HOT NUN – Born to Blaze (Q&A)

‘Every artist should make a loud, fast dumb rock record once in a while.’, says Jeff Shelton. His band Hot Nun just released Born to Blaze.

It might be ‘dumb’. It, for sure, is ‘loud’ and ‘fast’. Most of all, it’s GREAT!

 

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

 

Over the years, HOT NUN has been an outlet for me to explore the more aggressive side of power pop…to release the barriers, crank the distortion and cut loose. The most fun and liberating aspect of making music are not limiting yourself to any boundaries. Every artist should make a loud, fast dumb rock record once in a while.

 

 

 

 

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

 

Spring of 1982 when the local Top 40 station switched over to “new wave” and opened the door to a floodgate of modern rock artists I had never heard before…most of whom were making extraordinarily unique and ground-breaking music. Will there ever be another Wall of Voodoo or Oingo Boingo? I doubt it.

 

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

 

Just the other day I was listening to Kirsty MacColl’s original version of “They Don’t Know”. This one ranks right up there with God Only Knows…or the best of the Beatles. Not a note wasted or out of place. To this day it’s one of the most glorious pop songs ever written…and I lament the fact that she left us way too soon.

 

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

 

It probably wouldn’t be a HOT NUN record because I would go full on Sgt. Pepper and ask for every instrument under the sun …and hours upon hours of time in a huge warehouse studio to amuse me. Mellotrons, pianos, organs, walls of synthesizers….a string section at my beck and call and an interpreter to score melodies for them to play. I wouldn’t waste money on engineers or “producers” but on time and toys!

 

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?

 

For people who don’t know “power pop” or the nuances of indie & alternative music, I would describe my album as music you can hum along with and pump your fist to at the same time. If your mom likes it AND it also rocks, it might just be HOT NUN.


Hot Nun is Jeff Shelton (former Spinning Jennies/Well Wishers) and Braden McGraw (Disastroid/Headslide)


 

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P. Hux talks about This Is The One

‘Honey Sweet Baby’ has been haunting me for months now. The song has it all. Those lyrics, that melody. Beautiful!

P. Hux released This Is The One a couple of months ago and it is packed with great songs.

 

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

 

The title song for THIS IS THE ONE began as a throwaway track. It had energy, but it was just a rough idea. My drummer Ricky did his take in 15 minutes. The words weren’t finished. I actually asked Robin Zander to sing it because the original melody was too high for me, but that didn’t come to pass.

 

Still, I thought there was something there, so I re-wrote the melody and that did the trick. It began to sound really good. I kept making improvements, adding little bits here and there and the final product, including the Greek cicadas (!), kinda blew my mind. I was so pleased that we’d pulled the song out of the trash bin and turned it into something I was proud of. From that point on, I felt like the whole album had some magic to it.

 

 

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

 

Great question! “Success” is no longer defined by hard numbers like sales and chart position. My records all sell about the same amount and without a huge marketing budget, I don’t expect that to change.

 

So, I judge success by other criteria. First of all, is the record good? Did it turn out the way I wanted? With THIS IS THE ONE, I’d say absolutely yes. Success!

 

Did it receive radio play? THIS IS THE ONE is receiving radio play on some great stations. Again, with little to no marketing budget, that is a success, for sure.

 

Are my fans and critics excited? THIS IS THE ONE has received an over the top reaction from fans of my music. Many people are saying it’s my best ever or best since “Deluxe” etc. That’s a true gauge of listener interest.

 

I’m still making records, and maybe even making the best music of my life. That’s a huge success in my mind.

 

 

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

 

I’ve had many moments in front of a crowd that has felt magical. Two come immediately to mind. 1983, the Pier, Raleigh, North Carolina. My band Rick Rock had a hit with our single “Buddha, Buddha” b/w “Sputnik.” No one knew anything about us other than those two songs, but we’d secretly rehearsed for nine months. We had a full set of polished music and the crowd stuck with us for the entire show. We could do no wrong. They chanted the band’s name as a football crowd might, and we were brought back for encores…despite being the opening act on the bill.

 

A wonderful night. May 23, 2006, at Shepherds Bush Empire in London. I was on a UK tour with The Orchestra (ELO Former Members). London was our ninth show, so every note in the set was locked down tight. As a band, we couldn’t have sounded better. We opened with Evil Woman and when we got to the chorus the heaving crowd sang it louder than we did! They kind of blew us back a little bit, to our surprise and delight. From that point forward it was ON. The love between band and crowd couldn’t have been more intense. The whole night was spectacular, musically, emotionally, physically.

 

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

 

I would pick a sunny destination with a great studio. I’d send plane tickets to all my musical friends. I’ve played with so many great musicians over the years, it would be a dream come true to get them all together with nothing to do but hang out and make music.

 

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

 

I HAVE a song in a Disney movie. Nothing changed! The song is called “Wake Me Up (When The World’s Worth Waking Up For)” and it appeared in Disney’s “The Other Sister.” Yes, I’ve made a few hundred dollars, but other than that…no big deal. Now, if I were to write all the music for a remake of the Lion King, yeah, that would probably change things.

 

KEN SHARP talks about ‘Beauty in the Backseat’

‘There is always a thread of sadness and melancholy with much of the songs I write.’, says Ken Sharp.

His latest record ‘Beauty in the Backseat’ was released a couple of months ago.

Muen magazine raves: ‘…the “feel good” record of the upcoming fall season, Sharp’s latest beams golden rays of sunshine—casting Beatles-sized hooks, while brimming with Beach Boys inspired appeal.’.

Already nominated for two awards in LA Music Critics Awards for Best Album and Best Pop Artist.

 

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“24 Hours A Day,” that’s classic you, that’s classic Power Pop, isn’t it?

 

Yes, that song is total full on power pop with big capital letters! The song “24 Hours A Day” was inspired by a cool album that I love by The Partridge Family called “Sound Magazine.” There was a song on that album with the same title and I always loved that title. As a challenge, I tried to come up with my own song with that title.

 

I’m very happy with the song as it is pure power pop and goes over well when I played it live. But with my new album, “Beauty In The Backseat,” I have to stress that it’s not just a power pop album but covers a mcuh broader spectrum of music. It’s all over the map, you’ll find R&B/soul pop, baroque rock, ’70s glam and more.

 

 

 

 

You have your own style, by using a lot of different influences. Does that come naturally?

 

 

In terms of my influences coming out in my music, that is natural. I have diverse musical tastes and love everything from Elvis to the Beatles, Stevie Wonder to Hall and Oates, Small Faces to Todd Rundgren and all points in between. I think I’m now more comfortable being free to allow the variety of influences I have come out in my music instead of writing music that just fits the power pop mode.

 

 

You are “on the sad side of the note” most of the time?

 

 

Yes, that is very perceptive of you. There is always a thread of sadness and melancholy with much of the songs I write. My “New Mourning” album lays all the sadness and darkness in the grooves, lots of “blood on the tracks,” so to speak. During the writing and recording of that record, in particular, I was going through a very tough time and the deep blue melancholy is reflected in all the songs. But what I try to do so you don’t want to slit your wrists being totally bummed out is I often counteract the sadness in the lyrics with music that has an uplifting and upbeat melody.

 

My new album, “Beauty In The Backseat” is a much more upbeat album lyrically, although there are some songs on there that delve deep into melancholy like “No One Seems To Stay Together Anymore,” “Sinking” and “The Hardest Part.” Those are among my favorites on the album and are profoundly sad lyrically.

As my life has its share of dips and valleys I find the sadder songs reflect more of what I’m going through but try to counteract that with songs infused with a much more positive flavor and lyrical slant.

 

 

Nowadays recording a record seems easier then getting it heard. How do you manage?

 

 

Yes, I agree with that. There is a proliferation of people making and recording music and that makes it much more difficult to break through and reach an audience. How do you garner attention and an audience is a major challenge for lesser known artists like myself around the world.

 

 

Those last 2 album covers are beautiful. Looks like you found a theme?

Certainly, with those two albums, there is a visual correlation with the covers. My next album will have an album cover that is something different from that vibe. Glad you liked the two covers, I came up with the concepts and two very talented friends/ designers worked hard on those—hats off to John Sellards and Bernie Hogya.

 

 

Looking forward to 2019?

 

 

Yes, I’m very much looking forward to 2019. I hope to have another album out by the end of next year. I’m focused on working hard at my craft in an effort to keep getting better as an artist and songwriter and I want to push myself to get music out on a more regular basis. BIG kudos to my co-producer Fernando Perdomo for helping me realize my musical dreams.

 

Sweet Sweet Music – Best of 2018

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3 Best Records of 2018

 

  1. Bird Streets – Bird Streets
  2. Sloan – 12
  3. Rob Bonfiglio – Trouble Again

 

117 Best Songs of 2018

 

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  1. The Late Show – Sha La La (Wake Me When You’re Done)
  2. Sloan – Spin Our Wheels
  3. RVG – Vincent van Gogh
  4. Fireproof Sam and the Network Stars – Old Trope Academy
  5. Bird Streets – Direction
  6. Culture Abuse – Dozy
  7. Ruler – Petrified
  8. Gretchen’s Wheel – Plans
  9. Van Go – Miles Away
  10. Tony Clifton – Making Love
  11. Extra Arms – Why I Run
  12. Rob Bonfiglio – Passenger Seat
  13. Sunshine Boys – Tripping Through Time
  14. Ex Norwegian – Team No Sleep
  15. Car City – (Don’t) Give Up on Love
  16. Jeff Whalen – The Alien Lanes
  17. P. Hux – Honey Sweet Baby
  18. Ash – Confession in the Pool
  19. Albert Hammond Jr. – Far Away Truth
  20. Mozes and the Firstborn – Sad SuperMarket Song
  21. Sure Sure – Friends
  22. Autogramm – Jessica Don’t Like Rock ‘n’ Roll
  23. The Innocents – Teardrop Kiss
  24. The Grip Weeds – Casual Observer (To a Crime)
  25. Bent van Looy – Never Look Back
  26. Guided by Voices – Cohesive Scoops
  27. Bob Mould – Sunshine Rock
  28. Sweden – Back Again
  29. Last Great Dreamers – Primitive Man
  30. Nick Piunti – Temporary High
  31. Valley Lodge – Stand
  32. Hurry – Jamie
  33. Chris Church – Fall into Me
  34. Michael Slawter – Summer’s Kind
  35. Caddy – Contagious
  36. The Foreign Films – Shadow in The Light
  37. Rooftop Screamers – Talk About It
  38. Dave Paulson – Turning Around
  39. Hot Nun – Anyway
  40. Chris Richards and the Substractions – Call me Out
  41. Scott Gagner – Ghost of Me & You
  42. Paul Collins – Killer Inside
  43. The 1984 Draft – Wedding
  44. Dot Dash – Gray Blue Green
  45. The Chills – Complex
  46. Matthew Sweet – Out of My Misery
  47. The Bottle Kids – Her Heart Is Much Worse Than Her Bite
  48. The Stan Laurels – I Want To Believe
  49. The Gunboat Diplomats – If Summer Could Stay
  50. Anchor & Bear – Walking Around
  51. Jackie Daytona – California
  52. Bryan Estepa – No Ordinary
  53. Caper Clowns – Paper Trail
  54. Mooner – The Whole World Falls Down
  55. Smash Palace – It Happened To Me
  56. Michael Simmons – Rudderless Day
  57. Lane Steinberg & His Magical Pony – You’re Not Connected to the Internet
  58. The Davenports – Where Shall We Hang Elena?
  59. Lisa Mychols – One Revolution
  60. Greg Pope – Forget About You
  61. Three Hour Tour – Standing Still
  62. Dave Sheinin – Lies
  63. Tim Jackson – Better late Than Never
  64. Arthur Alexander – Psycho-Automatic
  65. Tom Curless – Always Bloom Forever
  66. The Glad Machine – Homecoming
  67. Phil Yates & The Affiliates – My Favorite Bag
  68. Andy Reed & Jason Reed – The Welcoming Song
  69. Super 8 – Turn Around Or
  70. Stoner Control – Gimme Some Space
  71. The Good Sax – She Knows
  72. Gentle Hen – She’s Got it Bad
  73. Young Scum – Wasting Time
  74. Kai Danzberg & Lisa Mychols – Let Me Know
  75. The Maureens – 4AM
  76. The Yearlings – Evelene (You’ve Go to Know It)
  77. The Beths – Future me Hates me
  78. The Genuine Fakes – Issues
  79. The Thin Cherries – I Don’t Know You All
  80. The Rallies – All of Us
  81. Mike Pace and the Child Actors – Escape The Noise
  82. The Great Affairs – Trippin’ over Me
  83. The Pretty Flowers – Cream of Canvas
  84. Pale Blue Dot – I know
  85. Claw Boys Claw – Suck Up The Mountain
  86. The Interrupters – She’s Kerosene
  87. Jeremy & The Harlequins – Remember This
  88. Elliot Schneider – I Second That Amendment Blues
  89. Mylittlebrother – Love song for an Island
  90. Bad Moves – Cool Generator
  91. The Hunna – NY to LA
  92. Billy & Dolly – Archies
  93. The Connection – Checking
  94. Simon Love – God Bless The Dick Who Let you Go
  95. In Deed – Don’t Need, Don’t Care
  96. Deniz Tek – Eddie Would Go
  97. Three Hour Tour – You Never Know
  98. The Cherry Bluestorms – She Said She Said
  99. Everet Almond – Keep Quite Now
  100. Streetcar Conductors – Pushover
  101. The Cherry Drops – One More Try
  102. The Newds – Freebasing Your Love
  103. Addison Love – Anything’s Right
  104. Andrew McMahon In The Wilderness – Paper Rain
  105. Thrift Store Halo – Concrete Sky
  106. Even – Pretender
  107. Aaron Lee Tasjan – The Truth Is So Hard to Believe
  108. Luv Dot Gov – What’s Going On
  109. The Gold Needles – My Summer’s Angel
  110. The Persian Leaps – Time Slips
  111. Mike Viola – King Kong Hand
  112. Danny Wilkerson – You Still Owe Me a Kiss
  113. David Myhr – Lucky Day
  114. Smokescreens – Waiting For Summer
  115. The Longshot – Love is for Losers
  116. Paul McCartney – Who Cares
  117. Bill Lloyd – Satellite

Listen to most of these songs and other Power Pop ‘Young Timers’ on Spotify.

 

 

 

 

IN DEED – EVEREST (Q&A)

‘But, apart from the so-called classic power pop, In Deed, also,  is  influenced a lot by the British 90s indie/Manchester scene, and personally, when it comes to songwriting, I would say UK 1964-66.’, says Richard Öhrn.

In Deed’s newest release ‘Everest’ just received a five start review in Shindig Magazine, for very good reasons. Check it out!

 

 

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

Around 15 years had passed since we last released an album (2001), so when we started working on putting together ”Everest”, we were aware lots of things had changed and we made an attempt in trying to work a bit differently. At that early stage, it was mainly me and Marcus who worked on the recording and mix, and with the ambition to be able to work separately, we planned to set up a process where we could send files to each other back and forth…a new thing to us but the way it works these days. Anyway, the most fun thing about this was that we just couldn’t do it…Marcus even bought a little midi keyboard but he couldn’t figure it out properly so we ended up meeting Thursday afternoons in the small studio I have at my house, working on the songs the way we used to do 15 years earlier, and having lots of laughs and a few beers. Every time, Marcus brought that little midi in a plastic bag, it was ambitious but we just laughed about it, it was never used…

 

 

 

 

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

I think…the moment when we listened through our unreleased rough recordings for the first time in a long while –we truly felt that all of these songs are really good and that whatever time had passed didn’t make them out of date. That made us decide we should go for a sort of digital release of the songs, but as soon as we started working on the music seriously, we changed plans and it turned out as a vinyl album, and then came rehearsals and live gigs…now we’re back on track as a full working band again, which is just great.

 

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

Yes! We were not aware of this until perhaps a couple of months after ”Everest” had been released…but the more our music was spread, the more we learned that there is such a community. There seem to be some key figures, that we’ve had the luck and pleasure to come across, such as David Bash, head of the IPO Festivals…just to mention one. Of course, a community like this wouldn’t have been accessible 15-20 years ago, pre-Facebook days…but we feel we are genuinely in there, having followed and been inspired by bands like The Posies and Teenage Fanclub since the 90s. But, apart from the so-called classic power pop, In Deed also is a lot influenced by the British 90s indie –the Manchester scene, and personally, when it comes to songwriting, I would say UK 1964-66.

 

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

Yes. Small pieces of magic always happen when you’re on stage. Last Saturday, we played on a location we’ve never been before, a bit off, almost country-side, small town area. There was not a huge crowd, but the ones who were there just danced and sang along with our songs, it was beautiful and magical, a great evening in a small place.

 

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

I guess we would get a lot of new fans though perhaps not the ones we thought we would…I also think our publisher would love us even more. And when on tour, the whole band could afford to stay in nice hotels. It sure would be cool for us to attend the premiere of the film, whatever crap movie it would be.

 

 

TIM JACKSON – Better Late Than Never (Q&A)

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‘I don’t really care how but I want it to be heard!’, says Tim Jackson. ‘Better Late Than Never’ is his first solo release.

A release Dopecausewesaid writes about as : ‘Absorbing his record collection of great singer-songwriters of the past 40+ years, you’ll hear shades of Paul Simon, Ben Folds, Tom Petty and yes, even Elton John in the title track’s piano break which could be the cheeky half-cousin of Crocodile Rock. The album is a musically intricate, sometimes sad but ultimately an uplifting story of fulfilling your dreams after being derailed by everyday life.‘.

 

Now go ahead and listen!

 

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

 

I was lucky enough to be able to record the record with some great musicians I have known for many years including Jon Green (producer/guitarist for James Bay, Linkin Park etc), Iain Hornal (Multi-instrumentalist for ELO) and Tom Meadows (Drummer for Kylie etc).

 

When we were playing the songs live in the studio it felt amazing as we were able to bring them to life together. The guys understood instinctively how to interpret my thoughts musically and the feeling of being totally in sync with one-another is one that anyone who has been lucky enough to play in a good band will be familiar with.

 

 

 

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

 

The record is already a success in the sense that when you listen to it back now, I feel it accurately represents my musicianship, feelings and it achieves what it set out to. I am proud of the songs and, for the first time in my life, I have been able to distill my ‘essence’ onto the record and listening to it tells you far more about me than I ever could be talking to you.

 

In terms of ‘commercial’ success, it won’t be a success in my eyes until everyone who I want to hear it is aware of it. They don’t have to like it but there is a demographic of music lovers who appreciate the craft of alternative singer-songwriting who I want to know about it. That can be from radio airplay, featuring in prominent steaming music playlists or having my song featured in a film or TV show – I don’t really care how but I want it to be heard!

 

 

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

 

There are many great songs that have the ability to seamlessly push artistic boundaries while being concise and catchy and that’s what really attracts me. For the past couple of years, I’ve been slightly obsessed with ‘Still Crazy After All These Years’ by Paul Simon, so much so that the sound of it is clearly referenced on my own track ‘Calm Down’. It is both harmonically and melodically complex and ambitious but, at the same time, really memorable. The lyrics are simultaneously conversational, droll and emotional and it clocks in at almost exactly 3 minutes. It is a work of art.

 

Other songs that achieve this in my mind include ‘What A Fool Believes’ by Doobie Brothers and ‘Sir Duke’ by Stevie Wonder which has one of the most outrageous chord changes in its chorus in musical history!

 

 

 

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

 

Haha – that’s a very dangerous question! Pop music history is littered with the corpses of bands and artists who were given too much time and money by their record labels to make their next album after having success on a limited time and budget. The best art always comes from limitations, whether that’s the Beatles creating magic with only 4-track recording, Bon Iver making an entire album with just and guitar in a log cabin or Bruce Springsteen making Nebraska with a home tape recorder.

 

That said, there are always exceptions to the rule and Wildflowers by Tom Petty was recorded over a couple of years and is one of the most immediate and tight records you could ever wish to hear. So, to answer your question, if I had an unlimited budget, firstly I would use it to spend time away from the distractions of everyday life and give myself the time to write 10 really good songs that stood on their own.

 

Then, I would get the best band together that I could – that would still be the same guys I have worked with for years as we have a shared intuition that you cannot buy. Then we would just spend weeks working on the songs and playing them before even thinking of recording them until they were as good as we could get them.

 

Finally, we would find a great studio with a great recording engineer and record them live as a band in a matter of a few days to capture the energy.

 

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

 

I would probably ask Billy Joel and Ben Folds Five. Three piano-playing singer-songwriters from three different eras the ’70s, ’90s and now all sharing a common instrument. I think it could be a great tour, the jazzy craft of classic period Billy Joel, the nerdy aggression of Ben Folds and the weary dad-rock of me. We could come together at the end in a triangle-shape of three huge grand pianos and play New York State Of Mind, Underground, and Better Late Than Never – well if you don’t ask, you don’t get!

 

 

The Thin Cherries on Moose Island

‘(…) we stumbled on a few synthesizer sounds that we would employ as countermelodies to jangly guitar & bass driven songs that otherwise sounded like nice nods to the Smiths or other influential bands.’, says Steven Delisi.

The Thin Cherries just released their second record “The Thin Cherries on Moose Island”.

And this is their story so far.

 

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I think you’ve alluded to what’s traditionally considered “success” …. recognition, financial gain of some sort, etc., as having evolved to something that fits more realistically into the current world we live in where there’s a sort of “democracy” now to producing & sharing music.  Everything happens so much faster these days and then it’s on to the next thing, but in the end, you have to write good songs and express something meaningful to people. Of course, we all want success, but it’s already been wonderful to have made two albums together and play shows, etc.

We tend to be realistic I guess, but we also have fun with the ‘fantasy’ too … which is funny sometimes, as most of us are over 45 yrs old … but not too sour yet 😊

I feel our new album is a success as far as artistic development as well. Our band started out as a project for two songwriters, Mark & I, wanting to collaborate with the help of a friend who plays many instruments …. & had access to a rehearsal space with limited recording gear. That’s Darren Shepherd, our lead guitarist who we brought demos to & eventually we recorded bass, guitars, & drums to start the record. Our goal was to “put out a record” and just see what happens. Personally, I worked all week & couldn’t wait for our Saturday afternoons to get back to “my real work” … what I love so much and want to do more full-time.

During these initial meetings at the “Cali Space” … a rehearsal space building in Logan Square neighborhood of Chicago, the drummer from Darren’s other projects happened to stop by & he liked songs we were working on & offered to play on “Oven Mitt” … the one song from our first album that has a non 4/4 time signature. Gabe Palomo turned out to be this amazing drummer who really understands the recording process & kept showing up to help us complete the remaining songs.

The four of us really formed a bond in the “studio” and became good friends. This was all during 2016. A bit later, Gabe’s wife Birdie joined us on Keyboards … completing the ‘sound’ we created for that first record … which has all the dominant synth parts that make the dream pop aspect of The Thin Cherries.

Initially, when Mark & I started to meet at his apartment studio to share song ideas and create demos; we stumbled on a few synthesizer sounds that we would employ as countermelodies to jangly guitar & bass driven songs that otherwise sounded like nice nods to the Smiths or other influential bands.

We realized how much we loved electronic keyboard sounds like with New Order, or old Gary Numan records … but we discovered an interesting hybrid of those with the traditional clean, twangy guitars. This felt like the perfect approach for our songs which were already very good to begin with.

At the end of 2017, we started to really develop as a band that could play out and play most of what we created in the studio LOL … it’s taking all this time to really discover how we play together.

Our goal became to make a really good album that has all of us participating in the songwriting process, more than the first album.   (new album, Oct 26th, 2018)  (The Thin Cherries on Moose Island)

 

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So, our rehearsals became more focused on issues like, how are we going to shape this or that song. Birdie would show up with these amazing keyboard melodies to complete songs that Mark & I had made demos for … but we left room for other instruments, etc.  And, Darren continued to do the same with guitar parts that both texture and lead voices … he really amazes me how versatile he is as a player.  And, we finally started to work on some of Darren’s songs which we ended up with “Steadfast Arranger“  on the new album, departure of sorts that’s more personal & emotional ….which is really beautiful!

And it was important for us to get our drummer Gabe more involved creatively, as he is a producer of dance and techno music.  Our current single “I Don’t Know You All”,  is the result a “drunk’en”  idea Mark came up with after rehearsal … late at night, in which Gabe quickly “threw down” beats and they went from that point shaping a dance track. The rest of us added instruments later & we sort of fulfilled our desire for a more organic approach to producing music, that starts from a melody idea & not some one’s already written song.  We wanna do more of this in the future.

Last year we asked our friend Mike Hagler to co-produce us at the studio, Kingsize.  He had done the mastering on our debut album and was familiar with what we like to do… and like the new song ideas, we had, etc.  Mike is a great engineer who really understands how to work with a group of musicians …where sometimes, there’s just too much expected or going on, and he quickly brings the group back to what’s needed for a good recording.  So, we came to him with some rehearsed songs and some ideas in draft form to work from.

(Our friend is engineer Mike Hagler … Mark & I have known for over 25 yrs. I had worked with him in the mid to late1990s when he recorded my first band, Phenomenal Cat.  And more recently, he has worked with The Luck of Eden Hall, which is Mark’s other band that’s been putting out records and touring since the late 1980’s. )   (Kingsize Soundlabs in Chicago, owner/engineer Mike Hagler)

During this past year while recording our album, “The Thin Cherries on Moose Island”, we solidified quite a bit as a band.

Figuring out how to play together was difficult at times. But the studio experience made it very rewarding.  Along the way, our friend Sophie Senard helped us with backing vocals on songs like “Moose Island” & I Don’t Know You All”.  Her amazing voice & ideas really made these songs & several others, more interesting. Then she contributed accordion on “Soviet” which added a super cool element to the scene that is this song.  So, now she is our newest member 😊

Going forward… finishing out this year, we are just trying to get our album in the hands of people who will play it on the radio and share on social media, etc.  Our goals for 2019, are to possibly find a label that will partner with us in printing and distributing our album as a CD release.  Then, of course, we need to stay focused on writing and recording at least an EP.  Part of this effort for new material will be to expand on the full band collaborative process that we only started recently.

The biggest fun I had … & I think we all feel this way, was going to Mike’s studio …. Kingsize, and recording the basic tracks for the first time.  It was amazing to get acclimated to the studio,  that is basically an old factory space with a loft where the mixing room is.  It’s tracking area is a huge space that felt almost too big to properly react to each others playing,  and for me, it became very uncertain when having to play under headphones since I’m not used to this method when playing & recording altogether.

 

studio

 

 

But then after a few takes, we went up to the loft to hear the tracks, and it was like,  “Oh my god, the sounds are so big!”  & the tones so rich and beautiful. We could then choose the best takes for these first songs … each sounded so promising!  So, we knew right away that we had the basis of a really special album. This was exciting and it propelled us along each time we worked at Kingsize.

I definitely feel part of a local music community in Chicago that stems from playing what’s more or less, accessible pop/rock music.  There are a lot of bands & venues here. So, it’s been pretty easy to make friends with other bands and connect with people who go out to shows frequently. In fact, we’ve become close friends with the folks who produce The Power Pop Shoppe radio show at WNUR here in Chicago.  They have had us on their show several times to play live, and we’ve participated in showcase gigs that they organize at different local venues.  Even though we are not a power pop band, they have been kind enough to include us in their wonderful programs.  In fact, we played a few Tommy Keene songs for a tribute show this year to honor his music. This was organized very well with several power pop bands involved. I had fun learning his songs and understanding better how influential he has been to pop/rock music over the years. There’s a power pop component to what we’re doing too … songs like “I and Julia” and “Dorian Gray” from our first album come to mind.  And, “Novato” on our current album.  So, we kind of fit in 😊

 


 

Chicago’s The Thin Cherries is the newest musical project founded by scene vets Steven Delisi and Mark Lofgren.

Delisi is a musician and songwriter with a background in theater and film production. His former band, Phenomenal Cat, blended his pop/punk sensibilities with experimental music and the Russian folk influences of his band mates. 

Songwriter/musician Lofgren is one of the founders of psychedelic pop/rock mainstays The Luck of Eden Hall, who have toured Europe and released music on a variety of independent labels, including Headspin Records and Fruits de Mer Records. In 2014 he released his solo debut, The Past Perfect.

In 2015, Delisi approached Lofgren, who shares his love for bands like Blur, the Replacements and the Smiths, to collaborate on a recorded project that emphasizes good songwriting

In the spring of 2016, The Thin Cherries emerged with the addition of multi-instrumentalist Darren Shepherd(Belmondos) and drummer Gabriel Palomo(The Streets on Fire). Later, they welcomed the addition of Birdie Soti on Keyboards & synths.

Collaboration at their California Station studio in Logan Square led to the initial recordings for The Thin Cherries’ debut album, that was released in spring of 2017. 

Currently, The Thin Cherries just released their 2nd album “The Thin Cherries on Moose Island”, at Kingsize Sound Labs, with engineer & producer Mike Hagler. 

DOING THE HURKY-JERK

‘Success will be achieved when we play a show on an actual beach, and the people are losing their shit, doing the hurky-jerk  (…) .’, says The Silo of Autogramm.

 

autogramm_byRyanWalterWagner01b

 

‘What R U Waiting 4?’ is their new release and there is, at least, one instant Power Pop classic on it.

 

 

 

 

Autogramm is Jiffy Marx, CC Voltage and The Silo.

 

The original idea that guitarist Jiffy Marx and bassist C.C.Voltage had for this project was more about starting a band that would tour to sunny destinations than starting a new wave band, but it was their mutual admiration for punk and power pop that brought the two together. Along with drummer The Silo, the three had been connected through the Vancouver music scene, sharing stages, friends and even band members in seminal bands like Jerk With a Bomb, The Spitfires, Blood Meridian, Lightning Dust, Hard Drugs, Black Halos, Black Rice and Black Mountain.

 

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

 

Jiffy Marx: we would definitely have to ask Seattle’s Bread & Butter, who we did our first tour with and we are heading down to play with again as I type this! They are the sweetest dudes and the perfect vacation soundtrack! We just did 3 shows with our friends Comet Control from Toronto, also super sweet dudes. We also have some upcoming shows with Needles//Pins from Vancouver and Maniac of Los Angeles, also both totally sweet.. what can I say, that’s a tough one!

 

The Silo: Maybe Streetheart is still together?

 

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

 

Cc Voltage: Yes! My cousin Bart told me that this band called Van Halen was going to be on the radio at noon playing a song called “Runnin’ with the Devil”. I was only 5 years old and both excited and terrified as we headed home to listen to CFOX radio in Vancouver. It was the coolest thing I’d ever heard.

 

My parents had only played ABBA and The Village People for me up until then. It was the moment I got into music and it was a few more years until punk was introduced to me.

 

 

 

 

 

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?

 

The Silo:

Credit in the Straight World by Young Marble Giants

This is the Day by The The

Happy House by Siouxie and the Banshees

Two Step by Low

Plateau by Meat Puppets

 

(Pretty weird mixtape but I would require anyone I was dating to be down with such diverse shit!)

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

 

 

Jiffy Marx: It would have to be near a beach and a skate park and it would have to have a pool. Maybe in Puerto Escondido (Oaxaca Mexico) since that’s where we were when I asked The Silo to join the band. But in that case, it would have to have air conditioning as well because it’s hella hot there.

 

The Silo: Is that Compass Point place in the Bahamas still open??

 

 

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

 

 

The Silo: Success will be achieved when we play a show on an actual beach, and the people are losing their shit, doing the hurky-jerk and running man in the water. Even the goths will get in the water. Also probably one of us should jump a shark on a surfboard at some point during the melee. Then when people refer to Autogramm “jumping the shark”, they’ll just be talking about how rad that party was.

 

LOVE AT FIRST RIFF

BB

 

‘When this group got together it FELT good. It was the universe saying “Make a band called Bread & Butter. Do you have something better to do? You don’t. I’m the Universe and I know these things.” It was love at first riff.’, says drummer Mason Lowe.

Bread & Butter self titled release is not brand new but it is one of those records I still play, A LOT!

 

This is a power pop group that doesn’t skimp on the pop or the power. Each song is carefully arranged, but still sounds like it’s in danger of flying out of control. Like a good party!

 

 

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

First practice, first five minutes. We had all known each other and been pals for years. We’d even played together in different combinations – but not this exact formulation. When this group got together it FELT good. It was the universe saying “Make a band called Bread & Butter. Do you have something better to do? You don’t. I’m the Universe and I know these things.” It was love at first riff.

We wrote the songs for the first album in a summer. We’d all contribute parts, we’d pass around a notepad to write lyrics. It was the most idyllic musical situation I’d ever been in. I loved Ryan’s fun guitar sound and Lars’ nasty leads. Shane is the most purely talented musician I know – he’s such a good rock singer it’s annoying. I honestly think it’s easy for him. He’s a turd.

When we’d be working on a new song, I’d wake up in the middle of the night with like the riff from “Desperation” ringing in my head. That still happens when we’re writing. It’s not good for your sleep, but that’s the price you pay for this musical obsession!

 

 

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

We try to walk the line between being uncompromising and accessible. I think we’d love for thousands of people to hear our tunes and be like, “Yep, this is my Saturday night soundtrack! Can’t wait for their next arena show.”

But it’s hard to break through these days. Our style of music is kinda niche. We take success one listener at a time. If a friend who has SUPERB taste says, “Hey, your record spends a lot of time on my turntable,” then I’m gonna be happy for the rest of the week. Truly.

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

Dwight Twilley Band – Looking for the Magic

This song is so simple and effective. We’re all looking for a little magic, right? We know it’s out there. We’ve felt it before. But damn if it isn’t hard to pin down. This song sounds like the search for that magic. It’s unsettled and unresolved. It’s got a witchy, desperate vibe but it’s still a cool little groover with a chorus you can sing along to.

 

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

There is a great tradition in Seattle of recording really transcendent, beautiful music in gross, moldy basements. I’d love to take that to the extreme. Get in the van, get a mobile recording rig and go record a batch of songs in a cold cabin in the darkest, dankest, moldiest part of Washington State – like Hoquiam, Queets, Humptulips. We’d really challenge ourselves to lay down that good fun vibe despite the darkness. I think we’d frickin’ nail it, too.

That wouldn’t be super expensive so I guess we should have a gold toilet installed to eat up some of that budget.

 

What’s up for the rest of the year?*

We are most of the way through recording our second album and we’ll probably be done in the next couple of months. It’s a weirder album than the last one, probably due to the shitty politics that have taken over in the US. We’re not a political band, but we’re human and we react to our environment.

(Here’s a taste of the trip we’re on: here). In November, we’re gonna play a bunch of shows around Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia with our friends in Autogramm and wrap it up with a big New Year’s Eve party at the Sunset Tavern in Seattle. Tickets are still available! (here)

SIMON LOVE – Sincerely, S. Love x (Q&A)

‘Imagine hearing something like “Motherfuckers” or “I Fucking Love You” in “Toy Story 4”?’, says Simon Love.

But who knows?! As far as I am concerned, these songs are ‘only a couple of steps away’ from a Randy Newman composition (or a Van Dyke Parks production).

A couple of odd steps though. What a walk this could be!

 

simon love

 

“Sincerely, S. Love x” (the kiss is meant to be pronounced) is Simon’s sophomore solo album and it features at least ten hits. Proper pop hits, with ELO harmonies, Spectoresque production, strings and trumpets, the whole shebang. All recorded over the last two years in London, England. Big city pop!

 

And read John Borack’s review for Goldmine here.

 

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

 

Apart from one awful day in a very expensive recording studio everything else was a dream. It’s the first record since the last Loves LP where it’s been (mostly) recorded as a “band” record with people playing live and contributing ideas and things in the studio. One big thrill was hearing A Little Orchestra adding their bits to the songs after the backing was done. Violins and things always make my nasty little numbers sound very sweet.

 

 

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

 

I’ve never felt a part of a community within music. From when I was living in Cardiff and playing with The Loves to now in London. It’s not like I’m doing that much different from other bands but I’m not allowed in their gangs. Maybe I’m a really awful person? Or I smell bad? Or I’m just not very good?

 

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

“Strawberry Fields Forever” by the Beatles. Every time I hear it I’m instantly transported back to being a 7-year-old watching the single spinning around on my new record player and being terrified by the sounds coming out of the speakers. Then, just as it fades out it comes back sounding weirder! It still blows my mind.

 

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

I’d really love to go away for a week (or two) somewhere in the middle of nowhere and record the whole thing in one go. I’ve never done that and I think it’d make for a different sounding record. With an unlimited budget, I’d go to La Frette near Paris or Chateau d’Herouville where Elton John recorded “Honky Chateau”. Or Abbey Road of course.

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

 

Imagine hearing something like “Motherfuckers” or “I Fucking Love You” in “Toy Story 4”? Har! I could do with the money from something like that so if you know anyone at Pixar please put them in touch.