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”Comfort In the Turbulent World”
11 PM Berlin Time ( 10 PM UK/5 PM New York)
10 PM California Time ( 1 AM New York) For our USA/Canadian Listeners.
Bring the disturbance home! due to many requests to have the hard rock section a little earlier for our European audiences, and a little later for our USA listeners, we have joined together the ”Comfort in a hard place” and ”More Fun In the Turbulent World” in a marriage of much anticipated excitement and organised chaos!
So now its not JUST Rock of the HARD variety, there will be PUNK on all its deviant forms and ages, METAL from the darkest dark to the sweetest pop edge,there will be INDUSTRIAL, a slice of GOTHIC, and a big scoop of PROG. there will also be a smattering of BritPoP just to liven things up.
please note: in this incredibly eclectic category more than any other; i get so many new bands every week, so the line up will CONSTANTLY be changing, shape -shifting, evolving, so If you dont hear your heroes one night you will be sure to hear them the next. but PLEASE do support all our indie bands, as they share the stage with the more famous makers of this noisy art.
Oh and finally broad minds are available at the entrance, dont come in without them 🙂
Featured (in no particular order)
Stiff Little Fingers, Voice Of Addiction, Hawthorne Project, These New Puritans, The Jam, Black Flag, IceAge, The Eversons, Thee Now Sound, Tokyo Police Club, Big Dipper, Shonen Knife, These Animal Men, Pylon, Interpol, Ty Segall Band, Revel 9, AeB,Eudora Fletcher, Mos Generator, Crawley, Odoghan,Baht, Shattered Destiny, Kill For Eden, The Mighty High, Dropbunny, The 31st Of February, Elizabeth, Title Fight, Love Of Diagrams, The Ruts, Be Your Own Pet, Echobelly, At The Drive In, Link Wray, St J and Rici Martins, Spartan, Grenouer, American Head Charge, Godard, Jai Alai Savant, My Talking Pua, Test Icicles, Wire, Deep Purple, Grifter, Pulled Apart By Horses, Gun Outfit, M185, Sweet Ray Laurel, American Head Charge, The Monks, Late Cambrian, Spizzenergi, Felt, Monochrome Set, Honeymoon Killers, Orange Juice, The Wild Eyes,Ulterior, Eternal Summers, male Bonding, Soft Pack, Dutch Uncles, Buzzcocks, Violent Femmes, Kill Kasper, Mammut, War On Drugs, Pretty Girls Make Graves, Afghan Whigs, Vaccines, Thirteenth Floor Elevators, S.C.U.M. Swell Maps, Stone Iris, Yuck, The Replacements, Dogs Bollocks,Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Phoenix, Sonic Youth, D.U.N.E., Bruiser, Moist, Fen, MaHA Rocks, Carta Marina, Reverend Horton Heat, The Simpletone, The Cooper Temple Clause, Akarusa Yami, The Black Keys, Heavy Pink, Motorhead, screaming Trees, Skyskratcher, Blue Cheer, Ministry, Deftones, Alice Cooper.
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The MirrorBall Sessions
10 PM Berlin Time (9 PM UK / 4 PM New York)
From the 50’s RnB, to the 60’s Psychedelic soul, thru to hip hop, techno. electronica. From Progressive House to Dubstep, with huge shots of the best new Rap artists as well.
Kimicoh Kimico, Aloe Blacc, The O Jays, Freda Payne, Speech Debelle, Gift Of Gab, Roots Manuva, Jamie T, Matisyahu, Mr Fix DJ, Dragan Pejic, The Black Science Orchestra, Spanky Wilson, Paul Kalkbrenner, Goldie, Machinedrum, A Guy Called Gerald, James Curd, Louie Vega, Body Language, Sonar Pilot, Team Brooklyn, Dave Gahan, Bobby Collas, nina Simone, Esther Phillips, De la Soul, War, Aceyalone and RJD2, Louis Batey, Blow Flyy, Alice Russell, Godspeed,Dukes Go Up, Ify, Shabazz Palaces, James Brown, Bobby Womack, Last Poets, Apollo’s Sun, Chaptabois, Sly and the Family Stone, Harvey Mason, The Staple Singers, Eddie Floys, Dizzee Rascal,Jr Tha 4th, Skilf, LK, Soul Children, Mel and Tim, Johnny taylor, Chairman Of The Board, THEESatisfaction,Tardishead,Lo Fidelity All Stars, Plan B, Orbital, Scuba, Tove Stryke, Kay 2 and the Strange Days, Schiller, Renegade Soundwave,Eoin Hayes, Suuns, Domino Grey, Bassnectar, Edward, Visions Of Trees, Simian Mobile Disco, Cassius, Fresh Heir, MDNR, Anti-Crew, Copyright, Jazzie B, Levon Vincent, Mantronix,Elaine, Skream, Electritribe 101, Kid 606, Anonym, Aphrodisiac, Sleep Archive, Crystal Castles, Kele,Spiller, Alea Karin, Yana Rizhova,Ganesh, Carolyn Baron and BosBeats, Mos Def, Bennie King, Clayton Savage and Jay Quan, PLXDABOSS, Jam and Spoon, Maya Jane Coles, Drums Of Death, The Knife, Jamie Principle, Frankie Knuckles, LadyHawke, High Luxe, Jamie Sparks, Kimbro, Melogain
and MUCH Much More
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NBTMusicRadio once again presents the finest new independent creators of that strange difficult sweet thing we call the SONG. From the First thought birth, to the final note laid down in the studio, we asked a selection of artists about their craft.
Once again Featured Artists brought to you by the wonderful folks at Hemifran An independent A&R, promotion and marketing company, based in the heart of Sweden,The Artists they represent range from the USA’s finest Americana/Country/Rock outfits, to Europe’s most talented singer/songwriters, and EVERYTHING in between.
All these artists and the songs they talk about can be heard every day on the NBTMusicRadio: 9 AM AND 10 PM New York Time
3 PM and 4 AM Berlin Time 2 PM and 3 AM UK Time (Australia/New Zealand plus 6 or 9 Hours on Berlin Time)
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And now without any further Chatter here are the Artists.
I See Hawks In La
NBTMusicRadio: Dear Flash was inspired by a novel, ‘Divine Right’s Trip’ by Gurney Norman, How did that come about ? and how hard is it to install the essence of a novel into a four minute song?
ISHILA( Paul Lacques): The Whole Earth Catalog was a big part of my life when I was 17 years old, back in the1970s. The hippie movement in the U.S. had fled for the countryside, lots of small farmsand communes starting up in every state, and I wanted to be a part of that. The Catalogwas a compendium of farming/survivalist knowledge, everything from home birthing to geodesic dome making to hunting and composting. We recently found a copy of the 1974 Last Whole EarthCatalog, and Rob and I got immersed in Gurney Norman’s serialized novel “Divine Right’s Trip,” which appeared every few pages throughout the catalog. Gurney’s a fine writer, captures some very dark contradictions deep in the hippie/gypsy lifestyle, and we are pleased to have contacted him and made his acquaintance. He likes our music, which is quite a thrill for us.
“Dear Flash” is an imagined letter 40 years later, from protagonist Divine Right (DR), a kindof everyman hippie, to the cooler and more together Anaheim Flash, whom we imagine as having some idyllic mountain farm. DR has lived all the conflicts of the 60s onward, and wants to rest and grow a garden.
NBTMusicRadio: the cover of the album is either sunset or sunrise, though the underlying mood on a lot of the songs is a end of day weariness, acceptance, lament, very similar in mood to Springsteen’s Nebraska, (emotionally of course if not musically), there are exceptions, but what was it in the writing and conception that made this album in particular such a ”sunset/sunrise” record?
ISHILA( Paul Lacques): You’re right on all counts! We got lucky with the lighting, did the photo at sunset underbrooding skies, and it poured rain on us as soon as we were done. A beautiful afternoon.
The mood of the album is definitely one of battered souls accepting life as it is, a bit stripped of our activist/political stance of past recordings. It’s just where we’re at today, writing what’s on our minds, like all of our albums. Our previous songs were very influenced, willingly or not, by the darkness of the Bush administration and our urge to fight,however hopeless that fight might be.
“New Kind Of Lonely” is certainly the sunset to that era, with the irony that the Obama administration is a carbon copy of Bush, with perhaps an added layer of deceit and false promises.
So in a way we’ve thrown up our hands, given up on the American people and the fate of America, and are trying to live our lives as peacefully (and low carbon) as we can.
The preaching era is over for us, at least for the moment. The songs are far more personal,are actually about our own lives in some intimate detail, and that’s a big change for us.It is a sunrise of sorts. I’m not sure what the new day is, but it feels different. We feel great personal hope, but our apocalyptic views of the future are unfortunately intact.
NBTMusicRadio: The album is recorded with no effects, edits or overdubs, would you call yourself a musical ‘purist’ or would you be absolutely horrified by that description?
Tom: Well on one hand, no I’m not a purist, since I like to blend and change my source material and influences, and I consciously experiment and improvise with the structure of the songs I work with. It all melts together into my own language of sorts – so it’s more like a raw and personal “style” than a collection of tunes.
But that in itself is quite a purist idea really. I’m a fan of the blues players who were a law unto themselves – like Skip James, Albert Collins and Fred McDowell. Each had their own unique characters, even if their songs could at first glance be drawn from the same well as another musician’s. Which goes to show that really blues is communal music that no-one owns, where inflection and interpretation – art – matters more than ‘skill’ or braggadocio. Look at Lightnin‘ Hopkins or John Lee Hooker – on the surface quite similar players, but with utterly different temperaments and ways of seeing, and utterly different lives. I only hope to be purist in the sense of trying to continue developing my own musical language, and follow my nose and be honest with myself. That’s all you can hope for.
NBTMusicRadio: On the website you speak about the Blues as a dance form, does this come naturally from the traditional lyrics’ rhythm or does it only become obvious once the guitar and percussion is attached, and how does this affect how you approach the creation of a song?
Tom: The music comes first mostly; I typically start a song from a brief, blunt musical accent, and then think of what to sing on top of it. But sometimes the lyrics do suggest a phrasing, and it’s fun to experiment with it all. What happens if you take a lyric that conventionally works in a shuffle atmosphere, but lay it over a reggae-dancehall rhythm instead?
Tempo is important too – and because my right foot taps out the rhythm to all my songs, it has to start from there. So the feet lead the head! I’m always trying to get people to move to this music – surely that is what it is for, this feeling of warmth leading you out of the darkness. Plus if women dance, then men dance, then people buy beer and then musicians get paid.
NBTMusicRadio: A few of the songs on the album are triggered by events within the world at large, A volcano’s Eruption, Moving into an old house and so on, but then the themes are pointed inward, become an exposure of the ‘internal’ as it were (The Title track could be about the inactivity of depression for example) and this mix is rather wonderful, so my question (‘at last!’ I hear you sigh) how do you create these personal miniatures, is it a long process of introspection, or does this balance come without thought.
HungryTown: Every song requires a slightly different approach, and I often experiment to find the one that works best. Over the years, I’ve discovered that I like to tell stories from the first person perspective. My characters tend to be fictional, but I use my own experience and perceptions in a way that might make those characters and stories more believable
Our songs usually begin with an idea—a tale we’d like to tell, or an event that we want to relate. Ken often comes up with these ideas.
After that, I try to find the right perspective. This can sometimes happen quickly, but it may take months. I’ve always been intrigued by the year 1816—a volcanic eruption the year before created a thin layer of ash that encircled the globe. Enough light was blocked so that the temperature in some northern regions experienced winter conditions the following summer. At first, I envisioned a narrative poem set to music.
I tried writing in the third person, but the result felt detached and academic. I couldn’t imagine myself singing such a song. At some point, I decided to turn away from delivering a history lecture, and instead made 1816 a setting for a fable. I told a story from the viewpoint of a pregnant young girl, who is promised marriage by her lover in a spring that never arrives. Once I got this idea, “Year Without A Summer” seemed to write itself, and the resulting lyrics were more fluid and much more natural to sing.
The process was similar with the song, “Any Forgotten Thing.” Ken came up with the title, and the idea of using an old house as a metaphor for loneliness. I really liked this idea, but couldn’t get a grasp on how to make it into a song, especially one to which others could relate. To this end, I tried to be loose with the metaphor, to leave plenty of room for listener interpretation. I waited a while, hoping for the right images to appear.
Eventually I began to picture a person’s hands becoming unreliable–maybe because they shake, or they’re arthritic, or whatever. I liked the idea of the body breaking down, like any old machine. So that was the first verse. For the second, it seemed important to incorporate time and solitude. For the person in the song, there’s no point trying to keep up with the clock, so why bother winding it?
My favorite part of this song to write was the subject thinking about replacing the doorbell, if only to hear it ring once again. This image seemed to fit, and to show–hopefully in a subtle way–how much time has passed since this person has had a visitor. For the last verse, I wanted to deal with the issue of regret, because it seems as though that might be connected with loneliness. And I got the image of someone examining their memories or themselves the way one might rummage through old items tossed into an attic, trying separate the treasures from the trash. Finally, I wanted to suggest the possibility that this period of loneliness is only temporary–an in-between time that allows for self-reflection.
NBTMusicRadio: I believe Ken worked on the Rebecca ‘solo’ recordings as well, so to both of you; what is the fundamental difference between those and Hungrytown?
HungryTown: The fundamental difference between the Rebecca Hall and Hungrytown recordings is basically the passage of time–performing and recording as a duo is something that happenedgradually for us. When we met in NYC many years ago, Ken was a rock drummer in about seven different bands and I was singing torch songs in Soho bars. I was not writing songs at all at that time, just learning to perform and do my own interpretation of standards.
Then, inspired by the 1997 re-issue of the Harry Smith Folk Anthology, I picked up a guitar for the first time and began to write songs based on traditional ballads.
My first album, Rebecca Hall Sings!, was recorded very simply on a Tascam 4-track. The songs were coming so quickly for me at that time, and I was just trying to get them down.Ken helped me with some basic arrangements, and wrote all the harmony parts. We were very casual about this recording; it was something we just did for ourselves, so we were surprised when a local radio station, WFMU, got hold of a copy and started playing it
regularly. That was really encouraging, and we started work on my second solo album,Sunday Afternoon, very shortly afterwards.
This time, Ken was even more involved, he wasresponsible for all the arrangements and production, and we co-wrote a few of those songs.By that time, I was performing regularly with various New York City musician friends–my lineup was basically whoever could get to the gig that week. And Ken would come up on
stage and play harmonica sometimes, and would sing harmonies with me. Once we had a gig booked, but all my usual band members were out of town, so Ken and I just decided to dothe gig by ourselves.
We realized that we really liked this new, stripped-down approach.We began performing as a duo, traveling to gigs all around New England. We both still had day jobs at that point, but we were so unhappy at work, and so contented when we were playing music, that we just decided to see if we could make a living by touring. So in late 2003 we quit NYC, and moved to the hills of Vermont–a great place to write and record, and much more affordable than Manhattan!
We were still performing under the rather ungainly name “Rebecca Hall and Ken Anderson,” and realized that we needed a band name for ourselves. At around that point, we had just finished writing a song called Hungrytown Road–a country waltz inspired by a real road in the Blue Ridge mountains of Virginia–that seemed to be popular at our shows. One day Kensaid, “why don’t we just call ourselves Hungrytown?” and the name just stuck. Very soon
afterwards we began work on our eponymously titled debut album. Hungrytown took about three years to record, and featured several guest musicians–excellent bluegrass pickers The Virginia Ramblers, as well as our friends Mike Merenda and Ruth Ungar from The Mammals. We had so much fun making that album, and the mobile recording method really reflected our travels during that time. It was recorded at various locations along the
east coast–a double-wide trailer in Virginia, a home studio in the Catskills and a traditional New England meeting house.
A few years of almost non-stop touring went by, and we wrote many songs while we were on the road. Finally, in 2010 we realized we were ready to make a new album. We took a two-month break from performing, and this time around decided to do the whole thing byourselves, in our home studio. We co-wrote many of the songs for Any Forgotten Thing, and Ken wrote all the arrangements and played multiple instruments on these recordings. We
brought in our talented neighbor, Laura Molinelli, to sing backing vocals on a few tracks, but otherwise, it’s just us. We wanted this album, more than any other, to reflect our sound as a duo, and were very pleased with the result.
Oh My Darling
NBTMusicRadio: Although your album is titled ‘’Sweet Nostalgia’’ and the music you make is steeped in tradition, the listener never feels that your album is a museum piece, there is something reassuringly modern in the feel. Could you explain how this ‘’essence’ of 2012 onwards slips into your music, and what modern acts thrill the ladies of OMD
Oh My Darling : We all have a true love for traditional sounds and songs, whether they are Old-Time Appalachian, Franco-Canadian Métis, Bluegrass, Irish traditional or classic country, we find our common ground in the love of the traditional sounds. But we all are very inspired by what is going on in the music scene on the current stage as well. We find ourselves inspired by amazing groups like The Punch Brothers, Joy Kills Sorrow, Andrew Bird, The Goat Rodeo Sessions and modern songwriting styles, anything that is pushing the boundaries within this genre. We are inspired by the traditional sounds and put elements of that into our sound but we love to create new rhythms, chord progressions, lyrical and melodic styles that may be unorthodox to the hardcore traditionalists, we like the blend of something old and something new
NBTMusicRadio: While the music is indeed sweet, the lyrics hint at darker themes at times, illicit affairs, love and betrayal, escaping the city and so on, was this something that only cropped up in this album or is the balance tween dark and light a very necessary thing for a perfect album.
Oh My Darling: When we were looking at the collection of songs that we had for Sweet Nostalgia, there was an underlying theme of nostalgia that ran through all of the songs. Nostalgia can hold many sentiments, love, loss, hope, despair, sadness, joy… We weren’t looking to write songs that had particularly dark or light sentiments, we just wrote. As the songs came together the feeling of nostalgia pulled all the songs together. The presence and balance of dark and light belong to us within the songs and on the album but also the feelings of sweetness and beauty of reflecting on the past
NBTMusicRadio: The album was recorded in Nashville; do you think it’s important to go to the ‘source’ as it were when recording a country music album or could just as fine album be created in Malta for instance?
Marty: Although I believe that a fine album can be produced almost anywhere but to bring together in one place such a wonderful group of top ‘country music’ session musicians together with such a producer like Gary Carter is very hard unless I’ll bring them all over to Malta; even still, Nashville itself is a source of inspiration to any musician or songwriter so even though it will be interesting to records my next project here on the island but Nashville surely is The Place.
NBTMusicRadio: In the Song Run Angel Run are you writing about any city in particular when you call it ‘this damn Babylon’?
Marty: Well, the City in mind was ‘L.A.’; many young people’s dreams are being shattered there; They go to Babylon with just a dream and so many of them end up living in the street; but in reality Babylon can be New York, London or any other big city or even Nashville; it’s great to see so many people living their dream but sometimes it’s also painful to see where so many of them can end up when they trust the wrong people
Nico Wayne Toussaint
NBTMusicRadio: There is an unhurried languid feel about the songs on the album, were the recording sessions as calm and comfortable as this suggests?
Nico: The recording sessions were done in Montreal, Canada. The sound engineer / producer / drummer Nicky Estor is a long time friend, such as the guitar player. That session was like old friends getting back together. So it was efficient but without the pressure. Another element for your answer is that Nicky Estor comes from a New Orleans musical background, as well as blues. He loves music like Keb Mo’ or G Love and the Special Sauce. That kind of influences show also in his way to handle the mix and the overall approach of the production
NBTMusicRadio: Guy Davis contributes a stunning bluesy vocal on ‘How Long To Heal’ can you tell us how this recording came about?
Nico: My encounter with Guy happened in my home town, Bayonne, France, were Guy came to do a show, 5 days before i was flying to Montreal to cut my album. We played together that evening and his manager mentioned that it would be a great idea to have Guy on the album, since we were going to be so close one and the other, Guy lives in NY. I had only one song I wanted to play acoustic on the CD and that was ‘’How Long To Heal’’. It couldn’t be a better song for Guy and me to meet.
NBTMusicRadio: The track, ‘Light in the Attic’ from a lyrical point of view has a cool and interesting structure, in that although it’s about the ‘traditional’ song theme of Break UP, it focuses rather on observing life AROUND it rather. How did the creation of this song come about?
Brock: That song was written all in one shot on my porch. I just picked everything out of the air as it fell into place. I like to put a lot of my surroundings and experiences into my songs. If you’re honest about what you do, what you do will always sound new.
NBTMusicRadio: How do you balance running a label and the fine focus that a new album insists on, and will you get some Mud Records artists to us to play on NBTMusicRadio ?
Brock: I like being in the studio as much as possible. Having a label gives me the chance to do that. People have given all of our releases some great praise, so we just keep doing what we do. I tend to lean on the side of music I’m getting the most response from. Sometimes it’s playing live, sometimes it’s writing and recording. I bounce back and forth and it somehow works.
Love to send you all the releases! Robert Larisey, Brothers Through The Hill & Tom House!
NBTMusicRadio: Songs like 6000 Miles have a lovely widescreen, cinematic feel to the way they flow, yet feel unforced and not over dramatic. How do you as a songwriter maintain that balance tween, a personal theme, and being detached enough to craft a tune that all of us can relate to?
Elisabeth:If you listen to my first 2 CDs you’ll discover that I primarily write from experiences, whether they’re my own or someone else’s. I can get pretty detailed in those descriptions, as I did in 6000 Miles. I think every songwriter that has spent a fair amount of time touring has a song about “coming home” or being away from those we love. I actually have a song called “Coming Home” on my Roll With the Flow CD! When it came to production the verses seemed to be more reflective and in thought, with the chorus popping out in more desperation. I love the band Train and feel that my production history is very similar to theirs. It must be that we’re both from the Bay Area and have grown up on the same style of music such as Journey, Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin, etc. So I think that the emotional energy that Bay Area bands have always produced comes out in me on a song like 6000 Miles.
NBTMusicRadio: for the EP, two songs were recorded in Sweden and two in California, to YOU when you have the finished songs what is the major difference in how the songs sound? (For example with the Swedish productions I found that delightful POP sensibility sneaking its way into the tracks)
Elisabeth: It’s not uncommon to have different producers on a CD. The trick is trying to keep a thread of consistency throughout the songs so they flow well together. For me that has always been my voice and keeping the keyboard prominent, which is my main instrument other than my voice. My first CD had 3 producers, with me as co-producer and had a “live” band feel throughout. For my second CD I wanted to have one producer with me and focus on a coherent style for each song. I also felt I was dangerously teetering on becoming too “Folk Rock” with my Northern California roots. I had been working in Sweden as a pianist and loved the “Pop” sound that many Swedish artists have. I thought that if I could combine those two elements of Folk Rock and Pop I’d have a true representation of me as an artist. My friend led me to Amir Aly at Yla (pronounced oo-la) Studios in Malmo where I ended up recording Roll With The Flow. I had moved back to California when writing for the EP, so time and distance only allotted for the two songs to be recorded in Malmo with Amir and my original band from Sweden. For me, it just doesn’t get better than that.
Kenny Schick produced the last two songs and did a great job. He’s also from the Bay Area so they definitely swing more towards that original “Folk Rock” I was talking about. The major difference is that Amir does a lot more layering and looping, which brings a fullness and energy to the songs. I actually wanted Call Me A Mystery to be full on electronica, but my drummer Mattias wouldn’t have it. That’s where working with excellent musicians can help keep the balance. Of course, he was right in the end and the songs came out exactly as they should be.
NBTMusicRadio: from a lyrical point of view how difficult is the creation of a song, do the words just slip in themselves like old friends, or do they have to be coaxed into the structure of the tune?
Kyle: Lyrically every song is different, and the writing process is something I never try to push too hard. Some songs come very quickly, for example I wrote ‘Orange Blossom’ during my sophomore year of college. I remember I’d just returned home from a party where I’d felt very out of place and alone. I figured I might as well do something with the emotions charging through me so I sat down and ‘Orange Blossom’ came to me in a span of about ten minutes. On the other hand, ‘Adenine’ took about a week to write, and most of my other songs at least a couple days. I’m working on a song at the moment I think could take up to a month. When I’m writing I try to take breaks, and if I’m struggling for the right word or rhyme, I just let the idea sit for a while, and like clockwork, it eventually comes.
NBTMusicRadio: You describe your music as ‘’Gaelic Americana’’ when the songs are still in demo form, do they veer to one aspect of this over another, or are the nuances of both those styles added subtly in the studio?
Kyle: Most of my originals are stylistically Americana in terms of their subject matter. The Gaelic/Celtic side of what I do comes from a background of having studied Scottish Gaelic and having lived in places like Cape Breton, Ireland and Scotland. The more Celtic influences found in my album are due to the fact that it was recorded in Ireland and produced by Donogh Hennessy, with mostly Celtic artists in the collaboration. So while the music started off as almost straight Americana, the other influences were added primarily in-studio.
I think Donogh and I balanced each other well during the creation process, for example ‘Gaol ise Gaol i’ the one Gaelic track on the album, is where his Celtic expertise really shines, and he was certainly at the forefront for the vision of the song’s arrangement. However, when the song was nearly complete, I worried that it lacked the Americana influence that it the main theme of the album, so I suggested we throw in a banjo part, and surprisingly, it fit great!
NBTMusicRadio: ‘This Desert City’ marks a return to the studio after a lengthy absence , How easy was it to slip back into the ‘habit’ as it were, and what was the same and what was different compared to past sessions, technically and personally?
Tom: Recording has really never been a “rare” occurrence for me.
While “This Desert City” does indeed mark my return to the radio, I’ve always been recording something it seems. I did a few “Gospel” records over the past few years and am constantly doing “publishing” demos of my songs. I write almost every day, so there’s always something to record.
The beauty of the “This Desert City” sessions was that I once again got to record with some amazing musician friends I’ve made over the years in LA. There just is no better band for my kind of songwriting. Every player and singer on that record was a perfect choice. They happened to be friends of mine too, which made the experience all the better. This project also marked the return of my collaboration with producer Jeffery Cox.
NBTMusicRadio: The track, ‘’The Way Of The World’’ is a gentle bitter sweet take on fame that twists half way through to become a much darker thing, can you tell us more about the writing and creation on this song?
Tom: “The Way of The World” is really just a compilation of the many stories I’ve read about or seen happen while living in Los Angeles for all these years. The next “big” thing is celebrated then discarded day after day, time after time. “She was a French girl, she came to LA for the heat” is the opening line. The rest was easy. It’s a story of fame, lust and envy, with the darkest of endings. I’m pretty sure I must’ve read about the shooting in The LA Times but don’t recall for sure.
West Of Eden
NBTMusicRadio: the creative and recording process of this fine album is fascinating! Did these periods of isolation (the ‘Plura’ and recording at a remote coastal location, PLUS the tragic subject matter), affect the musicians mood in any negative way, after all on the surface of it; this is all rather dark stuff!
West Of Eden: Of course it had an impact on us. This is after all rather serious and tragic tales, but I wouldn’t say that it affected us personally in a negative way. I think that it made us work harder than ever before to create an ambience in the songwriting and recording that would suit the subject of each song.
NBTMusicRadio: on Songs like ‘Coffin Ship’ i was intrigued by the fact that there was a country/Americana feel to the music, how did this come about?
West Of Eden: I would say that the Celtic music and the Americana / country-music have a strong connection. In our part of the world (Scandinavia) we hear more of American music such as Emmylou Harris, Alison Krauss, Gillian Welch, Ryan Adams than Celtic music on the radio, so it‘s no wonder that there could be some influences in our music. That said, I think a song like Coffin Ship also has a strong connection to the music of The Waterboys which was a heavy influence on us when we started West of Eden 15 year ago
NBTMusicRadio:“Blame” is very Gospel in feel, a soulful requiem of sorts, did that sound spring from the subject matter, or was that something that happened in the studio?
Katrin: I wrote and previously recorded “Blame” in a more acoustic, stripped down way. The melody and lyrics have always been the foundation of the song. With the opportunity to revisit the song, and the atmosphere we had to record in ( a renovated church called Dreamland) That MUST have been an influence to the gospel comparison you speak of, but also, the musicians especially Daniel Weiss on organ made for a whole new vibe on this recording. Then there is the way that I have evolved as a singer, and there has been a deepening and a passage that I have experienced. I guess can attribute that to time, perseverance, and life kicking me in the ass. I keep coming back stronger
NBTMusicRadio: Songs like ‘ Far Away’ are pretty layered lyrically, both emotional and story driven, how long do you ‘live’ with a piece, before you take it to the next level of Musicians and the studio, and once there do you sometimes find that the process takes them into completely new directions or do they stay as close to your original concept as possible?
Katrin: All the musicians helped me take this song and make it into more. They rocked it where it called for it, and brought the intimacy in the lyrically vulnerable moments. Jerry Marotta produced this song and it was one of the first tracks we started with in the studio. I wrote part of “Far Away” a long time ago and decided to put it in the junk yard and scrap it for parts. It was either that or put it in the song cemetery. (A Scary place!)
That is when the chorus came to me “Got a minivan, parked right outside. Got a full tank, I could take a ride” and I thought about the person I was when I began writing the original tune. Stuck, and torn in a relationship I needed to leave.
It wasn’t long after the new chorus came, that the song was fully arranged and ready for musician’s input and some pre-production rehearsals.
There are so many ways songs journey to their fruition. This one was particularly long, but that’s what it needed I guess. It was worth the wait and to have the courage to allow the evolution to happen.
All these artists and the songs they talk about can be heard every day on the NBTMusicRadio
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all the very best Jazz and blues and beyond. from roots music as far back as the 20s and 30s to the latest experiments within the form.
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NBTMusicRadio presents the finest new independent creators of that strange difficult sweet thing we call the SONG.
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Along with our normal cool selection of Independent men and women skilled in the fine art of creating the perfect song we also have:
In November/December Featured Artists brought to you by the wonderful folks at Hemifran
An independent A&R, promotion and marketing company, based in the heart of Sweden,
The Artists they represent range from the USA’s finest Americana/Country/Rock outfits, to Europe’s most talented singer/songwriters, and EVERYTHING in between.
We asked some of the Artists featured a few questions about their craft and the creation of their music.
NBT: Why the Blues in 2011? What can a youngster discovering your album or indeed hearing Robert Johnson for the first time get out of that experience in this all too cynical age?
Marshall: I would hope that they would discover that the Blues is a “healing” music. It allows you to express what you feel any way you want. Some people say that the blues is a down music; you know it’s sad and depressing, but it’s not. The blues is actually a happy music. You may be singing about some bad patches in your life but through the singing you are working through it and passing on a lesson to whoever is listening. Through the telling you feel good and so does the listener. Everyone can identify with the blues. Blues helps us laugh at our troubles, helps us put them in perspective and helps us move on. It lets us know that we are not the only ones that have experienced bad patches in life and have got through them and moved on. I’d also like the listener to discover that when playing/singing the Blues you need to be real and you need to be able to tell a good story. If you’re singing about a break-up in a relationship, well, you really need to know what a relationship is all about. You need to have had life experience to really put the emotion, to put the feeling, to put the healing aspects in your song and into the Blues.
NBT: Your band on the album is extremely stripped down, minimal, what was the motivation for that?
I’ve labeled my style of music “Neo-Delta Acid Blues & Roots” – Delta-style Blues & Roots with a Raw Edge and an Acid Twist – to describe the combination of all the various styles of music that I’ve played and now infuse into the blues and also for my fiery and adrenaline driven approach to playing blues & roots. Ultimately, it is important to me to respect the tradition but also make each song my own. Originality is very important to me!!
When I write and record my general rule of thumb is “less is more”. My approach to writing and playing music is simply to have fun and let the music flow. I like to picture the listener sitting and listening to my music at 3 a.m., closing their eyes, and feeling as though they were in the room with me. I want it to be a very intimate musical experience for the listener. Ultimately I would like my fans to say and remember that my style of blues was original and that I brought something new to blues and roots. I want them to say that I had a unique sound and that my music made them feel good and less alone in this world – that my music made them feel connected to others, to me, to my music, and to the Blues.
Marshall can ALSO be heard during the NBT JazzNBlues Hour which goes out every day at 9 PM Berlin Time (3 PM New York Time)
NBT: Virtually every song on the album sounds like a potential single, is that something that you strive for, from the writing thru to the studio, or is it something that just ‘happens’?
Happy Endings: Kind of, we did write 40 songs for this album, which we made demos of. We played those demos to our friends and family and a select few fans and these were the 14 songs of those 40 that got the most thumbs up. There were some which I love which we didn’t record; maybe down the track we’ll do something with them.
NBT: I get the sense that the band would be great live, a party band as it were, yet the lyrics are somewhat darker than expected, how do you juggle those elements so well?
Happy Endings: It’s funny you say that. I wasn’t aware til all of the songs were all finished and we were listening to the album together and I thought ‘jeez, there are some dark lyrics here’. We are not dark, sad, morbid people. We are always having a laugh and in good spirits, perhaps by writing darker lyrics we get rid of any negativity in our lives and can just be happy all the time. Music is our therapy I guess
The Happy endings will ALSO be going out during the hours of 5 pm/6 pm Melbourne Time (8 am / 9 am Europe time)
NBT: The songs date back as far as ten years ago, why did it take so long for them to get onto an album, and why now?
Gerry: It has taken this long because we decided to gradually build our own recording studio for our CD projects rather than to use commercial studios. I have a large number of songs to record and it costs a great deal more to pay someone else for studio time than to use our own facility.
In fact, we are presently finishing a new CD, tentatively called ‘Not Noticing’. It has drums and bass on all the songs with the intention of making it a more “radio friendly” CD than ‘Moment to Moment’. It too has material written some years back as well as more recent compositions.
NBT: Chasing The Dragon tho written some time ago, could have been written right now about the tragic circumstances of Amy Winehouse, does it sadden you that this story never seems to get old.
Gerry: ‘Chasing the Dragon’ was composed many years ago when I was imprisoned in North Africa as a memorial to my dear friend and fellow inmate Ketami Mohamed whom we lost to a heroin overdose. Heroin addiction was and is a most pitiful and powerful sickness that continues to rob many people, young and old alike, of their otherwise useful and productive lives. It is indeed a human tragedy.
NBT: as I listen to the album, it seems to me to perfectly fit the autumn weather outside, was this ‘mood’ that runs thru the album intentional?
Dan: There was definitely a “mood” that we were going for, and I think that the Autumn weather is a good way to describe it. I wrote most of the album during the season of Autumn a year ago and somehow that may have crept into the overall feel of it. Autumn is my favorite time of year
NBT: for those of us that don’t know what exactly is a ‘Quincy Girl’?
Dan: A “Quincy Girl” was a term I used to describe a girl from the town of Quincy, Massachusetts, U.S.A., which is where my Grandparents met and fell in love. The song is about their 50 years together and their journey through love’s ups and downs. A girl from “Quincy” at that time, like my Grandma, was from the upper-middle class and lived more of a comfortable lifestyle, while my Grandpa came from a rougher neighborhood…hence the line…”I’m a poor boy, you’re a Quincy girl.”
NBT: The album, from the title on, runs counter to a lot of political thinking and posturing going on , not only in the USA but the world in general, has the album sparked debate? and how important is it for musicians to speak about issues such as this and Have you had any similar on tour experiences, like CSNand Y had in that recent film of theirs
Steve: The album started out as homage to the USA as a “melting pot”….my forebears are from Odessa and Warsaw. For them the American Revolution and Civil War were stories from the past. Yet immigration has become a hot ticket item and, in my view, a betrayal of our heritage, culture and notions of civility. It has never been easy for immigrants and the streets are not paved with gold but each successive wave of immigrants overcame discrimination and fought for the opportunity to break out and become an American. I am ashamed of the elements of the tea party and the Republicans who churn out rage and revulsion in the guise of public policy. So an album that was meant solely as a story of that history has polemical elements that take on BP and big oil, the tea party, Wall Street hooligans, the American right-wing and the menacing voices of Limbaugh, Beck, O’Reilly and Fox News.
Ultimately art has to be a reflection of society…if could be of past triumphs of the nation, the status quo or the aspirations of greater society. It is hard for me to detach from the real world I live in just because I am writing a song. I don’t know about other musicians because as a former elected official I am in a small class (although I didn’t make it to Congress like John Hall of Orleans) where political discourse was and is a big part of my life. People who know me understand where I am coming from and people who meet me or listen to my music certainly will very quickly. While my music is not dominated by political diatribes I do admire artists, writers and musicians who wear their convictions on their sleeves and still do not compromise their art. I was at shows by CSN&Y, C&N and Stills and I admire their willingness to stand up (and take them on)…maybe that is what my song is all about. If I have occasion to sing on a mass level I would like to have their courage.
NBT: ”The Flood’ in particular oozes with the blue collar anger and mystic that Springsteen has made his own over the years, is he an inspiration?
Steve: Of course he is. I greatly admire Springsteen’s energy and commitment. He is not that much older than I am so I would say that he probably has built on the tradition of his forebears: Stephen Stills (a former delegate to Democratic Party conventions), Graham Nash, David Crosby, Neil Young, Jackson Browne, George Harrison, Bonnie Raitt, Harry Belafonte and Paul Robeson. Tom Morelo is one of the great followers of that tradition today.
I also want to thank you for picking on “The Flood”. The song is all about the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico as well as the widening gap between rich and poor and the resultant concentration of power and wealth in America. While I have aspired and grabbed on to a piece of the American dream I don’t see that as an end unto itself. I see the real dream as a continual struggle not just for self actualization and success for your family…but for the community and nation as a whole. While some embrace the constitution as a sacred document…I view it as an imperfect yet remarkable legal foundation for rights….that must continually be read, interpreted and implemented. It is not static and it is not a religious tract. Moreover, the dream does not come from the words of the constitution but the living of the principles that are found within
NBT: A lot of the songs on the album have a very 70s/early 80s Blue eyed soul kinda feel, (early Hall and Oates for example came to mind) can you share some of the artists that inspire you musically?
Marcus: I am inspired by a number of different artists and styles of music beginning with my father Steve, who is an amazing songwriter. (He could be compared to James Taylor and is also heavily influenced by Ray Charles.) Perhaps this is where some of my soul sound comes from.
By default, I am influenced by his original music and the artists he loves (The Beatles, Stevie Wonder, Paul Simon, James Taylor, Ray Charles, etc.) Having this background gave me an appreciation for great songwriting and once I started playing guitar I began listening to many diverse musicians.
To name a few; Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Billy McLaughlin, Tim Reynolds, Sting/The Police, Bela Fleck, Victor Wooten, Pat Metheny, Dave Matthews, Al Di Meola, Vicente Amigo, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Bonnie Raitt, Derek Trucks, David Crosby, Brad Mehldau, Bob Marley…
There are so many great musicians and I pick out different things that I appreciate about each one of them. My sound comes from combining eclectic influences and techniques to create something new, original and innovative.
NBT: Eleven is a gentle revolution song, a subtle call to arms yet also intimate, tell us more about its creation and writing.
Marcus: Eleven was written when I lived in Seattle. I was up late writing a song and I had reached dead end…I began playing something totally different to take a break and that is what became Eleven. It was an almost instantaneous guitar part and the lyrics also came to me very quickly. I had the chorus done before I went to bed. For me, this song represents something I have always wanted to say. It is a subtle call to arms in the sense that is asking people to unify to change the world in a positive way. It is also recognizing the infinite possibilities of the future. Even the title Eleven comes from the numerology 11:11 meaning we are all one.
NBT: Does an ‘alternate version of a ‘Delicate Dance’ with the lyrics sung exist, perhaps to be included on a retrospective box set in a few years time!
Janni: It exists only in my mind at this time! Yet, it is something I would love to see happen further on. The lyric is still in poem form, so it would need to be altered significantly in order to accompany the existing melody … or the melody altered to accommodate the lyric. So, now you’ve inspired me to revisit this sooner than later!
‘A Delicate Dance’ is actually a reprise of a melody of another song on my album, ‘The Buckeye Tree’, which was written several years prior. In 2008, when I met Johan Seige of Vasteras, Sweden, we were attending a week-long Listening Room International songwriters retreat in Big Sur, California, and Johan was to become my co-writer on both of these songs.
At our first writing session, I brought along the poem, ‘A Delicate Dance’, that had come to me in a dream a few hours earlier (which rarely happens…let me just point that out!) and I also brought a verse and a chorus melody. I intended only to ‘show’ Johan the poem, and perhaps work with the melody, but he was very emphatic that he felt they belonged together!
However, I had nearly lost my voice with laryngitis and could barely whisper, so singing was completely out of the question for me! And though he has a brilliant memory, Johan happens to be blind, so it was not possible within the time we had together, for him to memorize the poem and sing it back to me in order for us to develop it, so we simply decided to let it be an instrumental piece inspired by a poem. Johan then wrote a beautiful bridge which tied all the elements together, and it became the song form that appears now on my album. And as for the future … “a retrospective box set” sounds like a brilliant idea!
NBT: So much care was taken with the stories behind the songs, the booklet with the CD was a pleasure to read as the music played, does this filter through into your live performances, do you see yourself as a storyteller ?
Janni: Thank you, Martin! … Yes absolutely, I do consider myself a storyteller! In fact, a storyteller even before a vocalist, musician or performer. In live performances, I do attempt to keep the pre-song-ramble to a minimum, as my songs hopefully speak for themselves … but I will tell the ‘occasional anecdote’ or some randomly related storyline with a tidbit of mirth… And I have been told on a number of occasions over the years,that people come to my shows for the between-song stories and humor, almost as much as for the music. This seems to be a good balance “live”, because I tend to write ratherweighty, poignant material.
Inspiration for my songs have come in many ways … more often than not … I am daydreaming at the piano and some musical phrase surfaces on it’s own. Once in a while, the words will come at this time, but usually there are only emotional ‘images’ that present themselves in the form of melodies, and the story must be developed from that point … translated from an interior dialogue of image and emotion, to a language that is more tangible and understandable to others.
And when I am inspired by an idea … whether it be from an image in a film, a passage in a book, drifts of conversations overheard in the clatter of a cafe, or even an encounter while waiting for a light to change at an intersection … whatever the circumstance, I still eventually go to the piano, my primary instrument, to “translate” these things for me.
Since we are on the subject of storytelling, I must mention that three of the songs on my album are co-written with my friend and longtime lyrical collaborator, Vivien Kooper of Los Angeles. (A Train In the Distance, 1989; This Road Of Your Own Making, 2009; andAll My Days, 2010). We have been writing together since 1988, and it has always been a total joy and an inspiration to work with her. There is a kindred spirit in our creativity, and the way we work together has always been the same. When I receive a lyric or a poem from Vivien, in the first moment that I read her words, the melodies arise unbidden! I’ve never had this experience before with any other writer. It is absolute magic!
I have tremendous respect and admiration for her talent and sensitivity, so when I approach her lyrics, I do so with the utmost care not to change a single word. On occasion, this is not possible and I must change a few lyrics or write a few lines to balance the composition, but generally, the melodic structure is built completely around the framework of her perfectly beautiful lyrics. She is one of the finest storytellers Ihave known, and through working with her, I have deepened my own lyric writing.
When I’ve been asked what ‘kind’ of music I write, I often say that I write “story songs” …which I realize is a fairly baffling term … but I continue to use it because it means something to me. As I have always traversed a number of musical genres in my writing, I still cannot say for certain whether I am a Folk, Pop, Country, Roots or Americana writer … but instead, an amalgam of all these. What I can say is, a common thread that runs through my music and through each of my songs regardless of genre … is that at the heart of each song … is a unique story.
NBT: ”Just Because” from the windswept lonely intro through to the lyrics, could very well be sung by an elder statesman of music, ( it would fit oh so comfortably on the last few Johnny Cash albums for example) can you tell us a bit more about its creation?
Simone: I think how you describe the intro is pretty fitting since the song is really about the kind of choices only you alone can make. The journey that leads to those desicions can feel a bit lonely at times, a little hazy while wandering around and groping for answers to the big life stuff and the little stuff too. There are so many ways to go about trying to live your life right, and figuring it out can become pretty comical, so I think there is some humor in the song. I’m poking fun at myself a little bit
NBT: Time, and the way it can be lost, or misused is a theme that runs through the album, so there is a hint of regret spicing up the set, though there is also a lot of hope filtering though, as a songwriter how do you balance regret and hope so well?
Simone: For me, they have been tightly linked. Regret, and I mean really steeping in it (like a cheap tea bag), has lead to hope, a kind of evolution. As for the concept of time, I don’t know anyone who isn’t fascinated by it in some way. It’s a beautiful puzzle, and a slippery sucker.
NBT: tho acoustic, the songs all have an extremly modern feel to them, is this balance tween the old fashioned and the new daring and dark difficult to maintain?
GT: I think that because our influences are all pretty retro, from the 60′s and 70′s, the songs come from a certain place in time, but because we record them in quite a modern way, and especially with Tim’s lyrics having modern references – he mentions You Tube in one song – those things combine to make the songs sound the way they do,
NBT: Death crops up quite a lot on the songs, tell us more about the songwriting and where does all this darkness come from! ha ha
GT: I guess that Death, or the spooky images we have played on in the past, is quite evocotive. It’s also metaphorical. The death of something, an ideal, a relationship, and then sometimes a life itself. We’re also pretty deep thinkers on our better days haha! Maybe thats why we are more partial to those subjects.
NBT: I have been told that the new album will be very different to the ones proceeding it, tell us more.
GT: Well, it wont be free form jazz or anything but yes, it is certainly sounding more polished, with some new instruments being used. Full drums for example, as opposed to hand percussion…bass guitar too. We have also done away with the more complex guitar tunings used – as they are a nightmare on stage when we are constantly having to retune. It still sounds like Ghost Trains, but with a richer, fuller sound.
NBT: ‘Electric Fields’ is a haunting song with a tightly wound sense of anger thrumming through it, can you tell us a bit about the creation of this song?
PB: It all began with the chorus . We found the hook and the melody to build around.
Then the verses was like building a house brick by brick .
It ended up with a story about modern journalism.
The contrast and choise between being a jounalist, who is honest having a vision or being commercial and selling out for the succes itself.
And it`s in a kind of philosophical lyric, where the singer is a little bit of a sensitive professor (I think)
The arrangement of the song is very much Poor Billy.
On other songs of the album producer Thomas has been in with some good ideas to the arrangement. But this one , he just took it as it was.
NBT: The album is steeped in americana root rock n rll, how do 4 guys from Denmark latch onto that sound in particular, and what kind of audiences do they find they get for their music in Europe?
PB: I think it is like in Asterix, you know with Obelix…. We fell in the pot , when we were small ….. no just kidding.But we have a natural love and instinct for the style I guess and that makes it.
Our audience is for sure grown-up people in the age from 25 -55, but sometime also younger people love the music.
NBT: There are several duets on the album, what is it about the female addition to the songs that works so well within the songs?
Simon: I think mainly there are two obvious purposes that give the extra flavor on this album. First of all, I think the dynamics between two people is more interesting than hearing the story of one. The album is not a “one person story” about me, it’s about us, people in general and I’ve tried hard to write songs that people can relate to. Second, my focus, in most of the songs, is to describe the relationship between a man and a woman so it wouldn’t feel right to leave one of them out of the song. All my songs describe the context around us and the relationship between us, just the way it was made from the start.
NBT: I haven’t heard a Seeger cover for ages (since the Springsteen I would guess) what made you choose this song to cover?
Simon: It was a suggestion from my producer Glen. It was a way to place the album on the international map of storytelling, to blend in with my songs and to hook up with history. The themes I write about are timeless and have been the same for all time. The Seeger song is beautiful and I felt I could deliver it in a sincere and honest way- a tribute to him, to music and to our emotions throughout history.
The Good Intentions
NBT: Congratulations on winning the ‘Best Americana Band’ award at this years British Country Music Awards, for bands playing this kind of music, what is the scene like in the UK at present and who apart from the Intentions should a fan look out for?
GI: Thanks for your congratulations. The Americana/alt-country scene in the UK is quite healthy at the moment, in so far as there are some good singers and bands coming through, a small but devoted fanbase, and a great website: Americana UK. The problems are the same as elsewhere, I think, mainly that we get very little mainstream radio play and that it’s getting harder to find good venues to play – people aren’t going out as much because of the economic downturn. Other UK acts to watch out for are Redlands Palomino Co, Two Fingers Of Firewater, Southern Tenant Folk Union and The Travelling Band.
NBT: The Cover art for the new album is full of old pictures, are all those pictured related to the band members in some way?
GI: Yes, the photos are all from our families’ archives, and mostly of people who are no longer with us. If there’s a theme to the record, it’s of the passing of time, so we thought this worked well.
NBT: This all suggests a journey into the past, did the band at times find this to be a bittersweet experience, as they created the songs and continued on this adventure?
GI: You are quite right when you talk about many of the songs connecting with the past. As the writer of those songs, I would say that this was never a conscious plan. A lot of my songs are rooted in old time styles, musically and lyrically, and it’s just what I do, it’s the territory in which I work. As the record came together, that theme of recalling the past and of times gone became clearer to us all. Rick Shea, the producer, felt there was overall a melancholy feel to the record, and I think that’s true. I think for each of us in the band there are particular songs on the record which strike an emotional chord, so yes, you could say that it was something of a bittersweet experience, but I think the best country/folk music should make you feel like that sometimes.
NBT: ’Bow Down to the Master’, shares some lyrical themes with Harry Chapin’s ‘Cats in the Cradle’ what caused you to write this song?
Kevin: For Bow Down to The Master I remember that I was just sitting on my couch realizing how quickly my kids were growing up, and thinking about how at family gatherings, things were rotating. Where I used to be one of the young kids I then became an older kid, then I became one of the parents. Now I’m at the stage of life where I could easily be the parent of a parent . Anyway, it just made me realize how quickly time goes, how many folks pass on, and how precious time is, and in that times to realize what is important and sound that out.
NBT: Your writing is very, for want of a better term, conversational, almost like old fashioned letters, rather than over big ”statements” can you share some thoughts on writers that inspire you.
Kevin: thank you for your observation.. If my writing sounds conversational, it’s probably because most of my subject matter comes from journaling first, and that being a conversation with myself, I suppose one thing begets the next thing.. Observational prose condensed into song lyric. I hadn’t thought of that before. I appreciate how you got me to do that.
NBT: The New Album seems (specially the ‘Come out of the Dark’ half) to be much more internalized than ”The Scorpion in the Story” would you agree with that?
Tori: Yep! I don’t think I could have said it better myself. The ‘Scorpion’ record reflected personal experiences to a point, but generally-speaking, I was telling someone else’s (or many someone else’s’) story(s). ‘Until Morning/Come Out of the Dark’ is definitely the most personal collections of songs to date. The ‘Until Morning’ side is actually in chronological order – ‘Come Out of the Dark’ is a different story entirely.
NBT: having said that, Mama is feisty cinematic and a perfect choice for a single, was it one of those songs that you knew would be a ‘showstopper’ or was that something that became apparent in the studio?
Tori: Thanks very much – that was a song that was fun to play live from the very first, and I was happy that the live energy came through in the recording. It was one of the first songs we recorded, just always a personal and fan favorite. As an artist, you’re lucky when those two
things come together, ha.
NBT: The song, ‘Spaceman’, links itself thematically (style wise and subject matter) to Elton John’s Rocket Man and Bowie’s Space Oddity, but has a stripped down haunted feel all of its own, what inspired you to write this song?
Emily: I’m very happy to hear people mention the correlation between Spaceman and Rocket Man..Though it was unintentional! I actually was inspired to write this song during a dark winter night when our lights had gone out, I lit some candles and lined my piano with them and wrote that song! Oh, and the ascending guitar chord at the end, played by Jeff Pevar was tribute to Rocket Man.
NBT: You are quoted as saying that writing songs ‘takes you to a special place’ can you share with us the process a little, how much is the song developed before the studio and how much does it change once the musicians and producer chip in with their input?
Emily: My process is whatever it needs to be for that song. However the song wants to be written, I let it. I just let it come through- sometimes it starts with lyrics, sometimes with a melodic hook, or maybe just a feeling. My songs are always fully developed before I take them into the studio, otherwise, they’re too raw to finalize. After they are finished being recorded, it’s still the same song, but with more perspective- Perspective from the other singers and musicians, bits and pieces showing how others felt the song.
NBT: There has been a large gap tween ‘Low Down and Blue’ and your latest, what are the reasons for that.
Gordon: Yes, it has been well over ten years since my last recording and I have often been asked why am I not writing and recording. Well, I like to joke that I have been too busy playing music for a living to take the time to write and record music. There is some truth in this. Playing over 250 nights a year leaves little time for family and the business of living. I could have released one of several “live” recordings, during that period but chose not to. This would all change with prodding from my wife and some fellow musicians. I set aside time each day to work on new songs and eventually came up with enough material for a CD. Thanks to them for the push!
NBT: When hearing the album, its obvious that the blues, soul and RnB is in your skin and second(perhaps even 1st!) nature to you. How intimidating is it when there is such a rich history of standards to write your own material? and do you believe MORE artists should do so these days to keep the music alive?
Gordon: Although there is a long and honorable tradition with covering blues and jazz standards I believe the only way to move the musical form forward is to write new, original songs. I had planned on covering a few of my favorite songs for the new CD but ended up writing 15 songs which were edited down to 11. There just wasn’t enough room for all of my songs plus covers! Perhaps my next project will have a few blues classics included. And yes, it is intimidating to put your own songs out there with the standards being so high, but I hope my songs can hold up next to those of my heroes.
Gordon can ALSO be heard during the NBT JazzNBlues Hour which goes out every day at 9 PM Berlin Time (3 PM New York Time)
NBT: Ventilation is an interesting song, as it changes from tension to calm several times, has a gentle swing yet is very personal and blues intimate, all at the same time, can you tell us a bit about the creation of this song?
Maria: First of all, thank you very much for the nice comment. This is a song that I wrote several years ago and it´s very close to my heart. You know how things from the past sometimes haunt you, still after so many years. The song is about that and how important it is to just stop, breathe and think rational. It all started with me finding that chord changes on the piano that you can hear in the beginning. I thought it sounded a bit like circus music and when I wrote the lyrics afterwards. I really liked the contrast between the happy sound and the depressing words. You can hear Simon Westman on piano, he always understand the messages of my songs and Im very happy for that. He´s amazing.
NBT: ”I Left My Town” reminds me of something i would hear perhaps sung by sailors at the very end of the evening, or even a chaingang of those 40s black and white movies, what were your inpirations for this track?
Maria: I wrote this song when I was an exchange student in Paris two years ago. Living in Paris was something that I had wanted to do for a long time but I never had the courage before. Once I was there it was much harder than I expected it to be. I didn’t speak any french and all the classes were in french. I left my boyfriend and all my friends just because I wanted to explore my dreams. So despite that I had a great life in Paris, living in a house next to Seine and having a grand piano in my apartment, I still weren’t satisfied. I was missing something. One of those lonely days I sat down at my grand piano and just sang, not bothering about anything except my feelings. And the only conclusion I came to was that I had left my town. While we recorded this song in the studio in Sweden I had my dear friend Vanessa Matthys living in my house. I met her in Paris, she was also an exchange student but from Belgium. So in the end we both sing the phrase in unison and you are right, it´s almost like we´re the two sailors singing the final song before we´re parted.
Maria can ALSO be heard during the NBT JazzNBlues Hour which goes out every day at 9 PM Berlin Time (3 PM New York Time)
NBT: Is the single, Nice Weather’ a good indication of what will follow on the new album, or are parts of it going to be very different to that?
MP: Well, yes and no. The instrumentation and the over all sound will be recognizable from Nice Weather but I guess the new album will have a slightly different approach. Nice Weather was written almost 6 years ago, and frequently played live but never recorded. This summer we decided to finally get it “on tape” and we tried to catch the spirit of how things were back then. (Don´t know if we succeded). The songs for the upcoming album (so far under the name of “Marks and bleeds”) was written during this last year and the band and myself have grown older and become more introspective so to speak (probably as you tend to do when you get older) (and wiser?) and that will be reflected in both the music and lyrics. Musically the new album will have more of a mix between a folkish, country colour and ordinary rocksongs with a sound of the 70´s.
NBT: “Moving With Mrs Carter” will be your first solo effort, how different is it going into the studio to record a solo album, (even with many musicians behind you) to the dynamic that goes on when a band records?
MP; Well, “Moving With Mrs Carter” was kind of a semi-solo-project back in 2007 and and the upcoming album “Marks and Bleeds” will be an “even more” solo effort because most of the basic tracks (and some songs alltogether) will be recorded at home in my own studio by myself. One difference with a soloalbum compared with a bandrecording is that you actually have to stand for the music and lyrics and your personal performance all by yourself no matter how many musicians, producers and engineers that are involved. It´s kind of scary because you can´t blame anyone else if noone likes what you do. It´s like making yourself visible to the world from every imaginable angle and perspective totally naked. That is if you mean something with what you are doing, if you seriously want to touch someone out there with what you do you will also have to take the risk that you will be rejected but that I think is to really be alive, the tickle of it all…Another (obvious) difference (in my “aloneness”) is that you can´t get the same dynamic creative “take” (instant sensation – interaction) with the other musicians and you have to evolve your own (technical) methods to compensate that. There is also the lack of the “multicomposerinfluence”, that you get when you compose and record as a band. But at the moment I don´t really miss that part. It´s a thrill to be responsible for what you do and put on that tape, it’s like the feeling when you put a jigsaw puzzle together, sooner or later the bigger picture will appear in front of you… and you will be surprised! (and hopefully content….)
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