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INTERVIEW: The Good Morning Nags

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

–Hey Rafa! Doing well! Thanks for listening to album!

Can you talk to us more about your song “Sugar Baby”?

–Sugar Baby is actually an old traditional Appalachian/bluegrass song. You can find it in different forms, but we first fell in love with the Dock Boggs 1920’s recording. It tells a pretty tragic story of lost love and how to move on after it. We still debate whether it’s about the death of a loved one or about a separation, but either way it catches our hearts. In the middle of the tune we throw in an altered version of the hymn “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms.” There’s a point in the song where the speaker says “Who’ll rock the cradle, who’ll sing the song?” We had been playing around with different hymns that we knew from growing up, and this one struck as a song one might sing to a child after losing its mother.

As a different point of interest, we actually make use of a harmonium in this one. Ben Quinn, who normally plays mandolin and guitar, had recently taught himself to play the harmonium, and we felt the drones of the instrument connected well with the feeling of being overwhelmed.

Did any event inspire you to write this song?

–When we met up in NYC, we first started playing in the subways and parks. We were always looking for new material to play and this one seemed to feel right to us. It was one of the first traditional songs we worked on. Titus Tompkins (drums) and I were living together at the time. During the winter we would spend our days busking and trying not to catch cold, and then we’d come back in the evening and share songs we liked with each other. This one came up and we began working on it almost instantly.

Any plans to release a video for the track?

–At the moment, no.

The single comes off your new EP – what’s the story behind the title?

–The EP is self-titled. It was our first release since being in NYC, so we felt just having our name be the title was a good introduction.

How was the recording and writing process?

–We did a lot of our writing on the fly while busking. We would play songs forwards and backwards for a while before finally settling into a groove. Like with our tune “Mount Holler,” Britt Reagan (guitar) wrote the song when he first started learning to play the dulcimer; he came to us with it and we just started busking with it. I’m not sure if we ever even had an official rehearsal for it, we just figured it out while playing.

We did all of our recording for the EP in one day. Our friend and engineer Erik Samuelson got a good deal on some recording time and told us to get our butts into the studio before it’s too late. So we went in with around 10 songs, played as many as we could, Erik worked some magic, and we ended up with our EP.

What role does NYC play in your writing?

–NYC plays a very big role in our writing. We’ve spent so much time playing music inside the city—literally in the city’s belly –that our style is directly related to the sounds we made while underground. It’s not the easiest city to live in, and there have been some very tough days because of it. All of that continues to influence how we write music.

Known for playing with different genres – how do you balance them together?

–Haha, adding a banjo tends make anything sound a little country—we’re in debt to Mark Spitznagel for that. We actually spend a lot of time trying to craft our songs so that they live in a similar world. We don’t really strive for any kind of homogenous genre, but we do want to make sure it still sounds like us and still has some nod towards the American roots music we enjoy. Titus, Britt, and Pete (bass) are great at finding the right groove. Sometimes it’ll take us a while to figure out what that is, but we communicate well and love to experiment.

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

–It came from a few different things. The traditional songs were just some of our favorite tunes that we were playing at the time, the songs we connected to the most. Our originals came from our life. It’s about trying to make life work and being away from the ones you love, feeling lonely and desperate but not willing to give up.

Any plans to hit the road?

–Not currently because…

What else is happening next in The Good Morning Nags´ world?

-We’re actually jumping immediately back into the studio. We’ve got a bank of original material that we’re really excited to record, and right now all of our energy is being put towards that. We hope to be in the studio by early Spring. Looking ahead, we’d love to go on tour if any other cities will take us riffraff.

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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