What genre of music do you consider yourself to be a part of?
I don’t think about that too much. If you put a gun to my head, I’d say alternative. The only thing that really matters to me is that what’s coming out is a true representation of what’s inside. My stuff flirts with pop a little, but also keeps a good distance from resembling modern pop, which I don’t dig very much.
Who would you compare yourself too?
Is there anyone who has inspired you during your career?
Obviously all of the above, but moreso I tend to draw inspiration from what I feel on the inside – feelings that spring from observations of the world around me, experiences in that world and relationships with the people in that world.
You released your solo – live album “ Listen Close Live” earlier this year. Why did you choose to do a live album? How does it compare to a studio album?
It had been a long time coming. I can’t put my finger on it, but something happens when I’m out in front of a live crowd that is hard to replicate in a studio. There’s always been this disconnect for me, and I’ve known for a while that a live record was something I wanted to do to bridge that gap. It’s nice to let the songs stand there naked and be confident that they’re good just the way they were written.
What is your favorite song to sing live?
I tend to like the ones that are higher energy, songs like Fuck Up, Her, This Cigar, stuff I can really let loose on.
Has anything changed since the release of the album?
It was an important step for me before moving on to working on new songs, finally getting versions of songs out that I feel good about. I needed to close the book on some of those songs.
Is there anything new you can share with us? Either a possible new studio album or EP?
We’re getting close to that point very quickly.
You are only 24 years old; does this have any affect on you in the music industry?
Not for me. My aim is to just write better songs and play my instruments better, and deliver better albums for myself and my fans. What has more impact is that I’ve been in and around the music industry at the highest levels for 6 years now, so I know what’s up and there’s not much that I don’t see coming now. I really feel comfortable navigating it, and in my ability to get the most out of it.
What are your plans for the rest of the year and the beginning of 2014?
Write, write, write, play, play, play. I’m constantly making new stuff and recording new stuff, and breaking it apart and putting it back together. This is the deepest I’ve dove into the pre-studio process, I wanna make sure I’m all the way there before we roll the tape.
Finally, is there anything that you would like to say to our readers?
That’s why I make albums.
From growing up in the coastal New South Wales town of Port Macquarie to selling out shows in his new home of Sydney, Patrick James is working his way up through the ranks. Unselfconscious, honest and humble musicians are a dime-a-dozen; fortunately Patrick James is one of them. Recently releasing his EP All About To Change, Patrick reflects with us about his experiences, and future goals. Pick up his new EP here via Create/Control and follow him on Facebook and Twitter.
You come off as a singer/songwriter folk artist, what would you say that your genre of music is?
My music is based around the folk singer/songwriter style. I think that can be shaped the way you want it to. Really keen to explore how I can develop my sound so that could change.
Who would you compare yourself too?
I definitely wouldn’t compare myself to any established artist but I think someone I look up to in the Australian scene is Josh Pyke. Having toured with him this year and having been a fan for quite some time I think for any singer/songwriter in Australia he is someone to watch and get inspiration from.
You released your EP “All About to Change” in early 2013. Can you tell us what its like to release your first EP?
It was great to release the EP after touring a lot the year before and gaining fans. Having a small but solid fan base to release the project to was exciting. I worked hard on it and it was a really good stepping stone to get to the next level and put myself in a good position for the next bit of music to come out.
What was the main inspiration behind it?
Working on it for so long and making a bedroom set up work was a challenge and we did have a lot of time for trial and error, so throughout the process there was a lot of external music that we were listening to and getting inspiration from. The biggest inspiration was probably a solo artist James Vincent McMorrow. The sound he had for his debut album was something we based the production around.
Is there any song in particular that speaks the most to you on a personal level?
I would say ‘Stay’ which is a simple electric and vocal song would have to be the most personal song on the EP. It was a different process writing that song compared to the others. I wrote the lyrics a while ago just as a poem before any music had been written and then shaped instruments around that. It was interesting to do it that way because most of the time the melody and chords come first.
Has anything changed after the release? Either about yourself, or your music?
The EP has given the chance to tour a lot this year and further the fan base which is really what I am going for in these early stages . Each time you release something it’s a learning curve to see what works and to see what approaches will give you as much success as possible for that EP or song. I feel that it has been good for that but really looking forward to developing the sound again and to keep reshaping.
You are also about to release a new single, is there anything that you can tell us about it?
The sound is a lot bigger in sound and production. That came through when we recorded with producer Wayne Connolly at Alberts studio in Sydney. It was great recording with a full band this time around also and that fuller sound definitely comes through as a result of making the most of the guys in the band. The song is called ‘Wait’ and is due out on the 22nd of October.
Is this a taste of perhaps a new album to come soon?
Perhaps! It will be the first single off a new EP or Album release but I plan to release a few more songs before hand.
You are about to tour around Australia starting November 7th. What’s the music scene like in Australia?
The Australian music scene is great! There is a real excitement about new music at the moment and the acoustic/folk scene is very communal and supportive of new bands. The November tour will be a great way to make the most of the fans we have made this year from supporting other artists and also to try out new songs.
Have you ever thought about doing a tour internationally either USA, or Europe, etc.?
I think about it all the time and really hope to get over soon. The more I release music the more necessary it will be to take it abroad. There are some great international acts I would love to tour with around the States especially and hopefully those opportunities will come soon.
Other than the tour, what’s next for Patrick James?
A lot more recording of new songs!!
Questions by Kevin Ma.
The progression in Lydia’s sound from Paint it Golden to Devil is pretty clear, was this a deliberate act to reach out to newer fans or more of a natural change? Devil definitely sounds the happiest of your records to date.
We definitely didn’t set out to make a “certain kind of album.” I think it just ended up sounding more upbeat naturally. We also went with a new producer to make Devil, so that probably contributed to the slightly different sound as well.
The balance between keeping the old Lydia sound that fans love and opting for a more poppier sound is quite well done in Devil depite it seeming risky to attempt, how did you achieve this balance?
I really think it’s terrible to play it safe while writing. It’s one thing that I truly hate, when an artist puts out a record without taking any risks. There is really something to be said about stepping out of your comfort zone. Some amazing things can come from it.
Moments of ‘beauty’ have always been a part of what makes Lydia’s music so endearing to fans. Your past records didn’t have a problem in achieving these emotional, layered moments as they were sad in nature. Devil, being almost the opposite, still manages to achieve these moments. Was this the result of many conscientious decisions on your end or did it sort of magically happen during the recording process?
Honestly we were just trying to make the best songs we could. I feel like it would be a mistake to go into any creative project with a strong agenda. The guys and myself were very lucky to have the great team around us for the recording and release as well.
What’s the inspiration behind the Devil album artwork?
We get asked this a lot because, I guess, it’s so different from our previous artwork. We were going a slightly different direction with the music, and so we wanted to do the same with the artwork. Our manager and myself came up with an idea that slowly morphed into what you actually see as the artwork.
How have your musical inspirations for writing new songs changed with each record? Are there certain musicians that you’ll always look at for inspiration?
I really do try and look at every release, and song, completely different from anything we’ve done already. I think that in itself as made the albums different. Also I would say we make a conscious effort of not forcing any songwriting. If its not there, it’s not there. Sometimes you just have to put the instrument down and come back to it later.
There are a lot of lines that have stuck with fans: “…it’s such a life to remember”, “When all we want is to be enough / When all we want is to feel enough”, and my personal favorite, “Darling, you fucked up”. What is your favorite line you have written?
Ha, I mean I wrote them all so I’m kind of biased, but I just love how the fans hold all the lyrics and songs so close and personal.
Favorite songs to play live? Best and/or craziest crowd reactions?
Um, we just put out a song called “Back to Bed” off of our new record Devil. This one got a whole lot of amazing Lydia fans pretty wild on tour.
Leighton, you have another project called The Cinema, how do you balance the song writing for both Lydia and The Cinema? How do the songs differ and influence one another?
I try my best while writing to keep both projects separate from each other. I love to write and produce both bands, but I feel like any “separate” project you do shouldn’t be too close to another. That said, I think it’s only human that some of the writing probably influences other parts.
What’s next for Lydia?
Lydia is going to be releasing a deluxe edition of our latest release Devil with 6 extra tracks on it. Then we will be on the road for a lot of the remainder of the year. Hope to see some yo’ faces out there, cheers!
I recently got the opportunity to speak with the lead guitarist, Jason of We Are Monroe about the release of their debut self-titled EP and their plans for the future. You can read our review of the EP here as well as check out their website and Facebook page for show information and more. Read the interview below, and if you want to download and listen to the full interview you can do so here.
First off, can you please tell the names of the members in the band and their roles?
Pat – He’s singer and does a little bit of back guitar
Ben – Who plays Drums
Pete – Whose on the bass and does a bit of back vocals
Jason – Plays most of the lead guitar and does some back vocals
How did you guys meet?
Ben and Pete known each other since grade school kept in touch throughout the years. Ben was a hired musician and when they both finished school, Pete wanted to join the band, so they played music together for a while. When their last project ended, they wanted to start something up and I met those guys at the beginning of a new adventure they were trying to start through a mutual friend, another musician who was supposed to be in the band. Right away we really clicked, we were musically, initially compatible. We started as a three – piece, and eventually we realized that we wanted to move into a more, rock, direction. I realized that my voice was suited more to acoustic/folk stuff, and it didn’t fit to what we were trying to do. So we found Pat, who was in another band. And we kind of stole him from that band as they were kind of coming to an end anyway. He was at the top of our list, and we jammed with a few guys, but he was the top of our list, eventually he came back form travelling and agreed to come by, and then it became obvious that something was happening that was really cool.
Where did the name “We are Monroe” come from?
We were kinda brain storming one day, and after a while, the iconic image of Marilyn Monroe stood out. Sort of like the Warhol Pictures. There was something about it that seemed cool, and matched the aesthetic of it. Originally we wanted Monroe, so we Google searched it to see if it was available, but there was an obscure band that we had never heard of that didn’t seem to have much going on, but we didn’t wanna take any chances, so eventually we slowly added the “We Are” on and the “We Are” is the collective idea, the reference is the spirit of the collective, and that’s where that came from.
What genre would you classify as? Who would you compare yourself too?
A lot of the bands tend to reference/fall under is post-punk revival. Sort of like what The Strokes are doing when they first came up, and same thing as The Killers. It’s a title really and post-punk revival is something that is easiest for us to say. Its rock, there are some pop sensibilities. It’s more of the mood/vibe when it really comes down to it. The more we write songs, or the more we try to tap into what we continuously worked towards as our sound. It’s a point of reference, but from there it’s more about the mood of the song. We knew what we were good at, but eventually we kinda just opened up a little more.
What is the music scene like in Montreal?
For a band like us there is still something indie – rockish there is a good collection of bands that are really active and gigging around, still helping each other out. Overall Montreal has become pretty eclectic about not necessarily one type of band, but about seeing what kind of bands can matchup and cross genres. The one thing that keeps coming back is the sense of community. I think there are a lot of the gaps that perhaps could’ve existed 5 – 10 years ago when Montreal was starting to get the reputation as the next “Hot Bed” for music. That bridged a lot of gaps, so that young bands who are just starting out could associate with bands what had a little bit more of a track record.
Which artists were your inspiration when you were growing up?
When I was younger, and a bit more naïve, I had a distorted view of what it meant to be in a band and have success. There were bands that matched up to that like Radiohead, Green Day, Weezer or Oasis. In the last 5 – 10 years since I’ve been in Montreal and being in bands, gigging and touring a little bit you develop a deeper appreciation of working in the industry. As well as the different levels of what it is to be successful. For me now, any level that would continuously keep me making music, touring, being able to make record and make a living. To become a “Working Class Band”.
Ok now on to the EP! You recently released your first self-titled EP. How did you see it turning out? Did it turn out the way you wanted it to?
We recorded that EP back in November. Going into the recording process we had a list of songs, which we could choose from, and a limited amount of time. We were trying to figure out what would make sense in what songs to put on, and how many songs it should be. We recorded in this old school studio, so it was a bit more out of the pocket to do it. All these factors made us have to decide what was going to be on the EP. The mixing was only a matter of 3 – 4 days. We had an amazing time, that it became just the fact that it was less about the songs, and more about the experience. We got the first part of the rough mixes a couple weeks later, and we were convinced it would be something we weren’t expecting. Everywhere we listened to it, it just kept surprising us because it was cool listening to it in other locations. All in all we had a great experience and we’re really happy how it turned out.
Why choose to release an EP first instead of an album?
The EP was already what we felt was good for us. For a lot of different reasons; being an independent band, not having a label behind it. It was the reality of where we were at the time. The idea of a full album is not over, its not like people are not gonna get it. For now we gravitated towards the notion of the idea of releasing less music but more frequently. Let people know where you’re at, and let people see you evolve as the months go by. It’s easier to do independently.
What was the main inspiration behind the EP?
The sonic element of having it being raw and trying to avoid putting in extra instrumentations that wouldn’t be live. A real representation of what people can expect to see when they come to see a show. Also the fact that we did the bed tracks, like the drums, bass and main guitar was all live off the floor, it gives the EP a that other raw element.
Can you tell me anything special about your songwriting process?
It differs from song to song, generally we write very democratically. A lot of songs will start with either a guitar riff, or a beat to have a rhythm section. Its lot of jamming is what it is. Sometimes Pat comes in with a vocal melody and we come in to cater that melody. Sometimes a song will take forever to come together, sometimes it takes weeks. Sometimes it’s a challenge cause you want it to sound good and have high expectations. Some best songs we feel we’ve written were written in 15 minutes, creating the melodies.
Why did you choose these for songs four songs for the EP? Do the songs have any special or significant meanings behind them?
Give Me Some Love was one of the first songs written as the four of us after pat joined the band. We felt really, really strongly about. It came together really quickly and we had a good feeling about it right away. It the oldest song on the EP, and it was sort of a no brainer to have a song like that on the EP as an easy introduction. Old Orchard made the cut do it its brute energy. You can’t hide behind a song like that, because it’s fast and fun and energetic which is what we want to show that we’re about. Modern Day Gentleman was newer at that point and it was a really different than everything else we had written at that point. Tear Yourself Apart was all about the vibe and darkness of the song. It’s a creepy kind of song. But what happens on the guitar is interesting to our sound and us. There were a few others songs we were interested in. We recorded five but it didn’t come out the way we wanted.
So is there anything you can say about a second EP or new album in the future?
We’ve been talking about the idea of trying to release music more frequently, but less songs at a time. There are 3 – 4 people that are interested in working with us and help record our music. We’re gonna try to build up a few collection of songs over the weeks and months until the end of the summer. When the rest of the guys get back after vacation in the fall, then we will go into it. We don’t now if its gonna be 1 – 2 songs a month, but its gonna be often. Also trying to exploit YouTube as a means to get out there, by doing live performances and putting that online.
What are your plans for the rest of the year? Any tours that should be noted?
A few things happening in Montreal between now and end of August. An acoustic showcase on 17th at Le Petit Medley through Yo Montreal Production Company. There might be a Montreal show, a show in Quebec. Through Facebook and our website we can put all shows and tour [Linked above]. We post in there as often as possible.
Great that’s about it for me; do you have any last words?
We’re excited about meeting new people and playing in new cities. We’re always excited to play wherever we are welcomed and meeting people. Trying to make ourselves accessible, and talking to people and build a fan base one person at a time. If anyone is interested check out our shows, write messages, email or tweet to us.
Hey! First, let’s get formalities out of the way: could you guys introduce yourselves and your band?
Sure! We are Greg Martin (Guitar/vocals) Josh Loren (percussion), Carlos Nieto III (Bass/Backing vocals), Brian Martinez (Rhythm guitar) and our band is called Harmful if Swallowed.
Awesome! First, let’s talk about your impressive history. You guys were featured in tons of MTV shows. How does it feel to have gone through such amazing experiences?
It’s been surreal. To be watching an episode of Fantasy Factory or Nitro Circus and to hear our music come up in a random scene is the best feeling in the world! We have many of those episodes recorded for posterity.
You guys also toured with the likes of Green Day, Weezer, KoRn, and Bad Religion, big names in the music industry for sure. How have these unique experiences contributed to your growth as a band?
It has humbled us and made us appreciative of every opportunity we get to play in front of people. It has also given us a crash course in getting along with each other and taught us to always be prepared for the unexpected…Valuable lessons for any band.
Do you guys have any additional plans to tour anywhere outside of the United States?
We’ve been in talks with bands to do a mini west coast tour, maybe further down the line we might venture out of the states depending on if we hook up with the right booking agent.
Your EP, Allergy, was just recently released. It definitely sounds different than your previous work. How do you feel about the evolution of the sound of Harmful If Swallowed? Do you like the direction it’s going?
We’re so stoked about this EP! It has been a long time coming and by far our best sound to date. Allergy is the next step in our musical evolution!
You guys recorded Allergy with the help of Sunset Lodge Recording’s owner Chris Rakestraw and Grammy-winning producer Matt Hyde. How was that?
It was an amazing experience working with Chris and Matt. To be around that level of talent and workmanship was awe inspiring. We learned a lot from them. We had a lot of help from others in the music industry as well. Carlos’ old high school friend Oliver Charles, drummer for Gogol Bordello, lent our drummer Josh, some of his drum equipment, which upped our game immensely. Mr. Tio Banks, keyboardist from Duran Duran stopped in during our recording to lay down some sweet synth tracks!
Any favorite tracks on the EP, or just in your discography in general?
Each member has their favorite song or songs but over all we feel that our strongest songs are Sabrina, Allergy and Hateful.
What hobbies do you guys have? Besides, of course, making kickass songs and rocking out in front of your fans.
Greg DJs in his spare time, Carlos is a professional fine artist, Brian is a graphic designer and Josh loves astronomy.
How is the music scene in LA? Where does it thrive and where is it lacking?
Like anything else, you have to put the work into it in order to enjoy the fruits of your labor. That being said, the music scene out here in LA seems to thrive when it happens organically and for the love of the music and not for the money.
Any cool stories to tell about anything you guys have went through in the past few years?
We are a fiercely DIY (Do It Yourself) band so laying the groundwork for bigger and better opportunities are what we strive for. The people in the music industry that we’ve met and the connections that we’ve made with them have been amazing! Watching doors open via our own hard work is the best feeling ever!
Great! Last question. Favorite ice cream flavor?
That’s a tough one, it teeters between plain vanilla and Rocky Road!
Hi there! First off, can you introduce yourself and tell us your role in the band?
Hi, my name is Pat and I play drums in The Maine.
So, Forever Halloween is set to drop on the 4th. Is there anything on the record that you think will surprise fans? How do you think Forever Halloween compares to your previous releases?
I think the album has more of a human feel than any other album we have done in the past. You can feel the energy and the connection between five people playing in a room together. I would say that is the biggest difference between our past albums; this time we learned about a different way of recording that will change the way we do things from now on.
What’re some of the lyrical themes behind the album?
That is probably a better questions for John [O’Callaghan, singer], and I do not want to speak on his behalf. But to me, what I love most about John’s writing on this album is that it comes from a very personal place. Some songs are written in a more straight-forward way, where you can really tell that it is a story that happened, which I really enjoy.
Regarding the music, what are some things you guys experimented with?
We experimented with a bunch of different sounds on this album as far as guitar/drums/ and bass tones go. I think sonically there is more of a mood than anything we have ever recorded and I think that is because of some of the tones we used. We ended up making a pretty straight forward rock album and just did what we do best, which is drums, bass, two guitars, vocals, and maybe a little bit of piano here and there. I think we made a recorded that is pretty rounded, which I am really proud of.
What was the songwriting process like for this album? Has it differed from how you’ve written previous albums?
It was kind of the same way we have gone about the past albums besides maybe Black and White but John usually comes in with an idea for a song, we get in a room and work it out as The Maine. It is pretty simple and we just do what works for us, we all add in our own flavor on top of what is really John’s vision for a song.
What would you say were your biggest inspirations when writing this album?
Our musical tastes are always growing and changing so I do not think we could really pin point any specific artists but just rock music in general was an inspiration. Listening to albums that are not recorded to be perfect but to have a feel and a vibe, that is what we took inspiration from.
You recorded Forever Halloween on analog tape instead of digitally, what was that experience like and what brought about that decision?
It was an amazing experience, it brought us back to how it felt to record the first album in the sense that we didn’t know how the recording process worked and did not understand how things were go to go down. That is a really scary thing but it is exciting and brings something different out of you. You just kind of have to let go a little which lets you make more on the spot decisions. For me I have become so comfortable with how modern digital recording works that there isn’t any fear or worry about how the process will unfold. With recording this album live it was like starting over and learning a whole new craft which is really exciting and thats when the best stuff happens.
Do you have any personal favorites off of the new record? Can you tell us a bit about them?
I change my mind on this question each time I am asked it but right now I am going to go with a song called Blood Red this song goes from being a mess to all coming together and then does that all over again. It has tons of ups and downs and a lot of what we used on the song was kind of done in anger/a joke after a late night and it captured a mood that we could not have forced. I am very excited for people to hear thats song!
You guys has come a long way from Stay Up, Get Down, how do you feel your band has progressed and evolved since your formation?
The word I would use would consistent, we have continued to evolve with each year and each release. It has just been slow and steady and it all just goes along with we are getting older along with our fans.
You’re set to embark on tour with Brighten, A Rocket To The Moon and This Century this summer. What’re somethings you’re excited for about it?
Everything!! We will be with our best friends and playing some new music along with old music. It is going to be a great time.
Since we’re on the topic of tours, can you share a tour story with us?
A few months ago we were driving through Texas and a car coming the other way on the freeway flipped over into our lane and kid flew out of the back of the car. The kid landed on his feet and didn’t have a scratch on his body. We were able to stop in time and did not hit the car but we all got out of the van to help the people in the car and John was kind of shaken up by seeing the car flip over and the kid fly out that he passed out. It was a pretty crazy day to say the least.
That is insane. Thanks for taking the time to talk with us! Any last words?
Thank you!! Very excited for people to hear Forever Halloween on June 4th.