Q. Congratulations on “Obsolete” 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.
Well, I grew up near Boston, MA in the USA, I went to Berklee College of Music to study piano and songwriting. While in Boston, I formed a pop-rock band called The Cautions, and we released two albums. I also met my friend Bleu McAuley at this time, and I contributed some keyboard parts to his “L.E.O.” and “Loud Lion” albums. Then in 2013 Bleu produced my first solo album, and now I’ve released my new EP “Obsolete”.
Q.Congratulations on “Obsolete” release.I’ve been waiting for this day. Frankly speaking, how is the present feeling?
It feels good to finally release a new album. I wish I could make records more quickly,but it’s a money issue- I have to record in small chunks of studio time, but now that I’ve upgraded my home studio, I plan to make a new EP every year, and produce it myself.
2014年頃からだね。’Obsolete’ と ‘Bad For You’ は、その後くらい。最後の曲 ‘New Lifestyle’ は、EP完成直前に書いた曲だよ。実は今作に収録してない曲が、まだ5曲はあるんだ。来年リリース予定の新作に入れると思うから楽しみに待っててね。
Q.”Obsolete”is awesome! When did you elaborate a plan from? When did you write these songs? How many songs did you make?
Thank you! I started to write this album beginning in 2014, so songs like ‘Obsolete’ and ‘Bad For You’ were written then. The last song, ‘New Lifestyle’ was written in 2018, just before I finished the album. I have about 5 extra songs I didn’t use for Obsolete, and some of those will be on my next release in 2020.
ーーブルウがプロデュースした前作「Eric Barao」は、まるでパワーポップ大辞典のような作品でした。前作から約6年、今作はどんな感じの音に仕上がりました？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？ ブルウは本当にすごい男で、彼からはたくさんのことを学んだ。特にレコーディングスタジオでの作業は、彼のおかげでよりスピーディーかつローコストで進めることができるようになった。まさに魔法だよ。また一緒にやりたいとは思っているんだけど、誰かと一緒にってことは、時にそれが作業の遅れを招いてしまうこともある。だから次のアルバムは僕1人での作業になるんじゃないかな。 Q. “Eric Barao” was produced by Bleu. It was like a Power Pop dictionary. Six years pass from previous work. What kind of atmosphere would the new work be finished in? Do you feel any change and growth by yourself? I’ve learned so many things from working with Bleu, especially recording studio tricks. I’ve become more confident about doing things myself in the studio, so going forward, I will be able to work more quickly and inexpensively because of this. I still like to invite my friends to record with me, but sometimes that can cause delays, so I may be more of a one-man-band on the next album.
Q. Did the recording proceed smoothly? Were there the points that had a hard time?
Things went pretty smoothly except for all the waiting and the expenses.. It’s very frustrating to have songs you want to put out into the world, but cannot finish, due to money. There are definitely times I would wonder if anyone will remember me after being away for so long.
ーーアルバムに収録曲について、コメント（解説）をお願いします。 Q. Please tell us briefly about each song from the album. ‘Nothing To See’ 楽しい！のひとこと。自動車事故の話っていうより、警察と裁判所の関係みたいなことを書いたんだ。普段はストーリーを考えた上で歌詞を書き始めるんだけど、この曲はいつもとは違って、流れに任せて書き上げたんだ。言うなればマイク・ヴァイオラ的なアプローチかな。最初は ‘let it happen’ っていうタイトルだったんだよ。 This will be fun! ‘Nothing To See’ is a story about some sort of fatal car accident. There’s a lot of references to police and court trials.. it also might be about a relationship. Usually I know what a story is going to be about when I start to write a song- not this one. I let it spill out of me as a stream of consciousness. It’s how Mike Viola likes to write, and I decided to just ‘let it happen’ for a change. ‘Obsolute’ 僕は新しいものよりこういった古いものに惹かれる性分で、古い時計とかおもちゃのロボットとか、アンティークなものの視点から書いた曲。捨てないで！まだ使えるんだから！って気持ちを表現したんだけど、作っていくうちにこれは絶対にマイク・ヴァイオラしかいない！って。そう思ってお願いした。彼は快く引き受けてくれたよ！マイクは間違いなく僕に大きな影響を与えたアーティスト。世界中が酔いしれる最高にロックンロールな歌声だよ！聴けばわかるだろうけど。
This is a song written from the point of view of an antique object- maybe an old watch or a toy robot. The object is begging not to be thrown away; it’s well-made and still has some life left in it. I like shopping for old things at antique stores much more than buying new things. The subtext of the song is also about getting older.. almost all of my songs are about two things at one time. It really felt like a song that Mike Viola might enjoy, so I asked him to sing on it, and was overjoyed when he said yes! He’s definitely a big inspiration to me and my songwriting, and he has one of the best voices in Rock & Roll. Ever. It can capture every emotion there is in the world.
This song is based on a story I heard about a couple who broke up. I wrote it with the lead guitarist in my band, Matt Gillooly. We decided to have a songwriting session one summer, so we had many cocktails in my backyard, and finished the whole song in about 5 hours. I like how high-energy it is, like Cheap Trick or The Raspberries.
This is where “Obsolete” starts to become a strange album from here until the end. In ‘Bad For You’ I’m exploring some more adult themes.. it’s a bit of an erotic journey through my mind. I wanted it to sound like a French ballad, or something a Burlesque danceer might take off her clothes to. My good friend Jeff Caglarcan from my previous band The Cautions played a lovely baritone guitar solo for me.
As soon as I started to write this song, I knew I was channelling Roger Joseph Manning Jr’s solo work, and I could hear him singing the verses in my head. I never thought I would actually get to hear that happen, but through a mutual friend, I was able to contact him, and like Mike Viola, I was beyond thrilled that he was willing to sing on the song! It’s a story about a cat and a mouse, maybe more. It’s about an exchange of services. A grand bargain.
This is the last song I wrote for Obsolete. I like the funkiness of the chorus. It’s the favorite of Carlene Barous, who is in my live band, and she also sings and plays on both of my solo albums. I won’t talk about the story of the lyrics this time, I want to leave a little mystery for the listener.
ーーレコーディング時のエピソードなどありますか？ マサチューセッツの Ice Station Zebraていうスタジオで作業を進めたんだけど、残念ながらマイクとロジャーとは、直接会わずにインターネットでやりとりをしたんだ。僕らはアメリカの反対側に住んでいるから、そうせざるをえなかった。だからスタジオで一緒に何か作業したとかいう話はないんだけど、2人とも本当に素晴らしい仕事をしてくれた。感謝してもしきれないくらいだよ！レコーディングエンジニアのダッキー・カーライルとの作業は本当に良かった。彼は超多忙な売れっ子エンジニアでブルウやマイク・ヴァイオラ他、たくさんの偉大なアーティストと仕事をしているんだ。メジャーレーベルでもね。ドラム も叩いてくれたんだけど、‘Unhappy Ending’ の時なんて腕を怪我してたんだよ！もうビックリ！ サウンド面ではビートルズのマジカル・ミステリー・ツアーとホワイト・アルバムを手本にしたいと考えていたから、できるだけ同じ機材を使ったんだ。ちょっとはズルしたけどね笑。ダッキーはビートルズおたくだから、本当に完璧なパートナーだったよ。 Q. Do you have any episodes at the time of recording? Unfortunately, I had to work with both Mike and Roger over the internet, since we are on opposite coasts from each other. So there aren’t any good stories from the studio, but they both did an amazing job for me, and I’m so very grateful. However, I did have some wonderful times working in the studio with recording engineer Ducky Carlisle at Ice Station Zebra in Massachusetts. Ducky has recorded so many great artists over the years.. including Bleu and Mike Viola, and together, the three of them recorded the amazing “The Major Labels” album! Ducky played most of the drums on my album, and at one point he played so aggressively on ‘Unhappy Ending’ he injured his arm a bit, for which I felt terrible. I should also mention that the idea behind recording this album was to use all the production techniques that The Beatles used on Magical Mystery Tour and the White Album, so we tried to record through the same process and using the same equipment as The Beatles (we cheated a little bit, but I think we got the sound we wanted). Ducky is a Beatles expert, so he was the perfect partner for this project.
Q. What is the secret of the making of your songs? Is there anything that you keep in mind for songwriting?
The most important thing is honesty. You cannot leave out any details because they are too personal or uncomfortable. If you do, the listener will sense it, and will become uninterested. It’s also very important to use vivid imagery in your lyrics. Don’t talk about your feelings, paint a picture of them with words. And finally, never let more than 15-20 seconds go by in a song without there being a surprise.. something new must happen! Those are my big songwriting tips and tricks.
1曲だけっていうなら‘Obsolete’ なんだけど ‘Nothing To See’ も捨てがたいな。同じくらい大好きな曲なんだ。やっぱり自分じゃ選べないなぁ。全部自分の子供みたいなものだから、みんな同じくらいの愛情を注いでるよ。だって、お気に入りの子を1人だけ選ぶことなんてできないでしょ？
Q. What is the highlight of this album which you recommend?
If I could only play one song for someone, it would probably be ‘Obsolete’, but I’m very partial to ‘Nothing To See’ as well. I’m not sure I have a favorite of my own, I put the same effort into them all, they’re like my childeren, and one should never say they have a favorite child!
Q. Your music is reminiscent of the golden age of Power Pop. For example, The Beatles, Jellyfish, E.L.O., and many more. Would you tell me the reason why you are fascinated with Power Pop?
That is extremely flattering, thank you! I grew up on The Beatles, The Beach Boys, The Turtles.. became infatuated with The Cars, then XTC, Elvis Costello, Jellyfish, Fountains of Wayne, Jon Brion.. it all just spiraled out from there. I think the joyful melodies and harmonies are the big attraction, but I’m very big on stories and clever lyrics too. Power Pop just has all of that, and more.. it’s clever, it’s complex, it captures almost any emotion at all, and it never becomes boring to me.
まぁ、ビートルズから始めればどれ聴いても問題ないよ。あとは、ジェリーフィッシュの ‘The Ghost at Number One’ とか、ブルウの ‘Searchin’ For The Satellites’ なんかは新しいパワーポップファンの良い見本になると思うな。
Q. If young music geeks want to know Power Pop, which song do they have to listen to? And why?
Well, The Beatles pretty much started it all, but I think a song like ‘The Ghost at Number One’ by Jellyfish or maybe ‘Searchin’ For The Satellites’ by Bleu would be a good gateway drug for a new power pop fan.
Q. If you could pick any time to travel back to for music, What year would you go and who do you want to play with?
I think I could be quite happy going back to the 1970’s and writing with any of the classic singer/songwriters of the day.. people like Paul Simon, John Sebastian, Andrew Gold, Neil Diamond.. bands like 10cc, Queen.. there would be so many greats to choose from!
XTC、ジョン・ブライオン、ジェリーフィッシュは、いつもだってヘビーローテーション。それ以外だと、最近は10ccの’The Wall Street Shuffle’やスパークスの ‘This Town Ain’t Big Enough For The Both Of Us’ など70年代の曲に惹かれてる。
Q.What tunes are currently on your heavy rotation?
I always have XTC, Jon Brion & Jellyfish albums on heavy rotation, but lately I’m spinning lots of things from the 1970’s that did not get enough attention, like ‘The Wall Street Shuffle’ by 10cc, or ‘This Town Ain’t Big Enough For The Both Of Us’ by Sparks.. both fascinating songs!
Q. Are there any newer bands/artists that have caught your attention?
I’m quite smitten with a band called The Lemon Twigs right now- they are two very young brothers who were raised on classic rock and power pop, and they both play every instrument imaginable. I’ve seen them live several times, and they are the greatest hope for the future of good rock and roll.
Q. The music industry has changed a lot. 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?
The internet has helped bring my music to a wider audience of power pop fans, but the culture of ‘free music’ on the internet has meant that fewer people are paying for music, and so unfortunately it is difficult for independant artists like myself to be able to keep making high quality albums.
Q. What will it be in future that you want to challenge?
I just want to keep making albums I’m proud of, but at a faster pace.
自身の音楽活動はもちろん、最近は他者のプロデュースも始めたんだ。 今よりもっともっと上を目指してやり続けるよ。それから、僕はOn The Road Effects（http://ontheroadeffects.com/）っていうハンドメイドのエフェクター・ブランドを運営しているんだけど、そっちも大きくしていきたいね。（ちなみに、僕のエフェクターは320デザインのミツマトモユキ氏が作ってくれているんだ。素晴らしいビルダーだよ！）
Q. Please tell me your plans from now on.
I’m going to keep making music for myself, but I’m also starting to produce music for other people, so I’d like to continue to do more of that as well. I also design, build and sell guitar effects pedals via my company On The Road Effects, so that’s something I hope to grow also. (Special shout-out to my pedal building friend from Japan Tomoyuki Mitsuma of 320design, he makes great pedals!)
Q. Would you please provide some message to the fans in Japan?
I LOVE Japan, and the many friends I’ve made there, via the internet! I love that power pop is very much alive and appreciated in Japan, and it is truly a goal of mine to one day be able to travel and perform there!