Sweet Sweet Music talked to Somerdale about Shake It Maggie. Read what Chuck, James and JJ have to say about this Power Pop GEM!
You get great reviews and your songs get compared to Badfinger, Cheap Trick and Slade. Was that where inspiration came from?
Chuck: We are big fans of classic 1970s power-pop, so it’s no surprise this album keeps getting compared to bands like Badfinger and the Raspberries. We’re also big Beatles fans. To me, Badfinger always came across as a heavier and sadder version of The Beatles. I suppose that combination of heavy instrumentation and sad lyrical themes on this album is what generates all the Badfinger references.
James: I would humbly offer that Badfinger seems an obvious influence. I think a good amount of our inspiration is British Invasion meets The Beach Boys, but we also have more contemporary influences like Fountains of Wayne, Elliott Smith, and Guided by Voices.
JJ: I think The Raspberries, KISS, Sloan and Guided by Voices are more like it.
What was the biggest fun during the making of the last album?
Chuck: The entire process is fun: writing the songs, rehearsing the arrangements and then recording and mixing the tracks. However, for me, the most exciting moment of the “Shake it Maggie” sessions was the recording of those epic harmonies that open and close the album. The three of us were standing around a single microphone and layering all those lush vocals. When we finished, we listened to the playback and it was one of those “WOW” moments. There was this enormous sense of joy and accomplishment.
James: The many creative risks that were taken which felt right and turned out better than we expected. We also tapped into the resourcefulness of two great studio engineers (Matt Weber and Daren Wicks) who knew that their opinions and contributions were highly valued.
JJ: Spending time with your friends and doing what you love to do. That’s the most fun.
If we want to know you, which song do we have to listen to? And why?
Chuck: “Excuse Me.” The lyric is universal. Here’s a typical guy in a typical relationship making typical guy statements. “Baby, I’ve made mistakes. I’m not perfect. I’m sorry. Please, remember, our relationship is special and nothing is going to get in the way.” Every guy can relate to that, right?
James: “Shake It Maggie.” It shows the band’s deft balance with heavy and light. It has lots of rich vocals, and a great story to tell about someone working her ass off to make her way. It’s a ripper!
JJ: “JJ’s Theme Song.” It’s an old song of ours, written about me, and it pretty sums me up in 2 minutes.
The music industry has changed a lot (or so they say). What did it bring you? And what not?
James: I think it has brought more global reach, which is pretty inspiring to a couple of guys from Southern New Jersey, USA.
Chuck: The music industry has changed for the better. Social media has helped SOMERDALE tremendously. There is a fanatical group of power-pop lovers out there. The band has picked up fans in the UK, Sweden, Spain, Australia, Brazil … the list goes on. Bands doing what we are doing aren’t limited to a hometown audience anymore. Look, you discovered us all the way over in the Netherlands!
An awful lot has changed between the first album and the new one, I guess.
Chuck: What has changed most since our 2006 debut release “Friday Nite in America” is that EVERYONE – the three members of the band and our super engineers (Matt Weber and Daren Wicks) – we all are paying more attention to EVERYTHING that goes into bringing a song to life. Everyone involved is thinking more like a record producer. Whether we are saying it out loud or not, everyone seems to be asking, “How does this lyric, this guitar tone, this harmony vocal, this keyboard part, etc… contribute to make this SONG better?” There is so much going on in a three-minute pop song, and every moment needs to count.
James: The band has matured through many experiences to write better and better songs. We know what it takes to write a good song and we have a much better sense of knowing how to execute it well in the studio.
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?
James: Are you going for romance or for the thrill?
Shake It Maggie, Waiting for You, Sugar Valley California, Coolest Kid in the Room and The News.
JJ: My 5 songs would be:
Guided By Voices – Your name is wild
Sloan – If it feels good do it!
KISS – Dr. Love
Dr. Hook – A little bit more
School of Fish – Euphoria
Chuck: Luckily, I haven’t been on a second date in ten years. Next question!
What’s up for the next couple of months? How will you promote Shake it Maggie?
JJ: We’re currently in the studio cooking up a little holiday treat. We will keep pushing Shake it Maggie through the new year and hopefully get it pressed on VINYL!
James: New releases, festival shows and more writing and creating
Chuck: SOMERDALE has generated a ton of momentum in the past six months. The band wants to keep the ball rolling. We plan on releasing an original Christmas song this November, a few new singles in early 2017 and a compilation album with a cross section of old and new material in the summer of 2017. Stay tuned!