Lots of great new (Power Pop) releases this year but it looks like Sloan’s 12 and Rob Bonfiglio’s Trouble Again are a league on their own. Both have this ‘greatest hits’ feeling to it. I could spend a couple of months on a desert island with only these songs to sing along to.
What was the biggest fun during the making of the last album?
…Watching these songs come to life. It’s that simple. I recorded this album entirely solo which is a rather unique way to go about the process. On one hand, it’s incredibly liberating and 100% satisfying from an artistic standpoint, but can sometimes get a bit lonely. Such is the result of being an introvert. I’m a bit of a conscientious control freak. I’m very particular about every nuance of my songs, and I have an ability to keep a pretty clear and concise perspective on the results. When working with other musicians on my own projects, I tend to worry too much about whether I’m being too controlling, sometimes to the detriment of my vision. When working alone, I’ve had the ability to lay ideas down as quickly as they come and I like that freedom.
At what point, during writing, rehearsing, recording, did you knew you were on to something special?
…For the songs that appear on TROUBLE AGAIN, I had at least as many others that didn’t make the final cut, all in various stages of recorded form. I allowed myself the luxury of writing and playing all these songs solo for a good year and a half before recording them for the album which gave me the opportunity to see which went over well and which felt true to me and which weren’t quite ready. I like to believe that the “special” quality is the result of each song being absolutely and completely from the heart and without pretense.
The music industry has changed a lot (or so they say). What did it bring you? And what not?
… I’ve been in the position of having made records for major and indie labels throughout the years with and without bands. I’ve achieved some degree of success, but not so much that I can’t appreciate the difference between wanting to make a commodity and wanting to share heartfelt music with people who really appreciate it. I’ve faced rejection in this business so many times it’s ridiculous. If anything, my decision to keep going is purely out of love and desire.
At this point in my career, I truly don’t feel the pressure of trying to appease “the man” in any way. I’m humbled and grateful for personal one on one connections with appreciative listeners.
The meaning of ‘success’ has changed over the years. When will the new record be a success?
…If I’m able to move the listener in any positive way, I’m successful.
Do you feel part of a community, the power pop community?
…Yes and I love and appreciate them all. I don’t consider everything I do to fall neatly into one specific category, but I’m grateful to be generally accepted by such a discriminating bunch, and I mean that in the best of ways.
Can you still recall the moment music became important to you? What happened?
…I honestly can’t remember a time when music wasn’t important to me. Somewhere in my teens, I grew into the realization that I can do this thing called music with a degree of competency. It was probably then that its importance became that much more significant.
Which is the song you wish you had written every time you hear it? And why?
…A complex answer to a simple question.What often makes a song great to me is not simply the right combination of lyrics, harmony & melody, but the times and circumstances under which the song was written. If I heard “Only Living Boy in New York” or “Mercy On Broadway” or ”What’s Going On” for the first time today and without any backstory or pretense I’d say yeah, that’s a great song and I wish I’d have written it. But I wasn’t on the verge of parting ways with my musical partner or living through a brutal New York City summer in 1968 America or struggling through the agony of the Vietnam war and the racial division of that era. The “Tommy” suite, “The Song Is Over”, “Save The Country”, “I’d Have You Anytime”, “Living for the City”, “Whispering Pines”, “Suzanne”, “Hallelujah”, “Forever Young”, “If You See Her, Say Hello”, “Oh, You Pretty Things!”, “Marlene”, the list goes on and on. Oh, and let’s not forget “La La Means I Love You” and so many great Motown and Philly soul hits, not to mention the Tin Pan Alley and Brill Building classics. Why? These songs cut real deep for me. I’d like to be able to move others the way these songs have moved me.
If the budget was unlimited, how would you record the next record?
…Exactly the same but with better gear.
Every family birthday, same story. Again, you have to explain what kind of band you are in. What’s the story this time for aunt Jenny and uncle Clive?
…I’d have to say “guitar-based pop tunes with classic rock influences”.
What would change if Disney would call and tell you they are going to use your song in their next movie?
…I’m fortunate in that it’s happened before. I have a song called SHINE that was featured in Disney’s “Bridge To Terabithia” back in 2008. It’s always a thrill to hear a song you’ve written and recorded on the big screen, no matter what the movie budget. It’s cool to see what scene a song is chosen for. Having the Disney name behind the movie can really raise your profile. In my case, lots of positive fan feedback, the thrill of seeing the song in official sheet music form, appearing on the official movie soundtrack. It’s really exciting stuff. It’s sort of like watching your child achieve a milestone. I can only hope and wish for more placements to come.
What’s up for the rest of the year?
…I’ll continue to write, record and produce for myself and others in addition to fulfilling my sideman duties with Wilson Phillips and a host of other Los Angeles based artists. I’m happy to say business as usual!