【Interview : for English】The Legal Matters – Chris Richards, Andy Reed, Keith Klingensmith

legalmatters2Q. There may be a new fan knowing you by this interview for the first time. Therefore, at first tell it from your simple profile.
Chris: The Legal Matters are essentially a band of three songwriters who love to make records deeply rooted in the art of pop music with vocals and harmony taking center stage.
Keith: We are 3 pop guys making records soaked in guitars and harmonies.Q. Why were you guys united as the Band? What was the first step as The Legal Matters? What is the origin of the band name “The Legal Matters”?
Chris: We started the band in 2012 as an extension of the Phenomenal Cats but as we started writing the songs that would eventually be our self- titled record in 2014 – we realized that we were really a different band with the addition of Andy Reed- so a name change was needed. It was Andy who mentioned The Legal Matters- after the Who song – It made sense as the Who are clearly one of the pillars this band loves and it really does have a nice ring to it .

Q. Would you assumed continuous activity from the beginning?
Andy: The band most certainly started off with the potential of being a one of kinda thing but after we had so much positive feedback after the first record, we decided to do another. Now it feels that we are a more solidified unit and we plan on making music for a long time. Things feel easy and comfortable.

Keith: We’re all used to side-projects so I’m sure that’s what we assumed this would be, but we’re all in now full-time.  I hope we make 20 more records.

Q. Please express The Legal Matters using three adjectives.
Chris: Harmonious, Melodic and Adventurous.  The band’s foundation is really rooted in harmony vocals – the moment we initially laid down vocals together- we noticed a blend that came to us very naturally and that blend has really been what we’re all about. Harmonies can actually benefit a hummable melody – really they need each other in song for this formula to work…and just like many bands before us- marrying the two together can create a magical experience. Being adventurous and willing to try new things is really what a band needs to do for themselves as well as for the people who buy their records…it’s tough resting on your past recordings…it’s just a lot of fun for us trying to work out part that you know is going to take some time- but you know it’s going to elevate the recording.
Andy: Courageous, Humorous, and Therapeutic. This band opens up a lot of doors for me to take more chances musically. We have zero boundaries. Also, I get to hang out with two of my friends and make records with them.
Keith: Songwriting, Harmonies and Laughs.  These guys are the 2 best songwriters I know and it’s a total joy to help bring their songs to life.  And there is nothing that excites me more than a great vocal harmony.

Q. I feel relaxed atmosphere from your MV and photos and this album. You all get along, don’t you?
Chris: Yes- you really have to – to be in a band like this. You have to leave your ego at the door in a band where the songwriting and vocals are shared…it’s not ever “what do I think” but really “ what do we all feel is right” for the song are part in question. The fact is that this band came out of conversations over a few beers after recording – we love hanging out as much as possible- but sometimes life gets in the way.
Andy: I think this band has made us better friends. We’ve become a family through the music making process.
Keith: Eh.

Q.”Conrad is awesome! When did you elaborate a plan from? When did you write these songs?
Chris: Right after we released our first record we started making plans for album number two. The first album we recorded over a six day period which then followed a few months for mixing and what have you. For Conrad we took a different approach – we recorded in two day sessions over the course of a few months. This way had it’s advantages- as all the songs for Conrad we’re composed over that period- which gave us some time to add to the track list.
Andy: It was definitely a more relaxed approach but the success of the first record really inspired us to up our game for the second. We also knew what we absolutely loved from the first record and we grew upon that. I think we found out who we were as a band on this album. at least I hope so.

Q. What do you see as the great difference between Conrad and debut album?
Chris: I’ve been told it sounds more confident – as far as songwriting goes. My songwriting personally can go through up’s and down’s as a whole (lyrically and musically) so at times I’m very unsure where a song is going – stylistically but the guys really respect that – and really let the song itself dictate where we go. The first record really had to happen for the creation of Conrad – we needed to elevate the harmonies as well as the songs.
Andy: I think we were also able to produce with a clearer vision in mind. Like I said earlier. We were starting to find out what we wanted to be as a band.
Keith: First record was more a collection of singles for me.  I think “Conrad” holds together as a record much better.

Q. This album is produced by you guys. Did the recording advance smoothly? Were there the points that had a hard time?
Chris: I can let Andy speak more on the technical side of making the record- as the brightness and the overall color of the record were his incredible gift to the band- he’s never happy with the normal- always finding ways to sprinkle just the right magic and sparkle to each recording until we feel their done.
Andy: This record was actually pretty easy to make from a technical standpoint. The songs inspired the production. I think this record is a bit more open and breathes a bit more than the first. We really wanted that. The only roadblock that I had on the mixing end was with the song “I’m Sorry Love”. I was having a hard time getting the mix to glue together. It was a track I deeply cared about so I was not going to give in a let it slide. Once I ran it through my Trident A-Range channel strip, it had such a great feel to it so I decided to run the entire record through it and it gave us some continuity.  I am very proud of the way this album feels and sounds.

Q. Each song is splendid, and furthermore the music order is perfect. How did you decide the music order?
Chris: I love the question- and I wish I had an answer that could really make sense. We’ve all made a few records in the past- so that helps- but just like a simple 11 piece puzzle – all the songs just fit in that order. We love the process of track listing – I’d like to think all bands do.

Keith: We did have some disagreements about song order because we’re all nerds when it comes to flow and order, but I now think “Conrad” is perfect, which means Andy was right.

Q. As one of the characteristics of you, I think that it is a beautiful harmony. How do you feel about?
Chris: We love harmonies..I can’t imagine making a record without them taking center stage.
Andy: Its has become an instrument in itself. When we record, the harmonies are just as important if not more than the bass, drums, or guitars.
Keith: NOTHING better.

conradQ. What is the origin of title “Conrad”? Who is the Conrad? By any chance, Is a koala of the cover art Mr. Conrad?
Chris: That is indeed a koala. It’s tricky naming a record- and sometimes even tougher to come up with a concept that all like. Many of our band meetings will take place over a few beers and there is a bar in Bay City called the Steinhaus – a great bar with very few distractions – and we’ve always said that the concept of the Legal Matters started there. On our frequent visits we’d get to know some of the bartenders- and Konrad (a Bay City legend) was one of our frequent bartenders. So when I came across some fantastic photo’s by a photographer- who took pictures of animals wearing shirts – there was one with a koala wearing a Hawaiian shirt – who we just started calling Conrad…and it clearly stuck.

Q. What is the secret of the making of your songs? Is there anything that you keep in mind for songwriting?
Chris: I treat it like a very organic process and let the song come to me…if I over think it – I can ruin it.
Andy: I think the biggest part for me is to make the music match the lyric so they hit you all at once.  We continue to find ways to mix things up though. I don’t think there is one right way to write a tune.  I usually start with a line I like and a chord progression and knock it out from there.
Keith: Andy and Chris are MILES ahead of me and so much more prolific, I just need to deliver my song before the session for it starts and then help the boys turn into more than I could have ever hoped.

Q. The sound of the guitar is very impressive that is powerful and clear through an album. I am a guitar player, are there matters that require attention about the making of sound of the guitar at the time of the recording?
Chris: I’ll let Andy handle
Andy: Thank you for that. Guitars can have a vocal and percussive quality to them.  We can use tones to shape a feeling that supports the lyric as well as a rhythm part to support the groove. We LOVE trying to come up with unique sounds that will help get our story across. Finding the right tone can be tough but once we get it, we know its going to sit in there just right.Q. What are the main equipments which you used in this recording?
Chris: I’ll let Andy handle…
Andy: For microphones we used SM57s, U87s, U47s, Coles 4038s, AKG D19s, and a couple other odds and ends. For mic preamps and compressors we used Neve 1073s, Redd 47s, Tridents, Focusrite ISA Ones, 1176s, LA4s, and Distressors.  We run everything through on the way into ProTools. Once inside we are able to use a bunch of plugins and effects to help get our mixes into shape.  Its a nice blend of old school and new school.

Q. What is the highlight of this album which you recommend?
Chris: My personal favorite on the record is a Andy song called – “Short Term Memory” – a great song with a monster hook- but really highlighting our vocal blend with a standard three part harmony. I also think the vocals on “Pull My String” are the most adventurous parts we’ve ever attempted- and when you hear them isolated – it’s an amazing song with just vocals.
Andy: For Me its “More Birds, Less Bees”. Chris brought us a gem that had a bunch of great little parts and it feels like a mini symphony to me now. It shows the bands depth and what we are capable of doing. It was a challenge to make the recording live up to the song itself on that one. It’s easily my favorite.
Keith: I’m going to go with “Anything”.  I’m in awe of that one.  The purest of pop.

legalmatters3Q. The music industry has changed a lot. The country and the language do not matter. In our time, anyone can appeal to audience of the world for own music. I think that it is a benefit of the Internet. How do you feel the present music industry to be as a musician? What did it bring you?
Chris: It’s harder now than it ever has to get the attention of a potential fan of your music. Social Media has figured out ways to suppress your message-unless you’re willing to pay a premium for it…so really you rely on word of mouth. Blogs have essentially replaced print media – but again the internet has so many options and outlets it’s hard reaching out to potential fans. I think the Omnivore deal will really help connect some dots for us – as they’ve released/reissud some of my all time favorite recordings by Jellyfish, the Posies, Big Star – just to name a ridiculous few!

Q. Keith, Besides being a musician, you are a label owner.
Keith: Well to tell you the truth, Futureman has taken a bit of a back seat to the band, but I’m still completely proud of it and try and have a couple FM projects going per year.  Label was started back in 1999 to do The New Sell Out, our Who tribute, but it was shelved until the digital age and bandcamp allowed me to get that one out there without any money.  After that I noticed a big niche with classic pop records that had fallen out of print but hadn’t made their way to digital yet.  Contact the artist, have them find some extra tracks and back into the world it goes.  Super fulfilling.  I’ve gotten a load of my all time fave records back out for people to find.  Plus Futureman got to put the first Legal Matters record out!

Q. If you were stuck on a desert island what five albums/CDs could you not live without?
Chris: Dang – just five?
The Kinks – Arthur – This is Ray at his best – the songs are inconceivably written – the chord changes and overall concept blow my mind. One of my all time favorite bands
The Who – Sell Out – This is the period when Pete Townsend really perfected his songwriting. A perfect record from beginning to end.
George Harrison – All Things Must Pass – Another record where you see a genius being presented to the masses. Being in a band with John Lennon and Paul McCartney kind of sounds impossible if you happen to bring a song to the table with those two- So when George decided to go out on his own and leave the shadow of the Beatles- you saw a guy who essentially trained with the best but really came into his own with these songs. One of the most lush records I’ve ever heard in my life.
Nick Lowe – The Jesus of Cool – A record loaded with pure joy – and the sonics that Nick was hearing in those days – comes through loud and clear (just like the records he had produced for Elvis at that time). A true genius.
Paul McCartney – Band on the Run – From the moment I hear Jet 9as a child) I was hooked for life. The melodies on this record alone- rival some of his finest Beatle moments.
Andy:
Brendan Benson-Lapalco– I was in a band that was working with him at the time he was making this record. I got to hear it as it was being made. Brendan taught me a lot during that time about recording and production. It will always hold a place with me,
Elliott Smith – XO – It was the perfect album that hit me at the perfect time. Its beautiful on so many levels.
Weezer – Blue Album – This was the record that made me want to be a musician. Perfect record. Nuff said.
The Beatles – White Album– It shows the Beatles at their grittiest. Its so scattered musically and I love that about it. Every record should be like the White Album in that way.
Harry Nilsson – Nilsson Sings Newman – I love Harry. I love his voice and I love how well he sings these tunes.
Keith: 
The Beatles – Revolver – the peak of the mightiest mountain.
Beach Boys – Pet Sounds – my all time fave record, will never be beat.
Elliott Smith – XO – Something about Elliott, these songs will forever break my heart in the best way.
The Who – Sell Out – I’m with Chris on this one.  Perfect record.
Andy Klingensmith – Bright Again – yes this is my son, but I could listen to this record forever.

Q. Please tell me your plans from now on. Tour?
Chris: Nothing really in the books right now- but we do want to get out to as many folks who would have us. The pop fans in Japan have always been so gracious in their support of the Legal Matters and my solo stuff – would absolutely love to make a trip out there with a guitar someday.
Keith: JAPAN!

Q. Would you please provide some message to the fans in Japan?
Chris: All I can say – is a heartfelt thanks for listening to our records- with so many amazing records out there- we cherish the fact we even make it to the table. Enjoy Conrad!!!
Andy: Thank you for listening and we really hope you enjoy the music.
Keith: We love you guys, let’s come and play some shows!

The Legal Matters official web http://www.thelegalmattersband.com