I’m good! I moved to Los Angeles from Boston at the end of last year — it’s been quite the adjustment, but it’s nice to be back in my home state.
Can you talk to us more about your latest single “What A Beautiful Morning!”?
We released “What A Beautiful Morning!” back in 2016, as part of the 30 Days, 30 Songs project before the election (http://www.30days30songs.com/48). We obviously didn’t achieve the desired outcome, and our country and the world has been suffering the consequences of that election every day since then. But I think the message of this song and video ring just as true for me today as they did back then.
Did any event in particular inspired you to write this song?
The idea for “What A Beautiful Morning!” actually predates Trump’s political career. I remember watching Mitt Romney’s convention speech back in 2012, and listening to him opine for the bygone days of America in the 1950’s. It made me both depressed and furious that so many people still romanticize that era of our history, when in reality so many people never experienced the safety and security of that time. In 2015, when Trump ran for president and weaponized that sentiment with the MAGA slogan, the song crystallized for me. I knew I wanted to write a song from the point of view of someone who believed that bullshit, but the music would contradict him and expose how untrue that sentiment really was.
Shortly after finishing the first demo for the song in May 2016, I was trying to go to sleep when a vision jolted me upright in bed. I wanted to make a music video for the song that featured old clips from TV and newsreels that depicted that Leave It To Beaver-era of America, and then used those same clips to show that nostalgia for the farce it really is. I stayed up all night researching public domain videos on the internet, and after a few more weeks, Mike Kesslak of 41st Casanova Productions and I started editing the video together. We released it right before the election, and it’s won multiple awards at film festivals since then. I’m still incredibly proud of it.
Any plans to release a video for the single?
We’re working on a music video for release this fall. But in the meantime, we shot a teaser video that makes me laugh every time I watch it. I came up with the idea to create two action figures that would serve as caricatures of the different perspectives on the album, lovably named the Cuck and the Hick. We found a website that makes custom action figures, and with the help of Brandon Pogrob (a great graphic artist), we customized them and used them for the album cover. Patrick Golenberg of Ridge Production helped me put a video together in the style of an old GI Joe commercial. I think it’s a great 75-second satire of how we stereotype people on the other side of the sociopolitical divide, and how the media encourages us to keep doing it.
The single comes off your new album The Loudness Wars – what’s the story behind the title?
The title is an inside joke for musicians — the loudness war primarily refers to how recorded music has got increasingly louder with each passing era (compare the wave forms of the original mix of a Beatles album to its remaster, and you’ll see what I mean). Every artist, producer and sound engineer wants their record to bleach more of an impression than the last record their listeners heard, but sonic arms race has meant that EVERY record is overly loud and compressed now. I stumbled across a Wikipedia article on the subject (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loudness_war), and thought it was a great metaphor for how we try and talk about political and social issues today. We talk over each other, not to each other. I wanted to make an album that addressed that dynamic.
How was the recording and writing process?
I finished 10 of the 11 songs in about a week and a half — it was May 2016, right when Trump clinched his nomination and there were multiple police shootings and mass shootings, and these ideas and emotions all came pouring out of me. I’m someone who has strong beliefs about policy and politics, but I have those believes because I think these things affect the lives of real people, and that that empathy is the best way to try and understand each other. I wanted to use our music to try and explore the mindset of someone with whom I disagreed, which I hadn’t done before. So I started writing about these two characters, who trade off singing songs from their perspective on the album.
Our first two albums each took about two months to record and used a total of five people. The Loudness Wars took 9 months and featured 20 different players, along with instruments we haven’t used before like pedal steel and horns. I think you can hear the time and care we took in making it, as well as the complex tapestry of different musical voices and instruments involved. Will Holland at Chillhouse Studios is a brilliant engineer and producer, and he really held this whole project together.
What role does LA play in your writing?
We wrote and recorded this album in Boston, so I’ve only just begun to write out here in L.A. I can tell you that it’s much harder to write down your ideas when you’re in the car two hours a day.
What aspect of war did you get to explore on this record?
The Loudness Wars isn’t about a real war, because we live in a world where the rhetoric is war-like but our reality is not. We spend a lot of time demonizing each other on social media and on TV, screaming about how others are killing our country, but then we go about our daily lives like not much is happening. That’s a significant component of privilege in America — white privilege in particular — and that’s something I definitely tried to address on this record.
Any plans to hit the road?
Hell yes! I love hitting the road — I drove across the country playing solo shows when I moved to LA. I’m planning to do similar solo tours throughout the West Coast in August and September, and then to bring a band with me when the album comes out in October. Stayed tuned at www.drunkenlogicmusic.com!
What else is happening next in Drunken Logic’s world?
Right now, I’m in a musical called Public Comment at the Hollywood Fringe Festival, and it just won an encore award, meaning we get to do two more shows in July! (http://www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/5364). We’re also developing some new music video ideas that will hopefully come to fruition in the fall, and we’ll put out a few singles before releasing the album on 10/5. And we’ll continue to work on behalf of causes we believe in and to turn out voters for the 2018 midterms as well.