Word of mouth is probably the biggest motivator for me to check out new music. When a friend tells me about a band, I'm compelled to search them out. This is how I came across American Babies. Now, three days on, they have been beaming from satellites, streaming through my laptop, on good 'ole Spotify.
I loved what I heard, and figured you would too. This spurred me to look into the 'Babies and see if I could pick their brain for a minute. I was lucky enough to have lead singer and songwriter Tom Hamilton oblige me...and my stupid questions. Take a second to read the interview and enjoy some tunes. Hopefully I'll see you at Schuba's backroom this Sunday (1-29-11) for an intimate evening with the American Babies.
My buddy called and told me to scope you on Spotify, to see if I liked it and if I wanted to go to the show. How do you feel about streaming services like Spotify? What about illegal downloading? Any thoughts on iTunes, or Tunecore? What is the future of music (besides American Babies...from lots of American Women;)?
At this point, I don't really have a strong opinion on digital music services. They just are a part of the game now. Its definitely a bit of a drag bc it has made recorded music a very casual, cheap feeling thing. But that doesn't mean that we're going to stop making albums, ya know? I think there will always be the people who love the ritual of purchasing a new LP. Sitting in a room by themselves and pressing play that first time and listening to the artists complete intentions.
I'm a songwriter and I believe the more people that hear your music the better off you are? That, one way or another, it will pay off. Whether it be in merch, concert tix, and fanfare...thoughts?
Yea man, I agree.
Speaking of song writing, how is this done in the 'Babies? Do you just bring in all the ideas? Does anybody else have any input, like with making the changes smoother, or better progressions? Are the songs fleshed out during rehearsals, or do they come to practice fully assembled? How are the needs of everybody involved satiated (besides sex, drugs, and rock n roll?;) Does everybody have a personal stake and involvement in making sure each person's ideas are heard?
I'll usually have a good chunk of a song written in my head before I get to an instrument. From there I kick it around til it lands where I think works and at that point is when I'll feel ready to bring it into the studio.
With the first two albums, I didn't have a regular backing band. They always had moving parts, guys subbing in and out. So when it came to recording, I would assemble the players from the stable that I thought best worked for the track. I'm a fan of that, for sure.
I've recently started writing for the next album and have already had significantly more input from band members than I have before, and it's coming way earlier in the writing process. It's fun.
I was in bands where jealousy and ego got the best of us. How does a great project such as yours avoid these pitfalls, and keep the rest of the limbs happy? Do you just, to coin a phrase, "knock their dicks in the dirt" if they don't like it?
I don't pay ego very much mind. Whatever is best for the music is what matters. All of that other stuff that can come with this job can fuck off. Worrying about cash, or chicks, or fame is just a distraction and not a worthy one.
"Joeline" frigging rocks!
Do you always get dealt a shit hand?
Do you still like Vegas...and life?
I love life!
What spurred you to write a happy song about the shit life can throw at you? It's inspirational! There are a lot of up and comers who want to be where you are. What advice would you give them?
Shit man, I don't know. I guess just to reiterate the answer to my last question. Keep your eye on the ball. Love the craft and respect it. But also don't take yourself too seriously. We're just musicians.
Congrats on the latest record! "Flawed Logic" is the first thing that I Spotified and it's brilliant! As soon as "Streets of Brooklyn" hits I'm reminded of Roman Candle and Ryan Adams. Who are some of your greatest influences? (I feel like there is some Van in there, and some "Boss" too, no?
Yea, gotta love Springsteen! Obviously I'm a fan of the classic guys, like Neil, Bruce, Dylan, Cash, Willie. The Beatles and the Grateful Dead are life long staples in my listening habits.
How do you feel about these new artist offers where you would tentatively come to my house with a signed guitar and play Zelda with me for $5,000? Could these things work, or rather back fire in your face, say like in Rich Robinson's (Black Crows) case lately? Is this the future of music possibly...is there something else to this logic?
I'm not familiar with what happened to Rich Robinson, but I'm not one to judge people for doing stuff like that.
Why didn't "Night Has Fallen" make the record? Is it destined to only be acquired through a rare version of Japanese vinyl (kidding- thank god for Spotify and the internet)?
I'm not sure. It just didn't feel like it fit, I guess? I like that it ended up on the EP. It all made sense at the time.
Are you constantly writing new tunes, no matter where you are? Can we expect anything new soon, like an EP, split single, or comp song?
I try to always be paying attention to what's going on in my head and the world around it, so I guess I'm always on the prowl for a new song. I take a lot of notes and whatnot. Napkins. Folded pieces of paper and iPhone memos.
I'm in the process of going through that stuff and putting together a new album. We'll see what happens. Maybe something this fall?
Tom, thank you very much for your time and patience with me. I hope it was worthwhile. See you on Sunday. Thanks again!