PHIL ANGOTTI

phil_angotti-people_and_places1.0 – What’s your favorite thing about the new disc People And Places ?

The fact that I think it’s my best work yet and that each song has its’ own sound to it. I used 4 different drummers, and that makes a difference to the basic feel of the songs.

2.0 – So it’s not true you play all the instruments on it?

No…I do almost all of the guitars and singing. I love over-dubbing guitars and vocals! I played bass on 2 songs, and some percussion.
I play 3 different ukuleles on the song “Whatever Happened” and bass. Joel Patterson played pedal steel on “Same Ol We”
Jacky Dustin from the August sang harmony on that song. The drummers are Brad Elvis, Mike Zelenko, Jim Barclay and Tommi Zender. Carolyn Engelmann played piano and she sang on some backrounds with me. Chuck Bontrager played violin and violas – Martha Larson played cello on “My Old Records”.

3.0 – Are all the tracks new or some oldies looking for their 5 minutes?

These songs were all new songs written for this record, except for “Broken baby Doll House”– that one was around for awhile, 2 songs were written as I was wrapping the album up: the last song “Parting For Awhile” was a tribute to my dear friend Carlos Hernandez-Gomez ,who had recently passed away from cancer, He was a Political reporter for CLTV and a huge music fan. I also wrote “National 36” days before we recorded that – we barely knew it when we went in to do it-its a simple rocker so I like that its a bit loose.

4.0 – Did you have a sound in mind before you began recording or did it evolve?

I intended each track to sound different than the next- using different instruments and overall approach to the sound – I wanted this to stand out from my previous records. Its natural to fall into a comfort zone, and to stay with what you do best – or to keep “your sound’ going – I wanted to change that, and I think I succeeded.

5.0 – There are some cinematic feeling pop passages as per usual but also some Nashville twang creeping in too, yeah?

I have come a long way as a musician – and i did try to show that off a bit. The Nashville thing has always been a part of me, I grew up listening to country music, I just never really incorporated it in my own songs-so I really went for it with ‘Same Ol We”  Even the lyrics are country-like, and having Joel on pedal steel and Jacky on harmony vocals really pushed it all the way.  As for cinematic- I did a cd years ago called ‘Juliet Foster” which followed story-line (I called it a film soundtrack, though there wasnt a film) so I do write that way at times.  The songs “Whatever happened To” and “Sorry About the Accordian Jill” sound like movie songs, and I wanted it that way. They are also the 2 songs on the album without drums.

6.0 – What do you find most rewarding these days: writing, singing, or playing live?

I’d say singing first –  because though I always had a certain sound  ( poppy-and from the Beatle/60’s school) I never recorded with much soul and recklessness- which I do live pretty well.  I am very experienced and natural at singing and stacking harmonies-  but I still think my best singing is when I sing live. I have a richer voice now than I used to- and alot of years of doing it so I’m a very confident singer on stage and I think it comes through more these days. I‘m also a much better guitarist these days-so i love playing guitar live.  Writing is still fun, but I’ve been doing it since I was 17 years old and it feels like work sometimes, and kinda normal-so its nowhere near as fun for me as playing live.

Angotti7.0 – Is there a seminal moment in your life that got you officially hooked on rock & roll?

I loved music as a child- my mom bought me Beatles and Monkees records, and I listened to country music with my dad
and anything they listened to, and I was glued to the radio….one memory that got me really hooked to rock n roll was this:
2 doors away from my house (I was around 9 years old) there was a family whose oldest brother played bass in a band –
they’d practice in their basement and you could hear it from my backyard. I snuck over there one day, and actually walked in on their practice and just stood there watching as they jammed – it was loud and exciting and I knew I wanted to be in a band right there and then!

8.0 – If there is time for nostalgia…..what is your all-time favorite Chicago rock n roll moment?

I went to the Granada Theater in 1980 w my best friend and band mate (in my first band, the Fleas) to see Cheap Trick. The opener was Off Broadway. We had great seats and I remember that show really grabbed me – it was great and it really inspired me. It was cool to see that these new bands (at the time) were so 60’s influenced, it made me feel like we were on the right track, and I was always a huge fan of that eras  power pop bands. I hated all those hair bands and metal and guitarists who played as fast as they can – so this was refreshing and inspiring.

9.0 – what advice would I offer to young players who show promise?

To work hard. Improve your craft. Don’t be lazy.

10.0 – As the 2012 apocalypse approaches you tuck a few artifacts in an iron drum for posterity: what items have you included?

Maybe some lyric sheets I’d written down of an old song I wanted to do – handwritten, because now guys have ipods on their mic-stands, I still hand-write my notes and lyrics!  Some flat-wound guitar strings (nobody uses them anymore, I do!) and the guitar pick I caught from that Granada show flung at me by Rick Nielsen!!!!

MATT MAGUIRE

1.0 – Are you happy with how your debut Larabee EP Expose A Little Wire has been received?
I am happy. I didn’t know what to expect when I made the decision to release the songs.  It’s been a pleasant surprise to have total strangers listen to the songs and react to them in a positive way.  I’m hoping more people will get to hear the songs as well.

2.0 – Did you have specific goals in mind for the release? There was no master plan for the release of Expose a Little Wire other than to follow in the footsteps of other DIY musicians.  It’s a tricky time in the music business because somewhere along the way people began to assume that music should be free.  So financial goals are difficult to assess.  The main goal is to put the music out and make a connection with people.

3.0 – Are there any plans for a full-length follow up to the EP? There are definitely plans for more recorded music.  I’d love to record a full-length album.  I will probably put out a single or another EP before a full-length because I have songs in the can that I would rather release than hold onto for too long.

4.0 – Do you have a philosophy when it comes to recording?  My philosophy on recording is to get a song to a point where you feel as though you could listen to it forever.  The most frustrating thing about recording is to put in the time, effort and money and come out with something that you can’t stand to listen to.  From a sound perspective, I like classic 1960’s and 1970s recording sounds and styles because on the whole those sounds have staying power.  There’s nothing sadder than to put on a 1980s recording that you loved at the time and realize that the 80s big drum sound ruins the track.  I wish I was more technically oriented so that I could have a better working knowledge of the recording process.  That’s something I need to work on going forward.

5.0 – Your video for “Little Liar” has a great old school vibe & look, how did it come about? Thanks.  I saw other videos that used old footage from various places and came across a neat website that compiled stuff that was no longer covered by copyright, so it was fair game to use.  In searching through the archives I found pieces of a film called “Coffeehouse Rendezvous.”  It was really cheesy but I liked the overall look and feel of it.  Parts of the film were originally shot in the Chestnut Hill neighborhood of Philadelphia, not far from my house, so I used those bits and pieces as a nod to my hometown.  Throw in an iMovie editing feature, and you have yourself a video.  There, I’ve given away all of my video creation secrets.

6.0 – When did you get hooked on rock & roll? what songs early in life left a mark on you most? Probably by age 5.  I am the youngest of five children and I used to sit in my room for hours playing my older sisters’ records – hairbrush microphone in hand.  That stack of 45s was full of Motown, Gary Puckett and the Union Gap, The Foundations, The Monkees and The Beatles.  From the stack of 45s I think The Foundations “Baby Now That I Found You” got a lot of play.  Seriously, how can anybody resist the “ba da da da” background vocals?  A little later I would say that Elvis Costello’s “The Angels Want To Wear My Red Shoes” left a big mark.  That song was really my introduction to The Byrds because of the jangly guitar sound.  Nick Lowe’s Labor of Lust album in it’s entirety is fantastic as is Please Panic by The Vulgar Boatmen.

7.0 –  Have your tunes always had a twang to them or did that develop over time? I think the twang developed over time, but I was always drawn to the twangy stuff by The Monkees did (Papa Gene’s Blues, What I Am I Doing Hangin’ Round), Dave Edmunds, Nick Lowe.  I also had some old Faron Young records as a kid.  I suppose that sound keeps kicking around in my head.

8.0 – Do songs come easy to you or are they labors of love that have to steep before being ready for prime time?  The songs couldn’t come any slower if I tried.  I wish that I could be one of those writers who can bang out song after song.  I am always amazed when I hear someone say that they went into the studio with 30 new songs and whittled it down to 10.  Once written, however, the song structure doesn’t tend to change drastically.

9.0 –  Is there anyone in your life, outside the band, that you trust as sounding board for new material?  I have a friend from high school, Gerry, who used to help manage my old band.  He’s listened to everything I’ve written since I started playing.  His opinion matters because he knows good music and he understands what makes a good song good.

10.0 – Dreaming late last night you got a call from ‘Mr. Bigg’ about a summer tour, what act are you going out in support of?  It would have to be Elvis Costello, but only because he was touring with the spinning wheel of songs from the entirety of his career.  So many great songs.  And because this happened in a dream, all of the fans at the show would become Larabee fans.