Why a solo album and where did the the name 'Sand' come from for the album and yourself?
I was having some musical ideas that seemed to belong somewhere other than with NAO, and I also wanted to try mixing and producing an album on my own. A separate project into which I could put the ideas, and which I could work on at my own pace and without any expectations, seemed an ideal proving ground. As for the name, after many years operating under the unwieldy title of North Atlantic Oscillation I knew I wanted something short. There are references to sand and clay in the lyrics, so it was an appropriate choice.
What was the feeling when you were in the studio for the first time to make a solo record rather than with your band, North Atlantic Oscillation?
I recorded it all at home so there was no sense of having bitten off more than I could chew by hiring some big expensive studio to indulge a vanity project. It came together gradually and I recorded and mixed the pieces as I wrote them, so although I knew they were going to form an album at some point, it was a relatively relaxed procedure.
What is your song writing process? Do you need to be in a particular place or frame of mind?
When I'm asked that question I'm always reminded of Douglas Adams' instructions on how to fly in So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish: you just need to fall, but miss the ground. The key is to get distracted at the very last moment so that you forget to hit the earth. Purposeful, intentional song writing never works, at least not for me. I need to be idly playing an instrument, usually piano or guitar, and to enter a kind of meditative state where I completely forget that a song needs to be written. Usually nothing happens, but every so often I end up floating a few inches above the ground with a brand new tune under my arm. The fewer stresses and everyday nuisances clogging up my mind, the more likely I am to come up with something new.
What was the last LP or CD you played and were you impressed?
Tomahawk's latest LP Oddfellows, and I'm sorry to report that I wasn't particularly impressed. I love the band's previous output, Anonymous in particular, and I'm generally interested in anything Mike Patton is involved in. But this album didn't grab me at all as much as their other stuff. It's crazy that a band containing Patton, Trevor Dunn and John Stanier (who also plays drums in Battles) could come up with anything other than solid gold, but alas it appears to be the case.
Hi how are you today and what's the view like?
Jon Lawless: Pretty good thanks! Just getting over a cold actually but making progress.
You had your album release show at the Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto last week, how did it go?
It was great thanks. A little on the sloppy side of things because we didn't get a soundcheck but that was our fault not the venue's. The sound person was so nice- it was actually his birthday and in a super good mood and even gave Pat (our bassist) some of his fries. O and I almost lost it when I saw Kevin Drew (Broken Social Scene co-founder) front row. Crazy night. We look up to that dude so much.
What was the feeling when you took delivery of a physical copy of the completed album (Everest) for the first time?
It was really satisfying haha. We're so happy that it's out and people can check it out!
How long has the band been together and how did you all meet up?
We've been together for a good number of years in a variety of incarnations. Basically a lot of us are from the same hometown (Owen Sound, Ontario to be exact) so we kinda know each other from various scenes there and just growing up and trying our hands at a variety of styles and projects.
Where did you record 'Everest' and was the studio experience what you expected?
It was super relaxing. Basically we went to a cabin north of where we grew up and had to make a fire everyday and cook for each other etc. Not having internet for the first little bit was a huge help.
How are you today and what is the view like?
Right now I am hungry, and it's kind of rainy outside. I'm moving into a soundproofed 1-person cottage this week, which I'm very excited about.
How long have you been playing and performing and what was the spark that sent you down this musical career path?
I've been playing out since I was 15. I wrote a song for an English project and my English teacher, who owns a restaurant, offered to let me play. The show was acoustic, and my voice was so quiet that I don't think anyone could really hear me. But that was my first show. Will from Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin came, and I was elated (they're from our hometown).
How would you describe your music for people who have not yet heard your songs yet and how does the music of ‘Ings’ differ from that of ‘Plaid Dragon’?
It is lullaby rock. My voice is pretty quiet, but on the same token, I like mean synth and guitar noises. I am very drawn to metal and stereotypical 80s guitar noises. I'm just discovering the electric guitar and I'm at the tip of the iceberg. Most of the album still sounds pretty mellowy and alternative, like the EP, though. I wrote and arranged both the EP, Dog Physics (with the exception of a few collaborations, which are meticulously credited), and the full-length, so Ings and Plaid Dragon are pretty much the same sound, because it all came out of my brain and soul and stuff.
Your EP ‘Dog Physics’ has just been released digitally on bandcamp. What do you think of the bandcamp format for getting your music heard and how is the ‘Pay what you like’ working out in respect of the EP?
Bandcamp rules. I firmly believe in cutting out the middleman.
Hi Emily how the devil are you today?
Very good thanks. We’re on our mid-tour break and I’m on a train heading into
Emily, I saw you live not so long ago at the Golden Hind in
It is a combination I guess. I am/we are all working hard and have certainly put in a hard graft over the years, so it’s wonderful to feel like things have stepped up. Certainly playing Shepherd’s Bush Empire was a significant marker. We really enjoyed playing that stage.
As you say, the mid point of your biggest
It’s been going really well thanks. We’ve played a lovely combination of bigger shows and more intimate ones too, such as The Band Room in the North York Moors – one of my favourite
What was the inspiration behind the new album ‘
‘Dear River’ is my personal story of ‘home’ but along the way I cover stories of others as well as themes of exile, emigration, colonialism, Indigenous politics and more. Each song has a very strong story behind it. ‘Letters’, for instance, is the story of my Grandfather and it depicts his time during WW11, when he was exiled from his family for 3 years, hiding out on the German/Dutch border with his brother. I managed to piece together his story through some old letters he’d written and a journal he’d kept during his time in exile.
What is the favourite lyric or line from a song on the new album?
I’m quite proud of the lyrics in ‘In the winter I returned’:
“The cold wind pushes day, black and grey though the valley,
there are heartbeats in the leaves, there are crows that hold the trees…”
Hi Jerry, how are you today and what is the view like?
I am rather neutral at present; today is Sunday and it has been perfectly uneventful. The view is typically my attempting to find moments of optimism to take me from one point to another. I have too many objects in my house; little time capsules of stuff I need to organize or get rid of; I need to have a yard sale.
I have to start with you telling me previously that “
I met Euros Rowlands (former GZM drummer) in
Do you consider the new album the ‘Down at the 5-Star’ to be a natural progression from ‘Forever the Moon’ or are they totally separate pieces of work?
I consider 'Down at the 5-Star' to be a natural transition; for whatever reasons, I had a bunch of songs come my way in 2010. I am sitting on a back-catalogue of songs from that period that I hope to turn into another album or two.
Down at the 5-Star is described by your record label as “Chamber
Is there a process you follow or a place you have to been to start creating a song or, is it just when an idea occurs? What comes first, melody or lyrics?
If I am well rested I am able to work on music. I tend to write words separately from music. When I have a musical idea I like, I try to find some words to sing along. Rarely does a melody come first. I don't like to write words with a melody in mind; it fucks up my process; I don't want meter or a melody to hinder the words that may fall to paper or to fuck with my folk-art mood... I usually write at my kitchen table; I have one sweet song titled 'Sally Ann' that I wrote while driving and a few things I've written in motels, etc.
Hi Nicki, how are you today?
Woke up in
How did find yourself in the music business and how did the band come together and, with what ambitions?
I have always loved and appreciated music and musicians but it wasn't until I met Tim (band mate, producer and husband) that I ever thought I would do it myself. He was really the one to encourage me to start singing and performing. I had never even considered it as a profession before meeting him.
The music business feels like living in the Wild West most of the time but the band and I are motivated to it give our biggest effort. I put the band together back in 2008 to support my first record "Toby’s song" and our album release show. I wanted the show to represent the full sound of the record and I needed a band to do that. It was so much fun playing together we decided to keep going.
The band are called the ‘Gramblers’. What is a Grambler?
It’s a word our good friend Greg Loiacono (of the Mother Hips) made up a while back. I guess it's a little bit gambling...a little bit rambling...but really it can mean whatever you want it to.
Is it a plus being in the same band as your Husband?
Most of the time! Tim has been my mentor through all of this. I can't imagine doing it without him. Now we are a team and we work very well together. It’s not always easy but we are learning how to be married and be in a band together more gracefully every day.
What is your song writing process and where do you tend to be located when the seed of new ideas are sown?
I am most productive writing at home in my living room. I typically sit down with a guitar and just see what comes out. Sometimes I’ll have something on my mind I’m trying to process or get out and other times it is much vaguer. I just started writing on our piano the other day which is new to me. I am not a piano player but sometimes you stumble on something cool in your own ignorance.
How do you approach getting your music heard and making an income? How important is it to find a label? What are you feelings about Social networking as a means to musical recognition?
It seems like if you are in the music business to make money...you're in the wrong business. We try to make music we believe in, music that we love and that speaks to us. Hopefully other people feel that as well. We have found social networking to be an amazing tool in spreading music around. It’s a great way for people to connect and share. It is a community within itself...probably the largest one there is and there's power in that. I think if you find a record label that suits you and your needs it can be a great thing.....but, I do believe that is rare these days.
Is there a process you follow or a place you have to been to start creating a song or, is it just when an idea occurs? What comes first, melody or lyrics?
Our writing process is pretty all over the place. Usually either Kieran or I will come up with a musical idea like a verse or a beat and we just keep adding to it until the song takes shape. The initial song idea is rarely collaborative but the final version of any of our songs is very much a representation of our combined input and production. For me I would say that almost 100% of my songs start as a musical idea that I add lyrics to afterward but I know that Kieran definitely gets lyrical and melodic ideas before writing any music. If you ever check the voice memo section of his iphone you’ll find a treasure trove of song fragments sung by what sounds like a crazy person.
Are the songs on the record real life tales or are there any particular stories you would like to share around any of the songs on the album?
I think the record is a combination of intensely personal experiences as well as some broader ideas that we extrapolated into songs. I’m not sure I have any particular stories to share but I will say that I think this record is very much about introspection and trying to find answers within you. I feel like in the past I would write songs as a way of telling friends or girlfriends what I really though about what they were doing with their lives. It was a way of pointing a finger or confronting them while still being able to hide behind the ambiguity of song lyrics. I wish they were as subtle as I thought they were...but they just ended up being angry and obvious (read: corny). To me the songs on Perpetual Surrender act more as an inner monologue or a way of working through self-doubt rather than being confrontational.
What was your first impression being in the studio to make you own record rather than playing on someone else’s album?
Excitement and terror. It was exciting because we were finally at a stage in our lives where we felt comfortable making music that meant something to us. For the first time we had the musical maturity and freedom to do exactly what we wanted to do. We were also in a beautiful studio with a producer (Roger Leavens) who gave us as much time as we needed to experiment and try out any silly idea we though of. Not having any time constraints was huge! No one was waiting for this record so we could just take our time and make music for music’s sake.
It was terrifying because once we finished the album it was ours to own and stand behind. We were no longer side men who could hide behind a band leader.
The Band from the Song, 'World on Fire' at least, have a big AOR sound, FM radio and road trip feel. How would you describe your music?
Imagine yourself looking out, standing on the edge from the top of the empire state building and breathing in all the vast landscape that looks as though it goes on for ever. That’s
Tell us about the band, how did you get together, when, were and with what ambitions?
I met Marc when Paloalto went on tour with Supergrass in
Marc then introduced me to the slippery long hair ( formerly of RJSA ) on bass, Elias a year later and then of course came our fearless drummer Kemble Walter of ( Julliet and the licks, Ages, fame ).
We were set. All the components where there and the planets aligned.
Your album 'Division' has already been released in the
Oh yeah Division needs tot be released in the
You have toured extensively in the States, any particular highlights from your last stint on the road?
For starters we have a tons of songs that are featured in TV shows and films. I guess you could say getting your songs licensed is like radio for us. It was really exciting to see people singing along to the songs in every city.
SJ: Back to the writing, you truly are in a small handful of people that are writing beautiful, meaningful lyrics that are truly your own. These come across as a sort of short story form when they are text embedded like this. Are you continuing on with this in the future?
RB: Yeah it’s even going kind of further out now, maybe even into the realm of something someone won’t want to hear. (laughs). I’m working on a project now – I don’t know if it’s going to happen or not – but it involves speaking parts that are non songs or, parts that are spoken over non-melodic harmonies with extra sections and it’s a direction I really want to explore. And I’m getting to because of a project assignment. Which project assignments are great for - making you pursue something you wouldn’t normally pursue. It’s nice to dig up what you can and see what kind of holes you made.
SJ: Well I’m excited to hear what you come up with next. It’s never a dull moment with you…
SJ: As I know from touring and traveling with you way back! Never a dull moment with Rick Buckner on the road.
RB: Oh my god. (laughing) I’m a much more disciplined writer now. I wish I had been writing down the things that happened over the last 25 years but with my mind things have been lost or things written down incorrectly. I wish I had more of those notes over the years.
SJ: Some big adventures I’m sure..
RB: Yeah you look at things and think that would make a great story. But the excess of vices or the after effect of them, you don’t see it how it really happened.
Over the years, especially when I go back to places I haven’t played in a long while, people will bring up things and ask ‘remember this?’ and I think, ‘That didn’t happen. I don’t know what you’ are talking about’.
I’m telling this to a guy at a club last year. We were talking about things and he told me some story that I swore didn’t happen and I said well I’m trying to put these things together now. Put together a bunch of short stories. I’m working on them now. And I then thought you just gave me a good concept for this book: Things that never happened.
SJ: I like that! I have vague memories of when we did some shows together, and they’re entertaining, and funny I know that much.
RB: Yeah the details disappear sometimes but I remember it was a good time too. We did have a good time too. I remember we were both sort of on the same trajectory and we were trying to get through things and also trying to make the most of the moments we had from the situations we were in. And the way we thought about things at the time. And what we thought we could pull off,. And whether we did or did not pull it off, we weren’t aware of at the time.
SJ: Ah, the road was our oyster. So obviously you’ll be heading out on tour to support this. Are you bringing other musicians or …
RB: No, there’s no money. I swear to god, one of these gigs the minimum payment on the contract is between one and ten dollars.
SJ: Are you kidding me?
RB: No. So there’s really no way, I’ve really lost my shirt a bunch of times over the years taking chances, and bringing people out. Even though I budget tours and I’m very careful about that, something always happens that screws me. Once again the label is asking who are you taking on tour. How are you going to do this? And well I recorded the songs all alone and I can’t bring someone else with me.
They’re just going to be what they are now in the way I’m playing them. Which is good? Because over the years I try and change up my actual way of playing and in the last few years I’ve done away with the pedals, and even the picks and I’m just using my fingers. Mostly my thumb and a couple fingers, trying to re-form the arrangements and see all the songs in a way that’s different than the way they would have been played on the record or in the past years.
I think that is making other things happen with the songs and changes your own dynamic, therefore making the shows much more individual.
We were very lucky to be able to put Susan James and Richard Buckner, two musicians’ who are old friends together, to discuss Richard's new album 'Surrounded' plus a whole host of other musical topics; writing, recording, band mates, microphones, state of mind, playing live and more.
I was at the beach sitting on a deck in the shade with headphones on when I first listened to it. And it absolutely made sense in this setting. The sun glittering on the ocean, pelicans diving fearlessly head first into the water. It blended. Just as it would on a future rainy night..or a foggy morning. Richard Buckner’s new album ‘Surrounded’ is like an ambient daydream with a pulse. He’s an old friend and we’ve toured together. We had a chance to talk about his new album, touring, performing, and the need for privacy, for space after a performance.
After I read it back I worried a bit on some parts of this, but it shouldn’t come off as anything but a quest to put ones’ self in the space that is needed to create, for writing a song or a performance. And the space to recover when you’ve spent an an hour or two onstage, finding that place to pull the songs forward from. I say this for Richard, myself, for any creative moment or inventor: Any flaws in the creator, it seems, shouldn’t eclipse the beauty of his/her creation. And oh what a beauty his new creation is.
SJ So …How’s it going?
RB (Richard Buckner): You know…(laughs), woke up again.
SJ: Congratulations! That’s great! (laughs)..Meanwhile, Lets talk about your new album a bit. So, which number is this?
RB: I think it must be ten..
SJ: I think you should get something, some special gift for that. You know, like a wedding anniversary. The gift recommendation at first starts out as, like, cotton or a piece of grass and then it gets to the precious metals. I think you’re at a precious metal stage in album releases.
RB: Well, you know heavy metals can be bad for you too, you know, so you gotta be careful.
SJ: Well maybe you’ll get a metal album to listen to or…
RB: I would love to MAKE a metal record!
SJ: That’s what you should get, free studio time to make a metal album!
RB: I’d love to get a metal band to do all the songs, all the playing and all I have to do is get up there onstage in front of the microphone and do my thing without playing anything. That would be great
SJ: That would be awesome - you would be really good at that.
SJ: I could see it happening. Would you do that for real?
RB: Totally. Totally!!
SJ: So I know and you know that recording an album can truly test your sanity at times. How did it go this time? How did you do this one?
RB: Well the last one I did, “Our Blood”, I did in the same setting as this one – In my room. And I didn’t think I could do that again. I didn’t want to do that again. Because I’m one person and only have a few tricks, as well as limited equipment that is sometimes working or not working.
But when these songs started coming out all of a sudden after I finished my last one, some were written with certain musicians and recording situations in mind. I initially set about trying to just demo them as completely as I could. So when I did take them in the studio I would have these sketches that the musicians could work off of and do their own versions of.
As I finished the demos, there was no money to do that or any way to pull that off. My only option was to take the demos and give them to someone who could polish up what I had done at home and reassemble them in a way that maybe was something, I could pull off.
Because I record myself and I’m not an engineer, I just hit erase and record, and erase a lot more. I don’t use compression or any of that kind of stuff, because I don’t have use for it when I’m working fast and trying to get things in my head on to the recorder as fast as I could. So it was just a matter of putting the songs down the best I could and when I was done, I had what I had. And then had to expel it from the house the best way I could.
Hi guys, currently on a Euro tour, where are you today and how is the tour going?
We're in Bien
Your new album 'Perhaps' has arrived hard on the heels of you second LP, what were the reasons in getting album No.3 out so quickly?
Its just the nature of the industry just now unless you're at Coldplay’s level. The most important thing for us is that we continue to play and generate interest and the best way to do that is to keep releasing.WE love recording and there’s nothing more refreshing for a band than to play new songs. I have no issue with albums coming in quick succession. I think it puts the focus on the band rather than particular tracks or albums, it’s just about our sound. I always admired how bands like Brian Jonestown or even
You seem to be progressing as both musicians and songwriters with each album, is that your feelings as well and how would you say 'perhaps' differs from your past two records?
We hope so, we're pretty confident with our style now so its easier to progress it and still know what kind of band you are without getting lost. The main difference with perhaps is that we tried to bring ourselves out as individuals. We each took a couple of tracks each where the focus was mainly on one of us which we hadn’t explored before. We also tried to push the production with more of a full sound; we weren’t scared to go back and add to songs and really fill them out.
Was there anything new in the studio this time around that you had not tried before or new instruments?
This time we came away from the jangly sound that we had used one 'The Ashbury's' and went for a more straight up approach. all of our influences are still as clear as ever but it should sound new compared to our first two records.
Hi Frank, how are you today, is there any downtime in your life at the moment?
I'm good thanks, on a day off today, just gathering my strength for another festival weekend.
What was the creative process behind the new album, what was the inspiration and how does it feel now it completed, to your previous records?
I write on the road, autobiographically and chronologically, so I was writing about the things happening in my life since the last record. Obviously, my preoccupation was a broken relationship and a tough time in my personal life. It was a very cathartic record to write and release, and it's been well received for the most part, so that's nice.
Who designed the Artwork for the new record and how much input do you control on that side of things?
I control all artistic aspects of what I do. I asked a friend of mine,
Do you mind writing about personal topics knowing millions of people are going to hear your deep dark secrets?
It's not really a question of whether I mind or not.. I just feel the need to. It can be uncomfortable after the fact, but I don't make art to be comfortable, I'll leave that to Avicii.