THE BOSS – No School Blazers (interview)


Thirty years in the making, No School Blazers, a punky power pop gem.  Sweet Sweet Music talked to Danny McAllister about being back! 

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

It was great to be back in the studio recording again after many years with the original 80s Boss lineup.

There can be a tendancy to go over the top in the studio so we play live to get the feel and sound right.

I always enjoy getting the guitar sounds and blending the vocals.We are very happy with the album.

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

I like all the tracks.The newer songs for me standout because they are a bit different from the older tracks

So Butterfly, Magic Carpet, Seashell. It’s still the old Boss though, punky power pop.

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

We were never darlings of the music companies. Our timing was out. We were too late.

There were a couple of record companies in 87-88 that looked like they might sign us but it never materialised and here we are.

Who is the best musician in the world nobody has heard of yet? 

Best musician the worlds never heard of…dunno

I’m the best songwriter I know lol.

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?

Bit old for dating mate… 

I have been married for years.

I’d just put on what I felt like … if she didn’t like it … too bad.

My tastes vary a lot…if I’m getting ready for a gig I like to get in the mood … something loud and stomping

That could be Slade..Little Richard..Sex Pistols..The Beatles..The kinks..The Who..Dr Fellgood..Tamla.

What’s up for the next couple of months?

Upcoming gigs 2016

Sept 2nd…100 Club The Boss with The Chords uk

Sept 17..Bassment Club, Chelmsford Essex..The Boss with Small World

Nov 19..Essex Arms ,Brentwood,Essex ..The Boss with Class of 76..(ex members of Eddie  and The Hotrods and The Members).

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THE LOVED – The Loved (interview)

I also have this quote I picked up somewhere, sometime…I put it on a note that hangs on my wall: “Deep and simple is far more essential than shallow and complex.” Both of these lines mean something, form a bit of the base of how my songwriting should work.

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Sweet Sweet Music talked to Lael Alderman about The Loved and their wonderful new EP.

 
Three cords and the truth – as you describe your music on FB – is often used to describe country music. Are you a country band that rocks or a rock band …. Or a pop band that ….?

Three cords & the truth… I know it is the old country adage but, for me, it comes from watching U2 take on All Along the Watchtower in Rattle & Hum. I must have snuck into the theater to watch that movie 3 times in the one week it was playing in my hometown. Twelve years old? Bono is really feeling it, breathing heavy straight into the microphone, and he vamps out: “All I got is this red guitar, three chords and truth / All I got is a red guitar, the rest is up to you.” Something in there hit me, something stuck with me. Keep it simple, keep it honest.

 

I also have this quote I picked up somewhere, sometime…I put it on a note that hangs on my wall: “Deep and simple is far more essential than shallow and complex.” Both of these lines mean something, form a bit of the base of how my songwriting should work.

 

To answer your question, though…the Loved, we are a rock band. We do have the very slightest of brushes with country in some songs, though I don’t think anybody would ever mistake us for a country band. I love the song structure and melodies of old country music. They find their way into our tunes sometimes.

 

 

Mothers & Fathers is the biggest truth of them all. Is that the reason for the mantra-like outro?

I think you got it. The words in that outro seem to wrap around each other. Things do get mantra-like in there, for sure. I am a father now, and that experience has made me view my own father differently. And now I look at my kids, and that makes me think a bit differently on my own youth. In my mind, it all turned into this circle of mothers & fathers with their sons & daughters who will one day be mothers & fathers, too.

 

I always make a point to look into the audience when we are playing. I like to enjoy that part of playing. For years, I never did that for one reason or another. I think most performers would say the same. When we do this song, I look out into the crowd, look to see if we are connecting. On this song, more than any other, folks key in on it. The mantra of the chorus connects, the rhythm section is locked in, a momentum build. More than most of our songs, you can feel a moment happening during the show.

 

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

Making this last album was a great time. We recorded all the tracks live, in a single six or seven-hour session…vocals, drums, guitars, bass. A few little dustings of studio magic followed during the two-day mix session. We could all see each other in the tracking room, lock in visually, me in an isolation booth to sing and play guitar, Daven & Jake staring each other down in a larger room. It was hot in the summer with no air conditioning. We drank a bunch of iced coffee, my wife brought us dinner. We would say it even while we were tracking the album: “It feels like a bit of magic is happening here.” We weren’t booking weeks of time on end, having to slog it out. We came into the studio with our songs, intending to do three, walked out with five. A pretty great day!

 

All of us in the band are so close…Daven was the best man in my wedding & we played in a band when we were younger for six years; after that, Daven & Jake have played in a band called Oh, Darling for another four years or more; all of our wives are the best of friends. Even our producer/engineer, he played lead guitar in a band he & I had together for a couple years. Making music with your best friends is about as good as it can get.

 

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

I think Sun/Moon/Stars does the job of letting you know what we are about. It was one of the first songs we all worked on together, as well; the first song that let us know we were, perhaps, on to something unique & special as a band. That song will let you know I wear my heart on my sleeve. The melody & dynamics in the vocals of this song are right in our wheelhouse, and the music has some good twists & turns in it. It’s a sometimes-soft song that sometimes rocks you.

 

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

Well, we have all been around playing music for a while. I put my first record out in 1998, and it went on to be the little album that could. Within six months of my friends’ label independently releasing it, I had a recording deal with Geffen Records & a publishing deal with Sony. That was a lot for a 23-year old to figure out. And those things just don’t happen anymore in the music industry. The music industry has changed a lot, and the end of the ‘90s was the greatest change in the shortest amount of time that I have seen. In classic style, my deal was done, over and dissolved before I was even able to record an album. The experience of it all, though, is something I will always have with me, and it gave me the absolute confidence to move forward with my music on my own terms with my own style.

 

I know Daven & Jake have been putting out records for as long as I have, and we have all had our brushes with the musical industrial complex. For each one of us, every not-so-good story is balanced by another handful of great opportunities. That being said, hindsight has a way of pointing out lessons learned and not making you too upset about any potentially missed chances. It’s why we write & play music now for the love of it; no concerns about finding a spot anywhere in the larger music industry.

 

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?

Is this purely for getting the girl? Man, it has been a long time since making a mix tape for that! Let’s try this out:

 

  1. Ask – the Smiths
  2. Sexy Back – Justin Timberlake
  3. Into the Mystic – Van Morrison
  4. Lover, You Should’ve Come Over – Jeff Buckley
  5. Don’t Disturb This Groove – the System

 

 

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RYAN ALLEN AND HIS EXTRA ARMS – BASEMENT PUNK (interview)

I came in the first day and he asked me what I wanted the album to sound like. I told him “Everything recorded at Fort Apache Studios in Boston in 1995.”

Basement Punk, the new Ryan Allen and his Extra Arms album, will be released September 30th. Great songs, great lyrics, great hooks. Sweet Sweet Music talked to Ryan. I mean: Sweet Sweet Music TALKED to Ryan. Read the interview and pre order the album (here) or vice versa!

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Punk Rock, College Rock, Alternative Rock, Power Pop …. A lot of different styles. Is that who you are?

It’s important for me to be true to myself at all times, so I don’t really think about songwriting in terms of genre. I just want to write good songs, no matter what. A lot of my favorite records have a diversity to it; songs ebb and flow and have a dynamic element that makes me want to keep coming back over and over again. I want my records to have that same kind of dimension; I don’t want things to be flat or one note. I want ups and downs, twists and turns. Obviously I’m not going to rap on a song (maybe I should though) and on the surface my tunes could be classified as “melodic rock” or whatever, but I don’t want my music to be put in one single box. I love Minor Threat and Black Flag just as much as I love the Posies and Big Star. I’ll put on Harry Nilsson one second and then Jawbox the next. Something dreamy like Slowdive could be followed by something super aggressive like Refused. I’d like to think my diverse tastes help inform my songwriting style and yeah, kind of make me, well, me.

Alex Whiz is fun because we probably all know a kid like Alex. Was that one easy to write? Or is it hard to find the right details?

That song started with that sort of woozy guitar riff that kicks off the song and then comes back in the choruses; I had that kicking around for awhile, but was having trouble attaching it to any other parts. I kept workshopping it with different verse chords, and at one point I pretty much finished the song with completely different lyrics. One day the name “Alex Whiz” just popped in my head, kind of out of nowhere. Alex is a real person and he grew up next-door to my best friend.

I started wondering about what happened to him and even tried looking him up on Facebook at some point (couldn’t find him, though). Then I started to build this narrative in my head about how despite Alex being perceived as sort of odd when we were young, he’s probably some kind of successful genius now.

All of sudden I thought, “Whoa, I have a song here.” I went back to what I had originally written, changed all of the lyrics to fit my sort of half-true half-made up story about Alex and that was that.

I was (and still am) kind of nervous about writing something about a real person and naming the song after him and all of that, but I think the overall message is positive and something he would like if he heard it. It’s really a “the meek will inherit the earth” type of story, almost speaking as Alex saying “All you fuckers who made fun of me, well guess what, the joke is on you now because I’m awesome and all of you are a bunch of losers.” Or something like that. Ha ha.

How did you record Basement Punk?

I played all of the instruments myself, so the process is pretty different than doing a record with a whole band playing together. First I demoed everything at my house using my pretty simple set up. I just have a few mics and basically record everything straight into Garageband.

The demos don’t sound very good, but it’s kind of my way of workshopping the songs and practicing them enough so when it’s time to go into the studio I know exactly what I want to do and don’t waste any time. I wrote almost 17 songs for this record, and they were all over the place. Some were fast and punky, some more chimey and Big Star-esq. There was a hardcore song where I was basically screaming. There were shoegazy things. There was a stripped down acoustic song. There was even an instrumental jam.

My goal was to just keep writing and whatever came out came out, which I haven’t really done before. I usually just cut everything I’ve written and call it a day. Once I kind of decided on the songs that I thought I would want to record for the album, I booked some time at a studio in Ann Arbor, Michigan called Big Sky. It’s run by the amazing Geoff Michael, and he gets really amazing guitar and drum sounds. He’s also super laid back and just a really great guy to work with. I came in the first day and he asked me what I wanted the album to sound like. I told him “Everything recorded at Fort Apache Studios in Boston in 1995.” He knew exactly what I was talking about, and we got to work. In terms of tracking, I recorded scratch/throwaway guitar tracks to a click  (usually in blocks of 3 or 4 at a time) and would then go and sit down at the drums and play over them. I spent most of day 1 doing that until I got the basic foundation of the songs down. I went back a second day and cut most of the real guitars and some vocals. A third day was spent finishing up the main vocals (as well as adding some stuff to Nick Piunti’s record, who was working on his new one at the same time as me).

Then I took all of those tracks over to my parents’ house where my dad has a studio. I worked with him to lay down the rest of the pieces, including bass, keys, percussion, more guitar and more vocals. I love working with my dad and we ripped through the songs in a couple of sessions.

Before I knew it, we were done tracking and it was time to mix. I sent everything over to Andy Reed (of the Legal Matters and Reed Recording Studio fame) and he put the finishing touches on it, mixing and mastering it to perfection. Honestly, I love the way it turned out – it’s exactly the kind of record I wanted to make and sounds exactly how I imagined it would in my head. Dirty and loud in places, nice and clean in others.

Big ups to Geoff, my dad and Andy for helping me out along the way.

 

Gorgeous w/ Guitars. What is the story behind that song?

That song is basically about being true to yourself and continuing to keep making music no matter what. A little bit of it is about me, but it’s also sort of about my dad and my friend Nick Piunti.

It’s really about the idea that you don’t have to stop making music (and it doesn’t have to suck) the older you get. I love that my dad goes down in the basement every Friday night with his buddies and jams and records stuff. I love that he still wants to help me make records and always has good ideas to help me figure things out if I’m stuck. In terms of Nick, he’s written three amazing records in his early 50s while most people his age do nothing creative.

Really, the song is saying don’t stop, whatever you do. Do. Not. Stop. Keep creating. Keep making music. Keep striving to be better, and don’t let age or whatever get in your way. You can still be viable and do great things well after you turn 21, or 31 or even 61. It doesn’t matter, as long as you have the passion to do it, do it.

Ryan, I really like this one! So many catchy songs. Great lyrics. What are your expectations?

Thank you! I never really have any expectations. I think it’s part of what keeps me pleasantly surprised if anybody listens to my music, writes about it, buys it, whatever. I would love it if people give the record a shot and take some time to really get to know the songs. I think music these days is just content to people sometimes. Hearing a song is no different than reading a Tweet. It sort of exists for a second and then it’s gone. I really like to spend time with records and get to know them inside and out. I really hope there are people out there that feel like they want to spend some time with my record, too. But whether a ton of people write about it, or it gets completely ignored, it almost doesn’t matter to me, because I’m super proud of it.

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WESLEY FULLER – Melvista (interview)

Q magazine and Shindig wrote some very nice words about Wesley Fuller’s  music. Sweet Sweet Music talked to the man himself.

How did you record Melvista? 
It was recorded over a period of a few months from my home studio in a Fitzroy sharehouse. Just something I’d chip away at during my spare time. Louder things like drums I recorded at a rehearsal room where I could make all the noise I wanted to. I mixed it myself and it was mastered by Steve Smart at Studios 301.
Melvista has this jangly, melodic, light psych and hooky pop sound. Does that sound come naturally to you?
I think so, not in a conscious kind of way but certainly in terms of influences, I’ve always had an appreciation of pop music and I’m fascinated by what makes it work. That probably lends itself to some of the stuff that I write.
Q magazine and Shindig wrote some very nice words about your music. What do you think?
It’s always nice to be complimented with a favorable review for sure.
I was stoked that the Shindig crew were into it. I love that mag and really admire and appreciate the passion that drives it.
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If we want to know you, which song do we have to listen to? And why? 
Gosh that is a difficult question to answer!
I’m going to go with “I Guess I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times” by The Beach Boys.
The music industry has changed a lot (or so they say). What did it bring you? And what not?
Well I was signed to 1965 Records as well as my management team through the power of the internet. Streaming sites allow your music to be picked up by fans of similar style artists so that’s handy. But I don’t think anyone really knows where the industry is going at the moment. You’ve got to put a lot of time, money and creative energy into social media and marketing to reach people these days which can be counter-intuitive to some, whereas others take to it like a duck to water. Another positive is the decline in the importance of expensive music videos, due advancements in affordable software. As long as you’ve got a vision, you can create something cool on a low budget.
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? 
1. You Make Me Feel Good – The Zombies
2. James – The Bangles
3. Soldier of Love – Arthur Alexander
4. The Dance Master – Willie Henderson
5. Get On The Line – The Sweet
What’s up for the next couple of months?
I’ll be adding final overdubs and mixing my debut album from my home studio as well as playing some good supports around town. The album is due for release early next year so I’ve got lots of work to do!

 

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WYATT BLAIR – Dancing on a Dream (interview)

“My dad was a musician in the 80s and he handed down a bunch of stuff to me, so this was my attempt to use all of it!”

Sweet Sweet Music talked to Wyatt Blair about his new release Dancing on a Dream.

 

How did you manage to squeeze so much musical ideas into 12 songs without being messy?
I don’t know! haha I love recording and writing so I guess it was a challenge for myself?
Billy Idol, REO, The Outfield, Echo & the Bunnymen, Sigue Sigue Sputnik …. It’s all there or am I just a sucker for 80s music who hears things that aren’t there?
I love all those bands! I don’t know, from my perspective I just had written a handful of songs and used 80s gear to record them with. My dad was a musician in the 80s and he handed down a bunch of stuff to me, so this was my attempt to use all of it! He actually played drums on “Cruel World” on the record as well.
You must have had fun creating that huge drum sound? 
Was definitely fun! Recording is one of my favorite things to do, so it was fun tweaking it all and goofing off on trying to get a weird drum sound.
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If we want to know you, which song do we have to listen to? And why?
Hm, I don’t know. I think the whole record is a big piece of who I am. This record “Point Of No Return” specifically is my attempt to channel my alter ego (hence the song that ends the album).
The music industry has changed a lot (or so they say). What did it bring you? And what not?
Well I am so lucky to have a supportive indie label Burger Records supporting my music. Along with Lolipop Records it’s a dream. I like the fact that anyone from anywhere can release and record their own music. Where as back in the day, you had to really prove your worth to get signed to be able to get into a recording studio. I guess there’s pros & cons to both, but in this current state the music industry is at now, I am just lucky to have so much support from independent labels who believe in me.
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?
Roxy Music “More Than This”, Jackson Browne “Tender Is The Night”, Dwight Twilley “Standin’ In The Shadow Of Love”, Chris Bell “Speed Of Sound”, The Outfield “Your Love”
What’s up for the next couple of months?
I’ll be touring a little bit with this album during the summer, and then come October I will be starting my next album “Inspirational Strawberries”
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THE FORTY NINETEENS – Rebooted (interview)

Getting a “Coolest Song in the World this Week” title from Little Steven’s Underground Garage has meant the world  to us. 

Sweet Sweet Music talked to Nick Z about Rebooted.

Listen to Rebooted

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


I and the others in the band will concur that, once we have the basic tracks down, then the fun really starts.
We woodshed the tunes before going in, but once the basic tracks are committed to tape, we sit down, take our time, and listen to to them all over again. It’s as if the songs take on a whole new life once we come up with extra ideas. It’s a fun way for us to create.

How did you record Rebooted?


We recorded at David Newtons Rollercoaster Recording in Burbank Calif. 
The band comes in on a weekend and records basic tracks, scratch vocals, and essentially lays down the framework for the tunes.
Prior to taping, David listens to us run the songs and comes up with suggestions that help or enhance the progressions. We adjust what needs to be done, then roll tape. 
With basic tracks completed we take the roughs home and make sure the ideas we have all fit with the basic tracks. 
Then we return on separate days and put down the guitars: solo, rhythm, then percussion, vocals, and finally keys. 
We take our time, and record over two to three months, and in that time we enjoy how the songs constantly take new directions.
David really pushes the ‘anything goes’ attitude in the studio. Our main influences are in the Garage Rock genre, but otherwise they are all over the map, Rock n Roll, big band, jazz, any era, we like it all, and we feel it sounds it has a fresh sound that pays homage to those that paved the way.  

Which other music/artists do inspire you?


We all like 60’s Garage Rock
John is a fan of bands like The Romantics, Graham Parker, The Beatles, The Kinks
Chuck likes The Ramones, Social Distortion, and other SoCal punk bands.
I enjoy The Who, The Doors, late 70s punk, various non rock n roll acts from Sinatra to Aker Bilk.  

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


I would suggest “I’m Free” 

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


The most important thing we’ve received is the kudos from fans, artists, DJ’s, and writers. This band is a second creative wave for singer John and I, we go back many years, and are having the time of our lives. Getting a “Coolest Song in the World this Week” title from Little Steven’s Underground Garage has meant the world to us. Little Steven, Genya Ravan, Kid Leo, Mighty Manfred, Michael Des Barres, Handsome Dick Manitoba and all the other DJ’s have been really supportive of us. We dig their credo “Be prepared to relinquish your self imposed limitations, and comfort with the status quo. All that is over baby, you’re not alone no more.”

When we got involved with the industry, I don’t think we expected much from it. The band believes that when opportunity comes, you have to be ready. But in most cases you have to manufacture opportunity, rarely does it come your way. Airplay, and press are things we really value, and don’t take for granted. 

Your songs sound like hits but nowadays it is almost impossible to reach a big audience …. On the other hand it’s very easy to create a new Dutch fan, like me. Does that make sense? How do you cope with this situation? 


Thanks Patrick, we appreciate your friendship! It makes total sense to us. Thanks to the advent of the internet, we now are able to reach the world, and also instantly thank radio stations, blogs, and newspapers for mentions. It means a lot to us. 

We are happy to hear from people take the time to write to us, and if they don’t write, we hope that they are experiencing happy times listening to the band. Either way, its great to bring positive energy to people. 

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?



I hope she likes fun music!!

Elvis Presley / Such a Night

C’mon and Swim / Bobby Freeman

Rock Lobster / B 52’s

Chuck Berry / Johnny B Goode

Bobby Darin / Splish Splash

What’s up for the next couple of months?


The band opens for Berlin w/Terri Nunn on Sept 30 in Temecula wine country. 

Other gigs can be found at thefortynineteens.com/gigs
We’ll be back in the studio recording the follow up disc, and hopefully heading to NYC to play for the east coast fans that heard us on Little Steven’s Underground Garage.

We are looking to get distribution in Europe. We are at all Disc Union locations in Japan, and if anyone in Europe would like a physical copy, please visit Kool Kat Muzik 

What about the I Walk with the Zombie cover?
John and I were introduced to Roky Erickson from his work in The 13th Floor Elevators, and this track was just a fun song that we performed during a show with Johnny Vatos’ Oingo Boing. It went over well, and we decided to record. What a fun song!! 

ED RYAN – Roadmap (interview)


Man, when the soul hits your power pop …. You create something really special! Hope you take that as a compliment!

Thank you so much for the kind words! I am a slave to melody but for me the songs have to have some meaning and soul beyond the hooks. I’m so glad you hear and appreciate that…thanks for really listening!
What was the biggest fun during the making of the last album?

The most fun for me were the happy accidents that happen during arranging and recording. Since I have a home studio I can go from song idea to rough tracks pretty quickly so it’s fun having that immediate burst of ideas.
Melodic & Bashing: which music/bands/artist do inspire you?


My biggest inspirations are Buffalo Springfield, The Kinks, The Who, Bowie, XTC and John Hiatt for songwriting and style. For guitar…Jeff Beck and Mick Ronson.

How did Roadmap come together? I can’t imagine the songs were written overnight but your sound is “raw/fresh/live”. Both remarks are meant as a compliment!

Roadmap began as me learning how to record and engineer songs from a huge backlog of material. The further I got into it the more new songs started to appear so it is a mix of old and new. I’m glad you appreciate the live feel. Over the years I’ve done many recordings and found them a little too slick for my tastes. When you’re a one man band it’s hard to not sound stiff…so when I record I try to do it quickly and if something has the right feel but isn’t perfect I keep it!

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


Everything’s Gonna Be Alright and Roadmap. They begin and end the album and express my ideas about how people adapt and change to keep their sanity. The small lies and good deeds we do to survive.
The music industry has changed a lot (or so they say). What did it bring you? And what not?  


I started out in the mid to late 70’s as part of the CBGB and Max’s scene in NYC. It was very difficult to get signed, record etc. but playing live was incredible…I got to share the stage with some incredible bands! What I love about the music world now is the easy access to recording and being able to find your tribe online.
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?


5 songs? 

That’s tough but I’ll give it a shot. 1. Broken Arrow- Buffalo Springfield 2. Waterloo Sunset- The Kinks 3. Senses Working Overtime- XTC 4. I Can See For Miles- The Who 5. A Rose For Emily- The Zombies I don’t know if that would get me the girl but if she didn’t like them I’d say it wasn’t meant to be lol!
What’s up for the next couple of months?



I’m currently putting the finishing touches on my second album, then on to mastering. Trying to get the word out on Roadmap through airplay and reviews. Working, living, walking the earth!
Songs like Roadmap and Darker Side must have been hard to write?



Yeah, you feel a little exposed putting yourself out there emotionally. My favorite lyric writers in any genre tend to go deep and a little dark. Like most songwriters there’s a fair amount of romantic relationship stuff but I like to go beyond just boy/girl stuff as much as I can. Davies, Townshend and Hiatt are such great storytellers while staying emotionally true…they are my gold standard.

The guitar solo at the end of Roadmap ….. Is it stange as I say that I can feel the pain?

That solo was pretty cathartic for me. I’m essentially a blues based player so it’s as much about feel as melody. The solo was completely improvised in one pass…it was supposed to be a fade but it just felt so raw and right I just let it be. I teach music and when one of my students heard it he asked me to teach it to him…I said I’d have to learn it myself since I only played it once lol!

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