Friday, January 17, 2014

Interview with Dr. Dog and Saint Rich


Of all the ways to promote an upcoming tour, I think Dr. Dog and Saint Rich have picked one of the coolest options. In a move of creatively crafted collaboration, their new Casual Freefall Tour EP (available exclusively here at NoiseTrade) features both bands covering a song from each other's most recent albums. Dr. Dog added their lo-fi funk to "Dreams" from Saint Rich's Beyond the Drone and Saint Rich chose the frenzied restraint route on their cover of "Rock & Roll" from Dr. Dog's B-Room. With both bands taking a stab at songs from the albums that each other is touring behind, it's easy to see that they've gotten an early jump on the camaraderie that's usually reserved for the end of a tour. Rounding out the Casual Freefall Tour EP is Dr. Dog's "Phenomenon" and Saint Rich's "Crying From the Home," both from their most recent albums as well. 

Before the tour kicks off in a few weeks (January 25 at Terminal 5 in New York, to be exact), I spoke with both bands about this unique release, as well as their process in getting the songs picked and recorded.

NoiseTrade: What specifically drew you to picking the songs you chose to cover? Were there other songs in the running or was this one a unanimous decision?

Zach Miller (Dr. Dog): “Dreams” was Scott's pick. He was the most familiar with the record so he made the call on that one. I think “Young Vultures” would have been fun to do too. 

Steve Marion (Saint Rich): “Rock & Roll” was the song we van-jammed the hardest on our last tour with Wild Belle. The vote was in: “Rock & Roll.”

NT: How did you guys go about making the song your own? Was it a simple deconstruct/reconstruct process or something else entirely different?

Zach: Now that I think about it, every track was recorded in a different state. We didn't have a lot of time to get together on this one, so we recorded our own tracks at home and sent them to Scott in Connecticut. I recorded mine in Philly, Toby's was down in Delaware, Frank in Jersey, Dimitri in Tucson and Eric just moved to Asheville. I was a little worried because we'd never done a recording like this before, but I was really pleased with the result. It was interesting to track everything out of context and trust that it would work out, especially since we waited until literally the last day to get our s--t together and record.

So as I was recording, I received Toby's bassline and three drum takes from Eric. There was a lot happening at one time. Musically and creatively, it was a challenging song to record because the melody and the chords felt fused together - like there is a new chord on every note of the melody - and it was tough to break away from that, especially being so isolated. But in the end it felt much more loose and laid back. Scott really worked some magic on the mix, too.

Steve: The lyrics of the song serve as an instruction manual for how to record the song. We started with "a Tascam, some Maxwells, a Shure 57 and a stereo delay" and ran wild with it. 

NT: Will you guys be playing these covers on tour or is this just a special one-time recording to capture a fun pre-tour moment? 

Steve: We're going to ask Dr. Dog to cover our cover of their song, but obviously reinterpret it in their own way. We will also be covering their cover of our tune. It's going to be really wild.


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

NoiseTrade EastSide Manor Sessions: The Autumn Defense

We recorded The Autumn Defense for our most recent NoiseTrade EastSide Manor Sessions and the dapper duo of Pat Sansone and John Stirratt delivered quite the sweet sonic warmth. Along with the exclusive EP download available HERE, be sure to check out the companion videos below to catch a behind-the-scenes look at the performances, hear an interview with John and Pat, and watch a short bonus video of the guys playfully warming up with a snippet of “Your Mother Should Know” by The Beatles.

Blending lush harmonies, mosaic arrangements, and the sonic warmth of sun-soaked 60s rock, The Autumn Defense are both impressively complex and deceptively mellow. As the multi-talented duo of John Stirratt and Pat Sansone stopped in to craft their own NoiseTrade EastSide Manor Session, you'll hear that each song reinforces the fact that this is far more than just an “after work hang” from their day jobs in Wilco. Let the jangle-rock of “Everyday,” the folksy bounce of “This Thing That I’ve Found,” and the piano-bass dance of “Written in the Snow” wash over your winter weather wistfulness and be sure to check out their new album Fifth, out January 28 on Yep Roc Records.

Interview with Maggie Chapman

While many teenagers dream almost exclusively of significant others, first cars, and weekend shenanigans, singer-songwriter Maggie Chapman has her sights set out a little farther. Writing her first song while still in elementary school, Maggie tapped into something that inspired a passion for storytelling, a multi-state move, and a singular focus on her musical pursuits. As she continues to develop as a songwriter and performer, Maggie has compiled a few of her currents songs to share on The Novella Edition EP

I recently spoke with Maggie about the songs on her new EP, her passion for writing, and her move to (currently frozen) Nashville from sunny Clearwater, FL. 

NoiseTrade: Tell us a little bit about your new EP and walk us through the songs on it. 
Maggie Chapman: Ever since I was little, I’ve expressed myself through writing music. Whether I wanted to remember or desperately forget something, I naturally used writing as my outlet. One of my favorite authors, F. Scott Fitzgerald, once said, “You don't write because you want to say something, you write because you have something to say,” and that is the very reason why my music came into existence. The “Novella Edition” is not only a collection of songs, it is a collection of (non-fiction) stories that came straight from my unfiltered heart.

Growing up, one of my favorite songs was “Jolene” by Dolly Parton. The melody is hypnotic and the imagery throughout the song is just brilliant. I was writing with one of my very favorite co-writers and when I mentioned the title “Charlotte’s Web” the magic was there. I told him, “I want to make Charlotte my own Jolene.” 

“Wannabe Rebel” began with this quirky line that I had, “I’m just a wannabe rebel stuck in these goody-two-shoes.” I wrote the song with two incredibly beautiful and talented co-writers, April and Tiffany. For me, it’s about the internal conflict between good and bad that we all face. It’s about doing things you shouldn’t do, being with someone you shouldn’t be with, trying to live on the wild side, but at the end of the day knowing that you’re good at heart.

“Pickin’ Petals” is about your stereotypical bad boy, cleverly using the perfect balance of roses and charm to cover up for everything that is wrong in the relationship. While we were writing the song, I remember my co-writer, Ben, saying “Dang, what’s up with you girls and these motorcycle guys?” It’s a phase we all go through, right?

The exclusive track, “It Should’ve Been You,” has a story behind it that is very close to my heart. It’s about one of my family members and his high-school sweetheart. They ran into each other at an event for the first time in years and she had just gotten engaged. The entire time they were talking, she way nervously playing with her ring. When he asked her if she was happy she said, “I don’t like to talk about it. It should’ve been you.” 

NT: You wrote your first song at 9. What sparked that desire in you at such a young age?
Maggie: It honestly happened so naturally. I’ve always lived and breathed music and I’ve always had a fascination with words. I can’t recall how my love of music started, but my parents say that I was singing before I could talk. My love of writing began as soon as my kindergarten teacher taught me how to hold a pencil. Soon enough, I combined the two loves and I haven’t stopped writing songs since. 

NT: What was the main inspiration behind your relocation from Clearwater, FL here to Nashville?
Maggie: From my first trip to Nashville when I was thirteen, Music City felt like home. No pun intended, but I definitely felt like a fish-out-of-water in Florida and being in a place where everyone shares such passion and appreciation for music was a dream-come-true. I started spending more and more time in Nashville co-writing and when I started talking to several publishers, that’s when I decided to make the move. 

NT: You’ve mentioned that you love the experience of listening to an entire album, as opposed to just picking out the singles. What are some of your favorite records that stand up to that “straight through” test?
Maggie: YES! I have this morning-ritual where I’ll make a cup of coffee, flip through my record collection until I find the album I’m in the mood to listen to and then I’ll sit on the floor by my record player and listen to it straight through. My top five at the moment would have to be Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours, Tapestry by Carole King, Jackson Browne’s Late for the Sky, Blue by Joni Mitchell and James Taylor’s Sweet Baby James.

NT: What’s the story behind the video series you’ve been creating called “Dream Out Loud”?
Maggie: The “Dream Out Loud” series gives you an inside look at my journey through the music industry so far. There are five episodes, starting with “Meet Maggie” and ending with “The Bluebird and In The Studio.” While filming the second episode about my undying obsession with music, we had to sort through a mass of family-home-video footage (courtesy of my father) and Josh, the video guy, practically witnessed my entire childhood within a few days of us meeting each other. This was hilarious and terribly humiliating at the same time. The series has been such a neat way to tell my story and introduce myself and my music!