INTERVIEW: Sweet Megg & the Wayfarers

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

I’ve been great.  I’ve been on tour this week up in the Northeast.  We have been having some great shows in Albnay, Kingston, Burlington and now Montreal.  Its always great being on the road because its nonstop playing music and hanging with friends!

From all the songs out there, what made you want to cover Stuff Smith Here Comes The Main With The Jive?

Well there is a whole genre of tunes about smoking weed from that era, Viper jazz if you will.  We love all the tunes from that genre they are so fun to perform and its also crazy to think people were openly singing these tunes when marijuana was so much more illegal.  Marijuana and jazz have had a romance for a long time so we are continuing that tradition!  I was listening to a compilation of viper tunes (viper is an old school slang term for someone who smokes weed, who’s hip, ya dig?) and I heard this one and immediately knew we had to cover it.  I love tunes with group vocals because it gets the whole band going and gets the crowd excited.  We are a very rowdy band so I love to find old tunes that I know can get a bar dancing and this tune has that quality.  As soon as we brought it into the repertoire it immediately started to kill at the bars.  It became our closer for a while.  When we were recording it we really wanted to capture that live feeling and I think we did.  Thats why we chose it as our single because I’m so happy with how the recording came out.  It feels like the Sweet Megg & the Wayfarers you might see after midnight in a Brooklyn bar.

Did any event in particular inspire you to cover this song?

Hmmm maybe getting back into smoking weed? Haha maybe that should be off the record.  I think mainly just hearing it and thinking, damn that’s a fun song.

Any plans to release a video for the cover?

Absolutely.  My brother is a filmmaker and I’ve been waiting for his latest film project to finish up so we can start on a music video for the single!

The cover comes off your new self-titled album – why naming the record after the band?

We were debating names for the album and everything sounded stupid.  Then a good friend of the band was like, why not just make it self-titled?  And I realized thats exactly what it needed to be.  This is our first full-length studio album and I think of it as our introduction album.  We chose an eclectic mix of tunes to show the bands different interests so it really is Sweet Megg & the Wayfarers.

How was the recording and writing process?

The recording process was a blast.  We did everything live over two days.  We were at this amazing studio called Big Orange Sheep and he had enough isolation booths that we were able to not only play live but be pretty isolated.  The piano and guitars in one room, bass in another, drums in another, me in my voice box, and the horns in the center of it all.  We had a rotating cast of musicians for the album so we had different musicians floating in and out.  We just did take after the take until we felt we nailed it.  The writing process was rather simple, we mainly thought of the arrangements for the tunes that we thought would fit the best and then just went for it.  We wanted it to feel like our live performance so we purposely left it rather open ended.

All the songs except for the Out of Nowhere vocalese are jazz tunes so not much writing there.  I wrote the lyrics to the Out of Nowhere vocalese.  Out of Nowhere is a jazz standard and a vocalese is when you take a solo of someone’s and write lyrics to the melody.  So I wrote lyrics to the solo Coleman Hawkins took over the tune.  The writing process for that was slow and steady.  Once I had transcribed the tune completely I then wrote line by line until each syllable fit in correctly with the notes already laid out for me.

How has the likes of Stuff Smith influence this record?

Well Stuff Smith is a killing violin player but when it comes to influence over the entire record I would say mainly he wrote the single.  Other than that if we are talking influences I’d say my stuff is generally influenced by Billie Holiday, Anita O’Day and Annie Ross.  Ryan Weisheit, the saxophone and other band leader, is very influenced by Lester Young, Coleman Hawkins, and Charlie Parker.

How did you manage to capture the excitement of your live performances on this album?

Well mainly what I said two questions back.  We kept it loose, we did it all live, and we had really great musicians that we’ve done a lot of gigs with.  We basically tried to get everyone in the mood the way they would be in a live performance.

Where did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?

Well like I said its an album of jazz standards so most were prepared for me.  For the Out of Nowhere vocalese I generally embellished the lyrics of the original and then just let it flow based on the way the melody was already laid out.

Any plans to hit the road?

I’m on the road now!  Northeast tour this week and in October we are doing a three week tour down into the Southeast and a bit of the Midwest.

What else is happening next in Sweet Megg & The Wayfarers world?

Mainly touring and gigging.  We are doing tour this two months and then we are going to start writing.  We are planning on making our next album fully original music.  I’ve already written two tunes for it so hopefully we’ll start working on that in a few months!

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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