Posts tagged sideonedummy
Chuck Ragan

Man would I love to take a look inside Chuck Ragan's piano bench.  Songwriting for Ragan is an intensely personal act, a type of therapy.  It's something he has to do, and he really doesn't care whether anyone sees or hears what he writes.  The last thing he's thinking of is turning a piece of writing into a song. That's why, according to his estimate, probably three quarters of the stuff he's written you'll never see.

And this is where the piano bench comes into play.  Ragan is always writing down ideas and thoughts everywhere he goes, usually on a notepad he stuffs in his back pocket. Then when he gets home, he opens up the bench and adds those scraps of paper to the growing pile already there.  Some of those scraps have been there for over five years. And that's where a lot of his song ideas originate.

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Jesper Anderberg, The Sounds

How can I not promote a songwriter who reads Shakespeare to prepare to write for his band's latest album? That's what Jesper Anderberg, keyboardist and songwriter for The Sounds, did.  The band hails from Sweden, so English is not their native language. Anderberg read some Shakespeare, a man whose writing he admired for its lyrical quality; Midsummer Night's Dream was his favorite.  According to Anderberg, you can almost sing the lines from that play.

The Sounds' newest effort, Something to Die For, will be out the end of March on SideOneDummy Records.  It's the band's debut release for the label.  (photo credit: Markku Anttila)

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Brian Fallon, The Gaslight Anthem

The next time you come across a song by The Gaslight Anthem, see it.  And I don't mean watch it on YouTube.  When it hits your ears, don't just listen to it.  See it.   Because I have a feeling that's what Brian Fallon wants. He may be a songwriter, but he talks like a poet.  He says that "imagery is more important than content" in his songs.  Most all of his songs start with scenery, and his job as the songwriter is to describe what it looks like, to get you the listener to see the imagery that Fallon conveys with his words.  It's no surprise he writes this way, once you know his favorite poet: Dylan Thomas.  As you'll read, Fallon used lines from a Dylan Thomas short story to describe his new side project Horrible Crowes.

I'm assuming that the whole Gaslight Anthem thing will work out for Brian Fallon.  He writes great songs and they put on a great live show. But there's a part of me that thinks he'd make one hell of a poet. Sure, this inteview is long.  I even trimmed some.  But every introspective answer is a window into a fascinating creative process. 

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Chris Farren, Fake Problems

Chris Farren, the vocalist and guitarist for Fake Problems, is a disciplined man when it comes to songwriting.  When he's in one of his "writing cycles," he gets up early, eats, takes care of distractions, then sits down to write. In fact, he compares this process to an "office job."

And when he writes, he almost always begins with a single line in his head, not music.  That's something that I haven't heard too often from the songwriters on this site, who usually begin a song with a guitar and music, letting the lyrics emerge from the chord progressions.  And this discipline is reflected in how Farren's songs are created: he writes them in a linear fashion, in the same manner you hear them as a finished product.

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The Reverend Peyton and Washboard Breezy, The Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band

It’s hard to describe something when you have no frame of reference, when you have no means of comparison.  Such is the case with The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band.  When I wrote this review of the band’s latest release The Wages (SideOneDummy records) last week in the Washington Post, I was asked to name a couple of acts that the band might sound like.  I was stumped. Because in The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band, we may finally have found that one band in rock and roll who truly sounds like no one else. 

The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn band consists The Rev on bottleneck slide guitar (his oldest guitar was made in 1935), his wife Washboard Breezy on the washboard, and his cousin Aaron “Cuz” Persinger on drums (and five gallon bucket).  They hail from rural Brown County in Indiana.  The Rev’s songs are all true stories; he writes about what he knows.  So yes, his mother’s fried potatoes really are the best (“Your Mama’s Fried Potatoes”), a cousin really was on Cops (“Your Cousin’s on Cops”), and The Rev’s brother really did steal a chicken from a zoo (“Fort Wayne Zoo”).

 When it comes to The Reverend Peyton and his songwriting, one thing matters above all else: melody.  That’s why, as I wrote in my Washington Post review, it’s impossible to stay still at one of their shows.  They play front porch, gather-round-and-dance blues with aplomb. 

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