And the record had just been released.
And it is great! Smart, smart Power Pop.
Read all about it.
What was the biggest fun during the making of the last album?
As I was going into the studio with the Affiliates to record Party Music!, I did it knowing that I had accepted a new job in Chicago. I had yet to break the news to them. We were still a band based in Burlington, Vermont. While breaking the news to them after recording the album was bittersweet for me, I had a blast bashing out these tunes with the guys. I played with Raph (Worrick, on bass) and Kevin (Stevens, on lead guitar) for seven years and Jake (Blodgett, on drums) for five years. I love those guys. Any new musicians I play with as Phil Yates & The Affiliates have to fill Raph’s, Kevin’s, and Jake’s giant shoes. Normally I find recording to be a tedious process. Knowing that this is a document of possibly the final batch of tunes I get to play with those guys made the process more fun and full of love. Plus I got to play through a Marshall stack in the studio. My normal amp is a Vox AC-30. It made me feel like I got to channel my inner Paul Westerberg in the studio. Always a fun thing to do!
She tells you she will decide on a 5-song-mixtape if there is going to be a second date. Which 5 would you put on?
Oooooo. I love this question! Sloan’s “Bells On” would have to be on the list. In fact, I think I have put that on quite a few mixtapes and CD’s. Big Star’s “Kizza Me” would be kind of cool to put on there since you can never have enough Big Star on a mix. “Kiss Me On The Bus” by The Replacements is a rare sweet song from the band. It’d be better to put that one on instead of “Gary’s Got A Boner.” Maybe Prince’s “Kiss” would be fun. I am a die-hard Elvis Costello fan. I would wrap up the mix with “Everyday I Write The Book”; however, just to make it more hard hitting, I would use the alternate version that is found on the bonus disc of the Rhino reissue from 2003.
Do you feel a part of a community, the power pop community?
It’s weird. I have always joked that my ceiling as a musician would be a cult musician in a cult genre. When I was based out of Vermont, I felt that other musicians liked my songs. There were a few bands that my band got along with swimmingly. There was a bit of a community. Unfortunately, I never felt it translated to the rest of the Vermont area – music fans and what not. It caused me to have a chip on my shoulder and write a song like “One Man’s Trash (Sour Grapes)” for the Party Music! Album. As far as the power pop community goes, I do feel like people in that scene have started to notice my songs and my band. It feels good. I think having Keith and Futureman Records in my corner goes a long way in feeling more at home in that scene.
If you could tour the world with two other band, who would you ask to join?
Hmmmm. That’s a tough one. A world tour? The first one would be Guided By Voices, mainly so I can see them crush it on stage every single night. Also, having a liver is overrated, right? Oh, the drinking on that tour. The other one? I would want to share the joys of playing with GBV every night with one of my favorite bands from the Burlington, Vermont scene. That band is Black Rabbit. If you don’t know them, check them out. Black Rabbit. Burlington, Vermont. I’d be more than willing to be the opener for that global tour.
The meaning of “success” has changed over the years. When will the new record be a success?
I’m a realist. I’m 42 years old. I have a day job (teaching at a university) that most days I enjoy. I’m married with a family. I don’t see music being such a financial windfall for me where I’ll be doing this full time as my only source of income. That said, what would be a success for Party Music! in my mind? Not having copies of the vinyl and CD taking up precious space in my basement. But seriously, at the end of the day, I want the listeners of the album, no matter how many or few of those listeners there might be, to think that they are listening to an extremely solid collection of ten songs that they would want to listen to years and years and year from now. If the financial windfall does come my way, count me in! So long teaching!