I interviewed engineer and music producer John Goodmanson (Nada Surf, The Like, Eisley, Hanson, Brandi Carlile, Simple Plan) for SonicScoop.
Check out the interview over at SonicScoop!
I interviewed engineer and music producer John Goodmanson (Nada Surf, The Like, Eisley, Hanson, Brandi Carlile, Simple Plan) for SonicScoop.
Check out the interview over at SonicScoop!
I spoke to Steph Knipe of Adult Mom about the band’s upcoming album, U.S. tour, and playing Rilo Kiley songs on guitar.
Adult Mom’s new album, Soft Spots, comes out on 5/19/2017.
After The Show: So looking ahead to June, you’ll play your first west coast shows ever. What will those shows be like?
Adult Mom: It’ll be full band, and we’ll be touring out with free cake for every creature, which will also be full band. It’s a little daunting – we’ve never been out for that long, so I’m very scared about my health and stuff, but I think it’ll be fun. Hopefully there will be no issues.
Is there a song on Soft Spots that was the most challenging for you to write or record?
I think “Steal The Lake From The Water” was definitely the most intense song on the record, and it was definitely hard to write because I was very angry. And a lot went into recording it – we tried a lot of stuff and we were just experimenting a lot.
What about a song where the writing or the recording just went really smoothly?
I think a lot of the record was like that. But when we recorded “Same” – it wasn’t a full band song – but we were finishing up the record and we were going to add a song, and I had written a solo song and played it for Mike [Dvorscak], and said ‘what if we just put a microphone on the other side of the room, and I just play this nylon string?’ And we put it on the record. I did two takes of it, and we just added a couple harmonies and that was it. It was definitely the breeziest song to record and it was really cool how that worked out.
It’s interesting to listen to a song like “When You Are Happy” as a slower, acoustic song in its earlier form. Is there going to be any chance for people to hear the original incarnations of the new songs at all?
Yeah, definitely. I’m working on putting out a demo tape actually for all the songs on the record. I think it’ll be a show-exclusive tape, so you have to come to a gig to get it. Maybe, we’ll see – we haven’t worked it out yet.
A song like “Paws” is so good and catchy, and it’s also really short. When you’re writing, what makes you decide to end a song (and not add another verse, for example)?
I think it’s just when I feel like I’ve hit a resolve in the lyrics, where I’m happy with where I’ve ended up in writing the words — that’s why I end the song. It’s just one of those feelings where you’re like ‘I’m done with this train of thought.’ And a lot of the shorter ones just end up like that.
I’ve discovered so much new music I really like through your Twitter – bands like Infinity Crush and Crying.
I went to school with the members of Crying and that’s where I met them, that’s where I first heard them. Other bands like Infinity Crush I’ve met mostly through the internet. I used to be heavy, heavy on Tumblr and I met a bunch of those artists just through Tumblr and also being on Twitter. Every band has a Twitter so everyone eventually meets on that website.
I read that you played a lot of Rilo Kiley covers when you were learning guitar…”Pictures of Success” is a great one to play. What were your favorite ones to play?
“Science vs Romance” is definitely a biggie. “Wires and Waves.” Anything off the first two records. I only learned bar chords because I learned “Science vs Romance.” I don’t do Blake’s parts, I do Jenny’s parts (the rhythm guitar) [laughs].
“Survival” has almost a million listens on Spotify – that’s amazing. Do you have any career goals in terms of this next album that you want to share?
My career goal for this album is to try my best to not force wanting it to be successful, if that makes sense. Obviously I want the album to be successful. I want people to listen to it, to buy it, to come to my shows. But I’m trying not to put so much pressure on it, because it’s really scary and if nothing happens with the record, it’s a heartbreaking feeling. So I kind of just want it to exist and for people to like it. That’s all I can ask for really.
Sherri DuPree-Bemis of Eisley talked to After The Show about the band’s new album I’m Only Dreaming, her favorite lyrics, and touring with Coldplay.
Catch Eisley play at the Troubadour in Los Angeles (with Civilian and Backwards Dancer) on 3/27.
After The Show: I love “When You Fall” and “A Song For The Birds.” What songs from the new album are you most connecting with right now?
Sherri: ‘When you fall’ is a big one for me because it’s a love song to my daughters. It’s the first song I’ve ever written about them both, and referenced things about them specifically, so it’s pretty personal and close to my heart!
Did you call the album I’m Only Dreaming to poke fun at your long-term sleep troubles, or did you choose the title for a different reason?
Haha, no but that is actually funny and I should just tell people that! It’s actually a nod to the Beatles song ‘I’m only sleeping’. We’ve always been massive Beatles fans and when that idea was thrown out we just loved it and felt it was the perfect fit!
It’s interesting to listen to the progression from early Eisley songs like “Becoming You” and “Laughing City” (when you were a kid) to a song like “When You Fall,” which you wrote about your own kids. Lyrically, the songs on this album are still whimsical but they seem more rooted in reality and less fanciful. Was that a conscious decision or just a natural byproduct of being older and having your own family now?
I always felt that, if I weren’t a songwriter I would write books and I was heavily influenced by authors like CS Lewis, Madeleine L’Engle and Neil Gaiman as a kid and ever since I fell in love with that style of writing (fanciful is a good word), I have made a conscious effort to put that feel into my lyrics. It’s more fun to sing and I love the feel. But as I’ve gotten older and gained life experience, there’s more meaning behind the words.
After performing with your sisters and brother for so many years, how does it feel to take on more vocal responsibilities and rely on newer band members on this tour?
It’s been a learning experience – but a great experience! Everyone in the band is just so talented and kind and loves touring with us, and you can’t beat that positive energy on the road. Singing everything is exhausting but I love singing so much so it’s been really fun for me to push myself as a vocalist!
What’s one of your favorite lyrics that you’ve ever written?
Well since we’re speaking of ‘When You Fall’ already, one of my favorite lines on the record is in that song is says “Bless the day you came here, One came fast and the other brought snow”. I had both of my daughters at home and my first daughter was born very quickly and easily and the second one, it snowed in Texas as she was being born!
Anything you want to share about how you assembled the order of songs on the album?
I honestly let our producer Will Yip and my cousin/co-writer/bassist Garron come up with the sequence! I’m not skilled in that area.
As a teenager, you accomplished major (perhaps surreal) things, such as opening for Coldplay at The Hollywood Bowl. How do those earlier experiences in Eisley inform your attitude today towards making music, touring, and your long-term goals?
I just feel truly thankful! I got to do tours that other bands would dream of and had such rich and beautiful experiences. Through the years I’ve seen so many friends’ bands struggle and fall apart due to the industry and personal struggles and it’s taught me to continually be thankful for the fact that I’m still getting to play music that I love, every day, with people that I love!
Thanks Sherri! Eisley play next week at the Troubadour in LA.
Morgan Paros is a violinist and singer based in Los Angeles. She talked to us about her experience on the road, giving us an inside look at touring life.
After The Show: Have you encountered any unexpected or surprising things while being on the road?
Morgan Paros: This summer was my first bus tour and we slept on the bus most nights while our driver drove to our next tour stop. We had a full bus and when I boarded most of the beds were already claimed, so I ended up on the top bunk…and I was excited at first. The first week of tour I barely slept however due to the sway of the top bunk! I could literally feel my stomach lurching side to side at night. Yet, somehow by the end of tour I was totally acclimated and slept great at night haha.
Have you ever experienced any traveling or transportation challenges — like a bus or van breaking down?
Yes, nothing too dramatic…on my summer 2015 tour with Hunter Hunted, we were traveling back to Los Angeles and driving during the daytime. The bus kept overheating through the mountains in Arizona, so we would frequently pull over to let the engine cool down…which added many additional hours of drive time. It was a vicious cycle of having to stop to let the engine cool, but then adding drive time and more overheating.
How do you maintain relationships with family and friends when you work away from home so frequently?
Phonecalls and FaceTime become the best way of checking in with loved ones. On bus tours you get a little more privacy and daytime freedom since you generally wake up in the city you’re performing in. That always helps – then you have more of a routine and can make calls before your afternoon soundcheck. On van tours, there is generally heavy daytime driving which makes it harder to find quiet time to call before shows. Also, about a week into tour, I’m adjusted to my schedule and so is my family…and we are definitely supportive of one another from afar. I update them on every show, the sweetest fans I meet, and cool places I visit.
If I’m lucky, I also get to see old friends and family in cities I perform in. Lastly, my family will always make it to a couple shows on tour to visit me on the road! That’s the real treat too, because they always bring awesome food and goodies to share with the rest of the band and crew!
What about playing the actual shows — is it exhausting to travel night after night?
Yes, it is tiring to play shows nightly. But, there is a rhythm to it…music pun intended. There is an enormous energy and high I get from performing and meeting fans that carries me through any tour and often coming home is bittersweet…until I sleep in my bed again haha!
How do you get enough sleep, eat healthy, and take care of yourself?
On a bus tour, I sleep in my bunk at night during drives to the next city. Sometimes if I had a late night or didn’t sleep well I can catch a quick nap before soundcheck and get geared up for an awesome show. Eating healthy is getting way easier now that healthy whole foods are popular again. I always pack a giant bag of healthy snacks for tour in the event there’s nothing easily accessible. We are also big Whole Foods market fans and will frequently stock the bus fridge with goodies when there’s one nearby! Showering will happen at a “day room” (rented hotel room) or occasionally the concert venue will have nice showers.
Hunter Hunted is also big on working out. No matter the city, we will always find a cool place to run, play basketball, or even hit the batting cages. We actually have a special rating system for hotel gyms. We are known to periscope our workouts too…and I may or may not teach a class called “Hot Bod by Morgan” 🙂 You’ll have to check periscope next tour to find out!
Bo Boddie is a music composer, mixer, producer, recording engineer, and instrumentalist.
After The Show: What’s your schedule like lately? Do you spend more time composing vs mixing vs producing?
Bo: Busy. These days, almost all of the work I’m doing is for film and television projects. I’ve been doing a lot of work for Craig Wedren for the past few years, and that involves wearing a lot of different hats depending on the project. We’ve just finished two shows, Wet, Hot, American Summer (Netflix), and Blunt Talk (Starz). With Blunt Talk I was the score mixer, and with WHAS I mixed all the score and songs (about 25-30 of them). I also produced and co-wrote a song (“All Time”) as well as a bunch of miscellaneous music production and guitar playing…[I] will soon start working on the 2nd season of Fresh off the Boat (ABC), which involves a lot more cue writing. It looks like I’ll also be mixing a rock record that James Iha is producing as well.
What software and hardware programs do you use on a daily basis for composing and score mixing work?
At this point it’s about 95% Pro Tools, which I’ve been using pretty much daily since 1998. However, I also love using Logic and Reason, although, since time and compatibility with others are such a huge part of my job it’s hard to go out on a limb and use something other than Pro Tools.
What personality traits would you say make someone a great recording engineer?
Other than having great technical skills and know-how I think it’s really about being prepared for any request and staying in the service of the artist/project that you’re working on. It’s about staying humble, making everything seem smooth and easy, and of course making sure everything sounds great. An engineer’s role can be very small or large, you just have to know how much you need to put in to grease the wheels and when to just get out of the way.
When you’re working with artists from different genres (Santana vs Korn vs indie pop), how do you adapt between such stylistically dissimilar sounds? Do you approach each project with the same general mindset or is there a mental switch you have to make?
With such stylistically divergent projects there’s definitely a mental shift that has to happen. However, it doesn’t usually take long to establish a style of working that people are happy with, and from there it’s just about continuing in that vein. Obviously, to some degree you have to be a fan of what you’re working on as well. In my case, there aren’t that many kinds of music that I’m not interested in, so I look forward to working in different styles. There’s so much to learn about the subtleties of different genres, and when you walk away from each project you take something away that will help you bring insight to the next one.
You recorded, mixed, produced, and played bass and guitar on My Rocks Are Dreams by Psychic Friend — what was your favorite part of that process? How do you feel about the licenses/placements those songs got?
That was one of the first projects I worked on when I got to Los Angeles. Patty and I are friends and one day she mentioned she was working on a band with Will as a duo. They came over one day and we recorded some stuff. The songs were great, and I was really excited about working on the material. From that point on we got together whenever time allowed and filled everything out. I think the first song we did was “We Do Not Belong” and that established the overall tone of everything that came after it. Patty and I worked on 8 songs, and then Will and Tripp did the last three together at Dangerbird, although I did end up mixing “Quality Control.”
It was a great experience and I’m really proud of what came out of it; especially given that it was almost entirely recorded in a converted bedroom. All the song licenses were an added bonus. Of course I thought that the songs were great and lent themselves to that kind of use. However, once you start submitting songs to different music supervisors you start to realize how difficult it can be to get placements. I think it’s quite a testament to the quality of the songs!
You contributed articles and interviews to Sonic Scoop. How did that opportunity come about, and did you like that writing experience?
That came from my dear friend Janice Brown, who co-founded Sonic Scoop. We first met at Chung King Studios in Manhattan in the very early aughts. I was an intern and she was working a few nights a week as the receptionist; we became good friends and have always kept up with each other. When I moved to L.A. about five years ago she called me up one day and asked if I’d be interested in doing some gear reviews and interviews for the site and I took her up on it. I haven’t had as much time for it lately, but it’s a lot of fun to get out there and meet different people and play with new gear. I actually just wrote a review for them which should show up one of these days.
“Runaway,” “No Matter What You Say,” “Don’t Know How You Do It,” and “It’s You” are such great Imperial Teen songs. What was your experience like working on Feel The Sound?
It was a lot of fun. I love everyone in the band and it was easy to hang out with them and get things done. With that record they had done some of the basic tracking before I started working with them and they needed a place to do overdubs and record all the vocals. My family and I had just moved to L.A. from Brooklyn and I had a little studio in the back of the house we were renting, which I was thrilled about since, coming from New York, we weren’t used to having so much space. At any rate, the band would all come into town once or twice a month and we’d spend a day or two tracking vocals and other instruments. I’m not sure how long that went on for, maybe four or five months. Midway through we actually did end up going to another studio for a day to re-record drums as well as a couple of the newer songs…it’s a little fuzzy at this point which ones, but we did a lot of tracking that day! The album really came out amazing, I just listened to it the other day and it’s even better than I remembered.
That’s cool that you worked on the Reni Lane album — probably not many people have heard it though. How did that opportunity come about?
I actually only worked on one track on that record: “Ready.” That came about through my friend Sam Bisbee. He’s a great songwriter and performer and at that time I think he had just landed a publishing deal so he was working with all kinds of different artists, writing tons of songs. I had recorded and mixed a lot of his records so he was always hiring me to work on different projects with him. Reni had just landed a deal with Custard and Sam had a bunch of tunes on the album. “Ready” was actually one of Sam’s personal songs; Reni really liked it and wanted to do her own version. Between Sam and I we put together what’s on the record‚ and I programmed drums/percussion on it, played bass, and some keyboards as well.
Thanks for sharing Bo! Keep up with Bo’s work at BoBoddie.com
Check out our Q&A with Laura Burhenn of The Mynabirds — she talks all about songs from the upcoming album Lovers Know (which comes out this Friday)!
After The Show: Lovers Know has songs with really rich textures and sonic layers – how are you planning to reproduce that sound (especially the backing vocals) on tour?
Laura: Well, I’ll be touring with a full band and we’ll attempt to fuzz it out as much as we can altogether live. I recently bought this amazing magical box that I use to process my voice live. It creates loops and harmonies, and I like to joke that I’ve replaced my backup singer with a robot…
Bradley (Hanan Carter, who produced the record and whose vocals are all over it) is touring live with me as well, so we’ll be doing the female-male vocals live together.
What did you learn on your tour as a member of the Postal Service?
I learned so much on that tour! Above all, I learned that being good people should always come before making good art. Ben, Jenny and Jimmy are some of the most creative and talented minds I know and that I’ve worked with. But above that, they’ve all got hearts of gold. Seriously. If you’re going to ask a crew of people to leave their homes and help you give your vision to the world, it helps when everyone is feeling loved and appreciated and is enjoying themselves. It was a real joy, that tour.
And the light show!!…Although it was pretty hilarious that I never even saw it until I saw videos of us playing. Yeah — you’ve got to have a great team of people who can help you see the big picture. That’s another important lesson to take home.
In “Semantics,” the juxtaposition between water (half empty, ice, rain, the water’s edge, fog, storm, cooling down) and heat (a thousand suns, dry up, Roman candle, lightening up, fire) is brilliant. Were you consciously making a connection between how half empty/half full is sometimes just a matter of perspective and “you can move mountains with your point of view”?
I was thinking in really elemental terms when I was writing Lovers Know. I had been watching a lot of Carl Sagan’s The Cosmos and actually started out writing an album about string theory, and the ties that bind us together. And then my relationship fell apart and I found myself writing about love and heartbreak, but the elemental pieces (fire, water, wind and earth) — those remained, as well as the hope that still leads you on. I think “Semantics” perfectly illustrates that — how you hope against everything being prone to destructing and fading away in the natural world.
But yes, it IS all about perspective — that’s the joy of semantics, in general. Words create our reality, and we can use them to make it better. Energy can neither be created or destroyed, right? So it’s all about turning it into something good and useful.
What did you envision thematically with “Orion”? I like how the name “Orion” simultaneously evokes the constellation, the Greek myth, but how it also sounds like you’re singing “Oh Ryan.”
I have always loved the constellation of Orion best of all. He’s the most recognizable in the night sky, and one of the few you can find all year long. So I was thinking about that — about the constant of “him” in my whole life, and about the mythologies we build up around our perfect match and mate, the one who has got to be out there — if only we could just find them. And so I wanted to sing about that — about how the dreams we build up can both kind of mess up our ability to love someone in a real, earthly and intimate way, and also how the hope for that one true love can help lift us back up after we’ve had a deep heartbreak.
I hear a little bit of “Fallen Doves” in “Omaha.” What inspired you to write “Fallen Doves” – did you really see a bird on the side of the road in Arkansas, or is it entirely metaphorical?
When I was on tour with Bright Eyes, my friend Scotty McPherson who was playing drums told me this story his mom used to tell him when he was little — that if you found a dead bird on the side of the road, if you said a prayer to it, it would fly it up to heaven. I thought that was such a beautiful way to transform this sad image of death that all kids encounter and can’t quite make sense of. And after he told me that, there had been this story in the news about all of these birds mysteriously just dropping out of the sky over Arkansas. I just thought it was so beautifully poetic, that imagery…
I like the imagery of contrasts (all vs nothing, a believer vs no faith) you created in “All My Heart” and “Believer.” What feelings and moods did you hope to evoke with those songs?
To be honest, I still have no idea exactly what I’m singing about in “Believer” but it strikes a certain chord of truth in me (and other people), and so I know it’s right. And so singing it is kind of an act of faith. I think I felt utterly lost when I was writing Lovers Know. I felt like I was doing okay in life, but in a lot of ways failing. And finally I had to face the fact that I didn’t believe in myself. It had nothing to do with other people.
And admitting that aloud — how depressed and dark you’ve become — can be so hard to do. So I did it. I don’t think I had written a song ever about how wrong things were in my life. I’ve always been such a hopeful, positive person — always wanting to see the bright side. But sometimes you just have to admit that you’re not okay. And as you can tell in “Believer,” I wasn’t.
Thanks Laura! For more info on The Mynabirds (including tour dates), head to the band’s website.