Sandy McKnight explains how he and Fernando Perdomo made ‘San Fernando Blitz’, an EP with 6 wonderful new songs and the follow-up to ‘San Fernando Beat’.
What was the moment you knew you were on to something?
How did this record come together?
‘San Fernando Blitz‘ is the follow-up to Fernando Perdomo and my earlier EP ‘San Fernando Beat’. We met at a session in 2019 and decided to see what would happen if we put our heads together. It clicked right off, and during the pandemic we had fun recording long-distance, he in L.A., me in Massachusetts. I send him my song demos. He does the guitars, drums, and keys, and I add the bass and vocals and oversee the mixing and mastering. It works well!
When did you decide to start asking for opinions on the new songs?
I like to record first, ask questions later. It’s one of the perks of having been writing and recording for a long time. I hear the record in my head when I write the song. Of course, once the record is completed I care what people think, though I try not to take criticism too hard.
The meaning of success has changed over the years. What would success look like for the new record?
I make a few bucks from licensing songs to TV and films. Haven’t had a song in an advert yet…that’d be fun! Success at this point is just making recordings I can be proud of.
How great is the urge to stay creative? To keep writing songs and lyrics?
It’s actually gotten a bit annoying. I write songs involuntarily now. A song idea pops into my head and haunts me until I can get it on my phone’s voice app. ‘Living on the West Side’ was floating around in my head a few years before I could get around to recording it. Melodies follow me around. My brain is tired. Help.
As an artist, you chose to show your emotions to the world. Is it always comfortable to do so?
The world doesn’t care. When they listen, it becomes their emotions, not mine. My job is to tap into feelings and situations that are universal and find new ways to convey them.
You can pick 3 co-writers to write new songs with. Who? … and Why?
Easy. Paul McCartney, because of Paul. Pete Townshend, because he was an early inspiration and invented Power Pop. Third is hard…maybe Burt Bacharach, because I love his melodies.
What’s the gig you will always remember? And why?
I think it would be playing CBGBs in 1979. What amazing energy!
Lyrics are too often taken for granted. What is the line of text or are the lines of text that you hope listeners will remember? And why?
I love the wordplay aspect of lyric writing. Everyone has their own favorite lines, although sometimes I’m surprised at what people think is good. I don’t have too many ‘message’ songs. I just put it out there, take your pick.
When was the last time you thought ‘I just wrote a hit!’?
Almost every song, at first. No one knows for sure. And how does one define a hit at this point in the music world?
Is recording a record easier than getting it heard nowadays?
Always. I love writing and recording. I hate networking, schmoozing, promoting, and all that stuff. That’s my secret to remaining unknown!
Cassettes are back. Which 5 five songs would make your first mixtape?
Only 5? OK, how about ‘So Sad About Us’, ‘King Midas in Reverse’, ‘It’s Different for Girls’, Tim Moore’s ‘Second Avenue’, and ‘Let’s Pretend’. So many others, but those were the ones I thought of first.
Recording music. What’s all the fun about?
As I said earlier, I hear the record in my head when I write the song. Working with someone like Fernando is great because we’re on the same wavelength. The real fun is building the track and adding the little touches that make people want to hear it over and over again.
Playing music in front of a crowd. What’s all the fun about?
Not my fave thing, but it can be fun when you have a ‘listening’, appreciative audience.
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 try to keep the chord changes surprising and original, the melodies singable and clever, and the lyrics unlike any other songs. I hope people hear that stuff in my work.
They expect ‘the roaring 20s v2.0’. What kind of party are you looking for?
The 1920s and the 1960s have a lot in common. Stretching the limitations of society, creating new visions for the future, and of course, the abolition of fear, hunger, and war is my idea of a party.