Tullycraft – The Railway Prince Hotel (Q&A)

 

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If you read the stories about ‘The Railway Prince Hotel’, it becomes clear quite quickly that reviewers find it difficult to interpret the music of Tullycraft.

When You Motor Away writes: ‘… His sweet spot is uptempo, melodic songs with large doses of wry humor delivered with punk energy.  His lyrics paint concise scenes that often prompt us to think “hey, I’ve been in that situation”, but we never tell the story as well as Sean.’.

Dagger Zine says: ‘The lyrics are clever, the melodies are sneaky and let’s be honest, the only band that sounds like Tullycraft is Tullycraft.’.

Here Comes The Flood tries: ‘Their 7th album The Railway Prince Hotel is filled with upbeat, rambling garage tunes that will get many a listener spin the wrong foot. Is there something wrong with the rhythm? Well, no actually, but it’s a kind of free-flowing music, jagged and lo-fi while they take the piss at pretty much anything. Think a mix of XTC, The Velvet Underground, Jonathan Richman, and the Decemberists.’.

Maybe it’s easier to describe what it certainly is not.

‘Tullycraft’ is most probably the answer to the question ‘which band produces music that does not sound like ‘Meatloaf’ at all?’

And somehow they have been able to incorporate a small piece of ‘Paradise by the Dashboard Light’ into ‘Goldie and the Gingerbreads’.

The Railway Prince Hotel is Tullycraft’s seventh album, their first since 2013’s Lost in Light Rotation. This new batch of songs sees Sean Tollefson and Jenny Mears continue to share most of the vocal duties, while longtime musical stalwarts Chris Munford and Corianton Hale create most of the music.

Buy here.

Sean Tollefson explains.

 

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For every song you record, how many end up in the bin? 

 

Most of the songs we record get used, but not all of them. On this most recent album, we recorded 16 songs and 12 of them appeared on the record. On the last album, we recorded 13 songs and 11 of them made the album. So there’s usually not many songs that end up “in the bin” so to speak. Even then, the songs that don’t make it on the album usually see the light of day at some point. Although, a few years ago we recorded an exclusive song for a network television show, and it was cut from the show before in aired. For legal reasons almost no one has heard that song, which is too bad cause I think it’s pretty good.

 

 

When was the last time you thought ‘I just wrote a hit!’?

 

Well, Tullycraft has never actually had “a hit” in the conventional sense. We have had a couple songs that a few people seemed to notice (i.e. “Pop Songs Your New Boyfriend’s Too Stupid To Know About” and “Twee”). The last time I was convinced I had written one of those songs was the day I wrote: “The Punks Are Writing Love Songs” (which appeared on the album Every Scene Needs a Center). I was sitting on the couch playing it on bass and I remember saying to my then girlfriend (now wife) Liz, “If Tullycraft every releases any sort of greatest hits record this song will most certainly be on there.” And that’s probably still true.

 

 

Which 5 records, that everybody forgot about, would define ‘our time’ on earth?

 

That’s a tough one, because ‘our time’ on earth (collectively) is probably best defined by the albums that we haven’t forgotten about (i.e. Purple Rain, London Calling, Power, Corruption & Lies…), but I can try and give you five ‘forgotten’ albums that best define my time on earth.

 

  1. New Bad Things – Freewheel! (1995)

 

  1. Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers – Rockin’ and Romance (1985)

 

  1. Beat Happening – Jamboree (1988)

 

  1. Billy Bragg – Talking with the Taxman About Poetry (1986)

 

  1. The Lucksmiths – A Good Kind of Nervous (1997)

 

 

Recording music. What’s all the fun about?

 

I love the recording process! It’s my favorite part of being in a band. Playing music in front of people is great too, but after a while, it all started to feel the same to me. Shows and cities began to blur together. The routine of it all became a little tiresome. This might be why Tullycraft hasn’t performed in public since 2009. I love recording because the process allows you to create something that literally didn’t exist before you started. Creating something out of nothing is amazing! I love trying different recording techniques and pushing ourselves outside of our comfort zone. We recorded the new album, The Railway Prince Hotel entirely different than we recorded past records. Much of it was improvised, which is something we hadn’t tried before. Sometimes the tracks we recorded were terrible, and we’d have to start over, while other times magic would occur, seemingly out of nowhere, and we’d track something great. It was an exciting experience in the studio for this album.

 

 

 

You can’t control the way people ‘hear’ your music. But if you could make them aware of certain aspects, you think, set your songs apart. What would they be?

 

Frequently reviewers refer to our music as cute or funny which I’ve never quite understood. If another band that wasn’t already pre-labeled as “twee” recorded our same songs, I’m certain their music wouldn’t be called cute. Lyrically, sometimes our songs are sort of bleak, but since I have a tendency to drop in obscure music or pop culture references they are often called funny. Personally, I would prefer being called clever over funny but I can’t control how people perceive us. As far as the “twee” label goes, I gave up rejecting it years ago. At some point, I said to the band “if people want to call us twee, that’s fine, we will be the Kings of Twee!” In fact, one might argue that Tullycraft has sort of redefined what it means to be a twee band. Much of our music certainly doesn’t have what is thought of as a “traditionally twee” sound. The best compliment I ever heard said about our band was “Tullycraft sounds like Tullycraft.” Does that set our songs apart? I don’t know, maybe? But probably not.

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The March Divide – Anticipation Pop (Q&A)

Baby Sue writes: ‘Yet another album from The March Divide featuring cool, smart, credible pop. Jared Putnam‘s the main man in this band, and he never lets his listeners down. This talented fellow’s music just keeps getting better. Anticipation Pops is one solid spin. The album features ten smart guitar-driven pop tracks with a heavy emphasis on vocal melodies and lyrics. Over time, most artists tend to begin overproducing their music which in many ways detracts from their original sound. Putnam avoids this trap, opting instead to present his songs using only the basics. The stripped down approach works when there’s substance present. And you’ll hear plenty of substance here. The chord progressions are interesting and unpredictable. The arrangements for each track are precise and exacting. And once again the vocals are just perfect. Pops is yet another exceedingly entertaining spin. Cool reflective cuts include “I Don’t Care,” “Spinning,” “The One On,” and “Lucky.” Top pick.’. 

 

 

 

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Sweet Sweet Music talked to Jared.

 

For every song you record, how many end up in the bin? 

 

I actually keep every song I record. The songs I don’t like, I typically give up on, long before I get to the recording phase. Recording is just too much work, to force a song you don’t like.

 

With every song you write, are you still learning to become an even better songwriter?

 

I really try to get better, with every song. I’m not sure how much better I’m getting, but I’m always trying new ideas & directions, to hopefully improve on where I am.

 

As an artist, you chose to show your emotions to the world. Is it always comfortable to do so?

 

It’s not at all comfortable, a lot of the time. But that being said, it’s usually very therapeutic, the more uncomfortable the topic.

 

 

What’s the gig you will always remember? And why?

 

Around twenty years ago, my band at the time opened for Modern English. It was the first really big show I had ever played. We were well rehearsed & did really well.  I’m never going to forget that feeling.

 

When was the last time you thought ‘I just wrote a hit!’?

 

While I have yet to write a huge hit, I usually get the feeling that I have, ever so often… Most recently, when I wrote “I Don’t Care” for the new album ‘Anticipation Pops.’ I’m still very proud of that song, more than anything because I feel like it fits the mold of a perfect pop song. Short, sweet, & to the point. I have songs that I’ve written that I like more than that one, but for whatever reason, that song makes me feel very accomplished. I’m still chasing that big hit, though.

 

 

Crocodiles – Love Is Here (Q&A)

‘Wait Until Tomorrow’ is one of the big songs of the year so far. Post Punkers, Garage Rockers, and Power Pop lovers, Crocodiles just released ‘Love Is Here’.

… And this one has a particularly nice blend of sweet and noisy.

 

 

 

Brandon Welchez & Charles Rowell talk.

 

 

 

 

Brandon

 

For every song you record, how many end up in the bin? 

 

I don’t usually finish a song if it’s not sounding like it’s going to be a good one. I guess for every idea that ends up becoming a good song I probably abandon five ideas.

 

With every song you write, are you still learning to become an even better songwriter?

 

Yes, definitely. I think it’s important to never think you’ve “figured it out” or else you won’t continue to grow. I think it’s good to collaborate with other writers as well because everyone has a different perspective and process and it also helps you grow to see you this.

 

Any ideas about how to turn this one into a million seller?

 

If I had any ideas about that I wouldn’t be so fucking poor haha! Really I think it’s just luck and being part of the zeitgeist. It doesn’t do an artist any favors to worry about becoming rich or famous; just do your best work and be true to yourself because there is really no control over what happens.

 

 

Is recording a record easier than getting it heard nowadays?

 

Definitely. This new album took us a year to get out. We could probably do two albums a year if we had the financial backing to make it happen.

 

 

Which 5 records, that everybody forgot about, would define ‘our time’ on earth?

 

I don’t know if you mean our time like 2019 or like the past one hundred years so I’ll just answer by telling you five power pop records I love since this is a power pop blog:

 

Howard Werth – Obsolete

NRBQ – Want You Bad

Incredible Kidda Band – You Belong To Me

Paul Collins Beat – Rock N Roll Girl

The Records – Starry Eyes

 

 

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Charlie

 

What’s the gig you will always remember? And why?

 

Hmmm. I would say that playing in Tangier Morocco was the most memorable. We had never set foot in Africa before let alone to perform. The crowd matched our enthusiasm, much to our surprise. They danced and even made a conga line. Some of them were wearing traditional head scarves also. It was a completely new and heartwarming experience.

 

When was the last time you thought ‘I just wrote a hit!’?

 

Haha! There isn’t much that passes through my head besides are the lyrics good and does it flow well. I doubt that even if we had a big label and millions of fans that we would think in terms of hits. As a songwriter you are constantly chasing something deep within you; to match or beat that old familiar feeling. Perhaps it was the feeling you got when you first heard Television or The Modern Lovers. After it’s all written and organized with Brandon I always forget how the damn song was written anyways. It’s a curse. I can recall the bad ideas but not how the good ones came to be.

 

Which 5 records, that everybody forgot about, would define ‘our time’ on earth?

 

These are some records that I feel are not celebrated as widely as they should be 🙂

 

  1. Grant Hart – You’re The Reflection of The Moon On The Water (single)
  2. Greg Sage – Sacrifice (for love) CD
  3. Angel City – Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again (single)
  4. White Sport – Learner Dancer (single)
  5. Lou Miami – Ghosts (single)

 

Recording music. What’s all the fun about?

 

Perhaps a psychologist would suggest that artists have a fear of death or of not being remembered and that’s why we create as we do. I do enjoy making albums because I know that they will last forever. They’re a window into the thoughts, ideas, and inspirations of a specific time; a specific artist(s). These eternal messages are passed along from person to person and quickly become apart of the listener’s memories too. It’s remarkable how much music plays an overlooked influence on our lives. For Brandon and I, we can look back at almost twenty years of musical collaboration through our albums. For us, it’s an ocean of memories.

 

Playing music in front of a crowd. What’s all the fun about?

 

I really enjoy your questions! Under the best conditions, you can share a very cool experience with the crowd. It’s different than making an album and sitting at home listening to your studio chops on the hifi. In concert, everyone contributes. It’s a chance to create an ambiance and inject a visceral element into your songs.

 

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The Ego Ritual (Q&A)

 

Enter The Ego Ritual and this 5-track eponymous EP. It has everything one might expect from psych-rock revivalist over the years. The songs here groove and rock out, with the appropriate riffs and sounds that approximate the psych-rock agenda but more importantly the songs are well-crafted in their own right and do not simply function as mere pastiches.” – Kevin Mathews/PowerOfPop.com 

“Opener ‘Chakra Maraka’, is a sonic joy ride.  The sitar-esque intro lures one in until the thundering guitars land a sucker punch… and off we go on a melodic, guitar fueled roller coaster, moving at a pace that demands you hold on for dear life.  ‘Serenade the Ley Line’ is straight up power pop through paisley glasses, bouncing along into a catchy chorus that’s easy to remember even after a single listen.  ‘Days of Set’ shares a commonality with both of the aforementioned tracks – a bit more conventional, it’s melodic and carries a similar punch.  Catchy melodies and terrific songwriting carry the day, born from a decidedly paisley perspective.  And, it’s a guitar enthusiast’s dream. They’re gorgeous throughout the entirety of the record. This EP is a great way to start off 2019.  You’ll want to start writing 1968 on all your checks…. except the one to Internal Revenue! Not a good idea.” – Rich Rossi/PowerPopNews.com  GREAT!!

 

Lots of praise! Let’s talk to James Styring and find out more!

 

 

 

 

 

 

With every song you write, are you still learning to become an even better songwriter?

 

Yes, you’re always learning, always striving for that one special song. You’ll never get there, of course, but it’s that drive that keeps you writing, keeps you pushing. I’m sure most songwriters will say their best work is yet to come.

 

As an artist, you chose to show your emotions to the world. Is it always comfortable to do so?

 

It’s not always comfortable, but I believe the song benefits if you do. You have to be honest. Even if the lyrics don’t make immediate sense, you can feel when the writer is writing from the heart. It’s quite often the only place a songwriter does show emotion and open up. There’s a kind of safety net in a song. If you feel it, the listener will feel it. It’s a shared experience. A connection.

 

 

When was the last time you thought ‘I just wrote a hit!’?

 

We don’t set out to write hits, as such. There is no blueprint, the songs just go where they need to. It’s up to the listener to decide if they enjoy and get something from them. We’re always grateful if they do, but it certainly isn’t the priority when William and myself sit down to write. And our songs can always be taken on different levels, the deeper you dig, the more you may find resonates with you. I guess our definition of a hit song would be very different from mainstream media and pop radio, though pop music and hit songs have a valid place in the scheme of things, they always have.

 

 

Recording music. What’s all the fun about?

 

Being creative. Your ideas finally coming to life. You work tirelessly on these things, you get to breathe life into them. It’s not always an easy journey, but you stick with it and see it through. You made something happen from nothing. Sonic magic.

 

You can’t control the way people ‘hear’ your music. But if you could make them aware of certain aspects, you think, set your songs apart. What would they be?

 

I’ve always said, it’s far more important what the listener thinks than what the writer had in mind. Our songs are open to interpretation on every level, make of them what you will. When I write the lyrics, I know exactly what I’m saying, but once the songs are ‘out there’ for people to hear, it’s up to the individual. No one’s right, no one’s wrong. We do our thing, firstly for ourselves, secondly, for anyone who wants to listen. Again, it’s totally out of our hands, once the song is released. If people find we have a unique sound, or whatever it may be, then great. We don’t set out to be anyone but ourselves.

 

Buy it at Kool Kat Musik

David Mead – Cobra Pumps (Q&A)

 

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Music City Mike writes: Not totally silent, David has released two records since then with Elle Macho, his rocking trio with Butterfly Boucher and Lindsay Jameison. This somewhat tongue-in-cheek,  leather-clad combo has also managed to play the occasional local gig which kept up our hopes of someday seeing another David Mead record.

The new one is entitled “Cobra Pumps.” This marks his seventh record since his solo debut in 1999 after serving time as a member of local pop band Joe Marcs Brother. 

 

Sweet Sweet Music talked to David about this new release.

 

 

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Always proud to answer ‘I am a musician’ to the question ‘what are you doing?’?

 

I am very proud to tell people that I am a musician. I think of it the way that some people think of a religion. It’s a world view, it’s a daily practice, it frames the way that I think of nearly everything. Most of my mentors are musicians. Music has been in my head for as long as I can remember. I can’t imagine functioning without it.

 

 

For every song you record, how many end up in the bin? 

 

Good question. I don’t know if anything ever completely goes unused- they usually find their place somewhere else in parts or entirety, sooner or later. For COBRA PUMPS I wrote and demoed 17 songs and put 10 on the album. That seems like a fairly consistent average.

 

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With every song you write, are you still learning to become an even better songwriter?

 

Absolutely. And occasionally I seem to get worse!

 

As an artist, you chose to show your emotions to the world. Is it always comfortable to do so?

 

It’s ok writing and recording because I am usually working in a small environment with people I trust. Once I begin playing the songs live it is less comfortable but that makes things more exciting as well.

 

Any ideas about how to turn this one into a million seller?

 

No. I think of myself as a boutique shop that serves a small and loyal clientele that demands a high quality product.

 

When was the last time you thought ‘I just wrote a hit!’?

 

2000.

 

You can’t control the way people ‘hear’ your music. But if you could make them aware of certain aspects, you think, set your songs apart. What would they be?

 

I like that question. The older I get, the less interested I am in trying to influence how people hear my music at all. I am trying to make music that invites people into it so they can have their own experience with it. Neil Young said something like “Writing a good song is like building a house- You build a good house, but you shouldn’t decorate it, shouldn’t furnish it- let people come into it and do that themselves.”

 

 

Cassettes – Wild Heart (Q&A)

From the inescapable riffs of “She Gets What She Wants” to the victory lap of “Huey Lewis and the Blues” the deceptively understated rhythm section and pristine mix by Vince Ratti (Brand New, The Wonder Years, The Menzingers) make every song shine as Cassettes turn the radio dial with each track. Their relentless hooks and youthful energy are backed by a live show to match and when they take a rare moment to breathe (“Love Songs On the Radio”, “Ruin Your Night”) Cassettes prove they do 11 as well as any other number on the amplifier.

Website: www.cassettesforever.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meet Matt DiStefano.

 

For every song, you record, how many end up in the bin?

 

We have a pretty solid track record with every song that has made it to the finish line and been recorded being released into the world. We are incredibly honest with each other during the writing process and are generally able to weed anything out that we all don’t believe in 110%. With our most recent album, we even re-worked a song from the ground up during the recording process because it was stylistically a little different from the rest.

 

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Any ideas about how to turn this one into a million seller?

 

Does Taylor Swift want to take us out on tour? Does Apple want to make a download of our new album required with any new iPhone purchase? We’re game!

 

 

What’s the gig you will always remember? And why?

 

We recently played a sold-out record release show for our new album, Wild Heart, that I don’t think any of us will ever forget. Being surrounded by our friends and family and playing the album front-to-back in our hometown was a great feeling. The energy of the crowd really made the songs come alive. We were fined $100 for using confetti cannons but it was well worth it.

 

 

Is recording a record easier than getting it heard nowadays?

 

With the advances in technology recording, an album in the modern day has become easier and easier. You can record and mix an album on your phone! Even with technology, songwriting is the lynchpin of making something that stands out. Recording a GREAT album is still a challenge and we are glad we made the decision to work with Ace Enders & Nik Bruzzese at The Lumberyard Recording for this album. Technology has really leveled the playing field across the board so getting heard is somehow both easier and harder than its ever been. Getting your music out to the world can be done with a couple of clicks but making it stand out from the rest is the true challenge. Taking a creative, unorthodox approach to how you share your music is the key to reaching new listeners.

 

Which 5 records, that everybody forgot about, would define ‘our time’ on earth?

 

I don’t think anyone will ever forget any of the following albums but I think they do a pretty good job of defining our band.

The Cars – Self Titled

Jimmy Eat World – Futures

Journey – Escape

Rick Springfield – Working Class Dog

Weezer – Weezer (The Blue Album)

 


 

Matt DiStefano: Vocals/Guitar
Jim Fox: Guitar
Chris Hill: Keys/Vocals
Joe Robinson: Bass
Sean Ward: Drums

Peter Holsapple – Game Day (Q&A)

‘“Game Day” is the epitome of a “solo” effort. Peter not only sings and plays “99 44/100%” of the notes on this record, eliciting help assistance from Susan Cowsill, Webb Holsapple on trombone and Jeremy Boomhower and trumpet and trombone, he also produced the record himself.,

                More than 45 years since he popped up on the musical landscape with Rittenhouse Square, Peter Holsapple’s music still manages to surprise, delight and resonate. He manages the neat trick of wrapping everyday concerns, joys and disappointments in gorgeous and indelible melodies.’ writes Coachella Valley Weekly.

 

Sweet Sweet Music talked to Peter about Game Day and about a whole lot more.

 

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Buy here

 

Is recording a record easier than getting it heard nowadays?

 

I think that it goes without saying digital recording has made making records far more accessible to people who would have, in prior generations, either had to pony up thousands of dollars to get into a pro recording studio, or who would have been priced out. My newest record Game Day was recorded at home by myself (literally) at no cost except for having purchased a ProTools subscription. The prior record which was a 45 cost a few thousand dollars for studio and mixing time and the presence of its producers. Now there’s definitely a sonic difference between these two sessions, and you can sense that when you play Game Day and get to the two single tracks at the end. Bad? Good? Hard to say.

It also is a fact that by no longer having to go through the old process of demo submission/A&R evaluation/getting signed/preproduction/recording with engineering staff/mixing/ mastering at a lab, it has allowed probably thousands more inspired amateurs to put out their own music on their own. Which means there are lots more people vying for ‘the brass ring’ on the carousel, and which also means that some of the elements that make a better sounding product are no longer in play. So you have more music available, but the question would be: is it all good music? Is there more sub-par stuff out there? Are people self-editing, or are they releasing whatever they damned well please? Would the music have been better served had the artist gone through the old process? Would it have even seen the light of day? And then also, does that even matter anymore? Do we mix for sub-fidelity mp3s played over computer speakers? Questions questions questions….

My record Game Day came out on a label (Omnivore Recordings) which meant that I didn’t have to pursue distribution and pressing and publicity on my own. Did it get heard? That’s really hard to say. It’s not like an Ariana Grande or Florida Georgia Line record that has umpteen gazillion dollars in promotion behind it. And the number of radio stations that would play it are few and far between. So, in the words of my friend Dave Catching from Eagles of Death Metal, “don’t think of it as failure, think of it as ‘limited success’” which has been my credo for decades now.

 

 

 

Playing music in front of a crowd. What’s all the fun about?

 

You caught me at a good moment, having had a fantastic show with the Peter Holsapple Combo in Wake Forest NC last night. It was a receptive, listening crowd first of all; in recent years, I’ve tried to focus on getting lyrics across, and that happened last night, despite any ‘rock volume’ we might have applied beneath it. The band was spot-on, and any mistakes any of us may have made were recovered from quickly and seamlessly. I sang in tune, always a deciding factor. And I played some of the best lead guitar I’ve ever tried. So there are so many factors, enjoyment on the part of the performer being among the top priorities. It also doesn’t hurt to have some old treasured friends come gush about the show after it’s finished!

 

Always proud to answer ‘I am a musician’ to the question ‘what are you doing?’?

Having had a several-year period when I left playing music full-time and worked at an administrative job at a Broadway theater, I feel fully proud to answer that these days, especially with my new-found energy and excitement about my record and new band. I remember when I started putting that as my job on my federal income tax forms and feeling like I was absolutely telling the truth.

 

With every song you write, are you still learning to become an even better songwriter?

 

I sure hope so. I’ve been writing songs in earnest since I was around 11, which is over fifty years ago. I’d like to believe that I have more songs in me. Every song is not going to be a great one, or, heaven help us, a ‘hit.’ But the muse hasn’t departed and I have new ideas every day. That aforementioned ProTools rig has been a godsend for taking an idea and fleshing it out. I just purchased a loop pedal (I’m so cutting edge…) and am trying to use that as a songwriting device, which has led to some very interesting new results. My son bought me Tunesmith by Jimmy Webb, and I plan to devour that soon and try to pick up some of his tips too. You’re really never too old to improve what you’re doing, and I have no plans to do anything but better myself and my craft in the time I have left on the planet.

As an artist, you chose to show your emotions to the world. Is it always comfortable to do so?

Well, I think, when you sign on for this career, it comes with the territory to expose your insides. But certainly, there have been plenty of times when I was physically ill or severely depressed and had to go onstage and make a go of it. So no, it’s not always comfortable, but on the other hand, I’m not sure rock and roll if done right is supposed to be comfortable for either the performer or the audience, you know? Dangerous, threatening, energetic, persuasive, aggravating, consoling… all of that you get from a Little Richard record or a Who record or Kris Kristofferson or pretty much anyone out there. I have found that getting out there and making records and playing in front of people is cathartic and can be a great spiritual assist to any flagging emotions on my part. So there’s that payoff, too.