Hi James, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?
Hey, been well. Thanks for the chance to talk about the music! How’ve you been?
Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Your Server Had A Bad Day”? Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?
The inspiration for this tune comes from the pent up frustration of tending bars and waiting tables over the last ten years. There are lines in the tune drawn from specific experiences, but as whole, the tune is aimless anger, albeit light hearted. And don’t get me wrong, I had great experiences doing that job, but that’s not what this song is about.
Any plans to release a video for the single?
I’m actually in talks with a buddy of mine to discuss that possibility. Would love to. There’s some obvious imagery that comes to mind when day dreaming about a video for this song.
How was the recording and writing process?
The writing was very off the cuff. This was a tune I wrote and recorded completely on my own. After a particularly rough day at work, I wrote this song as a form of therapy – had to figure out a way to turn the anger into something productive. The words and melodies came pretty quickly.
What was it like to work with Andy Seltzer and how did that relationship develop?
Anj (that’s what I call Andy) is one of my best buds. It’s a blast working with him. We grew up in Old Saybrook, CT but I was a little older. We connected in NYC while we were both living there. We’ve been fans of each other’s work forever. We’ve been working on songs together for a number of years. The Haunted Continents monthly single idea came up last summer and we hit the ground running.
How much did he get to influence the album?
The level of influence varies from song to song, but Anj will always have a big part in how the tune comes out. With ‘Server’, he wasn’t involved in the writing or recording. However, he did mix completely on his own, making some big decisions, adding his signature touch. His mixes feel like they tell a story. I love them.
Other songs, he’ll send me thoughts and suggestions on parts and lyrics. I’ll fine tune what I’ve done and we’ll get to the heart of the tune that way.
Some of the songs we tracked at his studio (in Brooklyn, at the time), and others I tracked and emailed to him to mix and add other music elements (from his current LA studio).
You also get to work with other artists on the material – did you handpick them or how did they come on board?
I’m lucky to have incredibly talented friends. My buddy Ryan Patrick White (from my old band, Call It Arson) was a no brainer. He sang with me on “The Perfect Night (To Dig)”. And Jarrod Pedone is the drummer in my current band The End of America. I recorded “Nothing More to Life” at Gradwell House in Haddon Heights, NJ, just down the street from Jarrod. That was another no brainer. Jarrod is the best drummer I know.
What did they bring up to the table?
Both of them have an expressiveness to their playing and singing that I wouldn’t be able to replicate. Whether drumming or singing, their voices are completely their own and their energy lifts the songs to places I couldn’t reach on my own.
Do you tend to take a different approach when you are collaborating with someone else rather than on your own?
For sure. If someone is joining me on my project, ideally there’s enough time to allow my collaborators to write their own parts. That means my parts will remain less permanent, leaving space for them to do their thing.
It’s also fun to do these types of collaborations in a single day, short sessions. That way, your guests will write something on the spot, or learn something on the spot, and perform it while it’s still new for them. I think that yields the coolest results. First decision best decision mentality.
How have The Shins and Death Cab For Cutie has influence your writing?
I loved the lyrics from both these bands. The Shins also employ a wonderfully unique sense of melody. Almost has a Baroque quality to my ear. Call me crazy.
Death Cab was a huge influence on me coming up in the last years of the 90s, into the early 00s. They were punks, with a DIY ethos, yet played the most sensitive and melodic songs. There’s a lot of anger in that music, too, which always magnetized me. I think music is a great place for anger.
What role does NYC play in your music?
Oh, NYC. It’s been the setting for my life for the last ten years. I met my wife here, I experienced so much joy here, so much pain. I’ve been driven to the brink of mental break down from the intrinsic stress it permeates. But there’s something about this place that I really love. If you can tap into its energy, it can fuel you to push for your goals. And for me, that goal is to emerse myself in as much music as possible. It’s allowed me to do that.
Does the series of singles mean we can expect a new album or it will remain a yearly series?
At the end, I’ll put all these songs into a single album, or a few EPs. Not sure yet. I’ll keep you looped.
Any tentative release date or title in mind?
The next song is call “Post Apocalypse Survival Crew”. It’ll be out in about 6 weeks.
Any plans to hit the road?
Yeah, I have plans to do shows over the spring and summer all along the east cost.
What else is happening next in Haunted Continents’ world?
I’m working on assembling that last few songs for the ‘Year of Singles’ campaign. Very excited to release the next batch of tunes and share some new music. My band The End of America is also releasing new music and touring. Lots happening.
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