Hi Oscar, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?
Thanks so much. I’m doing ok. Right now I’m on a tour bus with A Great Big World and having a good time with these dudes.
Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Broken Man”?
Lyrically, Broken Man has a “It’s A Wonderful Life” vibe of what-would-it-be-like-for-the-world-if-I-didn’t-exist. Musically it’s cut from the same cloth as Elliott Smith mixed with Neutral Milk Hotel.
Did any event in particular inspired you to write this song?
My wife and I have an open marriage, and that’s a minefield when you take into account feelings of self-loathing, jealousy, depression, and anxiety. I wrote this during a period where we tried monogamy and were both very very unhappy for various reasons.
Any plans to release a video for the single?
Not at the moment but anything is possible.
The single comes off your new album Animals – what’s the story behind the title?
All the songs deal with open relationships, polyamory, and ethical non-monogamy and how tough it all can be once once you factor in sex, love, jealousy, anxiety, depression, and self-worth. I titled it Animals because we’re not robots. We have to acknowledge these feelings and desires, and ultimately need to be good at communicating these things. Otherwise all these connections can really leave some people in a downward spiral. In other words, we need to be careful when playing with others, for our sake and theirs.
How was the recording and writing process?
I wrote these songs while I was splitting my time between Philly where my wife and I have a house and Brooklyn where I have an apartment and recording studio. They were mostly written during a 5 month period where I was fairly immobile due to a very injured ankle. My wife and I actually ended up collaborating on some of these lyrics, which I think was therapeutic for both of us.
All the production was done by me at my studio Russell Street Recording in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. A couple things were recorded remotely at home and at Acme Hall Studios, but otherwise it was tracked, mixed, and mastered there.
The record features me on vocals and guitar, Billy Libby from Ingrid Michaelson’s band on guitar, Dave Sherman from Elle King’s band on keyboards, Hannah Winkler formerly of Secret Someones on vocals, Mike Chiavaro on bass, Zach Jones from A Great Big World on drums, and Kristine Kruta on cello. It’s a really talented group of sweet friends.
What role does Brooklyn plays in your music?
I’ve been living in Greenpoint, Brooklyn since 2001. At this point I have the supportive and loving community I’ve always craved. I’m very lucky. Folks there are genuine, generous, and talented. It’s very inspiring.
Do you tend to take a different approach when you are collaborating with someone else than when you are writing on your own?
I wear a lot of different hats and every situation is different. Sometimes I am backing another artist on guitar, or producing their record, or co-writing a song with another artist for their record or maybe it’s writing for something more commercial. I love it all and I love music. That said, Albis songs and recordings are “me time”. It’s therapy and very necessary. I tell my band that when we are rehearsing and getting ready for a show because it really is a healing experience to sing these songs, even if they come from a dark place.
What aspects of growing up get to inspire the lyrics on this album?
A lot of this is about trying to be an adult, in love, with desires and fears and being honest about it all. It’s really not easy.
Any plans to hit the road?
There are some shows coming up in the Fall once A Great Big World wraps up this tour. As much as I love Brooklyn I do also love being on the road.
What else is happening next in Albis’ world?
As I get to the end of this interview I realize I am living the rock n roll dream. As dark as things can be I am grateful that I get to do the things that I love and dreamed about as a kid. To answer your question more specifically, the Animals EP will be released in the Fall and there will be shows around that. There’s also an upcoming single entitled Heart Toll that was cowritten with my wife and produced at Big Star’s Ardent Studios in Memphis. And I’m already pretty deep into the writing for the next record, which I plan on producing between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Thanks for talking to me.