ADRIAN DYER w/ MOON TAN

—————- How did you get hooked on rock & roll?   I’ve always been drawn to music that has either a really catchy melody or something that gets me pumped up. Back when I was younger the iTunes library at the house was riddled with tons of classic rock bands from my sister and brothers tastes (Zeppelin, Sabbath, Hendrix, Beatles etc.) so before I even had my own music player these guys had been priming my brain. I think the major turning point was when my brothers friend Eric had popped by the house and pulled up the music video “Dani California” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers back in 2006. That ended up dragging me down the rabbit hole of music and becoming a musician, and I can honestly say I don’t know where I’d be if I hadn’t discovered RHCP.
———- What’s your favorite live album of all-time?  I haven’t listened to too many live albums, more so watching live concerts on YouTube. I’ve probably clocked a few hundred hours of watching live Red Hot Chili Peppers concerts, so if I had to pick one (which is tough) maybe I’d say “RCHP Live at Slane Castle”, “RCHP Live at Pinkpop 2006” or “RHCP Live at Pinkpop 1990”. In terms of CD’s, Iron Maiden’s “Flight 666” is pretty solid. Brady and Nick introduced me to Thin Lizzy “Live and Dangerous” which I also thought was excellent.
———- Is there anything about the band that could have only emanated from Winnipeg? or Canada for that matter?  A crippling fear of being attacked by a bear, a large wolf, or a pack of coyotes whilst leaving the jam space. 

——— Was bass your first instrument?  Years back my brother had a guitar laying around the house that I would pick up and mess around on. I’d actually watch RHCP’s “Live at Slane Castle” on my computer and try to learn certain licks by ear and play along. Later that year I asked my parents if I could rent a bass, to which they replied “they’d think about it”. At Christmas there was a bass starter kit under the tree, and my mind was blown.

————- How did Moon Tan come together?  The band originally emanated from Nick Knock’s desire to start a cover band along with another singer at the time. I heard about the band from a guitar player who I had jammed with a couple times. I auditioned along with him, and I got in, but he was not selected. Nick’s Dad (who is a music teacher) knew the music teacher from the city of Gimli, which is about an hour away from Winnipeg, and that music teacher recommended a guitar player from Gimli High School – Brady. Brady auditioned and was selected. Eventually we decided that we wanted to do original material, and ended up parting ways with the original singer in the process. After a few years of enduring a revolving door of Kijiji-sourced singers, I decided to take on the task of singing. We’ve been truckin’ ever since.
———— Originality aside, did you guys have a vision for yourselves a definable brand or is it all natural?  I can only speak for myself, but the main thing I’ve always focused on is creating music that I actually like listening to. That’s the most important thing to me. Everything else is secondary. The live presentation developed from us wanting to make our shows more of an experience, and in turn THAT has naturally led to us developing into more of a definable brand. In my opinion people go see shows, watch movies, play video games etc. to de–stress /  have a good time / seek inspiration / escape reality, so if you can do a good job of providing an opportunity for this with your brand then you’re well on your way. We have some interesting ideas for live production we would like to experiment with in the future. 
————— What do you think Moon Tan fans have in common socially?  They’re all heavily into Baccarat. Other than that, lots of them seem to like Rush, prog, sci-fi, be musicians themselves, or have a genuine love for rock n’ roll.
————– What gets you off more — writing, recording, or playing live?  1,000,000% writing. Sitting alone with nobody around, my laptop & Garageband open, and just freely creating with 0% judgement but my own.
————— Since you have a prog rock thing going on, is there any pressure to do shorter numbers for more airplay or a ‘hit single’?  It’s interesting, because in all honesty I don’t really see Moon Tan as a prog band, but people who watch us tend to categorize us in that way. I guess that brings forth the question: “What is prog?” Maybe I don’t even know.. haha. I find my natural songwriting style is actually in a pop style format, perhaps disguised by the odd time signature here and there or a flashy lick from one of us. Circling around to the question with all that in mind, you need to give the song enough time to mature and finish, and if can we find a way to do that in 17 seconds, we will.
————- You guys won Indie Week last year in Toronto and got to play in Manchester as part of your bounty: how did it go in England?  England was fantastic. It was our first international gig, and we received tons of great feedback from everyone over there. I think I ate a whole margarita pizza every night for six nights straight, and Brady and Nick we’re hooked on the fried chicken. We are definitely planning our return as we speak, so fans of rock – and vendors of margarita pizza & fried chicken – beware!
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CHRISTIAN SBROCCA

ChristianWHAT WERE THE FIRST 3 RECORDS YOU BOUGHT AS A KID?

I can’t find 3! The first two I remember wanting to buy…but that my parents bought for me were vinyls: John Cougar Mellencamp (Hurt So Good), Joan Jet and the Blackhearts (I love Rock n roll) and on tape the first two I bought for myself were Michael Jackson (Thriller) and Men Without Hats (bought with my Brother) for the song Safety dance. Other tape (records) bought a little after that:  Appetite for Destruction (Guns), Tesla, Bon Jovi, Ozzy, Def Leppard..

AND HOW DO YOU RANK THEM TODAY?

Classics! Really good songs still.  I’m not the type of person who got “trapped” in the 80’s…but I have to admit that the quality of songs during that decade is phenomenal. We turned our backs to 80’s music in the late 90’s until recently.  When we look at the top 40 from 1980 till 1989, we realize that a lot of those songs are still “up to date”.  Especially the “New wave music” and the “Rock” music…but no so the Hair metal bands..

DID YOUR FASCINATION WITH MUSIC, LIKE SO MANY ARTISTS, BEGIN IN THE HOME WITH FAMILY?

Absolutely.  MY father was an italian immigrant from Rome Italy.  He came to Canada with a plethora of music styles as he was also a musician himself.  The Beatles, Elvis, Southern American music, Italian classics etc, played continuously on our turn table but also “Live”.  Parties at my house were legendary…My father was one of the best “entertainer” I’ve ever seen…

As he (my dad) fell in love with the french Canadian culture (The Quebec Culture), he also learned a lot of folk music form here.  As you can imagine, mixing the Beatles, italian classics and french traditional folk would rock any party, in any country!

Those were fine days….  I started playing with him at the age of 12-13.  Started with some back vocals and easy rythms.  Things moved forward pretty fast though, as I was really passionate about it.  By the age of 14-15, I was playing at parties (with my buddies trying to impress young girls!), camping trips etc…at the age of 17-18, I played my first “bar gig”

My father passed in 2002… We played hundreds of times together at our house or at relatives for Christmas, Easter, New Years, name it.  Since he passed, I’ve never played a single note at a home party again.  It was his kingdom…he did it so well.

WHEN DID YOU START ACTUALLY WRITING SONGS AND CAN YOU DESCRIBE THE WRITING PROCESS FOR YOU?

My first melodies (with bad lyrics) were written between the age of 15 and 18.  Although I do not consider them as “songs”. My first real song was written in College at the age of 19.  The song is called “Unexpected”.  This song followed me for quite some time since it was kept on my first english album in 1999.  It was written after a young hockey player, Travis Roy, at Boston University (I was also a player at UMass, Lowell), became quadriplegic during a hockey game. This accident really moved me.

After that song, it took me a few years to write again. As for song-writing itself, it always has something to do with emotions as far as I’m concerned…  Self doubt, happiness, love, death, anxiety, substance abuse etc… are all topics I have sang about in my career.

It usually starts with what some of us here call “yaourt”.  A melody with no real lyrics… It can, or almost sounds like real words but they aren’t.  They are just there to guide you to an emotion that will end up leading you to real words.  Once the melody starts to take form, then real words come naturally….

I wrote strictly with the acoustic guitar for 10 years…  The first song I’ve ever written on the piano is a song about my dad called “Un monde sans mon père”. ( A world without my dad).

Today, I’d say that 60% of the songs I write begin with the piano, the other 40 is with the guitar.  Same deal….Most of the time, melody, then lyrics.  I have also done the opposite (lyrics first) since I write for others quite often.  I love it….  Completely different dynamics, but challenging.

Writing is a full time job for me…and although I do it more with my “head” then with my “soul” lately, there is always a way to put “heart” and honesty into it… Obviously, i’ts different when the writing is for my own material….then soul comes first.

IF YOU WERE TO HAND A DISC TO MR. BIG IN AN ELEVATOR LIKE IN THE MOVIES WITH ONE TRACK OF YOURS ON IT, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

It’s very difficult to answer…I’ll say: “The Choice Is Yours“. It’s a song I have not yet released…. but:the track pretty much sums up everything that I am as a human being, an artist, a singer song writer.

Christian2HOW DID YOUR RECENT EUROPEAN DATES GO?

Very good…  the most important show I’ve done in France was in a 13th century Castle in the French Alpes… What was really for about that experience is that 16 of my faithful fans from Canada made the trip to Europe with me !  They followed me on tour for 10 days and on the 10th day, we played a sold out concert in the Tallard Castle.  On top of the 16 that made the trip, about another 15 french Canadian fans joined us on the last day to attend the Castle concert…..  One word : Magical!

IT’S BEEN A FEW YEARS NOW SINCE YOUR LAST FULL LENGTH RELEASE, L’OPNION DES AUTRES, ANY PLANS FOR A NEW DISC?

The french canadian market (95% in the Province of Quebec) is pretty Small…..only 6 million people.   In order to have a great quality of life, one has to find multiple ways to make a living.  As far as I’m concerned, in the last couple of years, I have found ways to position myself (and my studio), in great position.  Lately, I have been writing for other artist that are much more « commercial » and « popular » then me !  Interesting copy rights come along with that.  Also, I have been hired to write « thème songs and « music » for many TV shows.  Some of then are « daly » shows.  Interesting copy rights and publishing rights come along with that as well.

As for my own material, It’s been too long LOL. Textbook story :  Since my last full length CD « L’opinion des autres », I have lost a little bit of momentum.  I’m now on my own with no record label, no manager and no bullshit.  My last record deal experience was brutal.  I’m excited about doing things slowly and on my own.

WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER YOURSELF FIRST AND FOREMOST TODAY: A PERFORMER, A SONG-WRITER, A SINGER OR A PRODUCER?

Probably the most “unanswerable” question ever! But let’s be honest here… I ain’t “the producer”, but I’m pretty good at it. I’m not a “singer”.  I’m a singer–song-writer that can sing…but I’m not “the singer”! I think I’m a “performer” and a “song writer”….that produces music and sings his heart and soul out.

CANADA’S OBVIOUSLY HAD SOME GREAT ARTISTS OVER THE YEARS: WHAT’S THE CLUB SCENE LIKE IN QUEBEC FOR NEW MUSIC THESE DAYS AND ANY ARTISTS GRABBING YOUR EAR?

The club scene is very healthy for new upcoming bands.  But unfortunately, it’s hard to make a living playing “clubs” with original material.  That being said, Montreal is probably the best “stepping stone” in all of North America for “indie music”. I’ve been an “Arcade fire” fan for years… So cool to see them do so well.

Patrick Watson, Malajube (french), Karkwa (french), Stars etc….There are also other “main stream” bands or singers that do really well, and although it ain’t my type of music, it’s fun to be able to appreciate other’s talent and success (Celine Dion for example)

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO A YOUNG ARTISTS RECORDING THEIR FIRST DISC?

Cliché stuff but so freakin true:  Be yourself.  Don’t let the “web”, “youtube”, “instant star’ bullshit syndrome get to you. IT  DOES NOT MAKE YOU AN ARTIST AND IT WILL NOT GIVE YOU A CAREER OF ANY KIND. Write your own stuff cuz that’s how real careers are built.  If you do not write your own stuff, then find the right songs for you.

Work. Dedicate yourself….Work…Never give up….  Cuz if this is really what you want to do, there will never be any other options anyways!  You might as well work.  Oh yeah…have fun along the way!

WHAT PITFALLS NEED AMERICAN BANDS BE AWARE OF WHEN VENTURING NORTH TO PLAY DATES IN CANADA (OR QUEBEC?)

No too many…. Be polite.  Be open… Be respectful. Yes, a little cliché but…..Break the stereotype: Show us that you “understand” that although “America” is a great country, that you “ain’t” different then any of us or any body else for that matter. We love that especially in Quebec!  We are a nation of our own…we speak French, we have a different culture, we have a different back ground, different traditions……Know a little bit about us (Canada or Quebec) before you head up here…it’ll show that you “care”.   Do the same in Europe and anywhere else your music brings you! ~ Christiansbrocca.fr

JIM VALLANCE

JimVallanceWHAT WAS THE FIRST TUNE YOU LEARNED TO PLAY ON THE DRUMS?

It was a very long time ago (1965?) but I think the first song I played on drums was “Little Red Riding Hood”, by Sam The Sham and the Pharaohs.

DRUMMER JOKES ASIDE, IT SEEMS THE BEST ARTISTS (AND PRODUCERS FOR THAT MATTER) CAN PLAY SOME DRUMS, OR IN FACT BEGAN ON THE DRUMS: HOW DID UNDERSTANDING RHYTHM HELP YOU AS A SONGWRITER AND PRODUCER?

There’s this presumed orthodoxy that everything begins with piano … learn to play piano and the rest will follow.  That’s why so many kids are forced to take piano lessons.  If it were up to me, I’d say “start with drums and the rest will follow”.  Rhythm is the most basic musical building block.

I took piano lessons like every other kid of my generation — except the ones who took accordion lessons! — but it’s drums that taught me how to play music with feeling.  Even now, when I play guitar, I play like a drummer.

WHAT WAS THE ALBUM THAT GOT YOU HOOKED ON ROCK & ROLL AS A KID?

I wasn’t aware of albums when I was a kid.  It was all about singles, 45 RPM vinyl disks.  The first ones I bought were “She Loves You” by The Beatles and “Glad All Over” by The Dave Clark Five.

RodneyHiggsHOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE STAGE NAME ‘RODNEY HIGGS’ WHEN YOU WERE IN PRISM AND DOES HE, AS AN ALTER-EGO OF SORTS, EVER PAY VISITS TO YOUR MIND SET?

I live part-time in London … I have an apartment in Kensington. I’ve always loved Sherlock Holmes, that whole Victorian-era thing.  Rodney Higgs sounded like a character from a Sherlock Holmes story.

DID BEING FROM CANADA MAKE IT HARDER TO BREAK INTO THE MUSIC INDUSTRY AT LARGE OR DID YOU SEE IT AS AN ADVANTAGE?

I’ve always wondered if it made a difference.  There were hundreds of bands in Los Angles, all of them within walking distance of the big label offices.  Whether it was Devo from Akron or Nirvana from Seattle, I think there was some novelty attached to bands that were from somewhere other than LA.  So yes, I think it helped to be from Vancouver.

IN YOUR PARTNERSHIP WITH BRYAN ADAMS, HOW DID YOU GUYS WORK ON SONGS TYPICALLY? DID THE APPROACH CHANGE AT ALL OVER THE YEARS OR DID YOU HAVE A FORMULA TOGETHER?

No formula, but certainly a democratic approach to writing songs.  There’s no ego … the best idea wins, no matter who came up with it.  We both write melody and we both write lyrics.  We can bounce lyrics and melodies back and forth until the best idea becomes apparent.  Sometimes I’ll play guitar, sometimes bass, sometimes piano.  It depends on the song.  Bryan usually plays guitar when we write, although he’s actual a very good piano player.

Cars_JimVallanceYOU HAVE WRITTEN WITH A NUMBER OF MAJOR ARTISTS OVER THE YEARS, WHICH WAS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE FOR YOU AS AS SONGSMITH?

I’m 60.  I’ve been writing songs since I was 16.  You’d think it would get easier, but it doesn’t.  It’s hard work.
Every song, every artist, comes with its own set of challenges, the main one being, you want to do the best job possible.  I admit I was nervous the first time I wrote with Steven and Joe from Aerosmith — same for Ozzy or Alice Cooper — but you get over that quite quickly.  Then it’s all about focussing on the task, spending the time — hours, days, whatever it takes — writing, re-writing, honing it until you’ve got it right.
Honestly, every song is a challenge.  There’s nothing quite so daunting as staring at a blank piece of paper waiting to be filled with lyrics.  Somehow it just happens. There’s that great story about Andrew Loog Oldham locking a young Mick Jagger and Keith Richards in a room, threatening not to let them out until they’d written a song.  That’s kinda what it’s like.  That’s what it takes.
ONE OF YOUR CURRENT ‘PET PROJECTS’ IS JOHN LENNON IN GERMANY FROM 60-62: CAN YOU SHARE A PEARL FROM THE YOUNG TOUGHS DAYS IN HAMBURG?

An interviewer once asked Lennon to divulge the secret of the Beatles’ success.  Lennon replied, “We were a really good band!”.  And they were.  Listen to their recording of “Kansas City”, which is straight from their Hamburg set-list.  That’s four guys in a studio, singing and playing at the same time.  No ProTools or overdubs, just a really good band taking their Hamburg club show into a recording studio.  That’s where they got good, playing eight hour sets at the Top Ten Club and the Kaiserkeller.  There’s no substitute for that kind of apprenticeship.

 HOW DO YOU RATE RINGO AND WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE OF HIS DRUM TRACKS IF YOU HAD TO PICK ONE?

Ringo is one of the best rock drummers, ever. Bonham may have been heavier, and Stewart Copeland may have had more finesse, but you won’t find a more tasteful drummer than Ringo.  Plus, he basically invented the drum fill as we know it.

My favorite  Ringo tracks include “Lovely Rita”, “Carry That Weight”, “Ticket To Ride”, “Rain”.  For that matter, he played great on everything.  Never the same feel twice.

DO YOU STILL PLAY ‘SONG DOCTOR’ AND DO YOU MAKE HOUSE CALLS?

I don’t like the “song doctor” label.  It sounds like all I do is fix other people’s songs, or contribute the last 10% to fine-tune the song for radio.  I might have done that a few times over the years, but 99% of the time I start from scratch, sitting in a room with Bryan Adams or Steven Tyler, blank page, no clue where things are headed, and somehow you come up with a song. That’s a great feeling.  That’s what I love about my job … creating something from nothing. – JIM VALLANCE