Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Slow Runner Interview with Michael Flynn and Josh Kaler

Photos by Laura Means
Currently on tour with William Fitzsimmons, Slow Runner has recieved rave reviews for their live shows as well as their latest release Damage Points. I had a chance to speak with Michael Flynn and Josh Kaler about their current tour, the new album and of course manly facial hair. For more info on Slow Runner and a list of their upcoming shows, check out their facebook page!/slowrunnermusic?sk=info&closeTheater=1
How has the tour been thus far?
 Flynn: It has been awesome! We are on week three or four, of about ten weeks total. The shows have been awesome, with several of them selling out and every night there has been a good healthy crowd. Sometimes we get that and sometimes we don't, this has been nice to have a tour where we know that at least somebody is going to be there.
 Kaler: I has been really productive to say the least. A lot of shows!
What can people expect when they come to see your live show?
 Flynn: Well, they are going to be able to gawk at our ridiculous facial hair, except for Kaler(laughs).
 Kaler: Well, actually the best is yet to come.
 Flynn: Yes, I would like to plug the fact that the West Coast shows will probably feature a spectacular mullet. He's growing it now, and I think that we are going to be ready in time.
Sounds like you lost a bet?
 Kaler: Nope
 Flynn: No, Kaler has long been a champion of the mullet. When we were going to school in Boston, it was a six month commitment of growing his hair out and planning it. I went with him to the barber, I video taped it happening and then video him walking down the street with this glorious plumage(laughs). People driving by were honking their horns yelling "nice mullet!"
 Kaler: It was crazy, the immediate adoration just two seconds out of the door(laughs).
 Flynn: I have had this (points to his mustache) since December, and for some reason this area comes correct and the rest comes in "baby." I have noticed that the correlation between women who are repulsed by this, and men who give me the "nod of respect," is directly proportional. I am now getting the "nod of respect," that I have never experienced, but at the same time a lot of people find me totally creepy looking.
 Laura Means: No, not creepy...
 Kaler: Ah, but there is something underneath that(laughs).
 Flynn: "Not creepy, just disgusting." I'm going for the Sam Elliot look, the full Texan.
With such layered songs on the new record "Damage Points," do you find that it is a challenge bringing it to the live performance?
 Flynn: Totally.
Do you like the challenge?
 Flynn: I like not worrying about it, when we are making the record. When we are working on it, we
When we are working on it, sometimes we will occasionally joke "how the heck we are going to do this live." But we have never let that dictate what we do on the record.
 Kaler: Yeah, we keep them as separate things.
 Flynn: I think we have played pretty much every song live, in some form at one time or another. Some of the translate really easy, and some of them have to be re-invented. With the trio, like we have on this tour, there is a lot of re-inventing involved. When we are working, we can't really help ourselves. We like to have thick sounds, lots of melodies and other stuff going on...
 Kaler: Recording shouldn't be limited. If it sounds good, then do it. There shouldn't be limits.
Do you figure out how it is going to translate live, before you go on the road? Or kind of figure it out as you go along?
 Kaler: I think for the most part, we have had an idea on how it was going to work. Of course there is some trial and error, where there have been show where it didn't go as well as we thought. In those case, we will try something new.
The new record, "Damage Points," does such a great job of combining organic sounds with modern sounds. Was that something you decided on before you started writing/recording the record? Or is that just how it came out?
 Flynn: Well part of it. There is definitely some overlapl and a lot of things that we each have done, normally I do most of the electronic stuff and Kaler is the naturalist. Kaler has done some electronic stuff on this record, but by in large, especially with the making of this record I am trying to sort of drag us into uncomfortable situations and Kaler is trying to make it sound legit.
 Kaler: I do enjoy the ride though. I think we both challenge each other in that regard.
 Flynn: Most everything I do is programming and stuff like that...
 Kaler: He has his own studio in his home, so if he is going to get a song down, he doesn't have actual drums to use in the track. There are many parts on the record that are played by me, that he wrote or created through a drum loop. He doesn't really have access to drums or anything...
 Flynn: Nor skill(laughs). Luckily he has a surplus of both.
How did the writing for the record pan out?
 Flynn: Most of it I wrote in the summer of 2009, and another chunk of it was written this past fall. I think that "Damage Points" was the last song, and I wrote that in December. "It's Back" was a co-write, where Kaler had written the main loop of the song. He was working on something for a solo project, and I tried to write something for that, and it went through a zillion changes.
 Kaler: That's probably the oldest song on the record.
 Flynn: That was the first one written, and was done late Spring of 2009. Post "Mermaids(last full-length)" I went through a one year period where I only wrote one song. There were a lot of changes going on in my life, and I don't know why but nothing would come out. Writing that song got a lot off of my chest creatively, so then a bunch of stuff came out. Some of that ended up being the "Ghost Renditions" Ep we put out last year. Other songs made up a good chuck of this record("Damage Points"). There are still some songs from that period that will eventually find the light of day.
How did you guys decide what would go on "Ghost Rendition" versus holding out for "Damage Points?"
 Kaler: We didn't have a huge amount of songs at that point...
 Flynn: Right. With the EP it was more like the one where we would play around with string arrangements. So we basically picked three songs that fit that mold. "Ghost Rendition" the instrumental didn't have real strings on it, but the other two songs had real strings that we recorded and arranged. That was sort of an experiment for us, and it felt good to just do an EP of just three songs. A lot of the times when you start going "orchestral," it can easily become this bloated, melancholy thing. It is a lot less pretentious if it is just three songs, you can stuff everything into those three songs and it still feel miniature.
 Kaler: We wanted people to also press play again after listening to the three songs. I think it was only nine minutes long too, and after "Ghost Rendition" it goes into "Rainy Face" really well. I think that artistically, and aesthetically it was just a choice to do the three song experiment and nothing else.
How did "Auto Happy" come together? It is just so catchy!
 Flynn: Thanks! The lyrical inspiration came from a random girl's blog that I happened upon where she was talking about Captain Crunch, stating "Oh, this cereal makes me Auto-happy!" Somebody on a blog used that phrase and I was like "oh, that could be a cool song!" I had been kicking around this phrase "singing to the house plants," for a long time. A singer-songwriter friend of mine used that in describing playing music for nobody, not being famous sort of. Those things just came together and the rest was just fun and games, just wordplay.
So the lyrics and concept came first?
 Flynn: Yeah. I will write different ways, but usually the more cohesive songs come when I think "that's a good idea for a song," and then build it from there. Usually a phrase or a title.
With "Damage Points," what do you want people to kind of take away from the record?
 Kaler: I think that this album embodies what our sound is now, currently. Obviously its goal is to gain more fans, but at the same time it is artistic and authentic album thus far. We did everything ourselves this time around. It is what it is. We spent about three months in the studio working on this in the end. Hopefully people think it's fun, and has a little bit of darkness in there. I hope people latch on to the instrumentation also.
 Flynn: I totally agree with that. Lyrically, I think that it is about wrestling with baggage. As you go through life you pull this trail of crap with you, things collect in a shadow that is unavoidable.
Pefect day windows down, driving in your car, what are you listening to?
 Flynn: "Walking on Sunshine?" Too obvious(laughs)? I think it depends on the moment, because sometimes I would want to hear a good film soundtrack. Something off of the "Road To Perdition" soundtrack. Something beautiful like that, not something that you have to pump your fist to. By default I would say some Tom Petty.
 Kaler: Sam Cooke, something authentic and innocent.
 Flynn: I want to change my answer to Andrew W.K. (laughs).

Monday, April 25, 2011

Marksmen Interview (Matt Segallos, Christopher Brickman, Glen Espinoza and Reed Murray)

Photo by Laura Means
For more photos from this interview with Marksmen click link below:!/media/set/fbx/?set=a.549935059148.2064159.57701330
 I first heard this band play, when they were the opening act for Anberlin last fall. After the show I went back to their merch table, where all four members greeted me as purchased their latest EP. The guys were equally excited about me purchasing the record, as I was listening to it. I was really impressed that the guys were as energetic off stage as they were onstage, which is a huge rarity these days.
 With the March release of their highly anticipated album, "Sister of Mine," Marksmen are quickly gaining more and more recognition. I litterally have not been able to stop listening to this album for the past month. Matt Segallos' perfectly unique voice, floating guitar riffs of Christopher Brickman, paired with the strong and steady rhythms bassist Glen Espinoza and drummer Reed Murray absolutely blow me away. The best part is that they have more music in the works! For the latest news on Marksmen check them out at!/MarksmenBand

This project began with you two guys(Matt Segallos and Christopher Brickman), just playing some acoustic songs correct. How did you guys meet originally?
  Segallos: He(Brickman) worked at Sam Ashe, and I had walked in randomly and was just playing guitars in the store. I wasn't really looking to buy one, but just kind of playing around. I started to play a song by As Tall As Lions, and he walked over and said "You know As Tall As Lions?" and I was like "Yeah, I really like them." He went out to smoke, and I went out there too, and he (Brickman) was like "we should get together sometime and play some music, because I'm new in town." I think by the second time I saw him, he was really serious about us getting together to play some songs. We met and started playing, but we never really intended on it being just an acoustic project.
  Brickman: We just kind of started it and then we were just writing to write. We never set in stone that we wanted to play just acoustic or a full-band...
  Segallos: Or be a band, really. We just started writing stuff. We started off as Glascow, which was the three of us (Brickman, Segallos, and Murray) and a bassist. Things didn't work out and Reed mentioned that he knew Glenn, and word around town was Glenn was a good bassist and likes good music. He had seen us live and said he liked the show, so Reed talked to him and asked if he had any interest in joining. He did, so it has worked out seamlessly since.
"Sister of Mine" is a fantastic album (available for download at, how did you guys decide to release the full-length for free?
  Murray: We recorded the album last summer, and it has been done (artwork included) for over five months. We got to this point where we were shopping around labels, trying to find out what we were going to do. We were pretty much at a stand-still with that, so we were like "why don't we just release it for free and get it out there?" It couldn't hurt.
  Segallos: Our support back home has been good enough to where we did good on the first one(EP), and the EP since then and it worked out well for everyone. People have shown a ton of support by downloading the record!
  Brickman: We thought that we would get it in the hands of our core group in Tampa, around seven hundred people, maybe....
  Murray: And we have gotten hits from people all over the world. New Zealand, Australia, Malaysia. It has been insane. We had already paid off the album, so I just don't think it can hurt. I was talking to the drummer of Foxy Shazaam and he said "why don't you guys just release it for free?" We might as well. Now that it is out, we have a reason to write new stuff, and we are excited.
  Brickman: Because we have had it done so long, it is a little bit older to us. We have been working on all of this stuff since Sister of Mine, we are already looking for studios and producers to do it, so why not move on to the next step? But it is so new to everyone else, that we weren't expecting for people to react the way that they have reacted.
Were some of the EP songs on "Sister Of Mine?"
  Segallos: We took three from the Sister of Mine record and
Who did the album artwork?
  Murray: A friend of Justin Nelson an artist out of Tampa. His stuff is mind blowing, you should definitely check him out.
  Sagallos: Even though we only used one or two of the designs that he showed us, we would have loved to use all of the stuff.
So you guys are working on new stuff, how are you seeing the music panning out different?
  Brickman: "Sister of Mine" is a great album and the last step before where all went over the edge where we knew what each person was going to do next. I think that the new stuff will fit better with us personally, and I think people will like it too.
  Murray: It doesn’t deviate greatly, it's still the same sound...
  Espinoza :...We have just grown together as musicians. Its one of those things where it is going to me a much more mature version of us as a whole.
  Murray: We are trying to focus more on parts, musically, before we really write everything.
Do you guys write collectively, as a whole?
  Segallos: Usually, Chris or I will start and with an idea. For these past two, it will be a song with some lyrics laid out and a basic chord structure. I show it to them and we write the dynamics together. Or he'll (Brickman) show me a line or riff, and ask if it sounds good. I'm more scared of these two (Glenn and Reed), not liking it. Chris and I have been doing this together for a while, to where I know what he is going to like and he knows what I am going to like. I'm not always to sure that it is going to make the final cut(laughs). That's how we have been doing it.
How's the label shopping going right now, any bites yet?
  Segallos: I think we are all learning(laughs). It's a lot of "hey, love ya' brother, " then comes the big "but." I think we are all enjoying it.
  Brickman: Its a good chase.
  Murray: We've gotten a great response and they have been really positive. The thing is that we are still really new, and we need to tour more and get more experience.
  Segallos: We are in a really good spot right now. We don't really have the answers for aybody. Although I don't think that the records differ that much, if you listen back to the first one and the last one you can tell that they are a little bit different. But, its nice to not have to worry. We can find out what we want to do, and how we want to write together before there is that pressure or expectation over our heads. It has been good, and we have gotten some really good feedback along the way.
You mentioned that you feel that there are in fact differences between the first EP and the latest full-length. What would you say are some of those differences specifically?
  Segallos: I'm not AS crappy at guitar on the latest record, than I was on the first record(laughs). I think that the biggest difference is the bass playing, when comparing the first EP to "Sister of Mine." We got the bassist that we wanted, and it has definietly work out.
  Murray: We have a strong rhythm section now, and it has really made a big difference in the songs that we wrote.
  Segallos: I think that we made more room for parts, which is something that we are trying to get better at in the future. It's definitely something that I felt wasn't there on the first EP, where every one's parts were kind of on top of each other a little bit. I am really happy that everyone has a place on the new record.
Who are some people that you have looked up to in the past concerning stage presence? Who are some acts that just blow you away when they are on stage?
  Espinoza : We all come from such a huge pool of different musicians. We love a bunch of stuff.
  Segallos:We connect on a good amount of bands that we all like, but we also differ a lot on bands that we really love. I have always been blown away by My Morning Jacket's live show. It's not over the top, but has such a great vibe. They have such an amazing front man.
  Espinoza : I have always been into going to shows where the musicians put on a slow, other than just playing their music. For it to be interesting to watch. We always try to bring an energetic show where we are connecting to the crowd. When you see the live show, its obvious that we are all having a blast playing with each other. We want to make sure that everyone sees that we love each other, both as musicians and as friends.
  Segallos: We watch videos back and just laugh at the stuff that we do on stage. He (Brickman) and we have even head butted each other(laughs).
How did that happen?
  Segallos: I think it goes back to the comradery thing that Glen mentioned earlier. Chris and I have literally spent every day together for three years, non-stop. Sometime I will look back at footage, and there will be a moment in the song where we will have a surprise attack on Glen. He would be right in the middle of an accent/head-motion and he had his head back and then we just hit. Chris fell over one time and landed on his back and still finished the song.
  Brickman: A couple people caught me on the side of the stage(laughs), in the last moments of our set.
Who are some bands/artists that you consider influences (both past and present)?
  Brickman: I have always like Minus the Bear's guitar work. They have a lot of re-verb, and lots of delay. I don't think that I try to play like them, but I think that kind of comes out naturally.
  Espinoza: We are all Manchester Orchestra fans, and since that sound has blossomed a bit, we have all been going ten years and listening to what we grew up on. Latelyu I have been listening to Coldplay "Parachutes," and even some Smashing Pumpkins. I feel like all of as have common like for 90's rock.
  Segallos: I just recently downloaded 3 volumes of George Jones' greatest hit, which is something I grew up on.
  Brickman: Someone tagged our "Brooklyn" video on Tumblr as a sounding like Ryan Adams, and I can kind of see that.

Acoustic version of "Brooklyn":
Marksmen is:

Matt Segallos - guitar and vocals
Chris Brickman - guitar
Glen Espinoza - Bass
Reed Murray - drums

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Plug In Stereo Interview with Trevor Dahl

Photo by Laura Means
Trevor Dahl (a.k.a. Plug In Stereo) has gained a great deal of recognition in a short period of time, by hitting the road hard,touring with acts like Never Shout Never, the Ready Set and the Scene Asthetic. Dahl also has a knack for creating catchy acoustic pop songs, driven by clever lyrics and his unbelievebaly smooth voice. His debut full length, Nothing to Something," dropped earlier this month and will have you humming along in no time at all. Check him on tour with Secondhand Serenade right now!

How did you get started? Was it just you in the beginning?
Trevor: Yeah, it's always been just me. I got my start in a hardcore band actually, but they kicked me out when I started Plug In Stereo. The guitarist who plays with me during live shows, was actually in that band too. We went on a little break, when we were on vacation and I started on the side for fun. I made a couple of instrumentals, not really singing on them, and posted it on MySpace. People slowly began to like it, so I started singing on the tracks. I then took the project more seriously, so the band kicked me out and then I took it even more seriously. I started writing more songs and started taking song-writing more seriously. After my Sophomore year, I left High School and have been touring and stuff since.
You signed with Triple Crown Records in the Summer of 2010, and you are about to release your debut album. Can you tell me a little about the album?
Dahl: Yes the new album is called, "Nothing but Something," and is out right now. It's cool because i have only released three professional recording thus far, so with this album I have eight new professional recordings out. Before these, I only had demos and EP's that I had recorded in my house.
What attracted you to Triple Crown?
Dahl: We had been shopping around for a label, after we recorded the album. My manager set up a meeting with them and they dug on it. It worked out really well, and they were excited about having me on board, so we decided to do it!
How far do some of the songs on the new album date back?
Dahl: I recorded the whole thing last December, so it has definitely been a while. Once we got hooked up with Triple Crown, and figured out what we wanted to do, they decided on a release date a couple months later. It has been a long process, but it has been very cool at the same time. I am excited for people to hear it finally. I have been writing my second album since then, so i am ready to work on that now...
So you already have a second LP in the works?
Dahl: Yeah, i have nine demos for it so far.
Are you seeing a difference in your writing process between the "Nothing But Something" and the full-length that you are working on right now?
Dahl: The first was practically me by myself, without any co-writes except for two songs that we done after most of the album had been recorded. It was weird on the first one, because I was just out of school at home, and didn't know what to do because i didn't have any tours booked at the time. My manager advised me to start writing so we could record an album, while I wasn't touring. I just started writing while at home, but it was difficult because I didn't do much. It was hard to think of ideas to write about, because I was at home all of the time(laughs). I had to wait for something to happen, for me to be inspired to write a song, or something happening to my friends. This next album is much easier to write, because I am doing a lot more, and meeting a bunch of people. So a lot more ideas have been coming to my head, for sure.
You definitely seem like a guy who has worked from the ground up. What kind of advice whole you have for a new solo artist?
Dahl: I would just say to write as many songs as possible, until you are comfortable with it. Also, you need to be comfortable with who you are as a musician and what your music wants to like. In the beginning you are experimenting with your sound, saying thing like " I love this type of sound, I want to sound like this person." I definitely tried that, until I found my own sound. I would suggest that you wait a little bit, until you have four or five songs that are completely you and that doesn't sound like anyone else. Try to get those out to as many people as possible, and talk to as many people as possible.
Who are some of your main influences, both past and present?
Dahl: I used to be into a lot of pop-electro back in the day. I loved Forever the Sickest Kids, and A Rocket to the Moon (when he was more elctro). Now I am in to more singer-songwriter stuff, like John Mayer, Jack Johnson, Taylor Swift and Jason Reeves.
So you are seeing your new influences come through your new stuff?
Dahl: Yeah, definitely. they seem to have more thought in their lyrics. They have deeper lyrics that people are able to relate to easily, more so than regular pop music. I want to have those kind of lyrics that mean stuff to people, while still having a "pop feel" to it so that they can have fun with it.
How did the covers mix tape come together?
Dahl: I was waiting for the album to come out for forever, so we wanted to do something. My manager had the idea to cover four rap songs, after he heard me do a Kid Cudi cover. I did the Alanis Morisette cover, just to have an old song on their that people could dig on. It was fun to do. I like to do covers, and kind of put my own twist on them. Rap songs don't sound anything like acoustic, so I like to re-do them in more of a stripped down form. I even do it while I am at home, just hanging out.
How did you get hooked up with Cady Groves for the song "Oh, Darling?"
Dahl: When I was recording my album, she was recoding at the same time with the same producer. I recorded during the day, and she recorded during the night. So the producer had the idea to have Cady sing on the song. Originally, I planned on have my sister sing on the track because I had wrote/recorded the demo with her and brought it to the producer. We had Cady come in and sing the song, and I loved it so we went with her on the track.
What kind of advice would you have in terms of connecting to fans?
Dahl: Use social networking sites to your advantage. There are so many bands out there, so you kind of have to make a personal connection with fans. it's good to talk to people and let them know that you really appreciate them listening to your music. I really do like talking to people. Also, I really appreciate when people take time out to let me that they love my music, and I obviously want to take time out to respond to them, so I will!
Perfect day, driving, windows down what are you listening to?
Dahl: Taylor Swift, John Mayer, the Shins or Jason Mraz.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Matthew Mayfield Interview Part 2

Photo by Laura Means
Link to full photo shoot and concert photos:!/album.php?fbid=562387783788&id=57701330&aid=2065128
I got the chance to catch up with Mayfield before his album release party in Atlanta, and discuss the new album in-depth....

How has the tour been so far? I know it has been a little while since you have been on the road...
 Mayfield: It's been good man. We are still learning. It's kind of like we are getting our feet wet again. We started last week, and we are doing about five weeks of dates. Like you can see right here(points to equipment on stage), we are troubleshooting. We brought out some production, a little more light, a little more sound, just some things to just add to the show. We are playing small clubs, so we wanted it to feel like a rock show, so we have been adding a little bit more production to kind of give it a little more of a vibe. This is kind of the first time back in the van and the trailer, doing the whole deal. Getting a new band together has been a real challenge. Getting these guys to learn the new songs, play the record right, play with each other and do different things. Its a challenge, but we are getting there.
Where did you assemble the guys from?
 Mayfield: They are all Birmingham guys, which is hard to find. I think I have the cream of the crop with me right now!
When did you finish up the new record, Now You're Free?
Mayfield: We have had it mastered since last July, so it has been in the oven for a while. I have been saying that "I have been pregnant with this record, because nine months later it is out (laughs)." We finished it and I have been super happy with it. Usually when you finish a record, you hate the songs after about a month. You don't hat them, but it feels old. It has been nine months and I still love every song, I still love the record and I still love the sequence. I still wouldn't change any of it, which is a good sign. It feels like the right thing for me, right now.
With so much material to work with, how did you decide which songs you were going to re-record for the new album? Also, how did the new songs come into play?
Mayfield: Paul Moak, the producer for the record, I sent him all of the EP's and about twenty additional demos, so we had a lot to pick from in terms of material. There were probably fifty or sixty songs to pick from. We each whittled our lists down to about twelve or fifteen songs, and it was pretty amazing because our lists were almost exactly the same. There might have been one or two songs that were different. We just put our heads together, and originally I thought that it was going to be a big fight, but there wasn't any of that. We both felt that the repeat songs could have been better, so that's why we wanted to give them a better shot production wise. The new ones were kind of obvious. You would listen to the demos and be like "dude, you got to have this one on there." Sometimes you just know.
Who were some of the people that you worked with in terms of features and co-writing?
 Mayfield: I wrote the song "Ghost," with Paul Moak, and I heard him (Moak) singing on the demo and though that this song would be perfect for Bo Reinhert (NeedtoBreathe guitarist), because his voice is in that register. It is just a background vocal part, but the support was great and I sent it to him and he was like "yeah man, let's do it." He was really into the song, and I think that it is one of the more "rocking" songs on the record. I wrote "Fire Escape" with John Paul White (of the Civil Wars), and that was really easy. He and I have this unspoken chemistry. You don't have to think about it. You can just sit down, have some coffee or a beer, talk, and the songs just kind of happen. You don't have to really force it, or be like "hey here's my demo, or here is a song I have been working on." You just sit down and be like "hey, here is a melody that I have kind of been messing around with." Then from there, we will have a song written in a couple of hours.
Specifically with "Fire Escape," where did the inspiration for the lyrical portion come from?
 Mayfield: Late 2008 and early 2009 was kind of like the worst time of my life, and I'm not being dramatic. There were a lot of thing that were wrong, and a lot of really heavy things were going on in my life personally. I needed him (John Paul White), I needed a song and I need a place to kind of get it out. John Paul was there for me as a friend, and I really appreciated that because I just needed a place to go. He was actually the first person to know about the stuff that I was going through. In that way, pretty honored.
My girlfriend was at your show in Opelika, Alabama and said that in between songs people were shouting out song requests. When some people shouted "Element," you stated that you are still surprised people still want to hear that song, even after all this time. After "Element" has made appearances on the Moses Mayfield record and "The Fire EP," did you put a new version of it on Now You're Free because you feel that it hasn't gotten the recognition that it deserves?
 Mayfield: Yeah, I just think that it hasn't gotten it's shot. It's funny because I didn't have the song on my song list for the album, and then I sent the song up to my new management (Aware in Chicago). I trust them very much, so I sent the song up to them as an afterthought. I said to them "this is a song I wrote that is off of an EP, and everyone has always told me this should be on every record I put out, until it gets a shot. I didn't know if I should heed that advice or what." They both came back to me and said the record can't exist without this song. To hear them believe in it that much and to hear the people singing back at it in random markets, it just seems to be a favorite. Sometime I get tired with it, just because it has been around so long, but when I still listen to it on the record the arrangements are killer. Best version for sure. The Moses Mayfield version was a full production, and we kind of lost the plot. We started put too many tracks on there, and soon there was 120 tracks on there. It was just getting out of hand, so we stripped it back and added cello. We added some programming to it, and I love that. To me it feels like a Peter Gabriel song, in that there is a lot happening sonically.
How did you come up with the ideas for the EPs? 
 Mayfield: My manager at the time was like "hey man, maybe we should do a free compilation for the holidays." So we did the Maybe Next Christmas album in December of 2009. We decided to put some b-sides and unreleased stuff, and give it away. It went over so well, so I was like "let's try to do one of these every month." It would be a challenge to me as a writer. I had about a third of the songs were already there, but then it was just a challenge to kind of come out with new stuff and push myself. I wasn't touring a ton, so that was my focus, "I want to put out a great EP each month." We did five of them and they all did really well. I feel that people love constant output, and I felt bad not putting out music for almost a year, but I feel like it was necessary to put out a record that made a statement. Like in order to make a record that we wanted to really matter, and make a statement with, we need to take some time out of the constant output mode.
What song were you most pleased by its outcome on the record?
 Mayfield: Its so hard to say, but I would have to say Now You're Free, the title track which is probably going to be a single. As soon as I wrote that song I immediately knew that it was the hook that I wanted, and the anthemic feel. It had that "Piano Man" sway to it, and a lot of guts to it. The hook itself, and the message of the song just felt like a bunch of people singing at you, even though you are in your tiny one-bedroom apartment sining it yourself (laughs). As soon as I sang that melody, I knew that if I worked hard enough we could get some people to sing back at us. I would love for it be Madison Square Garden, but if its Smith's Olde Bar I'm happy.
I think that you will be there soon if the record continues to climb the iTunes charts, like it has....
 Mayfield: We'll see man. Its doing well, so I'm excited to see if it will keep up. We've even shot some videos for the records, like we did one for "Missed Me"  that should be out this week and one for "Now You're Free" which will be out in the coming weeks, and hoping to do one for "Fire Escape" as well. I think that video content is really important for artists these days. Not necessarily for MTV, but to really just get your name out there as a business card. Nowadays, when people want to hear a new song by an artist they immediately go to YouTube. Stream it.
Stage presence wise, who are some people you have looked up to in the past? I know you have always been a big Slash fan....
 Mayfield: Yeah, Slash is going to be there. Slash, Springsteen, I take a lot of ques from a lot of people. Michael Stipe(REM), Eddie Vedder, Julian Casablancas from the Strokes. I even like William Gallager from Oasis, as much as I make fun of him, I think he's an amazing front-man. I tend to gravitate towards the great rock-and-roll front men, the guys that are very "bare bones." I like Bono, I like Chris Martin(Coldplay) and I like the running around. I think they are amazing at it, but I think that there is something great about a guy that can captivate a room, and very little movement and running everywhere.
What would be your advice for D.I.Y. bands/artists?
 Mayfield: There are so many things. Just never rely on anyone else to get it done. I signed to a major label and we relied on them for everything, their money and opinions. Now I've got these guys with me, I have a little bit of a crew, I've got an agent, a management company. I started all of that from nothing. When I made The Fire Ep, there was no manager, there was nothing. Now its 2011, I'm still playing in a 100 cap room tonight, but I've got these guys with me, I've got a van and trailer in the back, I've got a record out. You have to do it for yourself and you have to try and pay for it yourself. I can't pay for it myself, so you should get the fans to help you out, that's what I did. Do a PledgeMusic, do a KickStarter, give your fans something back. Give them handwritten lyrics, demos, give them whatever you would wanted from your favorite band or artist. Its a vinyl, its collectible. People don't buy a vinyl if they want to hear you for the first time, people buy vinyl and pay $40 for it because its signed and has alternate artwork, its a collectible. That's what this is about. The fans keep you alive more than ever these days, because if you don't have them, you might as well go home. I'm not saying I have a billion fans, but I have enough to keep me going for a while.
Perfect day, driving in your car with the windows down, what are you listening to?
 Mayfield: There are so many good ones. Of the top of my head I would say "The First Single" by the Format, Arcade Fire's "Keep the Car Running," Oasis "Morning Glory," Guns 'n Roses "Night Train" and the Rolling Stones "It's Only Rock n' Roll." Those are some windows down songs.

Link to Mousertime review of Now You're Free:
Link to Mousertime's first interview with Mayfield :

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Jacobs Ladder Interview with Oren Maisner (lead vocals/guitar)

With constant touring and over five hundred shows under their belt, Miami based progessive pop/rock trio, Jacobs Ladder is back with a brand new EP. "Back to Life," released indepently by the group, provides listeners with the perfect soundtrack for their summer vacation. Jacobs Ladder's new album will have you wanting more of their unique sound, immediately. I had the chance to speak with vocalist/guitarist, Oren Maisner about the bands latest EP...

With your new Ep, "Back To Life," what were some things that you approached differently in comparison with your previous works?
We set out to craft catchy hard hitting songs with integrity. We really wanted to produce a tight EP where all the songs had their proper place and feel. We invited and welcomed different styles into the writing process that we previously had never tried before, such as ballads, R&B grooves and pop/punk breakdowns. We pump up listeners on our up-tempo rock driven title “Back To Life” but then on "Enchantment" the listener gets a sense of romance.
How did the writing process pan out for this record?
Portions were conceived before we were of drinking age & others we joined forces for in the van. Mostly our dueling acoustic guitars and "morning voices" evolved into multiple choice options with electric guitars and drums in our warehouse. We all play guitar and write, which gives us common ground. We start with the riff, Sammy and I then get together and write vocals. Brian plays a big role in the transitions and rhythms.
We ended up recording 15 songs and then picked 5 with our management team to record with Carlos de la Garza in LA. Carlos helped us really match everything up sonically and challenged us to make every part as full as we could.
What attracted you to the idea of working with Carlos de la Garza? What were some specific things that he brought to the table?
Carlos worked with Mark Trombino for many years, who we’re big fans of. Bleed America and Dude Ranch are two of our favorite records.
Working with Carlos we wanted to achieve that "punch you in the face with our guitar while serenading you" sound. He ended up being a super rad dude. He had great ideas, and challenged us, but never made us do things that we didn’t like. That was in itself really nice... Everything just felt right.
What would you like for people to take away from this record?
A sense of fulfillment mixed with a yearning for more. When the listener finishes hearing the EP we want them to feel like they've spent the summer with a new lover who is everything they've dreamed of and the thought of summer ending is killing them! With this record we intend to invoke excitement, joy, a touch a sadness and most of all optimism. We built this band from ground up and we finally feel like the product we've created represents us fully.
How supportive has your hometown crowd been?
Our hometown crowd is everything to us. They keep us on our toes, and make us always want to step it up a notch.
Everyone in our South FL scene has always been behind every tour we've embarked on as well as every record we've put out. We love our hometown and feel we owe it to them do our part in generating as much of a scene as we can.
A bunch of great bands have come out of the South Florida area, who are some of your favorite local bands?
New Found Glory, Poison the Well, Torche and Dashboard Confessional. There’s also lots of up and coming bands like Capsule, Rachael Goodrich, and Arboles Libres.
What can people expect when they come to one of your shows?
We all have the instinctive nature to be aggressive performers. We like to be in your face and dripping with sweat. It’s how we express our music. Expect to have fun, to dance, and fall in love.
Who are some bands that you have looked up to in terms of stage presence and live performance?
We've always been adamant believers of energetic live shows. Bands like At The Drive In, Dillinger Escape Plan, and Foo Fighters, are huge inspirations.
Being veterans of the road, what is some advice that you would give to newer bands?
Get out and do it, be smart, don’t waste money on hotels. Meet people and sleep at their houses. Save money by going grocery shopping and not eating fast food. You never know what the next city has waiting for you. Change those strings and warm up those voices. Also E-mergency and Aloe Vera are life savers.
Perfect day, windows down, driving in your car what are you listening to?
Mae "Beautiful Destination". There’s just something so raw and relaxing about the record.

He Is We Interview Part 2 (Rachel Taylor and Trevor Kelly)

Photo by Laura Means 
Link to full photo shoot:!/photo.php?fbid=549891192058&set=a.549891167108.2064135.57701330&theater&closeTheater=1
I recently got to catch up with Rachel and Trevor of He Is We, while they were on tour with The Scene Asthetic, Carter Hulsey and Plug In Stereo....
Check out there latest music video at

How has the tour been so far?
Trevor: Good, good, good. We just started week two and we just had a couple of days off. Now we are in Atlanta, doing the dirty south, so its exciting!
...and you have tape on your glasses?
Trevor: Yeah, that's the story. I've already broke my glasses, can't find a Lenscrafters, the whole nine yards. Isn't that sad. We went to a five story mall in Baltimore, and they had every store but (a Lenscrafters). I guess people don't wear glasses on the East coast . As long as you know that I'm not trying to be a "trendy hipster," with these....
Last time I talked with you guys, we discussed how you guys started. I wanted to clarify if this project started out, just as a basement project?
Trevor: You could literally say it was a basement project.
Rachel: It was in some one's basement.
How did the songs start circulating originally?
Rachel: We put them up on Myspace, then all these kids were like "oh hey! What's this?" One thing led to another, and it naturally blew up. It's weird. And by "blew up," I mean that it had sixty plays.
Trevor: We were like,"Oh sweet, our parents listened to it 2 times today," so we were up to like 8 plays. Soon after, we had like 400 plays a day and we were like "this is weird." So we kept on making music, and we are pretty much here now.
What kind of advice would you have for newer bands, in terms of connecting to an audience(on and offstage)?
Rachel: Just being honest, and not having a "second persona," if that makes any sense. You are yourself onstage and after you play, go to your merch table and hang out with everybody. Don't be that band that wants to make a grand entrance.
Trevor: I guess the more relate able you can be, and just be yourself. I ate my boogers as a kid, you know? I'm just a normal guy. All of these bands have this ego, where they are hidden and stuff. Rachel and I are everyday kids, so lets hangout and talk about it. There's no reason to have a big head.
What advice would you have for a guy and girl group that is trying to start up?
Rachel: Don't date!
Trevor: You sound like you had a bad experience...
Did you guys try dating at one point?
Rachel: No, I'm just saying that I feel like that is what really complicates bands. There will be a boy and a girls, and they will start to make music, then they are like "you are kind of cute, let's try this." Then they are fighting and making things complicated.
Like Sonny and Cher?
Rachel: Yeah! I would definitely say just have fun with it. Stay friends and don't give yourself a goal. Don't look at it like "hey we want to sell out this coffeehouse by this time." Just make the music and be real with it.
When your new album, My Forever, came out I saw that you were tweeting a great deal about an issue with iTunes. What actually happened?
Trevor: Apparently when it is a holiday, iTunes releases albums a day or two early.
Rachel: Because no one is in the office.
Trevor: It was Thanksgiving week and I just started getting facebook messages saying "I just got your new album!" I figured someone had put it up on LimeWire or something. I remember or parents calling and saying "oh, your CD is up by the way, maybe you should promote it.?"
Rachel: We freaked out. We didn't even have time to be nervous about how we were going to do on our first day. Then boom, its out and we were like "dang it!"
Were you guys surprised with how well it did?
Trevor: Oh, absolutely. We had no expectations at all, whether it be high or low. It just blew us aways.
With songs on the album had been with you guys since the beginning?
Trevor: Some of the songs were re-makes of demos that we had previously released, like "Blame It On the Rain," and others were concepts that we had been working on for a while like "Kiss it All Better." "Prove You Wrong" was a song that we had a couple months prior to recording, and we ended up changing the chorus on it. The rest of the songs were in the studio, on the spot. I feel like if you are under pressure, and you go in with a certain agenda it's too predictable. It's going to turn out the same it you try and break it down to a science. If you are in a situation where you are happy, and not under pressure you will have more natural results.
Rachel: It sounds more real, not like a formula.
Did you guys co-write on this album?
Rachel: They put us in with some co-writers, but we decided that it wasn't for us.
Trevor: In a co-write session, their mindset it to help you write. They are sitting their think of things to fix, rather than guide you along like a producer would. We just decided to get in with producers that we liked and forget the co-writing. Its useless when they keep trying to change your ideas.
Rachel:When we worked with Aaron Sprinkle, he wasn't co-writing but he kind of molded it by saying "let's try this. Let's try that." We are always down with trying things, and we wouldn't be offended if someone asked for us to try something different.
Who are some people that you look up to in terms of stage presence?
Trevor: I get mede fun of for my goofy walk onstage. We all have our signature things that we do onstage, unintentionally. I grew up going to shows, but I never really took notes.
Rachel: I really look up to Nicki Minaj, because her stage presence is very demanding. She's not egotistical, but you look at her and want to listen to what she is saying. She gets you pumped up. I was watching a documentary on her, and she was playing for a huge crowd and all she had were the tracks and a hype man. That's all she had and everyone was freaking out. I looked at that and asked, "why can't I do that? I need to do that!" I need to have more energy and for people to listen to what I have to say, and get stoked on it. So I definitely look up to her.
Perfect day, driving in your car, the windows down what are you listening to?
Rachel: Right now, that would be Eminem's new record ("Recovery").
Trevor: I would be bumping the new Green River Ordinance album. We have also been listening to their acoustic EP "Morning passengers," but I wouldn't say I would listen to it with the windows down because it is kind of depressing and slow. But it is so good, and I would definitely listen to it whether the sun was out, or it was raining.
Rachel: I think I am going to have my first wedding dance to one of their songs.
Trevor: Why don't you just have them play your wedding? I even sent a facebook message to the lead singer yesterday. I never do that, but I was like "dude, I am listening to your cd non-stop. You probably don't know/care who I am, but I just wanted to let you know that I am listening to you all the time while I am on tour." So if he reads this interview, he better get back to me. I'm joking, but seriously...
What do you guys have coming up after this?
Trevor: More touring! the Downtown Fiction Tour with Cady Groves and Amely.