Chip:それから、グレッグとジョンはSuburban HiFiという名前で「The Odd Mess」というEPをリリースした。このデュオが後にThe Hangaboutsとなり、2011年11月にアルバム「Illustrated Bird」をリリースした。ちょうどその頃、僕は12年間住んでいたカンザスから離れ、家族と共にミシガンに帰ることになったんだ。旧知の仲だったグレッグと再び曲作りを始めた僕は、Suburban HiFi名義で録音できる数曲を用意した。ジョンに聴かせたところ、次のThe Hangaboutsのアルバムに入れよう！ということになった。走り始めた僕達は、まず2014年12月に「Illustrated Bird」をリマスターを発表、そして先日、最新作「Kits and Cats and Saxon Wives」をリリースしたという訳さ。
Q. Congratulations on “Kits and Cats and Saxon Wives” release. There may be a new fan knowing you by this interview for the first time. Therefore, at first tell it from your simple profile.
John: Although we never really talked about this before, The Hangabouts started in a living room in Nashville, Tennessee when Greg and I sat together with two acoustic guitars and rekindled our musical friendship. We had known each other for years, and even operated a studio together, but we never wrote together until that afternoon when we wrote Algernon and two other unreleased tracks.
Chip: From there, Greg recorded “The Odd Mess” EP under the Suburban HiFi moniker ably assisted by John. The duo then banded together to form The Hangabouts and released “Illustrated Bird” in November 2011. I had been living in Kansas for a dozen years but was able to return with my family to Michigan. Rekindling my previous songwriting alliance with Greg, we soon had a handful of songs ready to record under the Suburban HiFi banner. After asking John to be involved, it was unanimously decided to just throw it all in the pot and make it part of the next Hangabouts record. Once we got the remixed, remastered “Illustrated Bird” released in December of 2014 we commenced on to “Kits and Cats and Saxon Wives” which brings us up to last Thursday.
Q. What is the origin of the band name “The Hangabouts”?
John: I guess it’s a kind of play on words, but there’s nothing to get hung about.
Greg: Turns out it is not an uncommon phrase in England for shiftlessness. Perfect!
Q. What do you see as the big differences between “Kits and Cats and Saxon Wives” and “Illustrated Bird”? (Three years pass from previous work“Illustrated Bird”, do you feel any change and growth by yourself?)
Greg:We knew we wanted to make a different sounding record but it isn’t always easy to stray from one’s comfort zone. Some of it is just us hopefully getting a few percent better at saying what we’re trying to say. Some of it is being patient enough to complete the process. Chip came on board and added a different angle as well. So that pushed us in a new direction a little.
John: Our waistlines have grown. It’s all that sushi and sake. And yeah, we feel like we’re getting closer all the time to making the sounds in our heads come out in the final recording. We are always trying to get better at writing, performing, arranging, engineering and producing music. Maybe we’re better at throwing out bad stuff. That’s usually the hardest thing… you work on something, whether it’s a guitar part or a song, but if it comes time to finish the track and the part just doesn’t work, you need to throw it away and not think too much about how much time you spent making it. There’s lots of good stuff left on the cutting room floor, but if it doesn’t work it’s out. Well there’s lots of bad stuff on the cutting room floor too!
Q. What is the origin of title “Kits and Cats and Saxon Wives”?
Greg: The “Illustrated Bird” cover and title came about pretty organically starting from an original oil painting hanging in the studio. We knew that was the cover and the name fell into place because John had written “Illustrated Bird” the song. When it came time to name this project we wanted something more light-hearted that fit the personality of the band better. Someone, John I think, floated this title and I fell over. Very pun-ny and sums up our lives and the record pretty well.
John: I thought someone said pass the salt and pepper, but I misunderstood.
Q. Please express “Kits and Cats and Saxon Wives” using three adjectives.
John: Rock and roll made in the winter while dreaming of the summer. It’s about remembering a past that never happened and not thinking about the future too much. There’s a lot of looking back on this one.
Chip:Steady – because I love all of the songs on the record equally, Sanguine – because I think that’s a cool word – actually a good bit of the songs on this record are kind of un-sanguine, and Grilled – because that’s how I like my sandwiches at Zingerman’s, our unofficial band clubhouse.
John: We never stop working, writing and recording. Even right now, we are rehearsing to play some live shows, but we are also writing for the next record or our various solo projects – or even just for ourselves – and working with some other local artists and helping friends make their records. Our plan is to keep writing and recording and whenever we have 12 ½ good songs we will release an album.
John:どのバンドでも解散の危機があったって、何かで読んだことがある。僕達も煮詰まったりするときもあるけど、そんな時はだいたい次の日は違う曲を書いたりしているよ。発狂するほど退屈な作業だって楽しんでる。もっと早く進めたい気持ちもあるけど、僕達には無理かな。そう、1曲目の‘Kits and Cats and Saxon Wives’、はアルバム・タイトルと同名なんだけど、実はアルバム・タイトルの方が先に決まってたんだ。じゃあ、このタイトルの曲を作ろうか！ってことになって、2日間セッションして完成させたよ。これが1番の思い出だね。
Q. Did the recording proceed smoothly? Were there the points that had a hard time?
Greg: Whenever you try to make something and more than one person is involved it gets uncomfortable at times. But the hope is that the songs are better together. The process is too slow because we do everything ourselves. Arranging, recording and mixing a song can take a long time and frustrations come out. Mostly by me.
John: I think I read somewhere that every band always feels like it’s about to break up. Sometimes we go through those times where we can’t stand each other, and then usually the next day we’re writing the middle 8 for the other’s song. It’s always fun, challenging and insanely boring working in the studio on a record – sometimes in the same day. We’re trying to work faster – we can never work fast enough to keep up with our ideas. When we made the songKits and Cats and Saxon Wives, we actually had the album title first and we decided to make the song. We did that whole thing in two days of sessions. Those are the most fun.
Chip:We all wanted to make this the best record we could and during the process I felt we always had each other’s back. That being said, mixing, mixing, and mixing were the worst points.
Greg: ‘Kits and Cats and Saxon Wives’はタイトルが先に決まっててジョンと僕で書いた曲。僕が適当にピアノを弾いていたらジョンが“kits and cats and…”って歌い始めたんだ。郊外にいる猫たちの歌、そんな感じ。
John: ‘Follow the Sunshine‘は、おいしい食物とキャンプファイアやるから家においでよっていうジョンからのお誘いの歌なんだ。
Q. Please tell us briefly about each song from the album.
Greg:Kits and Cats and Saxon Wives was written in the studio by John and me after the title was decided. I was banging out nonsensical chords on the piano and John started singing “kits and cats and…” It was only after the fact that words became about living in the suburbs with various kits and various cats.
John:Cricket Time is a song about longing for the free afternoons of our childhoods. We all came of age in a time when you played baseball after school and then all summer long. We decided to move the game across the pond for the sake of our friends in the UK. They don’t understand baseball. I’m not even sure they understand cricket. We don’t. But it’s fun to watch, like Australian rules football where the field umpires call the fouls with all sorts of wild gyrations.
Greg:Sinking Feeling is one that music had been kicked around for awhile. It was written by John and me and all we really had was that, yes I have a feeling and it’s sinking. It’s about starting something that seems doomed because of its inauspicious beginnings. The couple are just asking the question, “how can we begin…” but it’s a natural feeling in the beginning a lot of times. Fortunately Molly came in to save it with her vocal in the end. Beautiful.
Greg:When we were growing up there were these TV ads on all the time forEvelyn Wood’s Speed Reading Course. I always thought it was very odd that someone would take something that is supposed to be a pleasant diversion and try to rip through it in as little time as possible. Did Evelyn undertake all her pursuits in the same fashion?
John:Twelve Songs is an old one. That really should have gone on “Illustrated Bird”, it was written about that time about a friend of ours who was going through a tough time.
John:Turrialba, well the original idea was to have little pieces of songs like this all over the album but sanity prevailed and only one made the cut. It’s rain. Real rain from Costa Rica where people are happiest. Pura Vida.
Greg:Selling Out was started in the front room at my house on a console piano. We had discussed making a record called The Hangabouts Sell Out. A Who rip off sort of thing. We needed a title track so I started writing a song about pleading with your favorite artist or yourself to think better of it. We finished it at John’s house with John rescuing the verse music and adding the terrific chorus.
Chip: Mrs. Kite was an idea that started as an Animals-type rocker. Greg had the idea to give it an electronic treatment and presto. I’m pretty sure we’d all agree that it’s the most different sounding track on the record. We actually recorded three versions of this one with different feels each time. They’re all good, but we all voted this version the best. It’s our good friend Josh Touchton on drums here. He really helped us bring this andCricket Time to life.
Chip: Taking You to Leave Me started as an idea to juxtapose the feeling of consciously doing something you know is going to hurt, with something you know could also be very liberating in the end. This is John’s favorite song by Greg and Chip. John was up to his usual tricks when he contributed the sublime middle 8 where they take a trip on the Pacific Coast Highway.
Greg:Too Hot to Sleep started exactly the way you think it would’ve, in July. I got up and jotted it down for later. John heard the title and took a shine to it and wrote the chorus. We all finished the verse and middle bits together.
Chip:All Day All Night is about a girl I know very well. I brought in an opening riff that Greg then changed to some chords stolen from one of John’s songs (that hasn’t yet been recorded), but John struck back by stealing some chords from another song to make it all work. It’s a real pastiche. Art Hays saxed it.
Greg:Chip and I came acrossSensation Overnight during a writing session for another song. It was really one of those where I had to keep looking because I thought it must’ve been done before. It was written very quickly that evening.
John: Follow the Sunshine, well that’s just an invitation from John to come over to his house for some good food and a campfire.
Q. What is the secret of the making of your songs? Is there anything that you keep in mind for songwriting?
John: Keeping an open mind. Sometimes the main songwriter or producer on a song (we usually try to make one person the leader on a particular song) has a good idea about what the song should sound like and how the recording should be made, but if we get too stubborn it becomes no fun and we lose out on good potential ideas. Sometimes the mistakes or experiments become the favorite parts in the final song. That actually happens a lot in songwriting sessions when someone plays a wrong chord or note. If it sounds good we try to build around the mistake.
Greg:And always looking for a new perspective and something that hopefully hasn’t been overdone. How many ways can you write a love song? Turns out, quite a few! And melodically just trying to keep it interesting throughout the song. And arrangement wise as well.
Greg: ‘Selling Out’では僕の祖母のコンソールピアノを使ったよ。エフェクトなしで、素晴らしい響きの音色だった。’Kits and Cats’のリードギターにはアンプを2台使った。アレッサンドロとアラモの8ワット。60年代の小さなチューブアンプ。これを左右に振ってあるんだ。ベースはヘフナー。’Sinking Feeling’はBossのオートワウとトレモロで渦巻くような音にした。Lowreyオルガンの音は前作より生っぽくないかな。ほとんどG-ForceとArturiaサンプル音源からだから。
Chip: ‘Too Hot to Sleep’はリッケンバッカー360。’Cricket Time’はダンエレクトロのロングホーンベースだよ。
Q. What are the main equipments which you used in this recording?
John: Greg has a great Fender reissue Tele (made in Japan), which is my favorite guitar. I have a little Yamaha acoustic which is Greg’s favorite. Chip’s been using a Fender P bass and he’s a big fan of Eastwood guitars – there’s a Sidejack DLX baritone guitar somewhere on the record. There’s a bit of Les Paul and a lot of Strat on the record and you probably hear a lot of Gibson J-45 too. The electric 12 string is a Dano. The electrics got plugged into an old Fender Deluxe Reverb from the late 1960s or a Super Reverb from the same era. There’s also a little 8 watt Star amp that Ken Greene (fromDr. DragonandFollow the Sunshine) gave to John. The effects are pretty straightforward Boss and Hotone pedals.
Greg:There is a console piano from my grandmother-in-law in my living room that I write on and was recorded forSelling Out. The sound on the record is this piano in this very reverberant room. No other effects. OnKits and Catswe used two amps for the lead guitar, one Allesandro and one Alamo. The Alamo is this little 8 watt tube amp from the 60’s. I think they are panned left and right on the record. I played my Hofner bass on that one. The swirly effect onSinking Feeling is my Gibson Tennessean through a Boss Auto Wah and Boss Tremolo pedal. There are less “live” Lowrey organ sounds on this LP than “Illustrated Bird”. Most of the organ and Mellotron sounds are samples from G-Force and Arturia.
Chip:The sweeps of sound onToo Hot to Sleep were courtesy of a Rickenbacker 360. I played my Danelectro longhorn bass onCricket Time.
Q. What is the highlight of this album which you recommend?
John: We thought Molly’s vocal onSinking Feeling and the overall quality of that song made it a good one to promote as a single, so we made a video for it and it seemed to work for a bit. But DJs here in the states seem to likeEvelyn Wood the best, so that’s a good place to start.
Chip:Tracks one through thirteen. Just kidding, I love them all though.
Q. I feel that your music has an atmosphere of the Beatlesque power pop, psychedelic, the golden age of British invasion band. For example, The Beatles, The Zombies, Beach Boys, Neil Finn (and Crowded House), and many more. All songs are full of the respect to ancient band/artist. What do you like about these band/artist?
John: Probably the same things you like about them. The sense of adventure and experimentation melded with great melodies and surprising twists and turns in the song structure. If you can keep your ears open to melody and harmony there’s so much more to be discovered from that era too. Sometimes you balance a little Pretty Things rock edginess with some of the smoother sounds of the early Bee Gees.
Greg:I mean we grew up listening to those bands as well as a mixture of Detroit rock, Motown singles and 80’s British Invasion stuff. That’s likely why our records are somewhat schizophrenic. Elvis Costello, Fleetwood Mac, Fountains of Wayne are equally influential. But we steal ideas from current bands as well.Sinking Feeling started life as an Aimee Mann type song.
Chip:We’ll take being named in the same sentence as any of those acts anytime. We’ve also gotten compared to Squeeze a good bit with both records and even a Twilley/Shoes reference with the new record. It kinda comes down to unsuccessful attempts at writing the perfect song, we just keep trying.
Chip:最近、ミシガンはパワーポップの中心地のようになってきているよ。Andy Reed, Nick Piunti, The Legal Matters, Chris Richards and The Subtractions, Your Gracious Host, Ryan Allen, Dave Caruso, Donny Brown, Stereo Tiger…挙げたらキリがないくらい。Scott Fab, Timothy Monger, John Holkなどのシンガーソングライターも良いね。American Marsは最近すばらしいアルバムを発表したし。それに皆が繋がっているのも素晴らしい。多くの才能がひしめき合って刺激し合っているんだ。
Q. You guys based your activities in Detroit area. There are a lot of splendid bands in this area. For example, The Legal Matters, Nick Piunti and many more. How about the music scene of recent Detroit?
John: The live music scene is unknown to me. We bump into a lot of the local power pop recording acts when we go to concerts or see each other at pubs. A lot of the work is studio oriented and that’s the craft that I think the Motown legacy, as well as the later rock acts have left for us in the Detroit scene. The craftsmanship from guys like Nick and Andy and their groups inspires us.
Greg: It’s a gritty town and like a lot of industrial cities people like experiencing rock and roll. That is slowly changing but the legacy of it remains. We don’t really consider The Hangabouts a power pop act but we bump up against it and are pleased to be considered part of the aforementioned company.
Chip:Lately it seems Michigan is the epicenter of power pop – Andy Reed, Nick Piunti, The Legal Matters, Chris Richards and The Subtractions, Your Gracious Host, Ryan Allen, Dave Caruso, Donny Brown, Stereo Tiger, I mean the list just goes on and on. There has also been a bit of a rumble in the singer-songwriter genre lately – Scott Fab, Timothy Monger, John Holk, and American Mars have all put out great records recently. We’re glad to call most of those folks our friends – there’s a lot of cross pollination among talents.
Q. 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?
John:It’s good to be able to quickly get your music heard around the world. With CD Baby, Bandcamp, Spotify, etc. your music is available to a large base of potential fans very quickly. It’s rewarding to get an email from someone in Spain or Sweden or Iceland and know they enjoy the music we’re making.
Greg:There is a reason even very popular acts are on the road all the time. There is no money in selling recorded music anymore unless you are a platinum artist. Fortunately (or unfortunately) we love doing it and couldn’t be stopped very easily.
Chip:The challenge sometimes feels like trying to make your 30 seconds last more than two minutes. There is so much music available anytime, anywhere that keeping your name on someone’s playlist can be tough, but, despite the pictures inside the new CD, we’re tough guys.
ーーもしも無人島に5枚持っていくとしたら？ John: Brian Eno “Music for Airports”（片時も手放せない） Beatles “Revolver”（説明不要）
Alison Krauss （彼女の歌声があれば生き延びることができそうだ） Mahavishnu Orchestra “Inner Mounting Flame”（しばらく無人島にいなきゃいけないなら、何かに挑戦しなきゃいけないから） Beatles “White Album”（ビートルズはもう１枚必要。だから2枚組のこれにする） Greg: Beatles “Magical Mystery Tour” （邪道かもしれないけど、好きな曲がいっぱい入ってるんだ）
Elvis Costello “Imperial Bedroom”（大好きなアーティスト）
Freedy Johnston “Never Home” （最後に記載）
Fountains of Wayne “Utopia Parkway”（パワーポップだったら絶対これを持ってくよ）
Kinks “Kinks are the Village Green Preservation Society” （素晴らしいアルバム。だけど女性ボーカルもカバンに入れとかないといけないな） Chip:もう、いろんな島に行くことにしたよ！ポップ島ならAimee Mann “Whatever”、Freedy Johston“Can You Fly?”、Erik Voeks“Sandbox”Talk Talk“The Colour of Spring”、Tommy Keene“Songs from the Film”
ソフィスティポップ島ならSwan Dive’”Swan Dive”、The Bible“Eureka”、Gary Clark and the boys“Meet Danny Wilson”、Dream Academy”Dream Academy” 、The Lilac Time“No More Love Songs” オーストラリア行くなら The Go-Betweens,“16 Lovers Lane”、The Church“Heyday”、Paul Kelly and The Coloured Girls“Gossip”、The Bats“Silverbeet”、Neil Finn“Try Whistling This”。 ジャズ島ならHank Mobley“Soul Station”、John Coltrane & Johnny Hartman、Pat Metheny Group“Offramp”、Antonio Carlos Jobim “Wave”、Miles Davis“Kind of Blue”。Tracey ThornもJohn Hiattの“Bring the Family”も。。。もう無理！ Q. If you were stuck on a desert island what five albums/CDs could you not live without? John: Brian Eno, “Music for Airports”. Seems like I’d want to travel. Plus I always have this with me now. Beatles, “Revolver”. You know why. It’s where it all starts. Something from Alison Krauss. Seems like that’s a voice I could live with for a long time. Maybe her live record with New Favorite on it. Mahavishnu Orchestra, “Inner Mounting Flame”. Hey I will be on the island for a while. Need something challenging. “White Album”, need more Beatles, and I get to sneak an extra disc in this way! Greg:Beatles “Magical Mystery Tour” – cheating obviously but it has some favorite songs on it and it makes me happy. Elvis Costello “Imperial Bedroom” – outstanding song craft from one of my favorite artists at his peak. Freedy Johnston “Never Home” – see last reason. Fountains of Wayne “Utopia Parkway” – if power pop can get any better than this I’d love to hear it. “Kinks are the Village Green Preservation Society” – great album but this list is very light on female voices and very white so Prince, Joni, Stevie and the other Stevie will find a way in my bag somehow. Chip:I am going to be ambitious and say I’ll have several islands. My pop island collection would be Aimee Mann’s “Whatever”, Freedy Johston’s “Can You Fly?”, “Sandbox” from Erik Voeks, Talk Talk’s “The Colour of Spring” and Tommy Keene’s “Songs from the Film”. There’d be a Sophisti-Pop island too – Swan Dive’s self-titled, “Eureka” from The Bible, “Meet Danny Wilson” from Gary Clark and the boys, Dream Academy’s self-titled, and “No More Love Songs” from The Lilac Time. My Aussie/Kiwi vacation spot would feature “16 Lovers Lane” from The Go-Betweens, “Heyday” from The Church, “Gossip” from Paul Kelly and The Coloured Girls”, “Silverbeet” from The Bats, and Neil Finn’s “Try Whistling This”. To chill, my jazz island would have Hank Mobley’s “Soul Station”, John Coltrane & Johnny Hartman’s record together, “Offramp” from the Pat Metheny Group, Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “Wave”, and “Kind of Blue” from Miles Davis. Oh yeah, something would have to include Tracey Thorn singing. Ohhh and John Hiatt’s “Bring the Family, oh and I know, I’m not playing along.
ーー最近のお気に入りの音楽を教えてください John: The Look Parkのアルバムは素晴らしいよ。Jody Porterの“Pacifier”も本物のロックンロール・アルバムだ。両者ともFOWだね！ Greg:すごくハマったのはないけど、Belle Brigadeの“Just Because”は良いよ。’AshesorWhen Everything’という曲は特にね。Django Django “Default”は永遠。Spoon,、New Pornographers、Sloan、Shins、Belle and Sebastian、Apples in Stereo、Ron Sexsmithはいつ聴いても飽きないな。 Chip:幸運なことに、僕はほぼ毎日音楽を聴いてるよ。最近のお気に入りはHilma Nikolaisen “Puzzler”、Secret Meadow “Same Old Fear”、Bent Van Looy “Pyjama Days”、Corin Ashley “Broken Biscuits”、Erik Voeks “So the Wind Won’t Blow It All Away”、Loch Ness Mouse”Loch Ness Mouse” 、Boo Hewerdine “Swimming in Mercury”、Film School “June”、Scott Fab “Leave My Friends”、The Douglas Fir “California Memory”。
Q. Do you have any favorite music recently? If you do, which one is it?
John: The Look Park album took a while to resonate with me, but it’s a good one. Jody Porter’s “Pacifier” is real rock and roll too. Anything from the Fountains of Wayne guys will get a fair shake from us.
Greg: Not super new in some cases but…Belle Brigade- their LP “Just Because” is amazing. Listen toAshesorWhen Everything. Django Django “Default” never gets old. Pretty much any releases from Spoon, New Pornographers, Sloan, Shins, Belle and Sebastian, Apples in Stereo and Ron Sexsmith always gets repeated spins in my house. Chip:Luckily for me, I’m able to listen to music almost all day long. In my current heavy rotation stack: Hilma Nikolaisen “Puzzler”, Secret Meadow “Same Old Fear”, Bent Van Looy “Pyjama Days”, Corin Ashley “Broken Biscuits”, Erik Voeks “So the Wind Won’t Blow It All Away”, Loch Ness Mouse self-titled, Boo Hewerdine “Swimming in Mercury”, Film School “June”, Scott Fab “Leave My Friends”, and, my current favorite, The Douglas Fir “California Memory”.
Q. What was the proudest moment and/or performance of your playing career?
John: Hopefully still to come.
Greg: I really like the waySelling Out turned out. It isn’t always easy to get the idea in your head on tape but that came close. There are several tracks on “The Odd Mess” that I’m proud of –Blue Statehas some good lines andAlgernon is good and semi-autobiographical so I have a soft spot for it. Chip:For me, I love the waySinking Feeling came together – the song, the performance, the video – just about perfect. That being said, there’s truly something in each song on the new record that makes me smile.
Q. What is the Hangabouts for you?
John:Finding the sweet spot where we keep ourselves interested and can make a lot of people happy with the recordings
Chip:Hanging, pardon the pun, with a couple of great friends whom I admire both as people and musicians. Pass the Kleenex please.
Q. Please tell me your plans from now on. Do you have the plan to visit Japan? We will always be there for you!
John: That would be a blast. We will keep you informed if we can make it happen.
Greg: Yes please! We will probably start recording more stuff in the fall not necessarily for any release in particular. We have some live dates during the summer or 2017. Chip:Kon’nichiwa Japan!!!
ーー最後に日本のファンにメッセージをお願いします 僕達の音楽をプレイリストに、そして何よりハートに刻んでくれてありがとう！これからもベストを尽くして素晴らしい音楽を演り続けるよ！ Q. Would you please provide some message to the fans in Japan? We thank you so much for keeping us in your playlists and your hearts. We will do our best to send some good vibrations halfway around the world for you.