Sweet Sweet Music talked with Mike Patton of Vista Blue, a power pop band from Nashville. They just released a 20 songs baseball-themed album. To know Vista Blue is to love them, so check this out
How does a Vista Blue- day in the studio look like? Your songs sounds like you are having fun. But I am sure it is not all that?
It’s definitely all fun! That’s the only reason to still be doing this. I thought I would’ve stopped a long time ago, but for whatever reason, these catchy songs keep popping in my head. So we keep going.
These days, we do most recording over the internet actually. The technology has finally brought us to where we can make really fun music in totally separate locations.
So typically I’ll have a bunch of songs ready, and I’ll start with some basic demos. I’ll send these to Todd or Mark or whoever might be helping on the tracks. But it also helps me work on vocal arrangements for a few days. Then I’ll usually come back and re-record all of my vocals.
From there, if someone else is jumping in, they might e-mail me files, or I’ll go to Mark’s house or something and record his parts there.
But again, this whole process is fun. In addition to making these recordings, it also sometimes helps me stay in touch with people I don’t get to see every day. There are phone calls and emails discussing parts, chords, arrangements, etc. Of course, the other side is that it is often just me in a room by myself for hours!
If we want to know you, which song do we have to listen to? And why?
I don’t know that it could be summed up in one song, but I guess a great start would be something like Pulp’s “Mis-shapes.” – “Oh we weren’t supposed to be/We learnt too much at school now we can’t help but see/That the future that you’ve got mapped out/Is nothing much to shout about…”
I guess my main thing is to never do something only because other people think you “should” do it. As long as you aren’t hurting anyone, do what you want.
The music industry has changed a lot (or so they say). What did it bring you? And what not?
Honestly, I know a lot of indie people do not like the current state of the industry, particularly those who were managing to actually scratch out a living 10-15 years ago by touring nonstop and selling merch. And I definitely appreciate that lifestyle and that commitment. But yeah, things have changed. And for us, it’s now easier to record, easier to share our music, and in many ways, easier to get people to listen.
There are so many blogs, podcasts, and indie radio shows now that we’re getting support from people who never would’ve heard of us back when we were playing shows every week.
I know overall we have access to so much good music, so it can be a lot to get through and a lot of links to click on. But I’m finding great new bands every day, and fortunately people are finding US every day!
How competitive is Nashville? Mostly we only hear the stories about mainstream country and I know about East Nashville being (or at least was) alt.country heaven. But what is it like being independent in a city like Nashville?
Yeah, Nashville is not really the place for a band like us. When I first moved here in 2008, we started The Loblaws, did a record for Mutant Pop, and had a lot of fun with that band for a couple of years. But we had more people at every show outside of Nashville than we did at any of our local shows, which is kind of telling.
It isn’t really even “competition.” I think it’s more that everyone here plays or has played music. A lot of people move here for that reason. There are 100 shows every night. It’s just tough to stand out, I guess.
Of course last weekend’s CMA Fest had country fans waiting in line for 12 hours before concerts, and our interstates were all clogged up, so obviously it’s working for that side of music.
For punk music, there does seem to be a growing scene here with more and more houses doing shows. If that had been going on when The Loblaws were around, that would’ve been great. But now that our music is more on the “power pop” side of things, we don’t really play live shows here very often. We did play the International Pop Overthrow here last month, and that was a blast.
What about baseball?
Ha, well baseball is fun! To me, it’s just one of the purest games, at least from a strategy standpoint. It’s like chess, except when the managers make their moves on the chess board, the pieces still need to execute.
And I find it’s just a lot of fun to write and sing about. Baseball can be used as a metaphor in almost any way. Having a coach who won’t put you in the game is no different from having a boss who just doesn’t understand what you’re capable of. A bad teammate is the same as a bad co-worker. We all work with a guy who is a jerk but gets all of the credit. Or a guy who will screw up and hit into a double play, no matter how many chances he’s given. But also, when you hit a home run, it helps people forget about the four prior at-bats when you struck out.
Before we started Vista Blue in 2014, I was writing a few baseball songs for my friends in The Ueckers. But before I knew it, I had like 15 songs. Those guys write a ton of songs too and didn’t really need mine. So when we started this band, I had all of those ideas, and it was an easy first release for us. From there the ideas just kept flowing, so we’ve now done a total of four baseball releases. And it’s hard to stop because now all of our friends keep giving me baseball song ideas.
She tells you she will decide on a 5-song-mix tape if there is going to be a second date. Which 5 would you put on?
This is another really tough one. Assuming I didn’t want to go ALL Beach Boys on her so soon, I guess it’d be something like…
Mamas and Papas – “I Saw Her Again”
This is just some of the greatest music ever released. But hopefully on the second date she’d ask for the rest of the mixtape because there is a lot left out here!
What’s up for the next couple of months?
We are not stopping. We’ve released eight EPs since April 2015, and we’re planning on four more this year!
First we’re taking the sports idea in a new direction and are recording an Olympics-themed EP to celebrate the Rio games in August. Then we’re doing an EP in September that actually may not have a theme. That’s kind of undecided, and we have a lot of song ideas to pick from.
Then later this year we’ll do a horror-themed EP in October and a Christmas EP in December.
I’d also like to say that my band Sally Stitches, a New Orleans power pop band from 2002-2005, will be releasing a reunion EP this month through Radiant Radish and Ice Cream Man. And that one is a lot of fun as well.
So we’re very busy right now! Which is great.