Paul Melançon – The Get Gos Action Hour!

Paul Melançon is releasing a new album on April 10, a strange little monster dealing with Saturday-morning cartoons and clinical depression.

Musictap writes: Marking the release of his first full-length listed as Paul Melançon since the early 2000’s, The Get-Gos Action Hour! Is a slippery creature. Its exterior promises a sweet confection, wrapped in graphics reminiscent of late ‘60s Hanna-Barbera cartoon shows, the ones where everyone was a detective AND a pop star too. The wording on the package promises a concept “power-popera!,” and when taken at surface level, I suppose one can infer that. But Melançon has never really been surface-level.

 

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A power-popera — a lot of people will think ‘why didn’t I come up with that’?

 

When I thought of it, I thought someone HAS to have already used this name. But through some kind of trans temporal wormhole, I’ve learned that that person was me all along.

 

 

 

What was the moment you knew you were on to something?

 

It took a long time. I wrote the little theme song that starts the new record way back in 2002, just as a sort of inside joke. I had a song on my first record called “1985 by the Get Gos” and in my head, I’d made up an entire backstory for this fictional band, without any real idea what to do with it. The idea to flesh it out for this record didn’t really dawn on me until 2017 or so, when somehow I made the connection that I could use it to transparently tell my own story about my struggle with severe depression.

 

 

 

How did this record come together?

 

Very slowly. [laughs] I tried to cobble it together by recording drums at Lee Flier’s Radio Flier Studios, and then let the rest of the band record their parts at home, and then I recorded vocals with Rob Gal, who has produced all of my records so far. It was intended as a way to try and make the whole process a bit more affordable, but in the end, it became a bit of a mess and took a lot longer. I probably won’t try it again. But I owe a lot to Lee, Rob, and the band for their supreme efforts at making it all work.

 

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

 

No, but I’ve been dealing with depression for almost two decades now, and it affects pretty much every part of my life. Over time, I’ve grown to feel that, if I’m not open about it, my behavior can sometimes seem pretty odd. More to the point, it’s such a mis-understood illness that it feels important to be open and honest about it. And turning it into music or art is how I interact with the world, for good or ill.

 

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?

 

Some of my favorite songs really only revealed themselves after multiple listens. If I have an overarching style, it’s that I try to write like that. I like to hide things below the surface of the songs, in the hopes that anyone who gives the music a little time can have that moment where the song suddenly opens up and the whole nature of it changes. I hope I reward repeated listens.

 

Vinyl is back, Spotify is ruling, tickets for concerts are becoming more and more expensive, everybody can record songs, social media is the marketing tool, Coldplay stops touring … how will the music industry look like in 5 years?

 

I didn’t have an answer for this before COVID-19, I have even less of an answer now. Original music, in general, has become terribly devalued over the last decade or so. Even I recognize that deliberately making a full-length concept record is insanity in an industry that only cares about singles these days. It may be foolhardy, but I guess my hope is that, maybe once this crisis is over, people will be sick enough of being trapped inside for so long that we see a new renaissance of live music and art.

THEE MOOT – PEEL IT TO REVEAL IT

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Ten new tracks by Thee MOOT, all recorded in glorious analogue on vintage recording equipment at Gizzard Studio, London.

Dave Clark (DC, guitarist) and Nick Stone (NS, singer/songwriter) explain it all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

1) What was the moment you knew you were onto something?
(DC) Mark (bass), Freezer (drums) and I had played together for a few years and had a good understanding of what we wanted to do, but I knew it was going to be special when Nick sent us demos of the first few songs in early 2016.
2) How did this record come together?
(DC). We generally start off with an acoustic demo, work it up in rehearsal, then test it out live. I’ve usually got a picture in my mind about what guitar overdubs will work in the studio and Nick will know what vocal harmonies will add to it. We like to work pretty quickly in the studio like they did in the ’60s! We’ll usually play live and try and keep drums, bass and guitar as live takes. Then we’ll add a few overdubs later on. We should mention that we use a really cool all-analog studio in London called Gizzard, with a great engineer Ed Deegan who gets a sound we really like. It’s all recorded direct to tape and mixed down onto tape too. We use vintage recording gear and studio effects. It really does get a warmer, more natural sound that works for us. We’ve tried doing it the other way, fiddling around with software, and it didn’t work for us!

 
3) As an artist, you choose to show your emotions to the world. Is it always comfortable to do so?
(NS) It’s not always comfortable sharing thoughts and emotions with the world but it is essential to be authentic. MOOT songs have to be meaningful for me lyrically but I want as many people as possible to hear our music, so I like to sprinkle a little humor in there as well

4) Any ideas about how to turn this one into a million-seller?
(NS) Million-seller? That’s not for us to say. Our future audience may deliver that one! Our hope is that an established artist or band will one day like one of our songs enough to cover it.

5) You can pick 3 co-writers to write new songs with. Who? And Why?
(NS) Jack White or Pete Shelley. Jack is one of my favorite American songwriters. I really liked what he did with the American Epic Sessions and I’ve recently revisited his Acoustic Recordings, so I’d like to learn from him and he loves English bands so I’m told!. Pete Shelley was another master of melody and I would have questioned him (nicely) about his cracking love songs. I tend to avoid the subject of love but Pete had a wonderful knack of capturing an audience with his catchy and often touching anthems.
(DC) It would be interesting to work with two true originals who created their own world and drew you in – the late Syd Barrett and Pete Townshend. Neither of them are really co-writers but it would be fascinating to see how they do it and to see if some of the processes would rub off on you. I’d also love to sit down and work out guitar arrangements with Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd. We could also talk about guitars and old Fender amps!

 

6) What’s the gig you will always remember and why?
(DC) We did a great gig just this month with two like-minded bands from London, The Past Tense and Trees and The Slipway. It was a small gig and we had to change the venue at the last minute, but it was a great evening and it was probably the best we’ve played. We got some new songs in the set and got great feedback about them. This tells me that we’re going in the right direction. It was nice to see some of the audience singing back the words to some of the songs on the album too.

7) When was the last time you thought ‘I just wrote a hit’?
(DC) I think lots of our songs could be hits, whatever that means nowadays. I am absolutely certain that we’ve written a few that would be massive if more people could hear them. For example, we’ve got a new one called ‘Fools Plan’ that should be blasting out of car radios, iPhones and laptops the world over!

 

8) Is recording a record easier than getting it heard nowadays?
(NS) Much easier and more enjoyable to record! Getting our music out there is more challenging despite the advent of streaming and downloads. We are fortunate that music bloggers and small radio stations are playing our stuff and that helps greatly to raise awareness that we exist! Also, reviewers like yourself who are enthusiastic and love new original music are our new best friends!

9) Which 5 records would you bring with you for your stay on Mars?
(DC) The Beatles – Revolver, Television – Marquee Moon, The Rain Parade – Emergency Third Rail Power Trip, The Byrds – Younger Than Yesterday, Pink Floyd – Meddle

10) Recording music – what’s all the fun about?
(DC) Using your imagination to make the songs better than you thought they could be.

11) Playing music in front of a crowd – what’s all the fun about?
(DC) Obviously the connection with the audience, but I think for me the real fun is the band working as a unit that’s bigger than the sum of the individual parts. You can get real magic that way.

12) You can’t control the way people hear your music. But if you could make them aware of certain aspects that you think set your songs apart what would they be?
(NS) Our album is far more contemporary musically and lyrically than some reviewers give us credit for. We are sometimes labeled as mod revival or nostalgic by people who aren’t really listening to what we do. Sure we are influenced by bands like the Beatles, Kinks and Small Faces but essentially it’s melodically underpinned by the do it ourselves spirit of Punk. We write the music, arrange and record it and distribute it ourselves. And it’s all self-funded!

 

 

ANTON BARBEAU PRÉSENTE: KENNY VS. THRUST

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ANTON BARBEAU PRÉSENTE: KENNY VS. THRUST is released by BIG STIR RECORDS.

The songs are drawn from Barbeau’s songbook spanning from his teen years to the present day, but the all-new performances are fresh and immediate, and the bi-continental production is a cohesive and bracing dive into the essence of Antmusik across time.

 

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

 

Comfortable? Sure. I think it’s essential. Like many people, I try to hold things together, put on a good face for the world. I’m not a vividly emotional person and I can crank out a fair amount of seemingly cheerful pop but I’m drawn to all sorts of music with all sorts of emotional range and I try to make sure my albums or my live sets are varied in this way. Sadness and anger and confusion and ambivalence are parts of what makes life so rich. Can you picture a world without Rick Danko singing “The Unfaithful Servant”? I don’t aspire to whatever inspired that song, but I’m grateful to feel it when he sings it.

 

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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? 

 

Go back and follow along with the bass lines to “Allyson 23” and “Third Eye!” Try to count along with “Coffee That Makes The Man Go Mad.” Try to picture the ghost of my mother in “Just Passing By.” There are all sorts of tricks and odd spots in my songs that aren’t meant to draw attention, but if you notice them, they’re satisfying. I was rehearsing with a Spanish band once – we had only one day to rehearse a festival set – and the bassist noticed that all of my songs seemed to be straightforward on the surface, but that every one of them had some weird detail that required full attention. I’m not trying to impress an audience with those details, but I’m working on a few levels at once. I have a busy brain!

 

 

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

 

Well, depends on the gig! When it’s good, then maybe the songs feel good in my guitar hands and in my vocal throat, and the audience is both clearly pleased and surprised. On a good night, I can be funny. On a really good night, I can connect cosmic dots between buildings and planets. Sometimes the guitar makes the sounds we all live for. If there’s a grand piano in front of me, a different set of cosmic dots appear, unless I’m in France.

 

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

 

“Manbird!” But I’ve written MANY hits that turned out not to be hits!! Still, “Manbird” and “Across the Drama Pond” both have that “Hey, this is good, right??” vibe to them. Where’re my million dollars!!?

 

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

 

I supported Julian Cope on a few dates each of his 2011 and 2012 tours. The first date was Brighton. The gig was a blur, but I remember getting stoned with him after the gig. Days later, Julian rang me at home – I was living in Cambridge, UK – and said, “Hey Man, it’s Julian… I know you’re moving to Berlin in a few days, but do ya wanna do Bracknell?” When Julian Cope calls you at home, you say yes to whatever the question is! Bracknell was a great gig, and the only gig I did with him where I have any recollection of my own set. A lovely theatre, great crowd. Julian’s set was special that night, and he beamed “Upwards at 45 Degrees” at me as he sang. As he said to me the first time we met, “Yeah, man… I saw you vibin’!”

 

Which 5 records would you bring with you for your stay on Mars?

 

I’m always fascinated by this sort of question because there’s the risk of burning out on a beloved record, right? And am I trapped on Mars or is it a two week holiday in space? Anyway, I’m gonna be loose here and reach for records that I imagine would turn me on every time, as they already do, and give me a feeling of forwarding motion as these already do…

Sgt. Pepper – Beatles

Court and Spark – Joni Mitchell.

Clube da Esquina – Milton Nascimento and Lo Borges

ABBA – ABBA

Lodger – Bowie

 

Recording music. What’s all the fun about?

 

Everything! Making records is the best thing there is. I love the sound. I’m restless and often move a sound from its starting place to somewhere very other. I’m always trying to be a better singer, to make sure my vocals have the right feeling. I’ve recently picked up a new vocal mic and preamp, so to be able to put a warmer, less nasal Ant sound on tape. I love constructing bass parts, knocking around on the drums. Or being in the studio with a great bunch of musicians and a fine engineer, capturing that moment where everyone says, “Yep, that was it!” I can do it all myself, be my own band, but one thrill is working with known chemistries I have with others, or discovering new chemistries. Some musicians give you a reliable result every time, but others might play the perfect note on one song and play only the strangest, wrongest things the next time you get together. Maybe part of why I love recording so much is that no matter how much I do it – and I’m recording every single day, generally – I still feel like I’m starting out, wide-eyed. It’s all new every time.

Gary Ritchie – Head On A Swivel

 

 

 

On Gary’s CDBaby page, Power Pop Paul writes about Head on a Swivel: “It’s a Potpurri of Hooks, Rocking Guitars, Pounding Drums, Melodies all over the place ….. What’s not to like?”.

Power Pop Paul has taste.

SweetSweetMusic spoke to Gary about his new album.

 

How did this record come together?

 

Well, in January of 2019, I was starting to get a little antsy and felt like I wanted to record again. It had been nearly 3 years since my last album (Poptimistic). I wasn’t sure if I had anything to say or any actual tunes. So I headed back to my music room with my Guild Jumbo acoustic to see if I had anything. A half an hour later, I had the makings of (I thought) a very cool tune, “Head On A Swivel.”

Hey, maybe I do have something more in me! So I went through my notes, old demo ideas and started writing some new tunes, finished up some old ideas I had and I was off and running.

I really love the collection of songs I came up with this time. I hope the folks out there enjoy it as much as I do.

 

When did you decide to start asking for opinions on the new songs?

 

Actually, I very rarely to never ask people for opinions on my songs. I leave that up to people to give their opinions if they want. Only a couple of times will I even ask someone “What was your fave tune on the album?”.

Now, I used to ask my recording partner, Jeff King what songs he liked of mine. Generally, he would say “Let’s do all of them.” That’s why my first 4 albums had a ton of songs on them.

On this new album “Head On A Swivel” I wanted to keep it at 13 tracks and 38 minutes to keep folks interested. Many people these days don’t have a long attention span.

Fortunately, for me, the folks that like my stuff are the type to actually put on an album and play it all the way through. Most people out there these days really “cherry-pick.” Many people seem to have 1,000 songs in their pocket, maybe 2 or 3 songs from each artist. I’m totally old school. I don’t have an iPod and I don’t listen to MP3s. It’s CDs and LPs for me.

 

 

 

You can pick 3 co-writers to write new songs with. Who and Why?

 

Oh man, that’s tough. I have so many musical hero’s I’d love to do something with. But, I’ve to go with ​McCartney for obvious reasons. He’s a total Pop genius with a melody in everything he touches. It would be a blast to write with him.

Elton, the man is phenomenal, especially the earlier stuff. Great chords structures and melodies all over the place.

Nick Lowe has also been an absolute favorite of mine since his first solo album. Very witty, cool lyrics, lots of humor. He would fit my style of writing perfectly.

 

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

 

Well, that’s a bit tough. I’ve played some really great places with thousand’s of people. But, there is one that was very cool. We played a small place, it wasn’t even an actual club or concert hall, somesorts of art studio place that we had a record release party in. Well, a pretty good friend of our’s said he might show up…and he did! Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick came and joined us for a few tunes. Excellent and fun. He later produced a couple of tracks in the studio for us. So, yeah, that one sticks in my head.

 

Is recording a record easier than getting it heard nowadays?

 

Oh heck yeah! Getting things heard can be very difficult these days. I mean widely. Not many stations play the kind of music that I write or record. There are a few sort of “Independent” stations that still play PopRock, PowerPop, Indie Rock…etc. I love those guys!! They can get to a lot more people than I can. It really helps with selling a few more CDs too.

Now, the recording of a record, I won’t say it’s easy, but much easier than many years ago. Everyone has some sort of studio at home (and good ones) and can really hone a tune without spending a ton of money. Wherever you record you must be prepared to work at it to get things right. On this last album of mine, when I took it to be Mastered, my guy said “I can tell you guys really took great care in recording this album.” That was very cool to hear.

 

Which records would you bring with you for your stay on Mars?

 

Oh baby, that’s beyond tough. I listen to so much music!!

Well, I could easily take 5 Beatles’ albums but I’ll leave it to only one. “White Album” – Great array of songs. Love it.

Elton’s “Honky Chateau.”

Faces “A Nod Is As Good As A Wink.”

Allman Brothers “Live At The Fillmore East.”

Dwight Yoakam “This Time.”

 

 

 

Slumberjet – World of Sound

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PowerPopAholic writes: Opening with the dreamlike harmonies of the title track it launches into a Jellyfish-like pop gem with “Round x2,” it’s driving beat marches along with a shimmering guitar lead. The band successfully navigates a variety of pop stylings from the gentle jangle of “Float” to the insanely catchy “Across The Divide,” with an earnest Elvis Costello-like approach. All the songs are good, but a clear majority are simply great.

Listen.

The second Slumberjet album “World of Sound” is produced by Duncan Maitland, who has previously worked with XTC, Pugwash and Colin Hare of the Honeybus as well as being a solo artist in his own right. Also featured on the album is Keith Farrell – producer of the first Slumberjet album, this time on bass duties – and drummer Johnny Boyle who has previously worked with Marianne Faithfull, The Frames and Pugwash {to name but a few}. One time Sub Pop artist Eric Matthews features on Brass once again.

 

Barry O’Brien explains.

 

 

What was the moment you knew you were on to something?

 

I sat down with Duncan Maitland to play him the acoustic demos I had gathered, and he was very enthusiastic from the start, he felt I did the groundwork with these songs which was great to hear as I felt I did too.

 

How did this record come together?

 

After the first Slumberjet album was released my band dissolved and I decided to start writing the next album. I was also planning on what kind of album it would be. From the very start, I had many different discussions with Duncan Maitland about this and he had a keen interest in my ramblings so it seemed like the most logical thing that he produced the next Slumberjet album. Duncan had a studio and engineer in mind {Leslie Keye at ARAD Studios in Dublin} and I had for a long time wanted to take Johhny Boyle {Drums} and Keith Farrell {Bass}into the studio who are incredible players individually but together they have something special.

 

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

 

Slumberjet got to play The Cavern in Liverpool as part of the IPO festival in 2010 that was pretty special for obvious reasons, actually, the photo on the back of the first Slumberjet album is from that very gig.

 

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

 

I think “Float” off the Slumberjet album World of Sound could be a hit if I could only figure out how to get people to hear it?

 

 

 

Is recording a record easier than getting it heard nowadays?

 

In a word “yes” anyone can record now, you have albums being recorded on iPhones that if you we’re told we’re recorded in Abbey Road you’d find it hard to argue with they sound so good, getting it heard well there are so many platforms now to put your music on but I do believe if the music is good it will get heard even if it doesn’t sell a million copies.

 

Which 5 records would you bring with you for your stay on Mars

 

In no particular order The Beatles -Revolver, The Beach Boys – Pet Sounds, The Police- Regatta De Blanc, Jeff Buckley -Grace, Jane’s Addiction- Ritual De Lo Habitual

 

 

Vinyl is back, Spotify is ruling, tickets for concerts are becoming more and more expensive, everybody can record songs, social media is the marketing tool, Coldplay stops touring … how will the music industry look like in 5 years?

 

It’s constantly changing and evolving, the gap between the first Slumberjet album and the second is almost ten years and coming back to it and releasing “World of Sound” is a completely different ball game, everyone’s on Spotify now, I myself still buy CD’s and vinyl and I know there are people who do the same and I’d like to think there is a younger generation that is discovering buying vinyl even though it’s a small niche. Who knows where the music industry will be in 5 years’ time but I do believe it’s anyone’s game.

Emperor Penguin – Soak up the Gravy

 

Emperor Penguin is back with a new album Soak up the Gravy. It will be released on January 17th on CD via Kool Kat Musik and is available now to stream and downloadfrom all the usual online outlets.

The album comprises 14 original tracks and the new songs are as eclectic as ever, with inspiration ranging from Japanese kids’ cartoons to the philosopher Thomas Aquinas. There are noisy guitars, catchy tunes and some more elaborate arrangements and productions than on previous EP releases. The album opens with art rocking pop tune ‘Hello Picasso’, features a live brass section on the anthemic ‘Hole in Your Soul’, has a guest lead vocal from ‘Queen of Power Pop’ Lisa Mychols on the jazzy ‘Speedwell Blue’ and closes with curry-flavored psych-pop epic ‘The Burning Man’. It’s a selection box of delights with something for everyone.

 

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Neil Christie explains.

 

 

 

What was the moment you knew you were on to something?

 

We’re still waiting for that moment…

 

How did this record come together?

 

Same way as usual: we work independently on the idea for a song. The writer usually shares a rough Garageband home demo with the rest of the band, who make suggestions for amendments, edits, and additions to music and lyrics. Usually, we do this by making changes to that original demo and then sharing them around. A song can evolve through various versions over a few months before ending up in its final form. Or sometimes, as with Nigel’s original demo for Brand New Yesterday, the first time we hear it we all just say, ‘Yeah, that one’s done.’

 

For the latest album Soak Up The Gravy, we wrote the songs over a period of about six months and then spent another few months recording and fiddling with them in spare time over evenings and weekends. Neil did a home mix in Pro Logic of all the demo’d tracks and then we took the tracks to Bill Sherrington at Crown Lane Studios in Morden for final mix and mastering.

 

 

When did you decide to start asking for opinions on the new songs?

 

The only opinion we seek when working on new songs is each other’s. If one of us comes up with something the rest of the band likes, then together we try to turn it into a song. Sometimes, like a cat setting before its owner a mangled bird, one of us submits something that displeases the others. In that case, we delicately flush the rejected song down the toilet.

 

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

 

Completely comfortable: the world is equally indifferent to our sentimental displays as are we ignorant of its opinion.

 

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

 

Haha haha. No. All suggestions welcome.

 

You can pick 3 co-writers to write new songs with. Who? … and Why?

 

Lyrics are tricky. So, I’m going to go for John Donne, Philip Larkin, and W.H. Auden. They each have a wonderful way with words.

 

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

 

Prince, at Koko in Camden. An amazing performance and he made it all look like effortless fun. Genius.

 

 

 

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

 

If we thought that, we were dreaming! But we’re not really thinking about writing hits. We’re just trying to write songs that, when finished, seem… not ugly and awkward and wrong. A good song sounds unexpected yet somehow inevitable and correct. If you can hear the effort that went into nailing it together, then something’s not right.

 

Is recording a record easier than getting it heard nowadays?

 

If a song drops in the middle of the internet and no-one hears it, does it make a sound?

 

Which five records would you bring with you for your stay on Mars?

 

Here’s today’s list. Tomorrow’s will be different. When do we actually depart for Mars?

 

The Beatles – Revolver

Joni Mitchell – Blue

Television – Marquee Moon

The Beach Boys – Pet Sounds

Al Green – Greatest Hits

 

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

 

It’s simultaneously terrifying and difficult and – when it goes well – exhilarating.

 

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?

 

If our songs are in any way distinctive, it’s because of the things that we couldn’t change even if we wanted to. In the same way that it’s hard to disguise your handwriting or your accent, the way we play is just who we are. Lyrically, we do try to write about subjects that are a bit less well-worn than genre clichés. So, there are songs on the new album inspired by everything from Samuel Taylor Coleridge, to government public information films of the 1970s, to the philosopher and Saint Thomas Aquinas.

 

Vinyl is back, Spotify is ruling, tickets for concerts are becoming more and more expensive, everybody can record songs, social media is the marketing tool, Coldplay stops touring … how will the music industry look like in 5 years?

Who can say what changes will be brought in the next five years by technology? But let’s hope that the current grim political climate will provoke a culture of musical revolt. The Thatcher years gave us punk. Let’s hope a musical upheaval that is equally exciting and provocative comes out of the Trump / Boris mess.

Norman – Buzz and Fade

 

There are albums of unknown bands that sound like albums of very famous bands. ‘Buzz and Fade’ by Norman is such an album. The quality of the songs is so high that it is hard to believe that Coldplay is better known than Norman. The two bands don’t have much in common but they both write melodies that you accept from the first listen that they must have always been there. If that is the definition of ‘timeless’ then Norman makes timeless Indie Pop. It rocks and pops and it is above all very pleasant.

 

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Eric Nordby explains.

 

 

How did this record come together?

 

We’ve been a band for 15 years now, and as time has gone on people got wrapped up in life; School, families, careers, and we’ve always tried our best to make room for Norman because there’s something special about getting in the same room with these guys.  It’s like that same feeling when you don’t see someone for a year and then you get coffee and you feel like you saw them the day before.  It feels like that to play music with this group.  That being said, we had a major undertaking in releasing something new.  We recorded this album for a bit over a year and a half in Portland, and although it’s been 5 or 6 years since we’ve put something out, we want to make sure that we’re putting out something that really deserves the listen, and something we’re really excited about playing live.

 

 

 

When did you decide to start asking for opinions on the new songs?

 

We were stuck in this musical whirlpool for a while, writing demos, messing with ideas and had just over 20 different ideas and songs we had penned, and it seemed like we just needed to get another voice in the room.  Adam, our drummer suggested a producer he had the opportunity to work with earlier in the year that might be a clear candidate for producing the songs and perhaps help shine a light on what would be good to work on.  When we first played demos to Danny he immediately trimmed the list down to 14 ideas, then 11, and from there we went into the first session with producer, Danny O’Hanlon.  It was brutal some days.  Danny challenged the hell out of us, to write a cohesive album and not just a personal diary of songs.  The songs needed a voice and to tell a story in 3 minutes.  I felt like I was back in songwriting class and guitar 101 some days.  Ultimately I believe we all became a better band because of it, and there was some real unity we had going into recording the album.  We weren’t allowed to hide behind what our ideas of what the songs should be anymore.  The songs were stripped of what we found familiar or comfortable.  I remember the first sessions we were told we weren’t allowed acoustic guitar, harmonica, no piano tones, only synth and electric.  In the same way, you become attached to a certain genre or sound it’s easy to become attached to a composition, lyrics, or what a song is about, that the song becomes this linear thing that isn’t necessarily as good as it could have been had you given in to letting the elements of the song serve the overall compassion.  So, I guess share your music, and collaborate, because there is a lot to be gained from that kind of vulnerability.

 

 

 

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

Sometimes sharing the songs that feel like they’re a story from the pages of your life is the most challenging.  One of the hard parts with that is being able to disconnect from the music in a way that serves the song, so it can exist without you and mean something to someone else. And of course, it’s uncomfortable.

 

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

I’m sure we could come up with some kind of scheme scheme.  Maybe get the cops on our side by saying people need to buy a copy as a diversion to their parking ticket.  Or it could be alike a Willy Wonka golden ticket thing where they win a free horse or something if they get the ticket from the album, like a lottery.  Make the album super rare by burying all the copies at the garbage dump like the ET Atari game, and then 30 years later everyone tries to find that RARE album and it becomes this mystery that everyone is trying to uncover, bootlegs everywhere, t-shirts, hysteria.

 

 

 

You can pick 3 co-writers to write new songs with. Who? … and Why? 

 

Ray Davies – There’s something really special about how honest and sentimental and appreciative for the small things in life.  Ray does this turnaround in songs like “Do You Remember Walter” and “Some Mother’s Son” this is victorious and celebratory even when life dishes out the unexpected.

Laetitia Sadier – Would absolutely love to write something colorful and wild with one of my favorite songwriters.  Laetitia is always challenging the way I experience music, and her voice is absolutely gorgeous.

Nils Frahm – When I hear a composer that interacts with the world in the way Nils does it reminds me of how small and insignificant I am.  In the same way, I respect the landscapes that someone like John Cage or Brian Eno create I always have immense respect and admiration for those that can capture human experience musically without words.  I also am fascinated with the explorative approach Frahm takes to his works.  They are an adventure that I’m in for.

 

 

Is recording a record easier than getting it heard nowadays?

 

Absolutely getting heard is more difficult.  There’s so much out there and it’s hard to get the attention.  There’s so much music now, and it’s available everywhere.  It’s almost like you have to be an Instagram influencer or have to have the promo dollars to get a record into the hands of the right people.  I don’t want to risk sounding like an old man, because I do find new music on Spotify and look up bands new and old on blogs still, discovering most new music online unless I’m in a record store or listening to local college radio.  It’s one of the perplexing challenges of putting out a record.  How do I get people to discover it?  I think it’s one of the greatest challenges a musician faces.

 

 

 

Vinyl is back, Spotify is ruling, tickets for concerts are becoming more and more expensive, everybody can record songs, social media is the marketing tool, Coldplay stops touring … how will the music industry look like in 5 years? 

 

This year vinyl just surpassed CD sales for the first time, which is exciting to read.  I particularly enjoy vinyl as a format for the sake of the artwork and craft that goes into making a record.  I think as dark as it seems, there’s going to be this continued devaluing of music that happens, but there’s always going to be a love, need and desire for what music brings, and that’s culture, story, and memory.  I think the hard part for a lot of artists is being able to make a living as a musician, and nowadays looking to avenues like music licensing is becoming more commonplace.


 

As always Don wrote a pretty amazing review. Check it here!

Dan Israel – Social Media Anxiety Disorder

From the fiercely catchy, horn-driven power pop of the album’s opening track, “Be My Girl,” to the dark, moody contemplative drone of “Still I’m Lost,” the songs on Social Media Anxiety Disorder span a wide variety of textures and styles, pushing the boundaries of Israel’s past work. We get to hear what it sounds like when Israel works with two accomplished producers with divergent styles and approaches, and we also get to (brace yourself) hear Israel rap. A little, anyway (while also embracing stream-of-consciousness ranting and raving, that some may even find comedic). “Just Can’t Take It” finds Israel wearing some of his deep love of ‘80s synth-pop on his sleeve, while “125” takes on a haunting, psychedelic tone amidst abstract lyrical directions, and many longtime listeners might well be quite surprised at the many new and uncharted (for Israel, anyway) musical directions taken on “S.M.A.D.”

 

danisrael

 

How did this record come together?

I am a pretty prolific songwriter.  Especially since I quit my day job in 2017 – I worked for the Minnesota Legislature for 21 years and finally quit the job to do music full time a couple of years ago. Since then, I think I have had more time to work on songs and song ideas, so I had quite a surplus of ideas coming into 2019.  Then, we had a really bad winter in Minnesota (2018 to 2019) and I think it really just forced me inside and gave me a lot of time to focus on the songs.  The world seems to have been in a lot of turmoil and I had some personal turmoil that maybe fueled the songs too.  I had all these strong song ideas, and even though I had just put out an album in 2018 (“You’re Free”), I decided to work with two new producers (Jon Herchert and Steve Price) and make this record right away this past spring of 2019.  We got to work on it and it was out by October 2019, due to lots and lots of days spent in the studio, and tons of great contributions from very talented guest musicians.

 

 

 

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

No.  Not always comfortable.  But for me, it’s necessary.  I’m not someone who can “keep it all inside.”  Never have been.  I think my songwriting is just an extension of my personality – I want to share my experience, my stories, with the world.  Always have been that way, ever since I was a little kid, I was telling people my stories.  But there can be blowback – believe me!  I am OFTEN accused of “over-sharing”, both in my songs and in my public comments, social media posts, etc.  It can be really hard to walk that line between showing enough of my inner state and showing TOO much of it.  So no, it is NOT always comfortable, but I essentially feel like I have no choice.  This is who I am.

 

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

No.  None.  Well, not really.  I don’t understand the music business anymore.  Not sure I ever did, but especially not here in 2020.  I really don’t understand the WORLD in 2020.  I do know that if my music was to be more “contextualized” – that is if it was to be used in movies and TV shows where the emotions and stories could be “demonstrated” by pairing them with scenes and images that corresponded well to the songs, I think it’s possible it would be embraced by a much larger audience.  But a million-seller these days, for a rock album?  Who even sells a hundred thousand records in rock these days?  I’m not sure I want to know.  Not very many artists, and frankly many of the rock artists these days who DO sell a lot are…not very good.  But I do want more commercial success – you better believe I do.  I need a record label, first of all – someone who helps me push this out there.  That would be a good start – some kind of indie label deal and/or some film/TV placements.  Let’s go with that!  I also need more touring support – someone to help me book shows in Europe and around the US so I can bring my music directly “to the people” more often and with better shows.  All of that would help – but I still doubt I’d sell a million!

 
Is recording a record easier than getting it heard nowadays?

Yes.  Absolutely, it is. It’s not that it’s THAT easy to make a record – it still takes work, and time, and money – but it definitely is cheaper than it used to be, with digital technology.  You still have to really spend a lot of time to make something worthwhile.  But manufacturing costs are way cheaper and all of that.  What’s hard is getting it to be heard, above the “noise” of so MANY releases out there, constantly.  The lower costs have frankly made it easier for EVERYONE to make a record – which is great, but hard too, when you’re someone like me on his 15th record and it seems like you’re competing for attention with everyone who ever had a song idea and a basement recording rig.  I am not saying people shouldn’t make their records – but the flood of music has definitely made it harder to get my music heard.  The Internet is a great tool for promotion, and yet also terrible because there is so much “overload” and of course the payments for streaming are SO bad, but that’s another subject for another day!

 

 

 

Which 5 records would you bring with you for your stay on Mars?

Well, first of all, I’d be very scared to GO to Mars, but that was not the point of your question!  This is always a tough one, but I’ll try not to overthink it – here goes:
Beatles – White Album

Rolling Stones – Exile on Main Street (hey, if I’m only getting 5 records, you’d better believe I’m going to bring as many double albums to Mars with me as possible!)
Bob Dylan – Bringing It All Back Home (I’m a huge Dylan fan, so very hard to pick one fave, but I’ve been SO into this one again lately)
Tom Petty – Hard Promises (same as my Dylan problem, can’t really pick just one, but I’ll go with that one for now)
Robert Johnson – The Complete Recordings (I always go back to this one)

 

Meet The Speedways!

speedways

 

One record, one gig. At least that was the intention, but the plans have changed. Fortunately. In May the follow-up to ‘Just Another Regular Summer’ will be released, the sensational good debut album. The Speedways is Matt Julian’s band and he is inspired by the music of Paul Collins, Cheap Trick, The Cars, Tom Petty and The Exploding Hearts, among others. And the good thing is, you can hear that inspiration on all songs.

Buy here.

With every song you write are you learning to become a better songwriter?

 

Kind of yeah. You learn what it is that you do best. Lyrically I always try to improve. I do think that the more you write the more bad habits you lose – which is a good thing – Your arrangements become better and you don’t over complicate things as much.

 

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

 

I had a moment on stage once when I was singing ‘Regular Summer’ where I suddenly realized I was telling a room full of people what a broken man I am! ..but for the most part, it’s not an issue at all. I like to write that kind of sad songs.

 

 

Any idea how to turn this one (forthcoming new album ‘Radio Sounds’) into a million-seller?

 

I think that ship sailed a long time ago! but I do believe whatever level you are you should aim to make a ‘hit’ record. You have to allow yourself the chance to think “what will I wear on Top Of The Pops?” otherwise there’s no point making a record is there? It’s gonna be a strong album and I hope people like it – a million of them!

 

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

 

The first one (which was supposed to be the only one) at The Finsbury in London. Lots of friends made the effort to be there and we played a great set. The Baby Shakes were on the front row singing along next to my monitor. It was the most ‘Power Pop’ moment in history. We’d only had a couple of rehearsals but we nailed it. I also thought the show at the Wurlitzer Ballroom in Madrid was great too. Our first time in Spain and it was a busy night. People knew the words which was flattering as fuck! I really enjoyed that one.

 

When was the last time you thought “I just wrote a hit”?

 

I always think that! There’s a song on the new album called ‘In A World Without Love It’s Hard To Stay Young’ that I have a good feeling about. Not that I think it’ll be a hit single! – just that people might like that one. I remember thinking ‘Reunion In The Rain’ would have been a hit for the Ronettes in 1964…

 

speedways2

 

You can’t control the way people “hear” music, but if you could make them aware of certain aspects you think set your songs apart, what would they be?

 

I don’t know as anything sets them apart. It’s hard to answer without sounding delusional! I write catchy songs with themes of disappointment & regret. They’re quite melancholy I guess, but not in an emo way!..more of a Del Shannon way. I could never write party songs or political songs. I mean, I enjoy those kinda songs by other bands, it’s just not something I’m good at. I think love songs are the backbone of all forms of pop music & I try to write them as sincerely as I can. The first album was a ‘love letter’ to a moment in my life, the second album has songs that are a response to ‘Regular Summer’ but there are a few genre pieces too.

 

MORE KICKS – S/T (Q&A)

morekicks2

 

‘British Invasion played with a Punk Rock attitude’. It has been done many many times before. Still, if done right it is irresistible. More Kicks, a trio (Sulli – vox/guitar; Kris – drums; Paolo – bass/vox) from London, does it right. 11 short songs and an intro, what more do you want? Nothing! Whatever may happen, at least listen immediately to You Left a Stain on Me, She’s a Reaction and the superior Ain’t That Just the Way.

 

Sulli explains.

 
How did this record come together?

 

More Kicks had been a band for just over a year when we went into the studio. We started off as a three, briefly became four, then back to three again. I think musicians have a romantic view of being a trio. A ‘power trio’, people will say to me. But then very few bands actually do it because it turns out to be pretty fucking hard to pull off. I would recommend it though. There is always more legroom in the van, fewer plane tickets to buy, plus you only have to split the £50 London gig fee three ways, instead of four.

Anyway, we knew we wanted to capture the band as a live proposition, and also that the best way to do that was on tape. Gizzard Recording in London is all-analog and run by a great guy called Ed. He worked at Toe Rag Studios before setting up his own place. It’s incredible – anyone with even a small gear fetish will go in there and leave as a fully-blown analog pervert.

We only had four days for everything (recording and mixing) so we made the conscious decision to trust our instincts. If it felt good, we just move on – don’t need to waste time listening back. It was probably the most tiring but easiest recording session I ever took part in. It sounds completely natural and I’m proud of every second of it.

 

When did you decide to start asking for opinions on the new songs?

 

Pretty quickly. What usually happens is I write a song in my flat in North London. I demo it immediately – making the demo is part of the writing, really. I have a little home set up which actually grew after recording the album. As I mentioned, the studio we went to turned me into a slight analog pervert – so after recording there I bought a small Studiomaster mixing desk and a few bits of outboard gear, notably a tape delay.

After I’ve finished the demo, I go out to the shop or to the pub down the road, listening to it on my headphones. That’s my test to see how it sounds out in the real world – rather than in my claustrophobic demo-headspace in the flat. If it still feels good then I email it to Paolo (bass) and Kris (drums) to get their opinions.

 

The response is usually ‘Sounds cool! Let’s try it!’ or ‘Hmm I’m not sure. But let’s try it!” so then we start to knock it around in rehearsal. I like to think my/our quality control is quite high. There are quite a few demos that I’ve finished but never sent to them and there aren’t too many More Kicks songs that we drop or decide are too shit to play. But then again, I suppose most bands think that.

 

morekicks

 

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

 

I am always worried that I will never write another good song but the evidence suggests I still have some time left. The new songs we have for album #2 sound fantastic. All of the More Kicks album (except Young Enough, which I wrote years ago and resurrected for More Kicks – at Kris’ insistence) was written in about 12 months. So that cliche about ‘You have your whole life to write the debut album, then only 12 months to write the second record’ doesn’t apply for us.

 

The interesting point we’re at now is that some of the obvious places to go in my head have been used for the debut record. I have to dig a little deeper. So I’m finding that songs are taking a little longer to write. Something like ‘I’m On The Brink’, ‘It’s A Drag’ or ‘Your Vibration’ seriously took about 10 minutes to write from start to finish. Now I have to work a little harder to find new areas.

 

As a band, we’ve grown a lot – there are so many deceptively complicated rhythmic bits and pieces in the newer songs, even if the song still ends up being ostensibly a three-minute pop single.

 

 

 

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

 

I suppose musically, it feels completely comfortable to stand on a stage playing music. Kris, Paolo and I have all been playing music since we were teenagers. It’s totally natural for me to be up there, playing and singing. I don’t feel shy about that at all because nothing will be scarier than playing a Muse song on a nylon-string acoustic guitar in front of the whole school when I was 14. (Don’t ask…)

 

Lyrically is probably more complicated because I wasn’t the main songwriter in a band until More Kicks. (I play in another band called Suspect Parts where I share vocals and writing with my brother-in-arms Justin Maurer). But again, I trust my instincts on what feels good and write very quickly and unconsciously.

 

Also, I’m not writing 100% autobiographical songs. Some songs are about me, some of them I don’t know exactly what they’re about, some are about friends or people I meet, some change their perspective during the song. It’s not an entirely self-obsessed endeavor.

 

Is recording a record easier than getting it heard nowadays?

 

Yes probably. Well, it’s definitely easy to record something – although it’s also easier than ever to record something that sounds shit. Recording something that sounds good is as easy/hard as it ever was. Getting it heard is tricky, yep. It seems to me that unless you have a heavy-lifting music industry behind you, the best bet is still to just be active as a band. Tour as much as you can, release new music regularly, try to be in control of as much stuff as you can. It’s not rocket science, in that respect. A lot of bands are really good at posting regularly on social media, appearing to be professional to the outside world. I find that pretty transparent and unconvincing personally, but then what do I know?

 

In the end, we’re all just doing our best with whatever tools we have. I will say that my experience with complete creative freedom (independent one-person record labels, friends doing the artwork, making our own videos, self-booking and driving tours) has been more satisfying than the experience I’ve had with major labels. This suggests that just getting on with things rather than moaning about the changing face of music/the music industry is a much better idea.

 

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

 

It’s my favorite thing to do. I am not a nostalgic person but I am a ritualistic person. I love tumbling out of the van and changing from van shoes to gig shoes. Loading heavy stuff into an empty venue that smells of beer or bleach or both. Finding a safe place for my wallet that I won’t forget later. Saying hello to the sound engineer and finding the prospect of soundcheck insufferable even though it’s the first thing I’ve have done that day and it literally takes me three minutes to set up my stuff. Drinking one beer and one water from the backstage fridge. Shaving in the venue bathroom to feel more awake – finding a gap in the mirror between all the band stickers. Walking around the neighborhood to see if there’s somewhere fun for a coffee or beer near the venue. Walking back to the venue and praying for a good number of people to be there. Looking for an old gig poster that I can use to write the setlist on. Asking six people for a pen and then complaining about having to write the names of 10-15 songs. Monitoring how long it takes the support band to clear their stuff from the stage and if it will affect how long we can play for. Deciding to just play the normal set anyway because ‘fuck it’. Setting up my stuff and putting a beer and water next to the setlist at my feet (I will not drink a single drop from either bottle throughout the gig). Looking up to see if I’m the first to be ready. Paolo is always ready before me, Kris always takes longer. Raising my eyebrows at my two friends as if to say ‘Ok, here we go then’. Then 30-40 minutes which go by in a flash. Those little moments where things almost fly out of control but we’re able to catch them. More Kicks gigs are pretty breathless. Literally – the songs are quite fast and there are a lot of words.