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INTERVIEW: The City Limit

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

We’ve been busy as all hell, I’m happy to say! Just got done shooting a live video session that we’re going to be releasing soon, and we’ve been busy rehearsing for our collaboration with Leesta Vall Recordings that’ll be happening next month, which will be a series of live performances that we’re going to be putting out on 7″ lathe-cut vinyl records. Other than that, we’ve just been having a great time playing around New Jersey and New York City.

-Can you talk to us more about your song “Anything At All”?

It’s a song I wrote years ago, and at the heart of it, it’s kind of just a song about being bad at expressing yourself, at expressing your feelings for someone else. What made this one of my songs that we wanted to record was mainly the high energy of the song. Plus, it has this Latin feeling to the guitars and keys, which I always thought was really exciting. It’s just a really fun pop song put through a sort of Spanish blues lense.

-Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

I think everyone’s had a moment in some friendship at some point of your life, where you start feeling more than platonic things for the other person but you’re kind of spinning in your head thinking, “Is it just me, or is there a connection here? Is that just me?”. I think that’s a really relatable experience that I thought would be cool to put into a song.

-Any plans to release a video for the track?

While we don’t currently have plans to make a video for “Anything At All”, we will be recording a live performance of it as a part of our collaboration with Leesta Vall Recordings in Brooklyn, which you can read more about on our Facebook and Instagram pages. Our next single, “Collateral Damage”, is going to have a video though! We just shot it a week or so ago, actually. We’re all really hyped about it.

-The single comes off your new album Dreaming In The Background – what’s the story behind the title?

Anthony and I actually met as our old bands were breaking up, and we met because our bands were both based out of the same studio — Backroom Studios in Rockaway, New Jersey. We met because we happened to be studio roommates, actually. I’d been going to that studio since 2013, and Anthony had been going there for about a decade longer, and that ended up being where we recorded ‘Dreaming in the Backeoom’ (with the studio’s owner, Dillinger Escape Plan guitarist Kevin Antreassian as our producer). It just seemed like a fitting title because we’d both been honing our musicianship at that studio for so long, dreaming of where our playing and our songs could take us while practicing at that studio over the years.

-How was the recording and writing process?

Such brilliant memories working on that EP. Making ‘Dreaming in the Backroom’ taught me so much as a player and composer, reinforced our musical chemistry with one another, and made Anthony and me closer friends in the process. Not to mention, getting to work with incredible, seasoned musicians like Sean Meyers and Matt Meyers (who played drums and keys on the record, respectively) was such an educational experience for me as a young musician. Putting together songs like “Collateral Damage” and “Here to Stay” with those guys has changed the way I approach writing and arranging music, and I’m not exaggerating at all in saying that. We had so much fun recording that EP that we just had to make the album cover a bunch of photos of us going through the recording process of that EP. It was such a great time that we were all like, “People have to get a snapshot of this unforgettable experience”, which is where the whole Polaroid picture idea for the cover came from.

-How the new lineup does influence the band’s sound?

When Mike Casson and Sean Farrelly joined the band, our vibe transformed into something way more contemporary and experimental. Mike brings these sleek, modern colors and textures into the fold; kind of that funky, synth-driven French-pop sound of bands like M83 and Air. Sean’s super-tight drumming style and unrelentingly funky groove brings us rhythmically closer to some of the bands, like Sly & the Family Stone and Phoenix, that we’ve always wanted to sound like. Overall, this band became a totally different beast when those guys got on board. Couldn’t be more thankful to have such talented people as part of the crew.

-How do you go on blending with different genres and influences together?

It’s interesting how each member’s influences fill in the songs differently to form one cohesive musical picture. I think I bring a lot of blues and folk influences to the table, while Anthony brings a lot of funk and Grateful Dead-esque jam-band flavor. On top of that, Mike brings this R&B-ish electronic element to the music, and Sean ties it together with this really tight jazzy drumming style that’s fluid and dancey while also having the technical prowess of his metal roots. So it’s kind of like a big pot of stew that amalgamates into one really, really tasty meal.

-What role does New Jersey play in your music?

I was definitely super influenced by the way that Van Morrison turned Northern Ireland into a giant overworld for his songs. Albums like Astral Weeks painted panoramic pictures of Belfast and really lent a time and place to the characters and stories that his songs presented. Bruce Springsteen was inspired by Van to do the same, but with New Jersey, with albums like ‘Greetings From Absury Park, NJ”, which always fascinated me. Writers like those guys made me understand the importance of geography and landmarks in storytelling, especially in the context of songwriting. I like to think that hopefully comes through with tracks like “Fading Away” and “Collateral Damage”.

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

Some songs are written about things we’ve gone through, some are written about watching loved ones go through hardships. Anthony wrote “Here to Stay” about personal experiences, as did I with “Wreckage”. But then there’s songs like “Bring You Home With Me” or “Fading Away”, that were written after having heart-to-hearts with close friends about some really difficult situations that they were going through at the time. So writing those songs were essentially just really cathartic exercises in empathy. The kind of songs that just felt good to write and get off your chest, you know?

-Any plans to hit the road?

We are currently in the pre-production phase of linking up a tour, but there’s still a lot of specifics to nail down and a lot of kinks to work out. We’re definitely gonna be on the road sooner than later, though. Keep an eye on our Facebook and Instagram pages to stay posted on all of our latest shows, because we already have a ton of shows booked for the spring and summer.

-What else is happening next in The City Limit’s world?

Aside from our live video session that we’re releasing next month and the Leesta Vall sessions that we’re recording in Brooklyn towards the end of March and releasing on vinyl, we’re also gonna be playing a ton of shows not only around New Jersey, but also throughout New York and Pennsylvania. We also just finished writing for our next EP, which we cannot wait to get into the studio and record. Other than that, we’re also recording an acoustic session at the CCM Recording Studios, in Randolph, NJ, so be sure to stay tuned for that, too.

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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