Funny story, this was supposed to be shot in an old chicken shed but when we arrived, the shed had been demolished and was a pile of debris. We’re running out of sketchy places to film here in N Georgia!
My Morning Jacket’s new album The Waterfall is a spirital, chill-rock collection of songs that balance timeliness and permanence in a dreamy, visionary package – and we like it a lot. The band fell in love with the views and vibes at the Stinson Beach, California hilltop “Panoramic House” where The Waterfall was recorded, and this unique location affected their music on a lot of levels. Themes of spirituality are heard transitioning from questions to observations and understandings here, and there is an acceptance and appreciation of the many facets of life. The songs are complex and individual. The interplay between band members is easy and never forced. Our favorite track on the album is the last – Only Memories Remain – and it’s both a great song in itself as well as a conclusion to the journey taken through the album. If you haven’t checked out My Morning Jacket yet (like us) though they’ve been around for about 16 years, The Waterfall is a perfect album to start with. We’ve been listening non-stop to The Waterfall for the last week, and not only is it a fantastic album, it got us curious about My Morning Jacket and we’ll be spending next week checking out their other albums.
What was the hardest ticket to get in Atlanta this weekend? It wasn’t The Who’s 50th Anniversary Tour, it was the Amazing Acro-Cats, who not only perform, but also educate the public. Expert animal trainer Samantha Martin’s Acro-Cats and Rock Cats also need a new engine for their tour bus so please help them stay on the road… and in plenty of kibble and catnip!
When it comes to Sofia Talvik’s new album (her 6th) Big Sky Country, there is just so much to say! Firstly, the music is stunningly beautiful. Beyond that, for us, it’s all about connections. Connections to other artists, connecting to feelings and emotions, and connections to physical places. This is an artist whose music reaches out and envelops you like a mother’s endless hug. It warms your spirit and gives hope for a bright future after a dark past. It’s a great album on it’s own, and it’s also part of a regional movement that is seeing amazing work coming from a diverse cadre of colleagues in art.
Two years ago, RUST Magazine awarded Little Lonely with our Critic’s Choice Award and Sofia Talvik is very much in a similar space with this rural-influenced folk rock album. Both of these artists have that special something that makes their music very personal and unique – something beyond technical ability. They both have a way of infusing their personality and soul into their music to the point where you really get the feeling that you know them and can relate to them. This is the ethereal human element of music, that emotional connection that makes music significant as an art, and Sofia Talvik has here mastered this elusive ability.
Last year, RUST Magazine awarded The Grahams with our Artist of the Year Award because they were truly living their art by taking a journey by rail through America to get inspiration for their next album. Similarly, Big Sky Country is a noir vintage Americana album, this time made by a Scandanavian native whose music echoes the places, spaces and feelings of her journey touring across this vast and diverse land. For both of these artists, the journey is what matters. They live their art fully immersed and completely giving of themselves in the motion of creation.
This year, without a doubt, the American west is where the “music scene” is, and Big Sky Country is just one of many great releases originating from the geographic and philosophical region. Several years ago, when the economy collapsed, there was almost a knee-jerk movement to revisit the Roy Orbison and Patsy Cline period, and several great bands like The Blueflowers continue to make great music in this space. This year, we have been getting amazing albums, and meeting phenomenal artists who seem to be wandering out of the desert en mass with visions of eternity sparkling in their eyes. John Statz’s Tulsa, Alectro’s School of Desire, Ryan Tree’s Illusions, Miss Shevaughn and Yuma Wray’s Lean Into The Wind, and Joe Taylors Sugar Dust in the Devil Wind are just a few of the truly great new albums that share this regional sound.
What this speaks to us about, as listeners, is the loneliness and searching that makes us special as a nation, and as individuals. If not physically, but mentally, we as a culture are again going west, and music like Sofia’s and Little Lonely’s and The Grahams are the new fireside songs of our culture.
The music that Sofia Talvik makes here speaks to us at this moment because she – like so many others who have experienced the recent times – has gone on a journey to find a way of living life on a more spiritual level and has found it in the west. The music of Big Sky Country was earned on the dusty back roads of this endless land and the value of the music she presents is multiplied and enhanced because of this journey.
Another amazing musician Sofia reminds us of is travelling world-citizen Michael Dustin Youree who left New York City a couple years ago with barely more than a guitar and has been on a journey of learning, loving and making beautiful music ever since. For both Sofia and Michael, the music in their albums is the artistic distillate of travel and change in both a physical and emotional way. They are the true vanguard poets of our time.
We were curious to see what Sofia had to say about these issues… so we asked her! Here she is in her own words:
RUST: Sofia, thank you for making such a beautiful album! We love it, how happy are you with it now that it is all done?
ST: The recording process is a strange thing for me, because I love the part where you hear the songs develop with the production and the time spent in the studio trying out sounds. When I get to the mixing part the songs always start to wear on me and I can’t hear them clearly anymore. It’s like all you hear are little things here and there, parts and pieces, and you can’t get the big picture anymore. After the album is finished I usually need a few months before I can listen to it and start appreciating it again. So right now I’m in that period where I have a hard time listening to it, but I am of course very happy to be finished with it and that it’s being so well received. It’s a great thing to come back to an album also, and to be able to listen to it with fresh ears.
RUST: Was it a different experience for you taking on this project instead of how you approached your previous albums?
ST: Not really. The songs came to me when they did, some on the tour, some after. It felt natural and I had a clear image from the start about how I wanted it to sound. I always get obsessed with one particular instrument, and for this album it was trumpets. Calexico did this Christmas song a few years ago called Green Grows The Holly, which had the most amazing trumpets so that was something I really wanted to feature on this album.
RUST: You say so much here, it’s so personal… Is there one particular memory from your trip that remains most vibrant in your mind?
ST: There are so many memories, I wouldn’t know where to begin. But you might have guessed that Idaho made a big impression on me since that is the main topic in the title song Big Sky Country. I was playing 4-5 shows a week, but in Idaho I had a whole week off and we were just out camping in the wilderness in the Sawtooth Mountains. The scenery there is so amazing. I hope I get to go back there again and spend some more time. It’s very serene.
RUST: Who are some of the people that helped with the album that deserve some appreciation?
ST: We were a small group of people working on the album and everyone involved deserves all the appreciation. My band of course who have been with me for years and somehow have become mind readers of how I want them to play. I’m always astounded of how they get it just right each time. The guest musicians that added that little extra, John Bullard on banjo, Jozsef Nemeth who played beautiful piano and David Floer on cello on the song Give Me A Home. Mathis Richter-Reichhelm who put in so much time in playing, mixing and mastering and feeding us decaf coffee and of course my husband Jonas, who was the one who kicked me in the butt to get started on the album in the first place.
RUST: When you’re not making music and travelling, what are some of the things you like to do? Do you like to sleep late and take all day to have a cup of coffee or do you like to get out and see art shows and such?
ST: I love cooking, so you’ll probably find me in the kitchen with a glass of wine cooking up something or another. That was one of the great things with touring in an RV, that I could cook my own food and didn’t have to rely on band food like pizza and burgers so much.
RUST: Thanks so much, last question – what’s next for you? Another journey? Maybe some quiet time?
ST: There is never any quiet time I’m afraid. Right now I’m planning an East Coast tour for the fall, and meanwhile I’m playing shows in Germany. There is also so much stuff left to do with the new album, like videos and other things. I’ll rest when I’m dead I guess, haha.
I ran into Brandon Payton-Carrillo from The Love Is Loud!! at a local festival a few years ago when RUST was just getting going. He had only recently moved to Atlanta from Milwaukee (I’m from Chicago myself) and, as we both had a similar migration, we got to know each other and have been friends since. Right after we met, Brandon brought me a copy of his third album The Breakup and I was immediately impressed with his songwriting. I described it as Motown-meets-Manchester and this description still holds true for the new double album from Brandon and his fresh Atlanta friends, The Love Is Loud!! volumes 1 and 2.
An ambitious double release, the new 2 volume set has been in the works for a couple years now, and RUST Magazine has filmed Brandon, along with guitarist Jeff Brown twice in the last year, including at one of our showcases at The Hard Rock Cafe, so we’ve had a sneak peek at the songs as they were being completed. The new set delivers more great soul/rock tracks with an added special ingredient of palpable intensity. You could call the arrangements sparse, but between the solitary notes, there’s an intricate communication happening. The ideas in Brandon’s head are so pure and straightforward that they do not require fancy embellishment or frivolous layers to have an impact. Brandon is like a bold construction engineer, building songs of flawless functionality and permanence.
One of the hallmarks of great music is when something sounds important… when you feel that there is something immediate and essential happening in the music and that you HAVE to listen to it right now. A good example of this might be U2’s Live At Red Rocks, and The Love Is Loud!! projects that same intensity and directness. There is a pure source of inspiration dictating the direction and production of these songs and this earned importance gives the whole project a confidence to pull back and say more with less.
Thematically, most of the songs reside in the relationship space of Brandon’s life experiences, while others tackle greater human issues. For instance, God Loves Everybody makes bold social statements that haven’t been so well done in several generations. This track is timeless, and at the same instance, it is particularly timely right now. It recalls an era when social issues were forefront in what artists had to say, and whether the issue is global or personal, The Love Is Loud!! speaks of it with wholeness. Right at this moment, God Loves Everybody speaks both to the global conflicts between beliefs and the American conflict between minorities and the police. It’s a transcendent musical poem that bares the inequalities self-imposed by humans on the world they have created.
Also timely this year is a resurgence of political folk music. RUST Magazine recently interviewed John McCutcheon about the life and works of Joe Hill whose lineage trails through people like Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger and Bob Dylan, all the way to people like Matt Turk, who we awarded for album of the year last year, as well as his sometimes-creative partner Fred Gillen Jr’s whose album Wage Peace we recently reviewed. The Love Is Loud!! joins these artists with the song Viva La Libertad which is an instant classic, and is a song which will surely outlive us all. It’s a rallying cry against oppression and it reminds us all that any one man can be stopped by the system, but the one percent will never be able to stop an idea.
All the songs here have been birthed with patience, and it’s clear that Brandon, Jeff and the people that helped put them together were dedicated to the highest of musical standards. Complex and sublime, The Love Is Loud!! has crafted a collection of truly timeless music, with songs that will surely have lives of their own far into the future, both hallmarking this unique point in time, and defining future moments. With so much to talk about, I went straight to the source and asked Brandon what he thought:
EP: First, Brandon, congratulations, it’s been a long road physically and philosophically to get here, yes? How has the move from Milwaukee to Atlanta affected your music?
BPC: It has been a long road!! It has been nearly 2 years since I put out new material, which is a lifetime as far as I am concerned. Atlanta has had a profound effect on the sound of the music. Atlanta has more of an electronic thing going on. If you were only to listen to the radio here, you would think people stopped playing instruments and programming is the only way to create art. Milwaukee is much more of a rock city with DIY ethos. In Atlanta the industry has a foothold here and creating something with commercial value is much more important than in Milwaukee. All of those essential elements of both cities run through the music.
EP: I don’t think the rest of the world knows what is happening on the art scene here right now. It’s amazing… downtown is being totally revitalized, galleries and exhibit spaces are opening all the time. For an artist, there are so many things to do and people to meet now. In addition to doing your music, you’re hosting a series of upcoming acoustic shows – what is your assessment of the environment in Atlanta for an artist right now?
BPC: I believe it is very vibrant with tons of talented people. There is more talent than there are venues to display their talent. So I believe people are looking for alternatives to the top down controlled club scene. Our Live at Java Vino series is that alternative, where artists can create a community.
EP: We really can’t talk about the new music without talking about Jeff. He brings such a profound and personal style to the music here, was it the luckiest day of your life when you met him?
BPC: It was! I had to woo him in the beginning to be a part of the Love is Loud!!. He adds an extra layer of mood and texture to the music that I couldn’t do myself.
EP: Who are some of the other people that helped make this new music what it is?
BPC: We had a host of wonderful performers on these albums. On Life Ain’t So Hard, we have the Milwaukee Soul legend Harvey Scales of the Seven Sounds on the track. On God Loves Everybody, we had Pearl Livingston, the sister of both Bob Marley and Bunny Wailer on background vocals. We also have my wonderful partner, Hope Adair sprinkled throughout several tracks on the albums.
EP: It seems like you took a stand here on patience – in a philosophical way. In a world where everything is faster, your music sets it’s own tempo… it has it’s own gravity – how important was it for you to “get it right” while crafting these songs, no matter how long it took?
BPC: Well, there are several songs in which we might have re-recorded three to four times. I still here a few things where a different take would make all the difference, but at some point you you have to have the confidence to let it go. So getting it right was important but getting it out was more important.
EP: There are so many great songs here, but Viva La Libertad strikes me as a spark which could alight the world, what can you say about this song?
BPC: I was thinking about some of conflict going on around the world and I felt like nobody is writing for the shaken and downtrodden. Corporate America has been pushing party tunes in part due to their structural conservatism and overall willingness not to rock the boat. So I lookrd towards my experience during the great recession through my socialist perspective and Voila!!
EP: Which song here is your favorite, why so?
BPC: There are a lot of songs I enjoy for various reasons but the song I play back for my enjoyment the most has to be Badger State. I love the story, the textures of the sound and the risk that were taken. It is my homage to the state that has my heart.
EP: Great songwriting is it’s own thing. Fads and styles come and go but a well-written, well thought-out song can grow and change with the times… which of your songs do you think will keep people inspired as other changes come and go?
BPC: Well, I hope Badger State would inspire people to visit Wisconsin. Clermont Lounge will inspire dancers to dance and musicians to use the accordion. I also hope that Viva La Libertad!! could inspire others to find their voice and possibly embrace democratic socialism.
EP: Thanks for taking the time to talk here Brandon, one last question, is there another artist out there right now that people should know about?
BPC: Totally!! My friend Kristen Englenz is a wonderful young songwriter that people need to hear. Also, if I have any say about it Pearl Livingston’s project should see the light of day this year, so keep your eyes peeled.
Hey RUST readers, we’ve been hearing chatter from EU and UK about Midnight Boy, a breakout Swedish Synth-Pop’ster who is about to claim his territory on the disco floor in a big way. With a natural sense for rhythm and style, Midnight Boy is coming on strong – and we like it a lot! His smooth vocal delivery captures 80’s cool with a modern twist, and his songs balance easy danceability with complexity and substance. He’s got the looks and the moves to go with the talent and he’s one of those artists that could instantly make the transition to global fame with that “just right” combination of intellect and sexy physical presence.
What’s extra crazy about him is that he recently sold out his show in LA, despite there only being a few tracks out there. People are taking notice and this is definitely an artist to know about right now. Here at RUST Magazine we’re super grateful that we were able to get him to talk a little about the 3 songs that will be on his upcoming EP.
Foto credit – Josefin Mirsch
When You’re Strange:
This is the first song I ever wrote for Midnight Boy. I had pretty much been living in my studio for three years, trying to improve my writing and production skills. I was really frustrated at the time and suffered from a writer’s block although I was 23 years old. I also had some personal issues and wasn’t very happy with myself. So, the timing was perfect.
I remember I had been sitting there in the basement a whole day without coming up with anything. I was just about to leave as I did one last half-hearted attempt to come up with something. I picked some classic chords on the guitar and started to sing. Ironically I felt right away that there was something cool about it. I immediately came up with the beat using a cheesy live drum sample with a characteristic cowbell. That helped me to sort out the rest of the song melody and I wrote the lines ”When you’re strange” and ”You know they’re gonna hurt somebody, somebody like you” which are now considered as the key phrases in the song.
I look at ”When You’re Strange” as one of my most important songs since it was really the beginning for me as artist Midnight Boy. It turned out to be the starting point for a very creative period that followed after that. It was the first time I realized how easy it can be to write a song if you just don’t try too much.
Roll With It:
This one I wrote just a few days after ”When You’re Strange”. It came very naturally as I was fooling around with two lo-fi analogue drum machine samples in the studio. It was all very playful. I thought the groove had a serious 80’s vibe and it felt almost like it was teasing me in a sense.
The first demo didn’t have much in common with the final master though. It lacked the punchy synth-bass which is more or less the ground structure of the production now. It had more of an ambient touch to it with many layers of pads and strings, all resting on that analogue drumbeat and it actually sounded more like something straight out of the 80’s back then. It also had a different chorus and there were even an outro part so it was basically another song.
It was cool but a bit too sprawling so I took the melody in the bridge and used that as the opening line in the chorus while I turned the chords around in this part. I already had the title ”Roll With It” which pretty much defines the way I felt musically at that point.
I worked for a very long time on the production and tried out several arrangements before I came up with that octave bassline. I’ve never spent so much time on a track, not before or after my work with this song. I often stayed up for 30 hours in a row. I didn’t really know what I was doing and had no experience of serious music production- and mixing. It took me more than two months to finish the song and when I eventually did I was so tired of it I didn’t listen to it for almost half a year.
Don’t Say No:
I met with Kristoffer Östergren and Olle Blomström at the Warner Music Studios in Stockholm in late August 2014. We’d never worked together before and didn’t know anything about each other. It was really an open field and my former experiences of co-writes like this one aren’t all that good.
However, we started to play around with a beat and a bassline and I remember thinking it wasn’t that cool because it had that typical four on the floor kick, which has always been a big no-no to me. Obviously that’s the most classic and safe way to arrange drum pattern but I’ve always felt it can be a bit boring too; I’m usually inspired by rhythmics and grooviness when I make melodies.
Luckily Olle, who was the main producer on ”Don’t Say No”, is a very talented musician. He pretty much ”cracked the code” right away by adding some really cool synth arpeggios and percussion to the track. It totally did it for me and Kristoffer and from that we came up with the melody and the lyrics for the chorus while dancing around wildly in the studio.
Having the chorus part done and set we actually spent the rest of that day arguing about the vers and the pre, haha. Me and Kristoffer had two different ideas that we were both feeling strongly for. At the very end of the day we could finally agree on how we wanted it so we recorded some vocals just to put down the idea. I believe that if we wouldn’t have done this, there’s a chance that we never would have finished the song. It’s always hard when you’re missing out on parts and you have to force yourself into the process again.
I’m really happy we were able to compromise with our egos and come to a solution ’cause when we met for the second time in the studio we had an amazingly good vibe right away. We wrote the rest of the lyrics really fast and did the basic productions. Since it’s called ”Don’t Say No” we wanted it to really feel that way to the listener. Intense and very straight-forward and therefore like something you wouldn’t be able to say no to. I think we managed to get it that way, it’s one of my coolest and most groovy tunes and I’m very proud of it.
Several months ago, RUST Magazine had the extreme pleasure of talking at length with John McCutcheon about his upcoming 37th album Joe Hill’s Last Will, and it was fascinating. There are stories upon stories connecting here. On the one hand you have an artist with a lifelong passion for folk music, and on the other you have the centennial of the death of the one person who has possibly the most impact on what folk music is. Beyond the factual lineage of subsequent artists like Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger and Bob Dylan, what most interested us about this story was the personal motivation of John McCutcheon. Doing this album was possibly – for him – the completing motion of the circle of life.
We filmed the interview, which is on our YouTube channel, at John’s home studio where he talked about getting his first guitar at age 14, then finding a book at his local library (The Nearly Complete Collection of Woody Guthrie Folk Songs) that first educated him on Joe Hill. The rest, as they say is history. Since then he has been delighting audiences for over 40 years with his inventive folk music and exceptional storytelling abilities, and (among other accolades and praise) he has been nominated for a Grammy™ 6 times.
What makes the release of Joe Hill’s Last Will even more significant is the personal investment John had in doing this album. It probably won’t be a commercial success. But that’s not the ‘why’ behind the ‘what.’ The why is the passion, the intellect and the perseverance of one artist to refresh, and re-introduce the works of a genius whose music is a part of who we are, and more importantly, this music is a part of who John is. Talking at length about the book which he still owns today, you cannot escape the feeling that this new album is his “book” and he’s giving it to the world with the patient expectation that other young people will find inspiration in it just as he has.
During our interview session, John played some songs for us on a 100 year old guitar, and the sound that came through was of a person fully educated and aware of what they were doing. It was clearly a moment of one-ness with himself as the colors of his life path change seasons. He believes in what he’s doing. He has a lifetime of knowledge that tells him what matters and why. He’s doing this album because it’s who he is as an artist at this moment, and he knows that what he does today will affect people for at least another hundred years.
Joe Hill’s Last Will is an essential album on many, many levels. It is the work of an artist with exceptional knowledge and dedication. It is also a faithful expression of music that has inspired millions of people for over a hundred years. By playing these venerable songs with the skills gathered over his own lifetime, John McCutcheon expresses the same wonder he had as a child, and he makes a definitive statement, both about himself and Joe Hill. The student has become the master here, and has come to the front of the class to teach a new generation.
Whether you consider yourself a folk music fan or not, Joe Hill’s Last Will is a fascinating album that will certainly enlighten, educate and entertain you. There’s a story behind this album. More importantly there’s an artist behind it that is doing more than making music, he’s making a statement that matters to him – perhaps more now than at any other time in his life. This is music made by both a seasoned musician and intellectual, just as it is music made by a 14 year old boy filled with wonder and curiosity.
They say you can judge a person by the company they keep, and in the case of Frank Viele’s new album Fall Your Way, this includes super-talented special guests and regular band members such as Joe Bonomassa, Tim Palmieri, Bill Holloman, Adrian Tramontano, Kris Jensen, Tom Barraco, Max Capello, Michael “G” Gurge and Brandan Wolfe. Here at RUST Magazine we’re big fans of Frank and we’ve already posted about his Simpsons-inspired video “Easy Money” and now we’ve been able to talk to him about music, friends and this particular moment in his life.
Frank Viele is a class act. His music has all the strengths of the great FM era rock writers, and there’s an energy and enthusiasm that comes through in both large and small ways. His music that is original and powerful, but it keeps a balance with light-heartedness and observations of the comical aspects of being human. It’s music earned through life struggles and miles traveled. And people are starting to take notice. Frank was named Music Act of the Year at the New England Music Festival and the recognition he has been getting has been from his peers, many of whom he has opened for on his many performances.
Fall Your Way is a rock-solid classic rock album from beginning to finish. It heralds back to days when all you needed was a groovy song and a sunny day for everything to be alright with the world. It’s a soundtrack to good times, made with good friends, and the rest of us are very lucky that we can share the moment via these recordings. With so much going on, and so many people involved, we were curious to see how Frank felt about the recording process and the final songs… so we asked him what he thought and here he is in his own words:
Broken Love Song
RUST: So this track features a guest appearance from Joe Bonamassa. Is that guy a freakin’ rock star or what?!
FV: That’s an understatement. Ridiculous tone, ridiculous talent, amazingly soulful, and simply impeccable taste and feel. I’ll never be able to fully describe the feeling I had when I first heard his recording on my track.
RUST: This song is so much fun! Really there’s a great overall energy here, and a great horn arrangement. What can you tell us about where this song came from and who helped make it what it is?
FV: I guess I find it enjoyable to make people groove to a song that actually comes from a lyrical standpoint, a hopeful yet slightly disillusioned or melancholy love song.
The first line of the song is “Do You Know The Way to California, because you found the way to my heart.” I wrote the early beginnings of this song after my sophomore year of college when, instead of going home to my girlfriend, I went to NYC, slept on an old friend’s couch, interned at Virgin Records during the day in the mailroom, and at night started playing gigs in the grimiest of clubs the New York City area had to offer.
My significant other and I didn’t go to the same college, so we had looked forward to the summer when we could spend all of our time together. But I had a dream of “making it” as a musician and when the opportunity to grind it out for a summer in the city came my way, I had to take it. So that first lyric was simply asking her if she’d stick by me along this artistic journey I was embarking on.
This song proved tough to finish back then, and it kind of sat on the back burner in my notebook for years. But when working on this album, watching this whole story unfold, and looking back on where it all began, that first summer spent as an “artist” in the city really stuck out in my mind. Simply because it was the first of what would be many times that I chose pursuing my artistic dreams over everything else I held dear to my heart. In this case, my college sweetheart, whose name started with a “K,” hence the title, spelled as “Kalifornia”.
How Dare You Say You’re Sorry
RUST: The last few years have forced you to make some hard personal decisions. Is that what this song is about?
FV: How Dare You Say You’re Sorry is about losing a significant other to forces or reasons outside of your understanding. Relationships are funny in that sometime the harder you try, the more fragile they become. I was always the one who was walking away. In most cases, I was leaving to go play music.
But in the story surrounding this song, that wasn’t the case. Simply put, she unexpectedly left with nothing but an “I’m Sorry.” And when somebody hurts you, you are supposed to be angry. But when they say nothing but “I’m Sorry,” it really messes with you in a way that I still have a hard time fully describing. However, I started playing this song live late last year, and almost every time I played it somebody in the crowd would approach me after the show and tell me how much that song meant to them. Basically what I found out through writing this song is that having a relationship end because something obvious happened hurts, but it hurts so much worse when you don’t know the reason why.
RUST: This song is a little slower and sweeter. Where did it come from?
FV: When people ask me about my inspiration sometimes, I laugh and jokingly say that women are like Rubik’s Cubes to me. They are simply puzzles that I cannot figure out. Hence the first line in this song when I sing “you’ve been screaming and laughing all at once”.
On the whole however, this is a sweet song about trying to make it through the rocky parts of a relationship. Whether it’s pursuing a career or following a dream, the go-go lifestyle most of us tend to fall into will, from time to time, get in the way of the little moments in life that mean so much.
The song is asking my significant other to stay strong through all of this craziness because even though we’re not following the same path as everybody else, things are going to work out for us in the end. That’s where the chorus lyrics ring true and I sing “we’ll laugh about the time we lost, how fools rush in, and paper’s got it cost. My sweet Alexa, honey don’t you fret. A lot’s gone wrong but babe we ain’t finished yet”.
RUST: We LOVE the music video to this song. What can you tell us about making the video? Who were some of the people involved?
FV: The people you meet along this journey can be truly inspiring, and one of the most artistically inspiring people I’ve met over the last 10 years is my dear college friend Michael Guenther. He designed my first band’s logo over a few cheap beers on a cocktail napkin at a bar next to our college. He’s been doing my websites, cover art, and posters ever since.
When we decided to release one song off the album early to just to get ball rolling, I picked Easy Money because it was the most “left field” track on the record and it honestly just felt like a swinging TV theme song! It came together in such an amazing way with the fellas from Kung Fu crushing it. I was just so excited to get it out into the world. We decided we needed a music video and the track just screamed old school cartoon. So I called my buddy Mike and said, I think it’s time you take your art skills to a new level and make me a cartoon! The rest is history.
When You Gonna Come Home
RUST: Again, this song sounds like it has roots in the personal stormy waters you’ve had to negotiate. You’ve been touring a lot lately so the question we have for you is whether this song comes from forces outside of you – or inside.
FV: This song is about being emotionally involved with somebody who simply has wanderlust. As I began playing it live on my longer tours, it definitely took on a different meaning as a simple reminder that while I get to meet amazing people every time I go, I do have to leave the people that I love behind for a while.
Tonight I Must Leave Your Arms
RUST: This is absolutely our favorite song on the whole album. The instrumental narrative is just so beautiful… what was going on in your heart when you were recording this track?
FV: It sounds kind of crazy, but when I recorded the guitars and vocals for this track, I had to turn all of the lights off in the studio because I wanted to remember the night I wrote this song word for word in my head laying in my bed in the middle of the night, with a woman who meant the world to me asleep to my left.
This is a song about that very fragile time in a relationship when you’re still together but you just know that things are not right. The hardest thing is realizing that as much as you want a relationship to work, sometimes the person you love is better off without you because you cannot give them what they need or what they deserve. In a way, you’re hurting their chances of finding what they deserve by holding on to them so tightly. That’s where the final line in the song speaks “so I give my final kiss, ‘cause indeed it’s time to run, and I look over your face at the damage I have done, and I know tonight, I must leave your arms”.
Monsters in the Hall
RUST: What we like about this song is the old-school classic sound it has. It’s got a vintage coolness and grooviness and it plays out easy and free. Where does this song come from?
FV: This song is very dear to my heart, and I rarely if ever talk about the intricacies of the inspiration behind it. So long story short, my mother went through some tough times when I was in my mid-teens and I became determined to be the person who would protect her from the unfortunate situations that she had to endure. As a child, a hug from your mother can make all your problems go away, so in a role reversal of sorts, the line in the chorus and bridge of this song simply speaks to that, “stay in my arms, you’re gonna be safe”.
Someday I’m Going To Make You Mine
RUST: This song is a classic groover. The instrumentation and arrangement is easy and free but there’s a sense of an important issue or feeling lying unresolved beneath the smooth exterior. It sounds like you are longing for a resolution to a life issue?
FV: This is a track about impatiently waiting on the sidelines for the one you want and watching them be mistreated by somebody else. They know you’ll be good to them, but they can’t separate themselves from the tough situation they are in. So you find yourself struggling between trying too hard and not trying hard enough, hence the line “Every time I see your pretty face, it makes me wanna be a better man, but girl I’ve grown oh so weary, so won’t you take me as I am”.
You Don’t Have To Go
RUST: Again, we’re hearing family vs. career in this song, but this track is definitely faster and more aggressive. We hear regret too, but is there more anger at work here?
FV: Everybody needs an angry rock song. This is me, sitting at my piano drinking a bottle of Johnny Walker 10 minutes after she walked out the door angry over something I said or in this case, didn’t say.
Personally I’ve found that expressing myself a-melodically is very difficult. Singing and playing music has always been my way of expression and simply speaking my feelings has never really been an easy task for me. In the case of this track, I wrote it right after a fight that was started because I rarely said “I love you” and it made my significant other angry. Hence the line “I know you don’t ever hear me say that I love you girl, but I need your love, it’s strange”
Kick Up Your Heels
RUST: Not only is this just a great rocker, but it’s got a super sound to it. The production is excellent on the whole album but we really hear it on this track, can you tell us who was turning the knobs and dials in the control room?
FV: That’s Vic Steffens! He let me have a lot of fun on this one. The track started with my acoustic guitar, but I would later get to bring in all my effects pedals, including my vintage Jordan Phaser, my Pigtronix Philosopher’s Tone, and RMC Wha Pedal from the early ‘80s, and record some really cool solos and funky little rhythm parts. Not to mention Bill Holloman, who’s spent a lot of his career ripping with Nile Rogers and Chic, came in on the horns and absolutely rained all over the tune!
You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go
RUST: Another really nice and personal song. Maybe for this one you could tell us a little about your band and what makes them each right to be “your band”?
FV: I could talk about this song for hours as it’s my favorite Bob Dylan song off of my favorite Bob Dylan album, Blood On The Tracks. But for now I’ll simply say the many artists can write a song about being in love and many can write songs about being out of love. Bob Dylan’s perspective, the unique angles and view points he writes from, is one of the things that makes him so great. Only Bob Dylan can write a song about being in love and anticipating being out of love.
I Just Don’t Know
RUST: This is really a fitting wrap-up to the album. Kind of like a long day where the last light makes you look at things in a different tone. What’s the message you want to say with this song?
FV: It’s amazing how sometimes you sit down with a guitar, and without trying a song just pours out of you. This is a song I wrote the day somebody special walked out of my life. It describes the thoughts that run through your head of whether or not you meant as much to her and she meant to you. It’s a simple plea to the forces beyond one’s control to have her journey lead her back to you, with the realization that you’ll never really know how you ended up with her or without her, and that if you’re ever going to have her again in many ways, all you can do is hope.