INTERVIEW: The Wizbangs

Hi guys, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Jim:  Thanks for wanting to talk to us. We’re doing great. We’re always doing something, individually and collectively. I don’t know if there’s a thing called “down-time”

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Common Enemy”?

Charles: The song is about the internal mental struggle most everyone goes through; the silent war which happens only in the mind.  An example would be, “Do I eat the entire bag of potato chips and binge watch Netflix, or do I eat some fruit and practice some martial arts or music?”  It is also the belief that one of those choices is wrong, and the other is right.  One may be unhealthy, but it is not bad.  One only perceives things in such a way because of a deep psychological conditioning that is ever-present in society.  When we eat the potato chips we say, “I feel bad.”  This is ambiguous and is a condemnation of what would otherwise be an enjoyable activity if not for our ridiculously high standards.  What is actually true is that we feel guilty. There is no judgment in guilt, for it is simply an objective truth.  Only a schism between a childish part of us that wants the chips and an adult part of us that understands it’s not as healthy as other options available to us.  This psychosomatic reflex is the common enemy of everyone. However, once it is recognized for its uses and discarded for interpersonal relationships it becomes a great friend and tool.

Did any event in particular inspired you to write this song?

Charles: It reflects my life including relationships, struggles with drug, food, and media addiction.  I found Ken Wilber’s Integral Theory, many aspects of Eastern philosophy, and Jiddu Krishnamurti’s words in particular, now resonate with me. However, I wrote most of the song before being properly introduced to any of those.

Any plans to release a video for the single?

Jim: We’re brainstorming ideas on not only “Common Enemy,” but also other songs from the first album. Over the next few weeks we’ll be posting videos of live performances of three songs, including “Common Enemy.” We recorded these at Electric Wilburland Studios in Ithaca, NY as we began preparing for shows. The videos aren’t fancy, just we and our friends rocking some music.

JP:  We’ve got one on standby, filmed at our favorite home away from home, Electric Wilburland, NY.

The single comes off your new album Life, Love and Other Mishaps – what’s the story behind the title?

Charles: Writing a song is somewhat magical. Sometimes you take a step back and say, “Where did that come from? How did that happen?” To a degree, the title came about similarly. We were taking a break during recording and just talking about different messages, believing the title of one’s first album should speak about the contents. Honestly, it just popped into Jim’s (Dad) head.

Jim: I was thinking out loud saying, “What are we describing with all of these songs? What’s the umbrella they all fit under?” Viola…there’s the title.

How was the recording and writing process?

Charles: Some of these songs have been in the works for more than 10 years and were started in the midst of incredibly difficult periods of my life, so the process hasn’t always been pretty.  It was truly a joy when my father started writing songs.  There’s something about helping bring another person’s vision to life that is incredibly rewarding.

I think the most memorable part was finishing the arrangement for Common Enemy at 5am then as I rose from the floor, I promptly sprained my ankle. Mind you, this was as I was heading to the airport for my 7 am flight to Ithaca to record.  Fortunately, a kind soul carried my bag across the airport as I crutched my way to a connecting flight I almost missed.

Jim: As all of us live in different areas, it took longer than we imagined, nearly two years. The collaboration was the most interesting part of the process. We’d share ideas, lyrics, and melodies of songs each was composing. Then, we continually fine tune based on feedback. That’s not necessarily easy being the father; listening to critiques from your boys. But, they are amazing musicians and have a great ear for what can work, as do their friends who joined us on the album. Honestly, the first session was almost overwhelming for me as every now and then I caught myself thinking, “I’m recording cool songs with my sons.”

While I knew JP was a great musician, I discovered that he has a wonderful “producer’s ear” for a song. He intuitively knows what can work, what’s overkill, the right sound. That was cool to discover.

What role does Philly play in your music?

Jim: Pennsylvania has been home for JP and Charles for almost their entirely life. It’s where I took them to their first concerts. I think, since we lived here for so long, and the songs are a reflection of our experiences while living here, Philly and Pa in general are inherit in the songs.

JP: Well, I live and work there. So it’s impossible not to draw a little inspiration from everything around you.

What aspect of love did you get to explore on this particular record?

Jim: As you may tell by the album cover – a glass heart, with some broken pieces and an arrow through it – says it all. For example, “I Remember The Time” describes the joy of a life together from the first moment you met, through a life. It’s a reflection of my almost 36 year marriage.

Charles’ “I’d Like To Be Lazy With You” which is such a beautiful, simple song, is a conversation – almost a dream – about how to spend a life together.

“Need To Know” is essentially a fish or cut bait story. It’s a song about the fear of making a commitment after being hurt before.

Any plans to hit the road?

Jim: We have a show planned for Saturday, February 4th at Bldg. 24 Live in Reading, PA. We’re excited about that, since it’s somewhat of a homecoming. We’re planning on a show in Philly in March. We certainly hope to play in those cities more. We also want to head up I-95 to play in NYC and Boston.

What else is happening next in The Wizbangs’ world?

JP:  I’ve got a little girl on the way, so that’s my next big thing. After that, our first live show, then, who knows.

Jim: We’re primarily working on the live shows. Charles and Jim work on songs for a second album. Most importantly, in April JP becomes a dad for the first time!!!

For more info:

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About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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