MURPH DANIELS w/ WOOD SHAMPOO

MURPHY's lawYour new record as Wood Shampoo is a greatest hit of sorts; must be great to get 17 songs off your chest?

If feels like we just won the WBA title against Mike Tyson and we even have the bite marks to prove it.   We took some of the best songs we had written in the last couple of years that no one has ever heard and a few new cuts as well and we started up the band’s Lear and headed up to Gateway Mastering Studios in Maine to see the master himself, Bob Ludwig. After Bob performed his magic, we were all systems go.

It seems so few records these days have a sense of humor unless it’s tied in with a band’s gimmick overtly, where does Wood Shampoo fit in that spectrum?

Our motto is simple: we have nothing to lose, so let’s have so fun for crying out loud and try to put a smile on our fan’s faces. Life’s tough enough, so we want to give everyone an outlet to escape from that. Anything goes in our writing: from sexy girls, vampires, aliens, the crazy world of the stock market, dead rock stars, crack, cover girls, gambling – you name it, we probably have a song about it and if we don’t, then we will for the next album.

Do you think being from New York gives you some sense of entitlement when it comes to rocking (hard)?

That’s an interesting question. Would you be able to make that a multiple choice question and give me a wink when I am near the right answer (that used to work for me in my high school French class)? I think there is so much top-shelf quality homegrown music here thrown in with the greatest bands in the world always stopping by to make NYC an extremely competitive market. You just cannot survive in front of the NYC fans unless you are at your best because they will not settle for anything less. They’ll take you out in stretchers if you’re off your game – they’re that sledgehammer tough. Even my own family throws rotten tomatoes at me in those cases, so use your imagination.

WOOD_SHAMPOO_coverWhat are your favorite cuts on the disc and which is your least?

Every track on the disc was picked by a panel of experts in the field using our proprietary analysis of qualitative and quantitative data. In other words, we like all the cuts. That being said, some of the ones that stand out for us are Wanna Be A Dead Rock Star, Top of the World, She’s So Fine, Cover Girl, Where’s the Party Earthling?, You Suck (Mr. Vampire), Ticker Tape, One More Chance, and of course our title track Crack, Crack Heart Attack. They just have a certain je ne sais quoi.  They are packed full of radio friendly hooks on every level and that’s how we like them. You’re lucky enough to get one or two on an album and here you are getting a lifetime supply. Go to our website, WOODSHAMPOO.net and hear them for yourselves and you be the judge and leave us a comment while you’re at it. We like to read them at breakfast.

I would say the cut that’s our least favorite is Three Cheers because it doesn’t fit into the format as well for this album, but we put it on there due to popular demand. It’s like early Bruce Springsteen meets Lou Reed and they decide to take a walk on the wild side. There’s great sax on that one from Frankie Tee.

What’s the story behind Crack, Crack Heart Attack the tune? I understand the CIA was involved?

What I’m about to tell you is the absolute truth (writer’s note: be aware Murph Daniels is currently wired up like the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree and has been connected to a Delco car battery by a couple of independent contractors who work for a nameless agency. They are also wearing cheap suits.). We were in the studio and one of my producers, who also happens to be a guitarist on the record, Eddie Martinez, asked me to play him the day’s songs I had written for the session. Turns out nothing caught his ear that day and we just don’t waste our time with a song that doesn’t make that first cut, so he suggested a song I had done on a Murph Daniels’ solo record that he really loved, but thought we could do it much better now. That song was Crack, Crack Heart Attack and everyone at the session knocked in out of the ballpark that day. On a crazy side note, when I get a bad headache, I have found if I play this song really loud in the car, it will cure me after a play or two. Try it for yourself, I’m not kidding. JJ Cale had been an inspiration for me with the writing of this song because I thought if he could have a hit with the song Cocaine then why couldn’t someone have a hit song with the drug crack. He just passed away and will be missed.

WoodShampooThere are some monster players on the album: how does one assemble such a line-up without a major label budget?

Well, without getting into the budget, because the accountants are watching me 24/7, it’s really quite simple. You don’t want to spend an arm and a leg on studio costs, so why not get the greatest musicians alive to come down and do it right in one or two takes. Co-producers and guitarists Tommy Byrnes and Eddie Martinez are masters at their craft. They also put a crack (excuse the pun) team together. We not only captured Wood Shampoo at its prime, but had fun doing it. I called up Gateway Mastering and sent them the tracks and Bob Ludwig and team thought it was something they could definitely work with. They brought out sounds from the mix I had never even heard before. Bob is a genius and just an all around great guy. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I learned from working with him. And let’s not forget our fifth Beatle, Rich Gibbons. He was our engineer and mixer on most of the tracks and always had Wood Shampoo’s back. Rich fits in so great and I think part of the reason is that he is a Senior Producer at The Howard Stern Show and with that job comes a great sense of humor.

How does the writing process work for you and how do you know or feel a song is complete and ready for recording?

I usually hear or read something that catches my attention and knocks me off my feet. I then use that phrase as a building block for the rest of the song. Other times I come up with a catchy riff first and the lyrics follow somehow as I play the riff over and over again on guitar. I take the songs to my producers, which usually is Tommy, and they continue the process. Inspirations for some of my songs have been from hearing someone saying “you suck” to their parent and wanting to find a funny way to use it in a song which turned out to be You Suck (Mr. Vampire), to having my best friend ask me for years if he could have my guitars when I die and that one later turned into My Best Friend Died (and Left Me His Guitar).

What’s the first album you ever bought and the first you ever tossed out in a disappointment (if any?)?

I think the first album I ever bought was Elton John’s “Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy.” I was truly amazed by the musicianship. I think I probably traded the albums I didn’t like for the ones I wanted at a local store so I never actually would throw one out.

Gun, or billy club, to your head: what are your favorite three albums of all time?

I’m a huge music fan and I really love a mix of everything from Talking Heads, The Clash, Guns N’ Roses, Elvis Costello, Nirvana, Otis Redding, James Brown, Johnny Hallyday, The Rolling Stones, Lou Reed, The Jam, Al Green, Joe Williams, My Morning Jacket, Wilco, Roy Orbison, Hoodoo Gurus, Moby Grape, Toots Thielemans, and Johnny Hallyday. Stop me when I pass three okay?

If you had put out a Wood Shampoo double-live opus in the 70’s, what would it have been called and how were sales?

I think we would have called it “Wood Shampoo: One Lump or Two?” and it would have been a limited sold-out run of one million copies in blood red vinyl. 

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NATHAN BIGGS

bassist of THE PEAR TRAPS

1.0 – How did the band come together? 

Bryant had written a number of songs before moving to Chicago and went to craigslist to find some bandmates. Within two months we were regularly playing in Billy’s basement, drinking, booking shows and recording.

2.0 – Did you expect your the Pear Traps EP to turn out how it did or did it take on a life of it’s own?

Bryant continually writes and we are always adding new songs to our live sets, so we had been playing out for over half a year with most of the tracks from the EP and had a good idea as to how we wanted them to sound. This makes our overall sound really based around Bryant’s guitar work and the next type of song we want to add to our live set.

3.0 – Can you talk about the cabin you recorded it; how did you track it?

We all took off on a cold Thursday, two vehicles full of equipment and went to Nashville, Indiana. The cabin was a small two story with a huge fireplace that we ran mics around to do all of our tracking as a live band. Bryant (guitar) set up in the main hallway, Billy’s drums in the large bedroom, Josh (guitar) in a small bed room, Stephen (keys) and Nathan (bass) in another room off the hallway. We spent Thursday night and Friday morning testing different mic and amp positions, hanging mics over the drums and eventually tucking Josh’s guitar amp in a closet. Then we spent all of Friday and Saturday playing, grilling, listening and drinking.

4.0 – Do you have a favorite song on the disc?

(Free Download)“Come Home” is probably our favorite song. It has sort of set the tone for how we come up with songs now- in that Bryant comes to the band with an idea and chord structure that we all turn into a song. Between Josh’s guitar licks, the warm, overdriven tone from Stephen’s keys, and some crackle from the fireplacebleeding through in the background, it was the easiest choice for the first track.

5.0 – Is the ‘EP’ the band’s preferred mode of communication?

As of right now yes, but we are always talking about taking the time to put together a full album.

6.0 – What do you guys sing about?

Bryant’s final lyrics to a new song typically follow the completion of a songs structure and the melody he wants to sing too. I think in general just something that’s happened or happening or a vague idea he’s been thinking about.

7.0 – Is it difficult to duplicate your sound live?

Not really, as we just typically ask for more reverb on the vocals and, guitar wise, Bryant actually built the heads that both he and Josh play through to get the sound we want. I think people are actually surprised when they first hear us because we’re a bit louder/more energetic live than our recordings tend to seem.

8.0 – How do you know when a tune is ready for prime time?

When we’re excited to play it and reasonably confident we won’t fuck it up.

9.0 – What bands were you listening to in high school and do they still influence you?

This runs all over the place for us. We were all pretty into 80s alternative (Replacements, Joy Division, The Cure), but mix in a need for some Kinks, Guided By Voices, and Roy Orbison and you start getting warmer.

10.0 – If you could jump on a tour next week with anyone, who would it be with?

Deerhunter would be awesome. Or maybe Atlas Sound. Or French Kicks. Or J Mascis. Too many.