Let’s talk about your new album, “Try To Be Here”. What was the inspiration behind it’s creation?
I had been working on this album for a long time and I am so happy that it’s finally done. All the albums I¹ve made have told a story about my life and this one is really special because it¹s for my wife and daughter. It¹s a very uplifting and comforting group of songs. Lyrically, it¹s a little different from my previous albums and I am happy to be in the place I am in my life to make this one.
What song on “Try To Be Here” was the most difficult for you to write? Could you tell me?
I feel like a lot of these songs came pretty easy. They weren¹t done quickly, but they felt right as they went down. I usually agonize over lyrics because I want to make sure that every word is right and the one that I was most critical of is “Song About a Pisces”. It¹s about my wife. And of course I wanted to make sure it was going to do her justice. I wrote at least three versions of the music different beat, different vocal melody, different instrumentation, etc until it felt right. The band really helped out with that. Some of the lyrics were from a song idea I had while writing “Here’s What You Should Do”. I kept the good stuff and just kept writing until I was happy with it.
How was the recording process different for you in a comparison between “Here’s What You Should Do” and “Try To Be Here”?
I did “Here’s What You Should Do” before I had a proper band so most of that album was just me and Robbie with a few random musicians filling in the gaps. There¹s a handful of songs on “Try To Be Here” that were recorded like that but most of them were recorded with the band as they should be. I really missed the luxury of having a full band that knows all the material and just loves to play. And nothing beats the sound of a band of individuals playing together. There¹s just a different spirit to the songs I recorded with the band. I am so fortunate to be playing with these guys. They are super talented and always a lot of fun.
How was the process of Popeye [Farside] get involved with it?
I’d wanted to play in a band with him for years. We’ve been friends for a long time and we always talked about doing a band together but never got around to it. I think we shied away from it at first because we¹re both songwriters and I think neither of us wanted to step on the other’s toes. He’s always been a favorite songwriter of mine and there were many years where he wasn¹t doing much music at all so I asked if he would play lead guitar in the band. It has worked out really well. We¹ve also been writing some music together for a new project that should happen sometime this year I hope.
I’ve listened a couple songs of Random Access Memories of your side-project, Floormodel. Very good stuff indeed. I’ve read that you and David Stoll recorded the album without ever meeting in person, is it true?
Yeah, that was a very interesting project. I actually did meet David once in Germany when I was doing a solo acoustic tour in 2006. We began corresponding via email. He had been a fan of my music for over a decade and asked if I would be interested in donating my time and voice for a little electronic music project. He emailed me some really interesting loops he created and asked if I could come up with some vocals. So I did. I wrote some lyrics, set up a mic in my room and sang them. I played some guitar along with it. I sent him mp3s of all my tracks. The next day he sent the song with my vocals and guitars beautifully placed, sliced, cut and pasted into the song and it was done. The first songs went down so well that we decided to make a bigger project out of it and a year later, we had 12 songs. We did the whole thing without ever being in the same room together. It was a pretty amazing experience.
Are you proud of it?
Very! Electronic music is a little bit out of my comfort zone as an artist. But I think we ended up making something that suits both of us.
Once we’re talking about internet miracles, I know you have a twitter account and updated it frequently. How do you feel about it?
I always feel like I¹m a little late to all these fancy new internet things. I just started using Twitter. I¹m not sure that I know why I am using it but it’s fun I guess. I don¹t know how to get fans to follow me there but if you have a twitter account, look me up.
Talking about memories, what GameFace/ March songs mean the most to you on a personal/professional level? Is there one that you’d like to forget? What are your greatest memories from that time?
We could go on for hours, maybe days, about the memories that surround Gameface/March and all of the songs. There¹s a memory associated with each and every song. One moment I¹d like to share is about the song “Only Chance We Get” which deals with the suicide of Gameface¹s original drummer. That song had always been an anthem for us as friends and as band mates. We played that song at just about every show as it was kind of our way to remember Bob. We did a show in Philadelphia in 1996. There was a moment in that song where the microphone had fallen off the stand. And as I reached to pick it up I could hear everyone singing along - and it was loud. I remember my eyes tearing up as I looked out to see all these people so moved by the words. I had the microphone in my hand but I just kind of stood there and listened. That¹s a moment where you know you¹ve done something right.
What is your feeling to the “emo” scene in the past? Did you see yourself as a part of it or anything?
I¹ve been told that Gameface is one of those bands that happened before their time. And I¹ve read that we were one of the unsung pioneers of the emo scene. I¹m not sure if either of these statements are completely true but it¹s nice to be remembered for what you¹ve done. I know there are bands that were influenced by us, but there are a number of bands that influenced Gameface that never got their time in the spotlight as well so I try not to place too much importance on that.
If you had your a big record label, what unsigned bands would you sign and why?
If I had a big label, I wouldn¹t want to ruin the careers of the independent bands that I love so I wouldn¹t sign any of them. I would just be a fan.
What are you listening, watching to and/or reading right now?
This past year I really liked albums from The Gaslight Anthem, The Hold Steady, Ryan Adams & The Cardinals, Adam Franklin, Drag The River, Death Cab For Cutie, Old 97s and My Morning Jacket. I recently saw The Curious Case of Benjamin Button¹ and that movie was a trip.
What bands do you think more people should take notice of?
My band of course!