the power of pop interview
How does a singer-songwriter in the classic mold have a major label album in this unfriendly climate? Mmmm... Good question! I was fortunate enough to hook up with a bulldog manager who got my music to a very dedicated A&R guy who is convinced that things are will and are changing in the popular music climate. Just waiting for the worm to turn, so to speak.
How did you hook up with Adam Schlesinger? What
role did he play in
> terms of song arrangements etc? Are you a fan of theFountains of Wayne?
I met Adam in New York through a mutual friend. He has a great pop sensibility and added a lot to the arrangements. Eg, "Comfort" was a Paul Simonesque finger-picker on my demo- Adam heard it, got really pulled in by the chorus and suggested losing some chords and putting a trippier beat in it. It's one of my favorite songs on the record now, and it was pretty close to ending up on one of the 43 MOR records I'm going to make when I turn 40. FOW is and always will be a smoking band.
What would you say are your biggest musical
influences? What would be the least obvious ones?
Right now, I feel like my stuff is a decent balance of the more classic songwriters (Paul Simon, Beatles, Elton John, etc.) and an imposed restraint that comes from growing up with alternative American music and MELODY MAKER bands (Smiths, Charlatans, Mighty Lemon Drops, etc). My mom was a great singer who always had a lot of Southern Gospel music with tight harmonies playing in the house; that influence might be less obvious since I'm not, you know, Nell Carter.
What do you hope to achieve with Mine and Yours?
What are your promotion plans?
I want it to sell more each week than the last over a long time period. I want to stay on the road and keep playing it for people. I've had a little time now to absorb the initial jolt of making a record for a major label, and it still always comes down to convincing someone that they have to have your record because it was great live. In that spirit, I'm trying to make sure that the promotion is long and spread out- more of a year-long plan instead of coming out of the gate with a huge radio campaign and then getting the plug pulled if it doesn't immediately pay off.
What does success mean to you? How would you
measure such success?
Success is really just being happy. I have a hard time relaxing and enjoying what I have sometimes- it always feels like I should be working harder. But the trick is to stay in the moment, remaining aware of the small stuff and happy with it. "Hey! We're in the amazing city of... Lexington. Ummm... everyone join hands and say the Serenity Prayer before we check out some of these strip malls and eat another burger..." Well, I guess that's a successful attitude, right?
Some more queries on the songs on Mine & Yours.
"Flamin' Angel": You refer to your mom as 'the flamin' angel' in the liner notes, are lyrics like "There she goes, a love alive. The highway sings her lullaby" meant for her? And in what context?
Yes- it's about recurring dreams of childhood midnight drives we used to go on.
"Mine and Yours": "So take off your dress, don't worry- take off your boxing gloves.
There's nothing in your touch to hurt me but the punishment I'm
thinking of" Is the juxtaposition of sex and violence deliberate? Or is this a hint
of the inherent love-hate paradox of every relationship?
Mmm... yeah, pretty deliberate. Take it as you want.
"No One Left To Blame": This song has a very strong
McCartney meets Sting ambience - with
a gorgeous chorus vocal. How do you prepare for the vocal sessions to get that right effect? What goes through your head as you record these
Usually singing it a few times warms up the voice to the right level of creaminess. I think I'm just thinking about air and width.
"Girl on the Roof": "Is she jumping? What an evening.
To admire the view" - is this your idea of gallows humor? The
breezy tone belies the subject matter - it IS about a girl attempting suicide isn't
it? Where does the inspiration for this song come from?
This song came from seeing a girl threatening to jump last summer in NYC. There was a huge crowd gathered and they had the block sealed off. As I watched, I kept trying to think of what I would say to her if I were the cop trying to talk her down. Nothing better than big clichés came to mind, and "Love is in the air" had a nice ring of irony to it. It's more about the freedom of that moment where someone has reached the point of possible no return- very beautiful, actually.
"Only in the Movies": "You could be mistaken, lost in how it ends.
'Cause only in the movies things make sense. Let every stupid story take away your doubts.
'Cause only in the movies things work out" The melancholy is palpable in this song - who is the person (or type)
this song addresses?
Someone who is at the definite end of a relationship- it's comfort in the form of illustrating that so much of what you expect is generally fiction, so get on with it.
What inspires you to write?
Do you have a tried and trusted process or
is it on the fly? Do you write on piano or guitar or both?
Both- No process in particular- songs are just bursts of feeling you can encapsulate in 3-4 minutes, hopefully.
Are you satisfied with the results on Mine and Yours? What's next for
Yes, very. now we're just touring as much as possible. The shows are going really well, the people are responding. You know, like it should be!