Tuesday, November 27, 2007
In the mean time, another great album released recently was Alicia Keys' fourth album, As I Am. My advice - go buy it! But if money is tight, (which I totally can relate to) I'm going to write up a review below so you can read it and decide for yourself.
As I Am
Release Date: Tuesday, November 13, 2007
As I Am marks the fourth consecutive No. 1 album debut release on the Billboard chart for Alicia Keys. Being her third studio album, As I Am encompasses a complete and thorough artistic work. First single off the album, "No One," is already a hit on the airwaves and is only an example of the success this album will surely bring Keys. As I Am is filled with the classic R&B and soulful sound Keys is known for. Her vocals and keyboarding talents are showcased through the entirety of her album. From her slow, piano-playing instrumental intro track to her last song, "Sure Looks Good To Me," Keys' album comes full circle, a feat that not many artists can pull off.
While her album includes some slower ballads, it also offers many up-tempo songs such as "Wreckless Love," which has a faster beat to it and is reminiscent of older, classic Diana Ross songs. Another track, "Teenage Love Affair" is a moving, relatable story-book song of teenage love, telling tales in her lyrics that include secret meetings on fifth-floor staircases and writing love letters. Keys' second track on As I Am, "Go Ahead" showcases a very refreshing sound. The strong background beats accentuate her voice extremely well on this number.
While the album has its share of slower ballads, each has a varied style, keeping the listener tuned into the entire album from the first track to the very last. "Like You'll Never See Me Again" showcases Keys' soothing voice and has a classic, older R&B sound to it. "Lesson Learned" is a slower track, which features John Mayer. Mayer's background vocals accentuate the chorus well throughout the song. On the surface it's a very simple song, but when listening more intently to the lyrics and beats, this track has so much depth to it.
"Like You'll Never See Me Again"
"Teenage Love Affair"
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
What is your inspiration behind each song you write?
My inspiration for each song is the specific place where I’m at in life. I’ve heard that books come from locations and I think songs are the same way. Songs can be a little bit more ethereal. So maybe it’s a little bit more of an emotional, spiritual place than a physical location. For me, most of my songs come from the problems in my life. When I’m happy I hang out with my friends and go surfing. That’s not when you write a song. You write a song when you’re depressed, angry and bitter and you’re trying to figure out the world.
Tell me a little bit about your solo EP’s.
One’s coming out next week and that one is called Fall. They’re all six songs a pop, they’re coming out on my Website jonforeman.com. It’s pretty amazing to think that I can put them out. I’ve spent a lot of time on them. A lot of these songs are the more personal songs that don’t really belong on a band record. So now I can put out six songs on an EP. I’ll be doing four EP’s. It’s going to be called Fall, Winter, Summer and Spring. I’m working on Winter now, I haven’t even thought about Spring yet, I’ll think about Spring when it starts getting warmer out. I’m doing all the album art myself. I’m handwriting all the lyrics. It’s really fun.
What can be expected for the next Switchfoot album?
I think we’ve learned a lot the past year. It’s been a time of really finding who we are. I think every record kind of has to reinvent itself. The most dangerous place for a band to be is doing something that they’re good at. I think it’s much better as a band to do something that you could actually fail at. We’ve always tried really hard to push ourselves. I think that the difference with this new record is that in the past we were a little afraid of the success that we had achieved with The Beautiful Letdown. There’s just this weird fear that you feel.
Will Botwin, President of ATO Records, stopped by to talk to Jon for a bit during the interview. He’s foreseeing the upcoming year for Switchfoot as a big one.
It’s going to be a beautiful, daring, different, comfortable, fantastic year. It’s going be great. There’s going be a lot of activity next year. They’re one of the hardest working bands in the world and are some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet, on and off the stage.
Jon explained the relationship Switchfoot has with Will.
A little history on Will, he’s just a great guy. He’s currently the president of ATO Records, they put out the Radiohead record and all that. The history is, he was president of
Can you tell me about The Real SeanJon project?
Yeah. The Real SeanJon. Puffy hasn’t sued us yet. Which is good. Maybe. I don’t know. Maybe Puffy suing us would be the best thing that I’ve ever been a part of. For record. We started out kind of just joking around. It was one of those projects that was just like, “Yeah, let’s do it, it’ll be fun.” And then four months into it we had 4 or 5 songs and they started sounding really good. And it was this type of thing that we started thinking, “Man this is actually a legitimate project that we’re both really proud of.” And so, that’s kind of where it’s at now. I mixed it myself, basically in my bedroom back in
Are you ever afraid to write a song? I mean, maybe at
I mean everyone does the whole big, bad record company thing where they blame the big, bad record company for all of their problems. And I don’t see it that way. I think we had some great years over there. There’s a lot of the things that I think happened over there that were really wrong, that even they would regret, like putting Spyware on our C.D., putting the copy protection, pulling all of our product off right before Christmas. Those are the things that they regret too. But, ultimately, when you’re writing a song…I think the biggest thing that we were afraid of was that we got to a point that we sold more records than any of our heroes. Like back in San Diego, we grew up listening to Rocket from the Crypt, No Knife, Heavy Vegetable, these are people, who big to us was selling 30,000 records. So then you sell almost 3 million records and it’s just a weird thing, like what does a band that sells 3 million records do? You know. I think that was the only time I’ve been afraid as a songwriter. Just kind of, almost afraid of writing something too big. You want to kind of bring it down a little bit. I don’t know. But, I don’t even know that that fear is justified because I’m sure honest music can happen at a big level too.
A lot of songs on The Beautiful Letdown so many people can relate to and your whole world-view is very open to everyone. That honesty – I think that’s why people are so drawn to it.
Yeah. I think it is too. I feel like with the solo EP, that’s kind of the beginning of a different way of communicating that. You can go use a megaphone and talk to an arena, or you can kind of bring it in and do like, what I’ve been doing lately which is an after show, where I just play down the street. I might even be doing one tonight if there’s kids out there. It’s just fun. And I think that’s the beauty of music. It’s a communication where it’s going back and forth.
Everytime I've seen you perform, it's been this type of venue, size-wise, it's kind of medium. Do you see yourselves playing at
I don’t know. I think we’d have to write songs that belong there. I think we’ve got a few songs that might translate, but I think for us . . . I didn’t grow up going to big shows. I grew up going to Soma. The first incarnation, it’s been basically established in two different places since then. The Ché Café, Soma, The Casbah I’d sneak in. The Belly Up. I played there before I was 21, we’d get kicked out after we played. We played with Phantom Planet back in the day at the Viper Room and we both were underage.
When you guys first started out, you were labeled as being a Christian band. How do you feel your music and lyrics have evolved throughout the years to what it is now?
Well, you know it’s funny. When we signed to Re:think Records it was because Charlie Peacock was the guy running it. It was because he was a believer. Ultimately when you start out you’re just playing wherever anyone will let you play. We’ve played coffee shops, we played bars, we played churches, we played everywhere. To us, it never was a big difference. We didn’t see it as a genre. And then you go to
How would you describe your music to people who’ve never heard it before?
We’ve always called it music for thinking people. That and guitar-driven pop. Rock. You know, rock ‘n’ roll whatever that means. I feel like, the bottom line is back in the 60’s and 70’s, being a rebel meant sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. And when that becomes the norm, then what is the rebel voice for the kids? What’s the rebel voice for today? For me, I feel like the most icono-classic person I could think of, beyond Bob Dylan, beyond whoever, Marilyn Manson would be Christ himself. I feel like his position in society is, in many cases, they pegged him into a role . . . the way I understand the Scriptures; they’re exactly against who he was. The idea that he was for the underdog, he was for the poor, he was furious with the religious right for his time. For us to put words in his mouth is a really dangerous place. I feel like rock ‘n’ roll is a good outlet to be able to kind of, speak that rebel voice through 2,000 years later. Even the religious right need to hear the gospel. All the way through the Pharisees. It’s a matter of saying I’m the problem. I guess it’s a matter of saying I’m not pointing the fingers and drawing that we-they line. Saying, no, we’re all in this together. Let’s not try and say there’s a Christian section because it’s not true. It’s false. It’s a lie to some extent.
Monday, November 19, 2007
Minutes before 10 p.m. Hammerstein Ballroom went dark and the sound of guitar chords from radio hit, “Meant to Live” could be heard on stage. Screams echoed throughout the room. The spotlights came on and Switchfoot quickly began playing “Oh! Gravity” - first single off of their sixth album of the same name. The energy was high, both on and off the stage as each new song was played. “Stars” was their second song of the night and after that was one crowd favorite, “This is Your Life,” as singer Jon Foreman sang at the edge of the stage, leaning into the crowd.
Having been to three Switchfoot shows in the past three years, I’ve always wondered how they keep up their energy for every night of the tour. Drummer Chad Butler explained that the motivation is connecting with the audience.
“In our live show there’s a conversation, it’s a two-way dialogue. To have the audience singing it back is amazing. To have people after each show come up and say how much a song means to them, that’s motivating,”
Switchfoot kept the show fresh with a few remixes of old hits throughout their set. One song in particular “Gone,” started out with band members singing a Beyonce song and then intertwining Rihanna’s “Umbrella.”
Having recently broken from record label
While singing “American Dream,” the entire band paused, for which seemed like eternity, frozen in their spots, seemingly making the point that a house with a white, picket fence and 2.5 kids is not, in fact, their American dream.Singer Jon Foreman has the most energy of any performer I’ve come across. During “Dirty Second Hands,” he played a symbol, spinning around in circles while hitting it. Slowing down the night a bit, when playing “On Fire,” Jon jumped into the crowd and started singing to the audience, while balancing on the first level railing of box seats adjacent to the stage. Later, during hit single, “Meant to Live,” he crowd-surfed into the audience for a while, the crowd later gracefully placing him back on the stage.
The highlight of the evening occurred when all three bands took the stage to perform a song entitled, “Rebuild.” Jon Foreman of Switchfoot and Matt Thiessen of Relient K wrote “Rebuild” and released it specifically for their “Appetite for Construction Tour” where $1 from every ticket is going to benefit Habitat for Humanity. Fans can go onto Switchfoot.com and purchase the song, thus directly donating money to Habitat for Humanity. The tour has raised over $67,000 for Habitat, all three bands helping out on builds throughout the tour.
“Our goal is to encourage people to donate time locally in their own city. One of the most amazing things about Habitat is you don’t need to have any prior experience or expertise . . . they’ll put you to work and you make a difference. I’ve been really excited to see our audience come down to the sites and help out,”
Matt Thiessen of Relient K agrees. “One of the best things of this tour is the meaning behind it,” he told the audience. “One dollar of every ticket goes to Habitat for Humanity. We want to encourage everyone to check out their local chapters and go to some sites. It’s a lot easier than you think. We’re never completely content with where we are in life. We need to be compassionate. Being compassionate is what makes us feel alive.”
The rest of the Switchfoot set was strong. Jon played an acoustic number with special guest, Keith Tutt on cello, for the infamous crowd favorites, “Only Hope,” and the beginning of “Dare You to Move,” until the rest of the band came out, resulting in the entire Ballroom singing along to the last song while Jon thanked everyone for being a part of the last 10 years.
Both Relient K and Ruth had strong sets. Relient K played some new songs from their latest album, “Five Score and Seven Years Ago,” as well as surprised the crowd with their holiday version of “Sleigh ride,” from their holiday album, cleverly titled, “Let It Snow Baby…Let It Reindeer.” With fake snow falling from the lights and an inflatable snowman, Christmas tree, and polar bear, Relient K got the Ballroom into the holiday spirit.
Like Switchfoot, Relient K played an hour set showcasing hit singles, “Be My Escape,” and “Who I Am Hates Who I’ve Been.” They even covered 80s Tears for Fears hit, “Head Over Heels” with remarkable precision, as well as wrote a “love song” dedicated to hit TV show, “The Office.”
One of the highlights of Relient K’s set was when they hand-picked three members of the audience to help them out on a song. One boy played a few guitar chords for the song while two girls helped out on tambourines.
Opening act Ruth performed for their first time in
Although the concert ended at 11 p.m., Jon had a special treat for fans waiting outside in the cold well past midnight. He took out his guitar and gave 30 or so fans an impromptu performance of songs “24” and “Somebody’s Baby,” which will be featured on his “Winter” EP. Jon and the rest of the guys from Switchfoot were on
Friday, November 16, 2007
How is your tour going so far?
It’s excellent. It’s halfway over now and kind of a bittersweet thing to be thinking about the end of the tour. It’s been so great - the band, crew, a really great unity.
$1 from every ticket sold on the tour is going to Habitat for Humanity. What made you decide to choose this organization over another?
Several of the guys in our band had been involved in Habit builds in
I’ve seen you several times in concert and you always have so much energy. How do you keep up with each show every night after years of touring?
Gosh I wish I had some secret recipe for staying healthy! Really, for us the motivation is connecting with people. I think for so much of the importance we put on bands on stage, it’s a false reality. The hour we spend on stage is less important than the rest of the day and how we interact with people. To hang out with fans after the show and talk about life is one of the most important parts for me. In our live show there’s a conversation, it’s a two-way dialogue. To have the audience singing it back is amazing, to have people after each show come up and say how much a song means to them, that’s motivating. Our motto has always been “life is short, live it well.” It comes to have a significance. Each day that I wake up and get to play music that I love and get to travel the world with my best friends is great and I don’t take it for granted…each breath is a gift.
At first you guys were known more as a Christian-based band. After 6 albums you’ve greatly expanded your music and fan base. Was there a process at all or goal to grow out of being known more as a Christian band?
We’ve always been very up-front about what we believe and who we are. Faith is just as important to me now as it was 10 years ago. Only other people will call you what they will. For us it’s always been about making honest music. For me, I don’t see a significant change in who we are at all…I think hopefully there’s a broader, wider audience. I think it’s a wonderful thing to have more people listening to the music. For me it’s about thinking people. I think it’s to make honest music for thinking people.
Are there plans in the works for your next album?
Yes. We started this summer. By August we recorded 14 new songs. We’ve been recording on the road a little bit. When we get done with this tour we’re going into the studio and will be putting that out probably a year from now.
What kind of sound can fans expect with the new album?
I think we’re definitely experimenting. We’re in a mode of trying new sounds and so far it’s been really exciting. In the mean time we’re pretty excited. Jon’s finally getting to put out his solo acoustic EP’s. As a newly independent band we’re getting more of a creative outlet; being able to put out music whenever we want, and put our music out more directly to our audience whenever we could. Jon’s EP comes out later this month titled Fall.
You guys have your own record label now, right?
Yes, it’s called Lowercase People Records. It’s something we started as a vehicle to get our music out more directly to our audience. Jon also has a side-project with Sean Watkins from Nickel Creek, called The Real SeanJon. He’s working on putting that out early 2008. We’re just excited to finally hear some of these songs Jon’s been playing late at night at coffee shops down the street after our concerts. Those are finally getting the light of day. It’s an exciting time for us as a band. This is our first tour as independent band. We’re doing something much bigger than selling records. It’s playing music with the people you love and a much bigger cause than Switchfoot. We’re changing people’s lives around the country and the world.
You guys seem a lot happier since the break with
It works best for us. We’re a band that likes to communicate directly with people one-on-one. We’ve always tried to break down audience and band. Taking out the middle man is a way to communicate more directly.
What does the writing process typically involve for the band?
Most of the songs start with Jon and an acoustic guitar and we build upon that - simple lyric and melody. It'll expand and take place as we build it as a team. It's a daily thing; we're always working on music. Everyday in the dressing room. We've got computers and microphones and guitars. We're always recording and working on new ideas. There's a constant flow of music.
It must have been a rough time for you being on the road with the fires in
It’s surreal to look at the streets where you grew up on CNN from the back of a tour bus. It’s very surreal. I’m really grateful that our families are okay. I really feel for the people that lost so much – homes and all of those memories. When it was happening you have that desire to help in some way. We felt we were helping in the best way we could – in light of the fact that this tour was about rebuilding and working in Habitat for Humanity. I’m sure Habitat will be helpful in aiding those families. It’s a reminder that you’re not guaranteed tomorrow. Those things that we hang on for sometimes, the things around us are meaningless in the scheme of life.
What’s a typical day like for you on tour?
On this tour, in a lot of ways, we’re doing tangible work. We’re able to go out to a job site, meet with families that are working with Habitat and encourage local heroes - volunteers spending their hours helping their neighbors. This tour has been much more tangible and exciting to me than just talking about the band or our latest single. It feels like there’s much more of a human element for this tour, it feels really good.
I read that you’re planning on doing a tour for the troops in
We’ve been trying to get over there for a while, being from
Do you have a favorite song you love to play on tour?
Well, right now the new song, “Rebuild,” that’s been released on this tour is fun to play. “Rebuild” was written by Jon Foreman of Switchfoot and Matt from Relient K. The song is inspired by the idea that we’re a generation that has time to kill and put our hands to good use…it’s a song we’ve been playing every night at the show where all the bands come out to the stage and it’s a great part of the evening.
For the Switchfoot set, for me it’s a really exciting thing to be halfway around the world and have someone singing along. There’s a song “Dare You to Move,” that we wrote many years ago and it’s the highlight of the night. No matter where we go the audience is singing along. There’s a unity that exists inside a rock club that rarely exists anywhere else where you have strangers putting their arms around each other singing along. It’s a connection that I rarely see anywhere else. Music is a powerful thing. It brings people together.
Do you have a favorite venue to play at?
What inspires your music?
For me, finding hope in dark places. We've had the opportunity to travel and see a lot of the world in the last few years. I'm still learning so much about the world and myself. Few experiences we've had in dark parts of the world...there was a trip to South Africa
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Delta Falling started out the night with an incredibly energetic stage presence. Possibly the crowd favorite, it was hard to believe this was the band's first performance. Ded Clothing founder and bass player of Delta Falling, Ian Caravela, thanked the crowd for coming to the launch event saying, "I've dreamed of having my own clothing company for years," while continuing to thank friend Dane for helping with designing the clothing. Those who purchased clothing at the concert can go to Dedclothing.com once the site launches to decipher hidden messages from the merchandise bought. Here are Dane and Ian showing off Ded Clothing.
Delta Falling is made up of ex-members of Veronica and Chris Batten and the Woods. I love to see bands that have a great stage presence, and this band is definitely one of them. Whether it's one of the guitarists jumping around stage or the singer reaching into the crowd, Delta Falling sure knows how to put on a show. The band has a strong guitar sound and while this was only their first concert, it will be interesting to see what the future holds for them.
Dan Maxwell & His Band was the second act to perform for the night. And, while they were a bit more subdued than Delta Falling, they are very talented performers. Despite being only a three-piece band, they had a strong sound and singer Dan Maxwell showed off his vocals while the guitarist and drummer accentuated his singing very well throughout the performance. According to their MySpace page, Dan Maxwell & His Band place more into the indie/rock/country genre combination, which is an interesting compilation, but suits them well as a band.
The last three bands - The Rose Riot, Vampire for Hire, and Crash Romeo had more of a punk rock feel to them, all three having incredible energy. Lead singer of The Rose Riot kept jumping into the crowd while singing during the last few songs and dancing with some of the girls near the front of the stage.
Vampire for Hire's goal for the night was to get the crowd dancing. And they somewhat succeeded. Before playing "Shut Up and Dance," the band joked with the audience saying, "If you don't dance then you don't like America." Lead singer Brent Carpentier continuously jumped into the crowd singing and dancing throughout their set.
Crash Romeo falls more into the pop-punk genre. They just finished up their second album, which is expected to be released in March. Having been in the studio the past few months, Crash Romeo featured some of its older music as well as a few new songs. They had the audience clapping along during most of their set, some people in the crowd even attempted to start a mosh pit, dancing around towards the end of their set.
I talked with Danny Goldberg and Brian Luciano, founders of Break-In Records, after the show about their thought process in starting a record label and their hopes for the future.
What was the process you took in starting a label?
Danny: Basically Brian and I met through a band that I was managing. I had mentioned my interest in starting a label and they suggested that I meet up with Brian. From the beginning him and I clicked, so a partnership seemed natural.
What were your reasons behind starting Break-In Records?
Danny: I have been working in the music business for many years now, and I basically got sick of what was going on around me. Labels and the media industry were taking the art out of what is creative expression and as the labels and businesses behind them were thriving, the artists were starving. After going on tour as a tour manager with Halifax, it really opened my eyes and I swore when I got back that I would never work for anyone but myself ever again and Brian shared the same mentality.
What are your hopes for Break-In Records?
Danny: Our hopes are obviously to be a successful record label and to branch out to other media. Be more than just music. Our forte is music, so that is what we started with and that is what we plan to build our reputation on. Basically, not to be another company that everyone forgets about.
Brian: We want to do things differently. We're about shock value.
What types of bands are you planning on signing?
Brian: Right now we're working on the rock scene. This kind of genre. We're open to anything. That's the problem most labels have - especially new labels - they're too one-dimensional and that's why they don't go very far. You have to be able to diversify yourself. Anybody with pure talent is what we're looking for. This scene now is our way of building ourselves into the industry. You gotta start somewhere. If you try and go too big too fast you always fail, so you gotta start small.
What makes Break-In Records stand out from the other labels?
Danny: With my vast experience in the music world and Brian's incredible business savvy and business experience, we don't see how we can fail. The one thing that we pride ourselves on is motivation and to not just be another faceless indie label.
Sunday, November 11, 2007
My friend was promised a press pass to interview some of the bands, but for some reason it fell through. This is where my ingenious Plan B came in. "Let's just go find their tour buses," I remember telling her matter-of-factly. And to preface the interview below let me just tell you once again, I am not a groupie, despite the fact that I did take a picture with some of the guys from AAR. They were really short on time, so we only got to do probably less than a 5-minute impromptu interview. But hey, I'll take what I can get!
How is it for you playing a show like Popfest at a smaller venue vs. your bigger arena shows?
Our first time to step out in an arena was with Fall Out Boy two months ago and we just got off that tour. So I guess coming off that tour this might seem smaller, but this is still a large show to us. Definitely a different energy though. At a pop show, people don’t move as much.
Do you enjoy playing shows like Bamboozle more?
Oh yeah. That’s like [Bamboozle] the voice of a generation all in one spot at the same time. They’re the future leaders of
Would you consider coming back to
Oh yeah. It was great, the kids were loud, girls were giggly. The next time we come here we’d like to come and play a proper show. We had the option to headline but we wanted to make The Click Five look bad. We don’t like bands that don’t rock their instruments. There’s a difference between playing your instrument and rocking it. I don’t play my instrument. It’s really kind of, I like to call it ho-hum music because after one song you kind of go ‘ahhhh' [referring to bands who don’t rock their instruments].
Gotta love the honesty...here's some pics with lead singer/bass Tyson and drummer Chris.