweet Music spoke to Joe Giddings about his new record, Better From Here. All in all, it took 6 years to finish. But it turned out to be a great record! A GREAT RECORD!

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

I would never be ashamed of saying I was a musician. As a musician, I was able to get jobs outside of a band, including movie promos, TV show soundtracks, and radio commercials. Do I do those things all the time? No, but it’s always a joy for me to get in the studio and create whenever the opportunity arises. I teach guitar at School of Rock and another school in LA so, even though I can’t play shows now I’m still able to learn, create, and work and proudly say “I’m a musician.”

How did this record come together?

It was a long time coming. In 2000 my band from Atlanta, Star Collector, had broken up and I wasn’t keen on being in another band. I started working solo on what would become “All The People Some of The Time” (under the name The JTG Implosion), for Notlame Records. That came out in 2003. I was in a number of bands including The Pinx, King Friday, Gonzalez, The Seventh Ring Of Saturn, and a few others from 2004-2011.

In 2011 I moved to Ohio. I recorded almost all the songs on the new album “Better From Here” in my basement studio in GarageBand in 2014. I recorded all the guitars through a Pod 2.0 and all the drums were played live with my fingers on a keyboard while I listened to the guitar tracks I laid down with a click track. Bass went direct using whatever preset sounds were available in GarageBand. Vocals were recorded through an Audio Technica 441 mic. I recorded my backup vocals sometimes using 9 tracks: three tracks for each harmony. That’s the tech side of the story.

I had been disenfranchised with the music business and was feeling like I needed to say something so I wrote “Irrelevant” and then wanting to add a dash of hopefulness I wrote “Better From Here” and then all except 4 songs on the album, as it is now, were written and recorded over the next 4 months. I had a couple of songs on that version of the record that didn’t end up on the most recent release. I released it, unmastered, and after a week I pulled it from Bandcamp. I wasn’t happy with it. I tweaked it a bunch and a few years later released it again on Bandcamp only to pull it down again. Even though it sold a few copies I knew it sounded like demos.

Finally, after moving to LA in 2014 and during the last 6 years I continued to record new songs and tweak the older ones. I talked to Ray Gianchetti from Kool Kat Musik about releasing it on CD when I did the second released version but I decided against it. Once I had the new songs added to the older ones and got it mastered correctly I then got ahold of Ray and he was super excited about finally getting to release it! So, the whole process took 6 years and two moves from recording, mixing, remixing, and mastering to its release on Kool Kat this September. Phew.

Cassettes are back. Which 5 five songs would definitely make your first mixtape?

Good one… I made many mixtapes and discs over the years. Thinking back to my “go-to” songs for many of them:

“Joining A Fanclub” by Jellyfish

“Now I’m Here” by Queen

“Love Her All I Can” by KI77

“Voices“ by Cheap Trick

“Worst Band In The World” by 10cc

Recording music. What’s all the fun about?

This is one of my favorite things to do. Even more than performing. It’s the excitement of knowing that you just laid down the drum track(via my keyboard), for a song I can hear fully formed in my head. All the parts are just waiting for my hands to figure out how to play what I hear internally. When that happens and it all comes together it’s like the feeling folks have when their child is born, or their child graduates or their hard work pays off…its rewarding to the soul to record and mix and finally release the creation to the world.

The Yum Yums – For Those About To Pop (Q&A)

The Yum Yums are back. And how! Did Morten Henriksen write the ultimate Power Pop anthem? It could just be. ‘For Those About to Pop’ is a song that we will still sing along in 20 years.

What was the moment you knew you were on to something?

I don’t know if we ever thought we were ‘on to something’. The songs were written over a 6 years period, so the album feeling came gradually. It wasn’t until the COVID lockdown in March 2020, I found time to figure out which songs to put on the album, and to finally finish them. I basically chose the ones I felt was closest to the finishing line. To my big surprise, the rest of the band agreed with my choices, so I finished them and shipped the songs to our magnificent mixer and co-producer Christian Jacobsen, who also (because of COVID) had time to mix the album. Luckily Perry Travolta also had time to master the album, so we made the deadline for releasing the album on the 1st of July. We got deals with Screaming Apple (LP) in Germany, Waterslide Records (CD) in Japan, and Rum Bar Records (CD) in the US. I also pressed CDs on my own House Of Rock label, here in Norway. When the album was done, I sent it to blogs, podcasts, and journalists, everywhere. The album got really good reviews, and the songs were played on radio shows and Podcasts everywhere. So, everything turned out perfectly! The only trouble now, again… because of COVID… is to get out there touring again, and sell the album to our fans, which we miss dearly!

How did this record come together?

The idea of the title came pretty early. I wanted it to be a tribute to our loyal fans who had stuck with us for 25 years. The plan for the album was originally to be our 25-year anniversary-album. We missed the deadline of course but stuck to the idea anyway, so now it’s a 27-anniversary album, haha… It’s still a tribute to our fans and hi-energy pop music fans everywhere!

The songs of the album were written over 6 years. Our last album, The Yum Yums …Play Good Music was a break-up album, with pretty dark and bitter lyrics. On For Those About To Pop I wanted to bring back the positive and happy side of The Yum Yums, where we belong, with songs about girls and pop music!

When did you decide to start asking for opinions on the new songs?

I always send out song demos to the band, to our mixing guy, and to people I know, I can trust.
Some of the songs were over 6 years old, and others were written pretty close to the deadline.
Writing songs is an ongoing never-ending process.

The meaning of success has changed over the years. What would success look like for the new record?

Getting good reviews, being played on radio/podcasts, and hopefully getting people to buy the album, wherever they can get it. The most flattering kind of success is when people are dancing and singing along to our songs when we play shows. That may take a while before we will get that experience again, though…

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

Well, my lyrics are not really that deep, even though I do put in a few secrets and personal lines here and there.

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

Not really. I’m really not a business person. If anybody has any good ideas, I’d love to hear about them! I wouldn’t mind making a living out of playing music!

You can pick 3 co-writers to write new songs with. Who? … and Why?

I prefer to write songs on my own, actually, but I can namedrop a few of my favorite songwriters.
Adam Schlesinger (too late now, of course, RIP)
ChinChap (Nicky Chinn / Mike Chapman)
Travis Ramin

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

The Devil Dogs – 1990 in Norway, The Big Beef Bonanza-lineup
The Fleshtones – Madrid, ca 2008
The’s – Oslo, ca 2004
Tina & The Total Babes – Radio Heartbeat festival (their ONLY show)

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


Is recording a record easier than getting it heard nowadays?

Absolutely! We are pretty lucky, though. We get our songs played on the radio and Podcasts.
Spotify helps, too

Cassettes are back. Which 5 five songs would make your first mixtape?

Cassettes are back?? I make my own playlists though and listen to them all the time.
I guess I’ll list my favorite songs right now:

1234 Dee Dee Ramone – Helen Love
Game Over – Not Ur Girlfrienz
Number Seven – The Speedways
I Like Your Band – The Let’s Go’s
My Lambretta – Gallows Birds

Recording music. What’s all the fun about?

The good feeling when everything falls into place and the song(s) comes out even better then what you had in your mind.

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

Playing live is just the best feeling! The communication with the crowd, seeing them dancing and singing along to our songs!

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


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?

Our songs are meant to be very spontaneous, so if you don’t like them, The Yum Yums are not your thing.

Vinyl is back, Spotify is ruling, tickets for concerts are becoming more and more expensive, everybody can record songs, social media is the marketing tool, Coldplay stops touring … how will the music industry look like in 5 years?

If Coldplay stops anything… much better!

Michael Faherty – Clark Gable (Q&A)

“Clark Gable” contains 6 songs and they are all good. Great! Sweet Sweet Music spoke to Michael Faherty about recording, playing CBGBs at 16, and the nice feeling of getting a bit nervous before a gig.

Recording music. What’s all the fun about?

I enjoy the mixing and editing process the most. It feels like a game – I fix things that bother me until I eventually like how it sounds.

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

Playing at CBGBs for one of my first gigs at 16, due mostly to a savvy drummer. I knew that a lot of my favorite bands had played there.

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

I enjoy getting a bit nervous.

Which 5 records would you bring with you for your stay on Mars?

Jimi Hendrix – Axis Bold as Love

Lou Reed – New York

Fleetwood Mac – Tusk

John Lennon – Plastic Ono Band

Urge Overkill – Saturation

You can pick 3 co-writers to write new songs with. Who? … and Why?

Might as well go big and say Brian Wilson, Dylan, and McCartney.

Michael Faherty is a Brooklyn-born and L.A.-based singer, writer and multi-instrumentalist. His music ranges from power pop to blues, with a common thread of distinctive R&B-inflected vocals. He has performed as an opener for Buzzcocks, Ween, Goo Goo Dolls, The Posies, Monster Magnet, The Lemonheads, Juliana Hatfield, and many more. Michael’s songs have been used in television and film including the 2016 documentary Riot On The Dance Floor, featured on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. He is currently performing and recording in L.A., both as a solo artist and as a bassist, guitarist, and vocalist for a variety of studio and live projects.