REBECCA FRAME w/ ESQUELA

Rebecca FrameHow did Esquela come together?

John ‘Chico’ Finn and Keith Christopher have a long history together. And so, when John wanted to start his own band, it only made sense for Keith to be his partner in crime. While recording Esquela’s first album, “The Owl Has Landed”, I was invited to do some backing vocals. Soon thereafter, Chico asked me to take over lead vocals. Todd Russell, a friend of Chico’s from high school, was a perfect fit on drums for the evolving band. Chico asked me if I would be interested in playing mandolin, which would have tricky since I have never played this instrument.  But, my friend Matt had.  So, enter Matt Woodin. At some point it was evident that we would need a fill in guitar player, since Keith was busy with other projects. Enter Ira McIntosh and Brian Shafer. Early on we had some other players from the city, who were great guys, but it just worked out better for it to be upstaters.

How does the song writing process work for you guys? 

Chico gets inspired by either a funny story from a friend, an article he’s read, or a documentary he has seen, and of course life experience and puts a pen to paper. Sometimes, with the help of Keith, he records a rough draft and sends it my way. I usually stick to the melody he had in mind, but I get to play around with it a little. Later the band gets together and fleshes it out.

 

Esquela has a late 60’s vibe, what’s Esquela about to you?

Does it have a 60’s vibe? That’s cool. Esquela is about getting together and being free to create in whatever way we see fit for each song, and have a good time doing it. Maybe that’s how they did it in the 60’s too.

Do you have a philosophy when it comes to singing and what do you hope to put across personally?

I guess I just want to do justice to the songs. And try to convey the feel as best I can.  I wouldn’t say I have a philosophy, I just love to sing.

Esquela_cover (2)Where can producer Eric Ambel’s influence be heard most on Are We Rolling? versus the debut, The Owl Has Landed?

I can’t really say anything about the Owl. I just showed up at the studio in Oneonta and laid down the vocals and the rest was up to the fellas.  But with are we rolling it was awesome to work with Eric in a more intimate way. He took more of a directive role. He’s smart and kind of sneaky. hahaha. example: Eric knows that I like to belt out songs, which can be a good thing, but sometimes it’s a little much. so for take one he would tell me to give it all I got (just like I like to). then for take two he would ask me to take it easier and softer, which was a little challenging for me because that’s not how I usually “attack” a song. I think we ended up using more of the second takes. They sounded better. He was right. But, he was cool about being right. It was a good learning experience for me. Also, we have a lot of guitar players in the band. Brian, Ira, sometimes Matt…..so I think Eric helped sort out the chaos of who would do what when. Honestly, while they were doing their thing I was bullshitting with Chico and Todd, so who knows what REALLY went down.

What was the first record you ever bought and what’s your favorite thing about it today?

The first album I bought was the Body Guard Soundtrack. I mean, Whitney? come on! she is (was) incredible.  her voice can move you in a way that no one else’s can. simply beautiful and strong.

Who are your musical heroes?

Chico. he just goes for it. I wish I has his courage when it comes to sharing his work.  you want a famous hero? too bad. I stick with my decision.

When did you realize you could actually sing?

Hmmm…when I was in grade school, my friend had a recorder and we sat on my living room floor and sang “This Used To Be My Playground” by Madonna, which is funny because we were soooo young but we were sooo dramatic about it. then we started our make believe band and would use picnic tables as our stage. I guess the dream was there early. but I guess high school was when I found that I actually had some talent for real.

Was there someone early in your life that encouraged you?

I don’t know if encouraged is the right word. influenced works better for me. My father played the piano every night while I was falling asleep, all the women in my family sing, my sister showed me the awesomeness that is classic rock, and also looked the other way when I stole her SWV and En Vogue tapes. My mom would tolerate me playing her Beatles albums over and over…and over again. I had a wonderful teacher in high school who called me ‘songbird’. that’s encouraging….

It’s said singers get better with time; how do you separate the best from the rest? 

I’m not sure if i agree with that totally. i mean, refining your skills, takes work and time, and yes, you get better at it the more comfortable you are with what you are doing. but, when you are starting your musical journey there is so much enthusiasm, and hope, and drive, and passion. and those things can kind of fade. i think what separates the”best” from the rest, are those who can hold onto the passion that they had at the beginning.

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NATE SCHWEBER


1.0  How was it recording with Eric “Roscoe” Ambel? Recording with Roscoe was a great learning experience. As a producer Roscoe demands a lot, but his results speak for themselves. It was a real challenge to step up to his expectations, and that caused a lot of growing pains. But it was for the best. I’d wanted to work with Roscoe for years, and since I moved to New York in 2001 I slowly got to know him; hanging out at his bar, the Lakeside Lounge, and going to hear him play. He’s one of those guys with the Midas Touch. Whether it’s his work playing guitar with Joan Jett or Steve Earle, his playing in bands like Del Lords, the Yayhoos and his own group The Roscoe Trio, or bands he produced like the Blood Oranges, the Backsliders and the Bottle Rockets; everything Roscoe touches turns to gold.  Roscoe sees projects on a macro and micro level. On the micro level, he’s got a great sense of what sounds need to be where; what parts of songs need guitar licks, what tracks need an overdubbed acoustic guitar with Nashville tuning, where a harmonica break fits, etc.. On a macro level, he’s always got his eye on the big picture like how to make the best use of studio time, the order that songs should go in, how to tell players to prepare and a whole lot more. My background is in writing for newspapers. I liken Roscoe to an excellent editor.

2.0  How does the new CD “Hello Disaster” differ from your debut “Heathens Like Me”? First and foremost, Hello Disaster was produced, unlike Heathens Like Me. It took four fun days to make the first record. It took three hard years to make the second. The first record is the sound of a band coming together, going into the studio and just bashing out the songs. The second record, to me, is the sound of a band busting apart. But the sound of the shattering is pretty glorious.

3.0  What’s up with the New Heathens? I don’t want to air dirty laundry, but some of those growing pains I mentioned led to us stopping performing out as a band midway through making Hello Disaster. We had been going pretty strong there for a couple years, hauling up and down the eastern seaboard in a big, purple van, but we hit the rocks in the studio. It was painful. It wasn’t how I envisioned it – and believe me, I had meticulously planned this project for years and worked my ass off – but I came to a fork in the road during the recording process where I could salvage one of two things: the band or the record. I chose the record. Note that the record starts out with five people wailing together in a room, and ends quietly with me by myself. That’s a good metaphor for how the recording process went. I find myself in the curious position now of trying to promote a good record by a band that isn’t really around anymore. I’ve been playing plenty of solo acoustic shows, difficulties of promoting a full-band record as a solo acoustic artist be damned. Don’t be surprised to see some “Nate Schweber and the New Heathens” shows soon.

4.0  What sort of music did your family listen to growing up? My mom is the partially-reformed pseudo-hippie of the family and she’s a huge music lover. Growing up she I remember her playing the Beatles and Emmylou Harris, who looks like her sister. She was the one who turned me on to the Rolling Stones and Steve Earle. My dad, a self-proclaimed “bean-counter,” actually has great taste in music, though I didn’t realize it when I was younger. I learned about Warren Zevon from my dad.

5.0  What was the first album you ever purchased? Aerosmith’s Pump. Power ballads be damned, if anybody’s recorded a cooler song than F.I.N.E. in the past 20 years, I ain’t heard it.

6.0  Does being from Montana originally have any impact on your style? I’m sure it does. Montana has wide open vistas and not a lot of people, so growing up I had wild, fanciful notions of what I wanted to do with my life and not a lot of people to tell me I couldn’t. I noticed a definite change in my mindset when I got to New York and found myself hemmed down at the bottom of concrete canyons all day (lo and behold some of those “fanciful notions” didn’t quite work out). Montana also affected my taste in music. The Pacific Northwest has a psychic connection with the south, I imagine because they are both big, rural areas where agriculture dominates. So things like country music and southern rock resonate up there. Growing up a weirdo, I figured out fast that a lot of the chaw-dipping, wrangler-wearing guys who cranked modern country in their pickups wanted to kick the shit out of me, so in high school I hated country music. It wasn’t until I got to college that I luckily fell in with a hip, bar-band scene who turned me on to country that was Stonesy, relevant, smart and cool, like Steve Earle, the Bottle Rockets, Todd Snider, Doug Sahm and the Supersuckers.

7.0  Did you have a band in high school/college? what did you call yourselves? what did you play? I sang in rock bands all through high school and college. Some names I remember include, “Blue Monday and the Cockroaches,” “The Spice Boys,” “Aces & Eights,” and “Moxie.”I played tuba in school band from fifth grade through when I graduated college. To this day the longest lasting and most popular band I was ever in was a German polka band that spanned elementary school through college called “The Hungry Five.”

8.0  Why did you move to NYC? I tell people that having grown up in Montana, I wanted to find out what life in a big city was like, and boy have I found out. The catalyst was I got an internship at Rolling Stone magazine in 2001. I came to New York to see what I could do in journalism and rock ‘n’ roll.

9.0  How do you approach song writing? That’s a tough one. A lot of my favorite songs are what I like to think of as “smart.” Like “Lawyers, Guns & Money” by my man Warren Zevon, it’s a wild concept for a song, totally original hook, fantastic riff and it’s funny. Zevon is a master at that. Same with Brian Hennemann of the Bottle Rockets, particularly when he co-writes with Scott Taylor. Their songs “$1,000 Car;” “Welfare Music,” “Zoysia” and a slew of others are new, smart, descriptive ways of looking at common things. So that’s always my goal when I try to write a song. I usually fall far, far short.

10.0  What do you prefer – writing, recording, or playing live?  It used to be playing live, because that’s all I did. As I get more experienced at writing and recording, I’m enjoying them more and more.

ADAM SCHLESINGER w/ FOUNTAINS OF WAYNE


What are Fountains Of Wayne up to?

Finishing up a record that we’ve been working on for a long time.

Can you tell us anything about the new record?

In terms of the songs, it’s pretty diverse – hard to generalize. Sonically, maybe the whole thing’s a bit warmer  than the last couple.

How’s Stratosphere Sound doing?

Keeping busy…we just had Flood in producing Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, as well as some other cool album projects.

Any music inspiring you currently, new or otherwise?

I like the new Crowded House record a lot. Just got it.

Do you have a favorite bar in Chicago?

I mostly know the bars at the places we’ve played in, like Double Door. I’ve been taken to a lot of cool bars but I don’t always remember the names afterwards.

Do you ever write on bass?

Usually not, but I have once in a while. I tend to write on guitar or piano, or just in my head.

There’s a gun to your head; what is your favorite classic rock guitar solo of all time…okay top two then?

My Sharona. Do You Feel Like We Do.

Jets or Giants? Mets or Yankees?

Giants. Yankees. Although I don’t really care too much anymore to be honest.

Do you still have to have a ‘single’ for a record company to get behind a release?

I have no idea. I suppose you need one if you’re going for Top 40 radio. Not sure if it matters as much for most bands though.

How was your band in college? did you play any covers and, if so, can you name a few?

I played in a few cover bands in college – we did stuff like Elvis Costello, Joe Jackson, Squeeze, Smithereens, Pretenders.

Does Stacey’s mom still have it going on?

I hope so, for our sake.