【Interview】Frank Gradishar (Thrift Store Halo)

昨年、奇跡の復活を果たしたシカゴのパワーポップ・トリオThrift Store Halo。98年リリースのデビュー・アルバムにして事実上のラスト・アルバム「World Gone Mad」から20年、再始動後初となる6曲入りEP「Pop-Rocket」のリリースを間近に控え、バンドの中心人物であるFrank Gradisharが本サイト2度目の登場(前回は、コチラのインタビューを参照ください)!EPのことはもちろん、バンドの今後などについても語ってくださいました
TSH
ーーニューEP完成おめでとうございます。心待ちにしていました。率直に今のお気持ちはいかがですか?
再びインタビューしてくれて光栄だよ、ありがとう。現在、レコーディングが終わって業者にプレスを依頼してるところ。ドラマーのスコット、そして新しいギタリストで曲も書いているランスともども最高の気分さ。版権も以前お世話になっていたシカゴのPravda Music Publishingがまたやってくれることに決まったから安心しているよ。それから、アメリカやイギリスのインディー・ラジオ局からたくさんの好意的な反応が届いているんだ。とても驚いているよ!
Q. Congratulations on POP-ROCKET EPrelease. I’ve been waiting for this day. Frankly speaking, how is the present feeling?
 Thank you, Hiroyuki! It is so nice to be talking with you again. I am feeling great about the new EP, as are Scott Proce, our drummer, and Lance, our new guitarist and co-songwriter. We are really excited to be done with the recording, and that the tracks have been sent off to the manufacturer. Also really excited that we inked a new publishing deal with our previous publisher, Pravda Music Publishing, here in Chicago.
 We’ve been amazed at the initial response from so many different places – so much indie radio support in the USA and UK already, which is tremendous and very flattering.
 
ーー19年ぶりの音源ですが、まさに完全復活。再び一緒に演奏できるという喜びに満ち溢れた若々しいサウンドですね。
ほぼ20年!長かったなぁ。面白いもので、やっぱり曲作りの方法ってあまり変わらないもんだね。僕は本当にたくさんの音楽を聞いているけど、曲作りに関しては型にはまっていたりマンネリ化してるところもあることは自覚している。歌詞に関しても昔と一緒で感情について書くことがほとんど。恋愛、失恋、希望や絶望とかね。政治的なことや時事ネタはなるべく書きたくないんだ。楽曲に永遠の命を授けたいからね。現在44歳になったけど、気持ちは20代のままかな!それから、僕は僕自身の価値観を他人に押し付けるようなことはしたくない。いつだってリスナーをを楽しませたいし、心を通わせたいからね。それって、当たり前のことじゃない?散歩がてら口ずさんでくれたら本望だよ。
Q. Its been almost 19 years since the last time “World Gone Mad” released. TSH made a great comeback! All songs are youthful, bright and filled with joy. How is it?
Yeah, almost 20 years! That’s a long time. It’s interesting to me, that the way I write and approach crafting songs, however, hasn’t changed much. I am listening to a ton of different music, which I am sure has influenced the presentation of the songs, so I am confident we are not sounding dated or like we’re stuck in a rut, or in a state of arrested development, or anything.
 Thematically, I still write about the same things as I always have…emotions; love, loss, rejection, change,  rejection, and disappointment, happiness, longing. Funny, I am 44 years old and I still feel like I am in my 20s! So maybe, that’s where the youthful spirit you sense comes from. Also,  I stay away from politics or current events in my songs as I think that’s the quickest way to have a song lose its longevity or limit its lifespan.  Also, my opinions are mine and I don’t want to push my views on people. I want to entertain people and have them relate on an emotional level. It’s a universal approach, I guess. Beyond that, I suppose I really want a listener to walk away from the song humming it!
 
ーー今作の構想や曲作りはいつ頃から?
常に曲を書いているから、フル・アルバムを作れるほどの曲は揃っているんだけど、とにかく早く再始動の証を形にしたかった。だから、今回はEPという形を選択した。全6曲のうち4曲は僕。1曲は1998年に書いた曲で、他3曲は2011年から2015年。残りの2曲は2016年秋に加入したランス作で、僕が歌詞とメロディーをつけたんだ。僕はだいたいコードと歌詞、メロディーが一緒に浮かんでくるから、ランスの曲ではいつもと違うアプローチをしなければならないんだけど、とても楽しんでいるよ。6曲に絞ったから、まだまだ良い曲が手元に残っている。アルバム、期待しててね!
Q. When did you elaborate a plan from? When did you write these songs? Did you write all songs after reunion?
On this EP, 4 of the songs originated with me, and 2 originated from Lance, who joined the band in the fall of 2016.  Of the 4 I wrote, one dates back to 1998, while the other 3 were written between 2011 and 2015. I wrote the melodies and lyrics to Lance’s 2 songs in the fall of 2016, so at least my contribution on those songs were the most recent.
I still write all the time and average a few, new complete songs each month…so we certainly had enough songs at our disposal if we wanted to do a full length album. But, as we had been gone so long, we wanted to get something together quickly and get moving again.
Since we narrowed it down to just 6 songs this time, we have a good backlog to draw from moving forward. Plus, Lance is also contributing ideas for me to write lyrics and melodies to, which is fantastic. I usually write chords, lyrics and melodies simultaneously. With Lance’s tunes, the chords and structure are essentially there, and I try to come up with something that suits his ideas. It’s a different approach for me, but I am enjoying that too.
 
ーーレコーディングは順調に進みました?苦労した点などありましたか?
順調そのものだった。唯一の問題は週に1度しかセッションできないことくらいだったかな。それぞれ家族と日々の仕事があるからね。レコーディングはプロデューサー兼エンジニアのケビン・ミュシャのスタジオで行った。彼は本当に素晴らしくて、僕らが思い描いたとおりのサウンドに仕上げてくれたよ。僕と音楽的な趣味が似ているところもあるからね。
Q. Did the recording proceed smoothly? Were there the points that had a hard time?
The recording went really smoothly. The only issues we faced, was just trying to keep to a once a week sessions. We are all busy with families and other “day jobs” so that was really the only challenge. We recorded in a studio owned by a very talented engineer and producer named Kevin Mucha. He’s been awesome to work with. It was a really good fit for the band and certainly from my perspective personally. Kevin just gets it. He listens to a lot of the same music as I do so he really could find the sounds that made the tracks better.

Honestly, nothing stood out as problematic. Scott nailed the drum tracks in one day, bass tracks took one day and then guitar, and vocals were spread over a series of months. Lance had to undergo a treatment on his wrist, so we got his guitar parts done and then I could take my time with lead vocals and Scott and Lance took part in the background vocals, which was cool.

THS Pop-Rocket cover art
ーーアルバムに収録されている各曲について、コメント(解説)をお願いします。 
‘Get Over You’
今っぽい感じの曲。特に3番でのコール&レスポンスが好きだな。クールなハーモニーとクランチィなサウンド、そしてランスが弾くスイートなギターソロも聴きどころ。
‘I’m Not Through’
1990年代後半に書いた曲。アルバム「World Gone Mad」の後だね。ストーンズっぽいイントロとボーカルがクール。‘Get Over You’のような今っぽい感じとは違ったレトロな雰囲気。壊れかけのキーボードが良い味を出してくれたんだ。
‘(Love By) Misadventure’
ランスが骨格を書いた曲で、11月のある日、リハーサルを終えようとしていた時にランスが「曲のアイデアがある」と言ったんだ。そこで、ちょっと音を出してみたのが始まり。メロディーはすぐに浮かんだよ。歌詞は僕が普段からメモしているノートから。タイトルも驚くほど早く決まった。僕は少しダークな雰囲気のパワーポップも好きなんだ。ちょっとヘビーでダイナミックな曲になったよ思うよ。
‘Let’s Not Wait’
僕は大のエルビス・コステロ・ファンなんだけど、そんな雰囲気が出てるかな?
これはランスと2度目に会った時に作り始めた曲で、その時初めて僕らは一緒に歌を歌ったんだよ。僕の家の居間に座ってスコットに聴かせたな。すぐにポップでフックの効いた曲になると確信した。ベース・パートもすぐにできたし、ドラムもスコットお得意の感じが出てるね。‘(Love By) Misadventure’同様、とてもローファイ。キーボードは古いハモンドB3とファルフィーザ。メロディーや歌詞も簡単にイメージが浮かんだ。ファズギターのソロも完璧。
‘Save Me From Myself’
ランスがオフブロードウェイを彷彿させると言ってたけど、なかなか的を射ていると思う。ストーンズや70年代パワーポップからの影響を感じさせる歪んだギターとソリッドなドラム、ギターのコード感も良いね。そしてランスのギターソロは圧巻!
‘Stay Away’
セックス・ピストルズとザ・ジャムから影響を受けたパワーポップ。ボーカルに関しては、レイドバックしたAメロと力強いサビのコントラストを出そうと意識した。歌詞は怒りを表現。Bメロもギターソロもない、シンプルで短い曲で、全体的によくできていると思う。
Q. Please give us a brief explanation about each song on the album.
‘Get Over You’
This one is a bit more modern in some respects than the others. I was excited to add some modern, more sonic things to a traditional power-pop framework. I love the call and response on the third verse. Great crunchy sound with cool harmonies and a sweet guitar solo from Lance.
‘I’m Not Through’
This one was written way back in the late 1990s, when we were thinking about a follow up to World Gone Mad. It has a very cool Stones vibe in the intro, and I really think the vocals came off well…just the right amount of grit. Like “Get Over You”, I wanted to make sure there were some modern aspects, so it wasn’t just some retro pop tune, so the keyboards in the breakdown add a certain ethereal quality, while remaining a rocking song!
‘(Love By) Misadventure’
Lance wrote the framework of this song. One evening in November, when we were winding down a rehearsal, in the studio and Lance just said “Hey, I have this idea for song” and we all sort of fell in to the song.  The melody came pretty easily to me and the lyrics really kind of materialized from an idea I had written in my book of lyric ideas…I had just the title and it all came from that. It actually surprised me how quickly this came alive. I love that it’s a bit darker and still retains the power pop sensibility. Plus, it has a few heavy spots, that build and release…a great dynamic. Plus, the verses have some space, which is very cool.
‘Let’s Not Wait’
Well, I am a huge Elvis Costello fan, in case you couldn’t tell.  This song came out of the second meeting with Lance, and the first time we sat down and played songs together. We sat in my family room at my house and I showed him the songs Scott and I had developed and after, Lance presented this Scott and me. I was instantly hooked by the total “poppiness” of it. The bass part came almost instantly, and Scott immediately started articulating some cool drum parts, including his intro, just using his hands on a table. Very low-fi! Like “(Love By) Misadventure”, the melody and lyrics kind of just…appeared! The song just screamed classic pop, so the lyrics and vibe fell into shape easily. The keyboards we added in the studio, classic Hammond B# and Farfisa sounds, just made it sound just right. The fuzzed-out guitar parts and solo were perfect!
‘Save Me From Myself’
Lance said this one reminds him of Off Broadway, which is a huge compliment and a pretty good way to sum it up. Crunchy guitars, solid rock drumming…a hint of Stones…and 70s power pop. Some great suspended guitar chord voicings and a killer solo from Lance.
‘Stay Away’
This track is really straightforward power-pop with a hint of the Sex Pistols and the Jam. I dig the laid back vocal delivery of the verses, which contrast the more gutsy lead vocals on the choruses. The lyrics are biting and angry, yet they kind of slither out and around you in the verses. No bridge part, no guitar solo and verses without bass guitar. Short and sweet! Again, I wanted something different and modern to set this one apart, so there’s some slightly out-there sounds in the last verse. Overall, I think it came together very well.
 
ーー前作「World Gone Mad」から19年、ご自身では何か変化や成長を感じている点はありますか?
そうだね。本当にいろいろ変わったと思う。転職、再婚そして子供たち、家族との日々は僕の価値観を変えた。本当に大切なものは何かを知ったよ。でも、僕には音楽のための時間も必要なんだ。ただ単に好きだから僕は曲を書きレコーディングする。レコードディールのためではないよ。先の答えにもあるように曲作りの方法は変わってないけど、昔より成長しているとは思う。レコーディングにおいてもね。バンドは現在の方が絶対に良いと断言できる。ランスの加入によって完璧な布陣になった。彼はフィーリング豊かなプレーヤーで、楽曲やメロディーに対するセンスが素晴らしいんだ。僕が思いつかないようなフックの効いたフレーズをバンバン入れてくるしね。ドラムのスコットは昔からの仲間。チャーリー・ワッツに影響を受けたタイトでクールなプレイで、僕らを支えてくれるんだ。この3人になって日は浅いけど、チームワークは抜群さ。おかげで最高のEPが完成したよ。次回作もすでに考えてるから期待しててね!
Q. 19 years pass from previous work “World Gone Mad”, do you feel any changes and/or growth by yourself?
Yeah, I really do. Lots of things have changed for me, personally in the almost two decades since I last recorded officially. A career change, getting remarried and having kids have all changed my perspective so much on so many things and require a lot of my dedication and focus. But I still make time for music, which is so important to me. Now, I write and record music because I love it, not because I want to get a record deal.
That said, again, from a songwriting perspective, I have remained true to how I have always written, but I definitely think I have improved in having a big-picture perspective of what I wanted things to sound like, and the vibe and feel of the recording. Vocally, I think I am definitely stronger now, which I feel is a blessing.  In some respects it feels like we never left. Obviously, Lance is in the band now, and he’s really been the missing link. He’s a feel player…he has a great sense of arrangement and playing parts that really compliment the song. He’s understated, which I love, and has a great sense of melody. He knows how to add that kittle something that creates hooks I hadn’t thought of. Scott, the drummer, is still here, and 19 years later he is actually more solid than before, which helps as now click tracks are a must. So he’s tight and has a very cool Charlie Watts sensibility to him, in that he plays what suits the songs. It’s a great team, and we really gelled very well in a very short period of time. It gets me excited thinking about getting this EP out and I am already thinking about the next recording!
 
ーー全曲ともチープトリックをはじめとした先人たちへの愛とリスペクトに満ち溢れています。あなたがパワーポップに魅力を感じている理由は何ですか?
フックの効いたメロディー、タイトなアレンジ、力強いボーカルと色とりどりのハーモニーそしてクランチィなギター、パワーポップには僕が好きな全てがあるんだ。取っつきやすさも魅力だね。
Q. All songs are full of the respect to ancient power pop band. For example, Cheap Trick, Velvet Crush and many more. What do you like about power pop?
To me, power pop means killer melodies, tight arrangements, strong vocals, lots of harmonies, hooks that get stuck in your head and crunchy guitars. To me, that’s what it’s all about. Power-pop is easily accessible…not a lot of challenges thematically. You get to focus on
 
ーー最近のお気に入り曲は?
‘I’m Not Through’は、KOR Radio(イギリス)、Radio Candy(アメリカ)、Secret Weapon/Woodyradio.com(カナダ)、Pop That Goes Crunch (アメリカ)などでたくさんかけてもらえているし、インディー・チャートでも好リアクションを得ているんだ。さらに「Ice Cream Man Power Pop show」のウェインがリリースしたコンピ“Rockin Road”にも選ばれた。まったく信じられないよ!他の曲もラジオでオンエアされているよ。Secret Weapon/Woodyradio.comやPop That Goes Crunchでは6曲すべて流れたし、’Save Me From Myself’はIce Cream Man Power Pop & More’s 200thshowでも流れた。まもなく発売するこのEP、本当に順調なスタートを切れたと感じている。
Q. What tunes are currently on your heavy rotation?
“I’m Not Through” has been receiving really strong airplay on KOR Radio (UK), Radio Candy (US), Secret Weapon/Woodyradio.com (Canada), and Pop That Goes Crunch (US), which is excellent. “I’m Not Through” has charted on some indie radio charts in the US and UK, which is amazing too! This track was just chosen for a best of 2017 compilation called “Rockin Road” being released by Wayne, the pop guru behind the Ice Cream Man Power Pop show, which is exciting.
 Honestly, each of the tracks is receiving airplay, which kind of blows my mind. Secret Weapon/Woodyradio.com has played all the songs, I think, and Pop That Goes Crunch is playing each of them too. Also, “Save Me From Myself” is just debuting on the Ice Cream Man Power Pop & More’s 200thshow, which is excellent! And it’s only a few weeks in and the EP isn’t out for another 3 weeks. So, all in all, a really tremendous start!
 
ーー今後の活動予定を教えてください
どっちに転がったとしても立ち止まるつもりはないよ!まず直近ではCDのリリースが8月15日。ストリーミングも同時に始まる予定になっている。リリース後はプロモーションを精力的に行うつもりさ。もちろん、ライブもいくつか決まってきている。楽しみな反面、緊張もしているかな。
これから先もランスとスコットと一緒に音楽ができることが、僕はとても嬉しいんだ。この喜びを胸に活動を続けていくよ。
Q. Please tell me your plans from now on. 
Well, given how well everything is going, I don’t plan on stopping! In the short term, we are finishing up actually getting the physical CDs manufactured. Then our publisher is lining up all the streaming services, which will hopefully coincide precisely with the 8.15.17 release date. Then it’s push and promote as hard as we can. And of course, we will be shifting our focus now to playing live. So, there will definitely be some shows soon, which is a thrilling feeling and slightly daunting. But really, I am so happy to be back and making music with Lance and Scott, that I will keep going as long as the songs are sounding good. Lord knows, we have a lot of songs left in us!
 
ーー最後に日本のファンにメッセージをお願いします
日本にはたくさんのパワーポップ・ファンがいることは知ってる。皆さんが僕らの音楽を聴いてくれて、ファンになってくれたら嬉しい。いつか日本でライブができたら最高だな!日本人は本当に美しくて魅力的な人がたくさんいるよね。音楽やファッションの趣味も良いし。ラブ&ピース&パワーポップ!これからもThrift Store Haloをよろしくね!
Q. Would you please provide some message to the fans in Japan?

Japan, from every account I’ve seen and read, has some of the biggest fans of power pop, so I am excited to see if all the fine people of Japan will listen and take to the songs. I hope that we can visit someday and maybe play a show or two; that would be awesome! The Japanese seem like truly beautiful and inviting people, with such great taste in music and fashion. Until then, peace, love and power pop to all of you and be sure to listen to Thrift Store Halo!

Thrift Store Halo official web site