HomePosts Tagged "Popdose Interviews"

Popdose Interviews Tag

Lisa Loeb

With the renewed popularity of female-fronted alternative rock, New Found Glory guitarist Chad Gilbert saw a window of opportunity to bring ‘90s alt-rocker Lisa Loeb, a noted influence for many of those same artists, back around to file a new chapter in her own discography of work.

Gilbert, a longtime fan of Loeb’s music, knew exactly the kind of album that fellow fans would want to hear from Lisa and he also knew that fans had been waiting for quite a while. Loeb had been wrapped up in a variety of projects which had carried her away from making the “adult” music that brought her name recognition, starting in 1994 with “Stay,” the  #1 Grammy-nominated hit which served as her musical moment of introduction to the outside world.

Having developed a healthy career of his own outside of New Found Glory as a producer, Gilbert had the right resume and experience to tackle the job and he was bold in his approach. He emailed Loeb to say “I know you do these kids books, but when are you going to let me produce a full-on modern indie pop/rock record for you? You haven’t done one in a while.”

Loeb’s new album No Fairy Tale (in stores as of January 29th via 429 Records) is the result of those conversations and fans will be pleased with their combined efforts, which bring together a healthy batch of Loeb originals with additional collaborations, including recordings of two songs penned by Gilbert’s former New Found Glory tour mates Tegan and Sara.

Gilbert and Loeb also wrote two tracks together for the album, including ‘Walls,’ a track which is classic Lisa, both musically and lyrically, with words that hang and hook in a way that has long been a signature of Loeb’s music.

Co-producing the sessions together, Loeb and Gilbert proved with the new album that they’re quite a winning pair. We were happy to get the chance to discuss the science of how it all came together during a recent interview with Lisa.

This new album finds you working with Chad Gilbert of New Found Glory. We live in an interesting time where it seems like now more than ever, if you’re a musician, you have an even greater opportunity to work with your influences and people that you’re a fan of. Did working on this new album with Chad feel like a different experience in comparison to some of your past albums and the way that you were used to doing an album?

Yeah, it’s funny, Chad kind of reminds me of what I’ve heard about Prince. He really has everything thought out. He’s really a great producer. He knows exactly what he wants to hear and he has great ideas for guitar lines, vocal parts, drum sounds – you name it – he’s really a producer. It’s funny, it’s almost like being a guitar player in his band is his first career. I think his second career or continuing career, as it is, will continue to include a lot of producing. He has a really good ear for it.

I’ve  worked with a lot of people who have a good ear for producing, but we did definitely record in more of what seems to be like the punk/pop/rock style – we spent less days in the studio and we did everything quicker. I think that worked partially because I have more experience being in the studio and I was able to get vocals more quickly and guitar parts more quickly and I understand [things] a little bit better now than I did when I started out, you know, when we can get something better and when something is the way it really needs to be.

So I think between the two of us and my experience and also, I’ve produced a lot of records too — it was different — it was quicker, it was faster, I was able to take more vocal direction from him than I have in the past. We were really able to stay focused and get the record done more quickly than any record I’ve made before.

Was there a song which really helped to put down the stamp directionally as far as the style and feel of the record and where it went?

You know, it wasn’t one song as much as it was literally the entire album and all of the songs. We sat down and talked about what kind of record he wanted to make with me and I agreed that that would be a different direction for me and something that I hadn’t done quite like that before. From the minute we started writing songs together for the record [we had a plan and] we also checked out some of my old songs that I hadn’t put on records yet, that I had been working on over the last couple of years and then a couple that he brought with Tegan Quin from Tegan and Sara.

We just wanted to pick songs that fit and that would be able to be produced in this vein. There were a couple of extras that we tried that weren’t working for the record, so it was really an over-arching goal of [achieving] a certain sound and how everything would sound within that sound and usually there was variety within that sound.

Sixto RodriguezBy now you’ve probably heard the story of Sixto Rodgriguez. He recorded two fine albums for Sussex Records in 1969 and 1970, but neither one made any impact on the charts. Rodgriguez backed away from the music scene and went to work doing construction in Detroit. During this time he was politically active and made an unsuccessful run for the Detroit city council. His name was misspelled on the ballot.

In the meantime, no one knows exactly how, Rodriguez’ music became immensely popular in South Africa. He was completely unaware of this however, and as far as the South Africans knew, he was dead. Finally, in the late ’90s two intrepid South Africans, Stephen “Sugar” Segerman and Craig Bartholomew Strydom, decided to try to find out how he died, only to learn that Rodriguez was very much alive.

Rodriguez was invited to perform in South Africa and played sold-out venues before adoring fans. Some years later first-time filmmaker Malik Bendjelloul decided to tell the Rodriguez story and the result is the acclaimed documentary Searching For Sugar Man, which will be released on DVD on January 22. This week the film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.

“Fuck you, Sting!” You hear that, or sentiments approximating it, in Can’t Stand Losing You: Surviving The Police, a new documentary drawn from guitarist Andy Summers’ acclaimed autobiography One Train Later. And Popdose heard it straight from Summers himself as he prepared for the film’s premiere, tonight at DOC NYC in Greenwich Village, not far from where the struggling band found some valedictory success at the famed CBGB in the late 70s. 

These days, however, Summers is likely to mean it in jest, though the movie does revisit some old battlefields. One year after Summers might have thought he had closed the book, literally, on The Police (One Train Later was published in 2006) the trio reunited after more than two decades for a record-smashing reunion tour. The candid, entertaining portrait–which focuses on the turbulent seven-year history of the band, in part by incorporating his own photography from the period, and additionally interspersed with footage of the 2007-2008 tour–continues the Summers saga by other means. He brought us further up to date on the eve of its opening. 

What prompted you to make the film?

I was in London working on a photo book for Taschen, with all my photography of The Police. I saw Brett Morgen’s documentary The Kid Stays in the Picture, based on producer Robert Evans’ autobiography, and loved it–it was made out of still photographs and his voiceover. It occurred to me that I had parallel resources, both the photos and the book. A friend put me in touch with Brett, and I said to him, “I don’t know if you’d be interested, but I’ve got all this stuff…” [Laughs] And he was, which touched off this years-long saga, with a lot of grief and grit along the way. Which is the story of most films–they never happen easily. [The film, which is executive-produced by Summers and William J. Immerman, is produced by Morgan, Nicolas Cage, Norman Golightly, and Bob Yari, and directed and edited by Andy Grieve. Lauren Lazin directed the concert reunion footage.]

It’s your life–how was it decided what aspects would be part of the movie?

Well that’s the making of the film. We had a director who was making a film of almost every page of the book, and 2/3 of the way through production we switched completely; it was getting too heavy

If you want to feel inspired, spend a few minutes talking with Debbie Gibson. Certainly, you’re probably aware of the chart success that Gibson enjoyed in the ‘80s, beginning with her first single “Only in My Dreams” in 1987, the first of five Top 40 singles that she would notch from her debut album Out Of The Blue.

The first three singles from Out Of The Blue charted Top 5 and with her fourth single “Foolish Beat,” Gibson would become the youngest artist (at age 17) to ever write, produce and perform a Billboard #1 single, an accomplishment that remains unbeaten more than two decades later.

Gibson faced challenges while working for the chance to record and release that first album and single, but she fought hard and the story of how Gibson stuck with the songs that she believed in — those very same songs that would be massive chart hits only a few years later, is a good one.

Part of me fears for Hayley Reardon. The 16-year-old singer/songwriter’s voice has the same timbre as Kasey Chambers, or a young Maria McKee, and in that voice I hear the echoes of records I’ve loved for longer than she’s been alive. She employs that voice in the service of self-penned songs whose concerns ping back and forth between empowerment and vulnerability, joy and confusion. They are at once universal and unique to her experience as a young woman—open to interpretation, to the layering on of the listener’s experiences and impressions, as good songs often are.

But they are also the work of a teenager, and that is why part of me fears for her. On her fine debut album, Where the Artists Go (Kingswood), she displays an emotional openness typical of a teen’s diaristic tendencies, but with the musical vocabulary of adult pop, throwing open her candid musings to anyone within earshot. Indeed, the marketing of the album seems to aim it directly at grown-ups, even as Reardon engages her peers in anti-bullying efforts (through her “Find Your Voice” program) and plays coffeehouses (and, recently, a middle school in Alaska).

Paul Kelly is a national treasure; it’s just a shame he’s not our nation’s to claim. He’s Australian—born in Adelaide, living in Melbourne, and exporting his wonderful songs to a planet’s worth of fans in albums like 1987’s Under the Sun (which featured “Dumb Things,” his first quasi-hit in America), 1991’s packed Comedy, and 2004’s Tchad Blake-produced double album Ways and Means.

In 2010, he released a box set in his native land—an eight-disc compilation culling live takes of 105 of his best and best-known songs, arranged, oddly enough, in alphabetical order. A–to–Z Recordings emerged out of a series of live shows Kelly had performed since 2004 with the same conceit—multiple-night, career-spanning gigs, with songs played in A-to-Z order. The box had an accompanying book called How to Make Gravy (after one of his most beloved songs)—an over-500-page tome containing the stories behind each track, in effect forming the largest set of liner notes you’ve ever read. The two projects, taken together, are a primer on great songwriting—if you’re a songwriter or wish to become a songwriter, you simply must hear these songs, to hear how the one of the best plies his craft.

The box and book saw their U.S. release back in March, and Kelly did a short run of A–to–Z shows in the States to promote them. Since then, his mid-tour performance on the public radio program Mountain Stage Live has aired (you’ll be able to hear a stream of it on NPR Music, starting May 20). A reissue campaign will kick off July 17, with three great titles—the addiction-obsessed Post (1985), the aforementioned Comedy, and 1994’s Wanted Man (which features my favorite Kelly song, “Love Never Runs on Time”)—back in print. Finally, Paul Kelly fans will rejoice at the news that November will see the release of a brand new Paul Kelly studio album, his first in five years.

I spoke with Kelly at the beginning of his spring tour. He was in Austin, TX, shortly before soundcheck for that night’s performance.

By the time you finish reading this, Max Allan Collins will likely have completed a novel, dashed off a novelization, and put the finishing touches on a graphic novel. But his prolific output–did I mention that he’s a sometime filmmaker?–isn’t what’s amazing about him. What is is that it’s all good. (I haven’t heard the band he’s in, but I wouldn’t write them off.)

The pride of Muscatine, IA, a base of operations far from NY or LA, Collins has been grinding out pulp for decades. Pulp fiction, that is, in every form imaginable, including comic strips and trading cards. You’ve seen his name in lights, as the author of Road to Perdition, the basis for the acclaimed film hit. And he does run with the Hollywood crowd, if only as one of the more prominent scribes of movie novelizations. But mostly he works in the dark, toiling on tough guy thrillers featuring (among others) Chicago P.I. Nathan Heller and the hit man Quarry. There was also a Return to Perdition, published earlier this year.

Collins’ friendship with the king of hardboiled detective fiction, Mickey Spillane, has led to an unusual partnership since the creator of Mike Hammer died in 2006. Over time Spillane more or less bequeathed Collins, a friend and occasional collaborator since the 80s, his unfinished work, and Collins has been dusting off the pages ever since. First, it was Hammer time, as Collins completed three new novels featuring the infamous shamus. More are to come. But Collins has just sprung another Spillane character, Morgan the Raider, from cold storage.

A modern-day buccaneer, Morgan was introduced in The Delta Factor, then dropped when a film version flopped. In The Consummata, Morgan returns, up to his gun sights in espionage involving Cuban exiles, the CIA, and $40 million in stolen loot. Doublecrosses and corpses abound as Morgan zeroes in on the woman at the center of the web–the elusive “Consummata,” the world’s top dominatrix. “They were closing in,” the book begins, and it’s off and running.

I e-mailed Collins about Spillane, The Consummata, and other matters of intrigue. He shot me. Shot me back a few answers, that is.

How did this particular project come to be? (I take that it has its roots in a soured film version of  The Delta Factor in 1970.)

Mickey Spillane had an unusual number of substantial unfinished manuscripts in his files. There were various reasons why–chiefly his

Heading towards the 30th anniversary of his professional recording debut, Bruce Hornsby shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, the piano-wielding Grammy Award winning singer/songwriter is making arguably some of his finest work here in the present day, as exhibited on his two most recent solo studio releases, Halcyon Days (2004) and Levitate (2009). In the midst of those activities, Hornsby made a jazz record with Christian McBride and Jack DeJohnette, spent some time pickin’ on bluegrass with his longtime friend Ricky Skaggs and summarized his career to date with an eclectic box set release Intersections (2006) that mixed deep cuts with his more familiar hits in a form that often transmogrified them beyond recognition.

Somewhere in between expanding his discography with the above releases, Hornsby found time to put together his very first musical, cryptically titled SCKBSTD, a project that he spent several years working on with longtime collaborator Chip DeMatteo prior to eventually debuting the work this past January in Norfolk, VA.

With SCKBSTD officially submitted for public approval and feedback (and one should note that the audience approved), Hornsby has turned his attentions at least briefly back to his main gig of making music and with the upcoming Bride of the Noisemakers live release [which will initially be available as an Amazon exclusive in May with a general release following in June], Hornsby takes a moment to recap where things are at. Since his initial live release Here Come The Noisemakers was released in 2000, Hornsby and his band of Noisemakers (an appropriate band name for Hornsby’s longtime musical cohorts) have continued to refine a live show that was already quite epic at the time Noisemakers was recorded.

In fact, Bride shows how far Hornsby and the Noisemakers have come in the past 10 years; Bride plays like a mixtape for the diehards, loaded with nearly three hours of deep tracks, newer songs and relative rarities. While the Noisemakers live release occasionally felt a bit premature at points, with moments like the glorious “Fortunate Son/Comfortably Numb” segue not yet realized, Bride gets it right, first and foremost with that hallucinogenic Hornsby/Floyd mashup finally present and accounted for.

Besides “Fortunate Son,” you won’t find a lot of repeats and there are even fewer of the expected hits, which if you know what Hornsby’s about, this part will make perfect sense. In their place are some of the most definitive versions of many of the greatest album tracks from Hornsby’s catalog. No matter how many bootlegs you have (speaking from personal experience), the versions of “Resting Place,” “Dreamland” “Country Doctor” and the previously mentioned “Fortunate Son” on Bride of the Noisemakers (and I’m only naming a few of many highlights) will lift you up to new and higher places.

In a world of entertainment constantly wrestling for your dollars, the Bride of the Noisemakers release from Bruce Hornsby is worth every last cent and then some. It’s a mighty fine prelude to this summer’s dream pairing of Bruce Hornsby and the Noisemakers, who will share the stage with longtime friends Bela Fleck and the Flecktones. I had the chance to talk with Bruce earlier this week to find out what we all can look forward to.

New albums from a classic band or artist can sometimes be a dodgy proposition. But when I saw the news last year that The Doobie Brothers had a new album on tap, their first release of new material in 10 years, I was intrigued. The Doobies had an ace up their sleeve – they had coaxed (and as you can see from the conversation below, one could argue that it was the songs) legendary producer and longtime Doobie associate/friend Ted Templeman (Van Halen, Aerosmith, Little Feat) out of his semi-retired state to produce what would become World Gone Crazy. Since the album’s release in late 2010, the Doobies have been turning heads, notching a top 40 debut on the Billboard Top 200 charts and even generating radio airplay which came initially via the first single “Nobody,” a song that was rescued and re-recorded at the suggestion of Templeman from their original self-titled 1971 debut release (and it holds special significance as being the first song and also the first album they ever recorded with Templeman).

2011 finds the band very busy with the success of World Gone Crazy – they recently made their debut on the Grand Ole Opry and have continued to make new strides internationally with recent concert dates in Australia and New Zealand and a flurry of activities confirmed for the rest of the year. In talking with Doobie Brothers principal member Tom Johnston (vocals/guitars), the band’s goals were simple – they wanted to make a good album. And they’ve certainly done that and a lot more, proving to the non-believers and naysayers that there’s plenty of gas left in the tank. With an incredible career that now stretches past the 40 year mark, The Doobie Brothers show no sign of slowing down and if you’ve heard the new album, you know there’s a lot to celebrate about that.  If you haven’t heard World Gone Crazy, do yourself a favor and pick it up – if you’ve ever been a Doobie Brothers fan either casually or hardcore, World Gone Crazy is mandatory listening.

Matt Wardlaw: Congrats on the new record! As you move past your 40th anniversary as a band, I’ve been reading plenty of great reviews, including one that called the album one of your best since What Were Once Vices Are Now Habits. That’s a huge compliment and I would certainly say that this is one of the best records you’ve done since reuniting.

Tom Johnston: It’s the best record we’ve done since reuniting as far as I’m concerned and that includes all four of them. I think this is head and shoulders above anything we’ve done, including Cycles. Cycles was okay but it didn’t come close to the musicianship and the quality of the tunes and the arrangements. Yeah, this one really is a good body of work and we’re all really happy with it.