THE GREAT AFFAIRS – Ten & 2 (Q&A)

car

 

The Great Affairs is a rock ‘n’ roll band.

 

And they made a rock ‘n’ roll record.

 

You get it all: classic rock, power pop, roots rock, Southern Rock…

 

When you think you are hearing Cheap Trick, The J. Geils Band, The Bottle Rockets and Bad Company at the same time, you are probably a good listener.

 

More important, if you are looking for a Saturday-Night-Record, I have found you one.

 

Enjoy!

 

Denny Smith explains.

 

 

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

 

Well, I’ve seen the better part of the Continental United States, made a ridiculous amount of great friends I wouldn’t have otherwise ever even met, and gotten to share all of the above with a bunch of guys that I now consider family…those are all wins in my book that have  been brought to me. It has also laid at my feet a few truly heartbreaking disappointments and close-calls, but I could be mopping a hospital floor or working in a machine shop instead of sitting here answering these questions for you, so I like to believe it’s all worked out as planned, because I’m generally a pretty happy guy.

 

I think as I really got into the guts of the machine, that I kinda knew it wasn’t going to be the dream I had as a kid. I just periodically remind myself to stop before I fall out of love with it, so it hasn’t managed to bring me to my knees yet I guess.

 

 

 

 

Can you still recall the moment music became important to you? What happened?

 

I have a very vivid memory of being at my grandparents’ house and finding a little metal 45RPM carrying case that had belonged to my mom when she was a kid. I looted all the CCR and Beatles singles I could get my hands on and dragged them home to my portable record-player, which up until that point had been used to play nothing but Planet Of The Apes, GI Joe, and Space: 1999 book & record sets. I wore out a 7” of  “Can’t Buy Me Love”… I just couldn’t get enough of it. From there, I dove into my parent’s VERY limited LP collection and spent entirely too many hours in from the of their old console stereo system with those giant headphones pressed to my ears. It was right around that time when I started begging for a guitar, a plea my grandmother kindly obliged by giving me an old acoustic that I could barely wrangle sound out of because my hands weren’t strong enough to press the strings to the fretboard. Sadly I don’t have that guitar anymore…but I still have those book & record sets.

 

 

TheGreatAffairsTallTreesColor

 

 

Which is the song you wish you had written every time you hear it? And why?

 

 

There are so many of these but the obvious ones that spring to mind are Elvis Costello’s “Man Out Of Time”, and I can’t even tell you why…there’s just something in that tune that nails me to the floor when it comes on. Maybe it’s that bizarre, frantic intro, and the sudden shift into the song proper that catches me off guard…whatever it is, I’m hooked and in for the full 5 minutes and 29 seconds(I had to look that up) whenever it hits my ear.

 

Two “Honorable Mentions” that occasionally slip into the #1 spot are “Crazy” from The Afghan Whigs, simply because it gets under my skin, and maybe because I’ve seen the story he’s telling play out in real time, so it hits home. It doesn’t hurt that that arrangement and groove are so hypnotic either.

 

Lastly, even though you only asked for one(sorry) would be Del Amitri’s “Driving With The Brakes On”, just because it breaks my heart each and every time I hear it. Justin Currie can do no wrong in my book.

 

 

 

Magic can happen when you are playing in front of a crowd. Can you recall such a moment?

 

Any time I hear a group of folks I’ve never met before that night singing along to something I wrote on an acoustic guitar in my spare bedroom, I chalk it up to magic. That happening every now and then can make up for so many disappointments, flat tires, crappy hotel rooms, empty clubs, warm beers, and long miles on no sleep, that it might be the only thing keeping me going sometimes. Thankfully, I can recall several of these moments. It always makes me smile when I see it happen for another artist too because you can feel that connection, like the whole room, finds a mystery frequency that we can all operate on in complete bliss for a few fleeting seconds. I wish the world felt like that all the time.

 

What would change if Disney would call and tell you they are going to use your song in their next movie?

 

My address, because I could finally afford to buy a few acres in the country, and I wouldn’t have to mow the hill behind my current house that is almost surely going to kill me one day. Seriously.

 

 

What’s up for the rest of the year?

 

Our #1 order of business is to stay out promoting ‘Ten & 2’ for a good, long while. Kenny is close to wrapping up a solo EP, and I’ve got another batch of tunes kicking around that might turn into a new solo record for me too, but they’re going to be more in the Pop/Singer-Songwriter vein… still plenty of guitars, of course, but less of the riff-y Blues-based stuff that we sometimes do with the band. I’m sure we’ll start throwing around new ideas soon though and look towards another TGA record down the road a bit.

 

Advertisements

EX NORWEGIAN – No Sleep (Q&A)

An arcane indie rock band with psych and powerpop overtones from Miami Beach are an unlikely bunch to be named after a Monty Python sketch, yet the musical collective Ex Norwegian indeed are.

‘No Sleep’, the ninth album arguably takes the band back to the beginning, crafting straightforward pop/rock songs with effective arrangements and quirky lyrics with strong melodies. The main trio of Roger Houdaille, Michelle Grand, and Giuseppe Rodriguez will be touring later this year to support the release.

BabySue writes: If you like pop songs that stick in your head like glue and never go away, you’re gonna totally dig this album. No Sleep features eleven super smart guitar-driven pop tracks that are sinfully addictive. A few of the band’s more recent albums have featured a more raw basic sound. On Sleep, they return to the more produced and polished sound they had when they were just getting started. 

 

exnorwegian

 

Sweet Sweet Music talked to Roger Houdaille.

 

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

It was fun to realize we even had an album to work on! Originally the plan was to compile a sort of “best of” collection and do heavy promo and tour behind it. But once we started fleshing out the project and working with the PR / MGMT people, it became clear that it made more sense to do something totally new and “No Sleep” was born. I didn’t have any songs ready but in a week or two, there were enough to start rehearsing them, which was something we hadn’t done in a while…rehearse the songs a bit before actually going to track them! Although it was a very quick process, we had a good time recording backing tracks at our friends’ studio and eventually putting all the bells and whistles on it.

 

 

At what point, during writing, rehearsing, recording, did you knew you were on to something special?

 

I remember introducing the song “Triggered Weeknd” at rehearsal and first run thru it just came together effortlessly and sounded great. That was interesting for me because I didn’t think too much of the song at that point so the band really made it something special and it sort of became our lead single. Overall, there was a good energy and because of the spontaneity of it all, there was also a good level of excitement which I hope transfers itself onto the record.

 

 

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

 

Ex Norwegian started 10 years ago and it was a little fun to think back on how we did things with the first album versus the ninth! Social media seems to be more and more important. While it’s easier to reach more people it’s also a lot harder than it was. Stuff like college radio or even traditional PR we don’t do anymore. So it brings us a lot more work as artists! Companies we used to work with now train the bands to do their own work. But at the end of the day, truth be told without the internet, we wouldn’t have released any albums or have any listeners, so there comes a gratitude with the modern music industry for allowing independent artists to even exist.

 

 

The meaning of ‘success’ has changed over the years. When will the new record be a success?

 

It probably won’t! At least not in traditional sense. We actually did try to do something bigger than before with “No Sleep” but it backfired bigly when the company in charge went out of business right around the release date. We had to cancel our US tour and everything. But for my meaning of ‘success’, the fact that it exists is enough. I do think Ex Norwegian is a band with a wealth of catalog that will survive as long as interest in this kind of music exists.

 

 

exn2

 

 

Do you feel part of a community, the power pop community?

 

Yes, I think the band fits in well. We get most of our sales and reviews from the power pop community and done the International Pop Overthrow and all that. And although we do get labeled often a power pop group, I think we merely flirt around with the genre.

 

 

 

 

 

 

BUY

DOT DASH – Proto Retro (Q&A)

Dot Dash’s new album Proto Retro, the band’s sixth long player, out now on TBM. 

Coming off of 2016’s amped-up, fuzzed-out Searchlights, the 12 track Proto Retro sees Dot Dash taking a poppier, janglier direction but one that retains the punky, garagey energy that has marked the band’s previous releases.

 

Dot Dash is a Washington D.C.-based trio — Terry Banks (guitar & vocals), Hunter Bennett (bass), and Danny Ingram (drums.)

 

dotdas

 

Sweet Sweet Music talked to Terry Banks.

 

 

 

 

The meaning of ‘success’ has changed over the years. When will the new record be a success?

 

I suppose it’s a success just by existing.  I think that’s the big goal, to just have the stuff exist.  We’ve had a few of our songs licensed for use in TV shows and movies in the past and when that happens it produces money that helps to pay for recordings. So, it would be nice for that to happen again with this new album, but you can never count on stuff like that.  It happens when it happens.

 

Terry photo credit Roxplosion

photo credit Roxplosion

 

Do you feel part of a community, the power pop community?

 

At the risk of sounding anti-social, no, not really.  There’s no question our stuff is pretty power poppy, but we don’t see ourselves as a “power pop band.”  That said, if other people do, that’s fine with us.  At various points, our music has been described as power pop, garage, punk, post-punk, indiepop, and indie rock, so maybe we’re a mix of those things.

 

 

Which is the song you wish you had written every time you hear it?

 

That’s a hard one.  Maybe “The Airport Song” by The Byrds, or “Outdoor Miner” by Wire.

 

 

If you could tour the world with 2 other bands, who would you ask to join?

 

The closest Dot Dash has got to touring was a little string of East Coast dates with Tommy Keene, who was a real music hero of mine/ours, but Tommy passed away last fall, so that’s him off the list.  Let’s see, who else?  How about Guided By Voices and The Monochrome Set?

 

Dot Dash photo

 

 

If the budget was unlimited, how would you record the next record?

 

Hmmm… it would be cool to record at Ardent Studios in Memphis (where the Big Star stuff was done, among many other things.)  Or, further afield, Abbey Road.

 

Proto Retro is available as a digipak CD (which includes a free download of the album) here:  http://thebeautifulmusic.com/

And as a download here:  https://dotdashdc.bandcamp.com/

band info:  https://www.facebook.com/dotdashdc

 

THE PRETTY FLOWERS – Why Trains Crash (Q&A)

The Pretty Flowers are Noah Green, Sam Tiger, Jake Gideon, Sean Johnson. Based in Los Angeles. They just released a new record called ‘Why Trains Crash’  and it’s out on Dirt Cult Records.

L.A. Record wrotetwelve songs that are like Guided By Voices’ hi-fi power-pop and Mountain Goats-style poetic righteousness plus—at least on “Sitting Duck CA”—a little twin-engine Thin Lizzy guitar acrobatics, too.

And yep, all true!

Listen, watch, and read what Noah Green shared with Sweet Sweet Music.

 

 

 

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?

 

That’s What Life Is All About – Paul Collins’ Beat

– For me, this song is one of the best opening tracks of any album and just a timelessly romantic Buddy Holly-esque rock ‘n’ roll classic.

Make Up Your Mind – Stiv Bators

– Great power-pop from Stiv’s solo record, Disconnected. This is a cover, and the original by David Quinton is fantastic, too, but I like the energy and drum fills of Stiv’s version a bit better.

Allt ska forsvinna – Hurula

– I was a fan of Masshysteri, but Hurula is a band I truly love. The album this song comes from is so amazing. Even though I can’t understand a word he’s singing, the music really connected with me and became a big influence–maybe more in spirit than anything obvious–on the songs that became Why Trains Crash. The opening track of our album, “Cream of Canvas”, was a bit of an attempt to write my version of a Hurula song. I’d put this song on a mixtape for sure.

Phoebe Bridgers – Would You Rather

– I’d seen Phoebe Bridgers live when she just had a single out a few years back and was blown away by her songs and voice. When this album came out last year I didn’t immediately love it, but it grew on me hard and I listen to it all the time now. Her live band is so good, and I love the way drummer Marshall Vore plays. I always find myself in the mood to listen to Phoebe’s beautiful maudlin folk. The Pretty Flowers are going to record a bunch of cover songs soon and we’re going to attempt to adapt a Phoebe Bridgers song as one of ours. We’ll see how that goes.

Dumb – Manhattan Murder Mystery

– MMM has been one of the best Los Angeles bands for the last 10 years. Matthew Teardrop’s songs and lyrics are unparalleled in this city and the band chugs along without compromise or apology. There are not a lot of bands that make you feel happy to be bummed out like Manhattan Murder Mystery do.

 

prettyfl

 

 

Do you feel part of a community, the power pop community?

 

I don’t feel like there’s that much of a power-pop community in Los Angeles. At least not one that I that I feel connected to. I was in a band called The Henry Clay People in the mid-to-late 00s, and being in that band connected me to a bunch of good bands and people around LA at the time, and that did feel like more of a supportive scene than it does now. A lot of those bands have broken up, but being in The Pretty Flowers now, it feels different and I haven’t quite figured it out yet.

 

There seems to be a lot of power pop/pop punk that comes out of the Burger Records label here, but I’m not really a fan. Maybe there’s some good stuff in their catalog, but there doesn’t seem to be a lot of quality control going on from what I can tell. I went to the NorCal band Culture Abuse’s album release of Bay Dream (which is some kind of modern masterpiece to my ears) here in LA and they had ten bands playing 10-minute sets before they played. They were mostly hardcore bands, which is a scene I’ve never felt a connection to because it was so macho, but it was really cool to see a music community I haven’t really experienced in LA before. But it was disconcerting that I only noticed one woman in the ten bands that played that night. As far as local bands, Maniac is a band on our label, Dirt Cult, who I’d consider power pop and are awesome. I want to play shows with them.

 

Pinned In Place are great, too. There’s a band called NO WIN, who was nice enough to play our album release show in June, who write catchy, amazing songs. They’re a band that if The Pretty Flowers could play every show we ever play with them we would do it.

 

We played a show with a band called Autogramm, who were on tour from Vancouver, BC a month or two ago, and I like them a lot. There are great bands around, but it doesn’t feel like a really supportive, cohesive music scene to me. Maybe I just need to get out more? I dunno.

 

 

 

Can you still recall the moment music became important to you? What happened?

 

I do recall that moment. It was when I got Nirvana’s Nevermind album when it came out and I was 12. I listened to the cassette on a yellow Sony Sports Walkman (which was important because it had auto-reverse) and it played over and over on an 8-hour drive from Northern California to Lake Arrowhead in Southern California, where my aunt, uncle, and cousins lived.

 

Before that, I was mostly listening to MTV hair-metal bands and thinking that was the best that music could get, but Nirvana was serious music without fast guitar solos, and the lyrics were saying things that I’d never heard, or even really considered, before. It was music, but it was also art, which I didn’t know music could be before that. I got to see them live later that year (because my Dad was cool), and they were amazing, but being in bands still seemed like some unattainable thing that special people got to do.

 

 

It still took a while before I realized that they were regular people and that making music and playing in bands was something that regular people did too. It still amazes me that a band as punk and actually as good as Nirvana was, achieved such mainstream success. I can’t imagine that kind of thing happening again on that level.

 

Which is the song you wish you had written every time you hear it? And why?

 

Oh, man…there’s probably 100 I wish I’d written myself (and ten of those probably belong to Nick Lowe). There’s a band called The World Record from LA, who are seemingly from another place in time. They have a power pop album called Guitars Forever that’s the only album I’ve played, and while listening, said, “this album so good, it seems weird that I actually know the guy who wrote these songs.” That would be Andy Creighton.

 

For a song, though, I’m going to say I wish I’d written John Cale’s “Buffalo Ballet”. When I write songs, I have a difficult time telling a cohesive story or being direct, and I tend to focus more on how lyrics and music create a mood or a feeling. Stephen Malkmus is someone who’s really good at doing that. “Buffalo Ballet” is a song that does it in a way I can only hope to. I try not to analyze that song for meaning and just accept the emotional effect it has on me. The refrain “sleeping in the midday sun” is perfect.

 

 

 

What’s up for the rest of the year?

 

We’re going to record some cover songs at Golden Beat studio in LA with Andrew Schubert in a few weeks, and we’re excited for that. That will probably be a digital-only thing, but we’re looking forward to recording with our new drummer, Sean Johnson, who joined the band in March. We have about 8 songs written for the next album so far, but I imagine it will be a little while before we record those. We hope to do some kind of west coast tour in Nov or Dec, but life makes touring is difficult for people in bands, as it’s always been. We also plan to play as many shows as possible around LA and slightly beyond.

 

 

 

 

 

ANCHOR & BEAR – Raincoats and Gold

‘Folk Rock’, they say. ‘Twangy (Power) Pop’, I would say. Whatever. Quality songs and great melodies over here. No need to argue about that. Anchor & Bear’s new release ‘Raincoats and Gold’ is a joy. A JOY!

 

anchor

 

 

Anchor & Bear are Katy Pearson – vocals/bass/guitar, Brian Bringelson -vocals/guitar/bass and Eric White – drums.

 

 

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

 

I think we really became a band making this record. It was such a different experience creating this record than it was with “Ahoy”. With the first album, Brian and myself had all the songs sorted out, some even had demos already recorded. With “Raincoats and Gold” we worked through these tunes as a band. The writing, the arrangements, and the grooves were all collaborative which made recording the record a much more enjoyable experience. Plus our producer Matt, he was and still is a highlight.  – Katy

 

 

Which is the song you wish you had written every time you hear it? And why?

 

The easy answer for me would be any song written by The Beatles, but I’ll choose another artist! Neko Case’s song “The Pharaohs” is a song that completely changed the way I looked at songwriting. The melody twists and turns in so many beautiful ways that it almost seems impossible a mere human could create such a thing. Of course, Neko Case is much more than a mere human. In addition, the lyrics stop me dead in my tracks every time I hear them. On top of all of this, it’s a song that is constantly in my head, which is a good thing in this case since it’s just so perfect. 100% a song I wish I had written. – Brian

 

This is hard because there are probably a million I could say but two stick out.  “Lullaby” by Loudon Wainwright III. It’s this biting, sad, lilting, tough song. I think writing something slow without it becoming mundane is an art form. It’s filled with beautiful moments of interesting chords that are purposeful but not forced. It’s haunting but weirdly sweet at the same time. Lyrically it’s dynamite. The other song would be “Surfs Up” by Brian Wilson. The melody line on  “columnated ruins domino” is still the most beautiful melody line I’ve ever heard in my life. – Katy

 

If the budget was unlimited, how would you record the next record? 

 

I would book 2 months at Abbey Road to record basic tracks: drums, guitars, bass. Then I would book another month at Sunset Sound to do overdubs and some vocals. Then finally I would book a couple of weeks at Capitol Records to finish it all up. I’d also have it mastered at Abbey Road just so I could be there for another few days/weeks. – Brian

 

Saaaaaaaaame ❤ – Katy

 

 

 

What’s up for the rest of the year?

 

We will continue to play shows up and down the California coast promoting “Raincoats and Gold”.  In addition, we’ll be making another music video for one of the tracks off the new album which should come out this fall. Katy and I have already started writing songs for the next album and hopefully, we will begin recording before the end of the year. – Brian

 

Shows, Shows, Shows, and Shows. We’re also writing because we never stop. We’ll be putting out a music video soon and then hopefully (after a few other recording projects get checked off) we’ll be headed BACK into the studio as a band before we see the downbeat of 2019! ❤ – Katy

 

 

 

Can you still recall the moment music became important to you? What happened? 

 

The moment music became important to me was when I was very young and would listen to my parents play records on their amazing stereo system. Albums like “A Hard Days Night” and “Rumors” sounded so perfect and just seemed to mean something very important. The fact that my whole family was sitting on the floor just listening to this amazing music really left a mark on my life. I knew I wanted to do something involving that feeling. – Brian

 

Man, the moment music became important. I think it happened even before I had the brain capacity to recall it but, my two biggest memories are forcing my dad to teach me every single lyric to “Why do fools fall in love?” the Beach Boy version as he drove me to school. I was obsessed with the B section. The other big life-changing moment was when I wrote my first complete real song. I think I was 12? I had piddled around with writing but this moment was different. I wrote it and I liked it, plus other people liked it too. But more importantly, I loved how I felt when I was doing it. I’d never felt freer or more like myself in my life. So I just kept chasing that because, why wouldn’t you? – Katy

 

BUY

Bird Streets (Q&A)

John Brodeur worked with Jason Falkner and they created something special. Something special? It’s BEAUTIFUL!

At what point, during writing, rehearsing, recording, did you knew you were on to something special?

 

 

I knew Jason Falkner for a number of years before we finally got into the studio together. So when that finally happened, there was a very natural, easy flow to the creative process.

We made “Direction” that first day and both felt right away that it was really strong, and that we should do more. “Betting On The Sun” was another one that was written and recorded very quickly. By the end of the session, we were congratulating each other on how good it was.

On the last day of mixing, we invited 8 or 9 friends to come by the studio and listen back to the album, and each person named a different song as their favorite. That’s when I really knew we’d made something that has the potential to reach a lot of people.

 

Which is the song you wish you had written every time you hear it? And why?

 

 

This could easily be a Top 40 list. But, a few that jump to mind: Elliott Smith’s “Waltz #2 (XO),” because it just stopped me dead in my tracks the first time I heard it. I remember sitting in my car for about 5 minutes after the song finished so I could hear the DJ identify it. Elliott’s music deeply affected my creative path. It just seemed way too pretty to be on alternative radio in 1998–true songcraft was scarce on commercial stations–and it made me 1) immediately buy all of Elliott’s recordings, and 2) write at least a half-dozen songs in waltz time.

Another one is Gilbert O’Sullivan’s “Alone Again (Naturally).” It’s such a lively-sounding song, but it’s full of these little suspensions and neat twists in the progression, and it has a rather difficult and surprising melody. And the lyric is incredibly mournful. Apparently, it wasn’t autobiographical, and I can’t decide if it makes me appreciate it more or less. A 21-year-old kid fabricated that? Unreal.

 

 

 

If you could tour the world with 2 other bands, who would you ask to join?

 

Foo Fighters, because, I mean, who wouldn’t want to play with the Foo Fighters? And Neil Young, because he is my spirit animal and it would be a blast to watch him perform every night.

The meaning of ‘success’ has changed over the years. When will the new record be a success?

 

 

In many ways, at least from my perspective, it already is a success. Working with Jason was a career highlight, and Bird Streets is by far my best album–I mean, it’s not even close. Having the record out on Omnivore is a real badge of honor.

The reviews have been really generous, our single is picking up traction at radio, and people from all over the world that I’ve never met are e-mailing and posting on our page about how much they like the record!

Even if the momentum dies down in a few months, I can take pride in having made music that a lot of people enjoy.

 

If the budget was unlimited, how would you record the next record?

 

Underwater.