KEN SHARP – New Mourning (interview)

 


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

 

Ken Sharp: Seeing my songs come alive in the studio form a germ of an idea to finished production is always exciting. Working in the studio with the insanely talented Fernando Perdomo was a real treat and blessing, his contributions were invaluable and I salute him as well as my other gifted musical contributors, Rob Bonfiglio and Ritchie Rubini. No matter how you have envisioned a song in your head, more often than not it turns out differently, and often it’s better than you can ever have imagined. I worked really hard on this record, went through a very difficult few years emotionally, dealing with a breakup, depression, financial hardships and all of that filtered into the creation of this record, which is a 14 song cycle navigating the beauty in darkness and regret. One of the highlights for me was working in the studio with Rick Springfield and Wally Stocker of The Babys who both lent their prodigious six-string talents to my record; Rick even sang background vocals on the song “Satellite,” A thrill of a lifetime!

 

 

You get all these great reviews, must be amazing? Where you aware something was happening during recording?

 

I’m really gratified that the reviews have been overwhelmingly positive. I felt this record was special as it was shaping up in the studio but never could have imagined it would have elicited such positive response. It’s a raw and honest record with and I left lots of musical blood on the tracks. I’m really happy that people are connecting with it.

 

Did you write a zillion songs and pick the best?

 

I didn’t write a ton of songs but certainly picked from a surplus of material and saw what would fit within the scope and theme of the record. The litmus test was it had to speak to me emotionally, it had to be authentic and real no matter how a dark the subject material.

 

If we want to know you, which song do we have to listen to? And why?

 

I’d say listen to all 14 songs on the record as they tell a story, a song cycle of who I am and what I’ve been through in the past few years. If I had to pick a favorite I’d choose the ballad, “Haunts Me,” I really love the lushness and beauty in the melodies and vocals. Rob Bonfiglio’s magnificent background vocals and Ritchie Rubini’s gorgeous piano playing slay me!

 

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

 

For an indie musicians like myself, it’s a tricky business to be in given the changing paradigm in the industry. While power has reverted back to the artist, making a mark and getting people’s attention in today’s society remains a big challenge.

 

What a great album cover?! 

 

Thank you…Yes, I love the cover too. That image perfectly evokes the title of my album, “New Mourning,” the brooding, dark, contemplative nature of the music and lyrics. I think it’s really striking and I’ve received amazing feedback from others who love it as well.

 

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 can change any day…here goes off the top of my head

 

 

“Creepin” by Stevie Wonder

“Be Nice To Me” by Todd Rundgren

“Tin Soldier” by The Small Faces

“Eight Days A Week” by The Beatles

“Lady-O” By The Turtles

 

What’s up for the next couple of months?

 

Writing songs and recording more new music, hopefully playing more shows, working on my series of Power Pop books, lots to do and so little time!
Buy on CD: 

http://ken-sharp.com/new-mourning/
Buy on iTunes (Digital): https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/new-mourning/id1123757286
Buy on Amazon (Digital): https://www.amazon.com/New-Mourning-Ken-Sharp/dp/B01H43UHDK/
Buy on Bandcamp (Digital): https://kensharp.bandcamp.com/album/new-mourning

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THE WELL WISHERS -Comes and Goes (interview)

Sweet Sweet Music talked to Jeff Shelton about The Well Wisher’s new album Comes and Goes.

 

On Bandcamp: The Well Wishers’ 8th full-length release “Comes And Goes” brims with more vim, vigor and full-throttled production than any previous album to date …. And with SONGS to boot! In the process of piecing together “Comes And Goes”, Well Wishers frontman and brainchild Jeff Shelton never strayed far from crafting every song as a potential single – with memorable hooks and catchy choruses at every turn. There’s a little bit of everything for the discerning pop palette…from the full-tilt rock bravado of “It’s On” and “Somebody Lied” to the jangly, mid-tempo glory of “Comes Around”, to the strummy, more laid-bock grooves of “Nobody’s Dancing Alone” or “In Love With”.

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

Since I’m basically a “one man band”…the most fun is always hearing guest
contributions when I ask/beg them to play on my records. This go round…I had a former bandmate (Charlie Winmill) rip a killer guitar solo for the track “It’ On” and pop chanteuse Lisa Mychols (Nushu, The Masticators) sing vocals on the track “Comes Around”.

It’s like a Christmas present…..opening a track that someone has graciously provided for a song and listening to it for the first time!

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If we want to know you, which song do we have to listen to? And why? 

Wow…that’s a deep question. A lot of the songs on this album are not necessarily
“personal”…but touch on life experiences and relationships…sometimes in the third person. A lot of the album touches on basic human frailties and succumbing to forces
we often have little control over. Listen to “Get On By” and “Ill Equipped” and you’ll get a sense that I’m exposing personal weaknesses….while letting life run its course at the same time.

 

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

The music “industry” never brought me anything. I didn’t scramble for or earn on my own. I’ve never been signed or beholden to a label (except once with a previous band Spinning Jennies many, many years ago … and it was a total nightmare). The freedom and independence bands and artists have now… as well as the tools to market, distribute and create so easily is beyond liberating. I only see it getting better!

 

The quality of your songs is almost taking for granted. Does this bother you?

Wow…Thank you. I’ll take that as a complement! I think after making several records over the course of 10+ years, a certain level of “quality control” is expected and maintained. I always try to raise the bar on myself…as far as arrangements, productions and song craft…but going back to the first Well Wishers record (from 2004) and enjoying those songs is something I can still feel proud of.

 

Compared to “A Shattering Sky” “Comes and Goes” sounds more like a rock record. Do you agree?

Definitely. I went a for a bigger and more full drum sound…which gives most of the songs (even the poppy ones) a bigger, more in-your-face kind of sound. I like the intimacy of clean drums just fine…but I just wanted to try a more full-bodied approach this go around. The song “Three Nights in Bristol” was inspired after watching a documentary of the Sex Pistols and British punk…so I guess you can say more “rock” was definitely coming out of the gates this time!

 

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?

If it was strictly a musical soulmate, I’d pick…

“Watch The Sunrise” by Big Star
“Everyone Moves Away” The Posies
“Knowing Me Knowing You” by ABBA
“Tears” by The Chameleons UK
“Him or Me” Paul Revere & The Raiders
If I were still dating my (now) wife…I’d have to pick 3 songs from The Sundays and probably 2 form the Indigo Girls

 

What’s up for the next couple of months?

In August, I’ll be doing a one-off live Well Wishers show (full band) as part of the International Pop Overthrow festival here in San Francisco. I also have some songs worked up for possible inclusion in a major studio film that is being shot this Fall in Los Angeles. I’m really excited and hopeful about that. Beyond that…I have a nagging desire to do an album that is not so blatantly guitar pop or power pop …..although I think I’ll have hard time straying from that tried and true formula, no matter how much I try.

 

 

FAMILY FOLD – Lustre Glo (interview)

Family Fold is the new musical project for Paul Andrews (singer and chief songwriter from Sydney band Lazy Susan). Their debut, Lustre Glo, is really good. REALLY REALLY GOOD and contains the perfect Pop – Soul – Country – mix. Great lyrics, great songs. Sweet Sweet Music talked to Paul Andrews about all those gorgeous songs.

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

Tied for first in fun: recording pedal steel on Pot of Gold – hearing those tones was just amazing – and then hearing Sarah Humphreys’ vocal on top of mine on the same song, exactly how I’d imagined it, which just lifted it stratospherically. It gave me goosebumps.

If we want to know you, which song do we have to listen to? And why?

New Friends. It’s the simplest song on the album, but probably the tune I’m most proud of in terms of everything coming together: tune, lyric and performance.

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Shanie Love is the best soul, country, pop mix ever. These different styles are so similar as they mixed up perfectly. What do you think?

That’s very kind of you to say. I actually recorded the majority of that song on Garage Band on a pretty old iPad. I was just mucking around, trying to record the song a little bit differently, rather than just walk down a similar path to the other tracks on the album. I had a bit of luck and ‘voila’.

It was probably overly electronic sounding when I’d finished it on Garage Band, so we added real drums and bass in the studio which added another texture and a layer of warmth.

 

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

It’s brought me countless opportunities – apart from this album, the ability to record four albums with my previous band, Lazy Susan; tour throughout Australia; play in front of thousands of people – and for which I’m eternally grateful. Frankly, none of the predictable and run-of-the-mill disappointments I’ve experienced in music are enough to undermine the great memories, laughs and the things I’m grateful for.

“How can you only call me …” , is extremely sad. Does inspiration come easy for such sad lyrics?

Most of the time, ‘no’ – lyrical inspiration comes pretty hard to me these days. But sometimes I get lucky and *kapow* the good stuff comes. I was trying to write about a dysfunctional and self-destructive relationship in a small town and for some reason, it all came out pretty quickly.

I was really proud of the title but ended up being slightly deflated when the first person I showed it to said, “Oh? Like the Arctic Monkeys song?”…I was completely oblivious.

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Beautiful cover! What’s the story behind it? 

Lustre Glo is actually the name of smash repairs shop in Marrickville in Sydney’s inner west. It has the most magnificent writing – in huge cursive font – across its facade: ‘Lustre Glo’.

There’s a grand tradition in popular music of using the names and facades of shops as album titles and covers. Think Ian Dury’s “New Boots and Panties” or The Beastie Boys’ “Paul’s Boutique”. The moment I saw it, years ago, I thought it would be perfect for Family Fold’s album name and cover.

When I told a friend where the name came from, she had an unexpectedly poetic take: ‘Smash repairers are all about new beginnings, rebirths. They bang out your dings and you’re as good as gold again. It’s a new start, and that’s what you’re doing with this album. It was meant to be!’

I liked it so much I told her I was going to steal her interpretation as my explanation for the album title and cover.

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?

Ask me tomorrow and it could be a different list:

Beatles – Something
Bob Dylan – Sweetheart Like You
Fleetwood Mac – Save Me A Place
Phoenix – Too Young

Olympia – Smoke Signals

What’s up for the next couple of months?

Just trying to write more songs. It’d be good to record a new album next year.

Check the website for updates, but the album here