Hi Jody, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?
Doing great. Been busy which I’m grateful.
Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Real To Me“?
The chord progression came first. My goal on this one was to make a soothing sound represented with a wall of up beat acoustic guitars along with atmospherics and subtle electronics sprayed intermittently. I wanted the feel to be different than the rest of the album which is mostly crunching electric guitars. The riffs came as I kept playing over and over which sounded like the right thing to do at the time.
The songs lyrics are mostly talking about structured consistencies we all have in our lives. Some of them are good and some can turn negative. These consistencies parallel and tie into the importance and need to have people around you that are also consistent i.e. loyal, loving unconditionally, dependable. Those people make you see what is real in life. Surrounding yourself mostly with solid people, makes life nurturing, stable and somewhat harmonious. Hence the level, stable cadence and smooth demeanor of the song connotes to the constants and steadiness I speak about in my lyrics.
Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?
The typical chaos in world news and propaganda we all read and hear about as well as how life and the world itself is moving so quickly, constantly changing. I needed to step away for a minute and find a place to escape and relax. I put the outside world aside for a moment and I asked myself, what is happening in the microcosm of my little world I’m living in at this moment? My conclusion was that, things for the most part are fine, especially acknowledging that those relationships have been making my life a lot better.
Any plans to release a video for the single? How was the recording and writing process?
Videos are in the plan. “Cracked Guitar” first,”Real to me”next.
The album took roughly 3 years. I would have these surges in writing then cool off for some months.
Mostly every song had a different process. For example , “Can’t get it out of my mind” started to pour out immediately after an argument. I find when I write mid turmoil, the words come out easiest. The obvious challenge is, you are in the midst of dealing with a problem, so flipping back and forth with a guitar and a writing instrument, in the middle of disarray, is not exactly ideal logistically. (Chuckle).
“Cracked guitar” was more of a storyline with several stories going on in confluence. In that vein, I was thinking about Billy Joel, “Scenes from an Italian restaurant” when I wrote this. However, the song was meant to be punk in its style with an updated twist, also incorporating some humor in its lyrics- sounds like an oxymoron (chuckles ). My intention was to keep this one light for a change.
I had the verse progression in place before the lyrics happened. The chorus progression happened later. After the song was fully recorded, Arty added this lead in the outro which reminded me of Bad Company. He asked me in this shy way, “Look, I added some lead at the end…..”,
I said, I love it! It’s a keeper! The song was even further an oxymoron; a punk song with classic rock leads and riffs. Why not? I don’t believe in rules.
The similarity in those 2 songs, is they were written quick and immediately recorded.
Typically, Arty and I would work in a studio in Brooklyn for 13 hours a day for 3/4 days to lay down the tracks. We would both have a meeting of the minds on production styles and tweak together. We would spend another day at a different studio in midtown Manhattan recording the vocals. I would listen to the tracks countless times over the next few months. We would do further tweaking until we were fully satisfied with the outcome.
What’s been like to work with Arty Shweky and how did that relationship develop?
Arty was dating my wife’s good friend some years back.
We went out the first time as couples and quickly hit it off. We immediately started to strategize how and when we will work together.
He is a delight to work with. A multi instrumentalist, master engineer and industry stalwart. He believes in artist integrity and encourages the artist to execute their vision. We both share this philosophy of maxing out in whatever we do. He would always make sure I was comfortable in the direction a song might take and I wanted him to be comfortable as well. We work very well together. I consider him a colleague and a good friend.
How much did he get to influence the song?
It was pretty much a two man band.
I would write the lyrics and music and usually have a style in mind. I would then go to Arty’s to lay it down. While the two of us collaborated, the song would contain the elements originally intended and supplementally manifest into something much more, hence taking on a life if it’s own.
I would initially lay down the rhythm guitars as well as some of the riffs and then some scratch vocals so we could continue to work until the final vocals were recorded down the road. Arty would then play lead guitar, bass, drums, keyboards, on some occasions lap steel and mandolin and programming. He of course was the overall producer of “Real to Me”. Arty was a huge in each and every song.
What role does Brooklyn play in your music?
Growing up in Brooklyn also meant enjoying the culture of Manhattan during both day and night. If you happen to get a headache listening to some of my songs, its because you are hearing the sounds of the city in them (chuckle).
How has David Bowie and The Cars influenced your writing?
My mood on this album is mostly high throttle guitar with a splash of electronics- there are a few exceptions.
I grew up listening to the Cars, Bowie, Blondie, The Clash, Roxy Music and dozens in that genre. Other bands from the 2000s such as the Killers, Franz Ferdinand, Arcade Fire, Spoon, Shins I also found myself listening to.
Incidentally, Classic Rock groups from the 70s like Zeppelin, Jeff Lynne, Harrison, McCartney,Queen were staples on my sound system growing up as well. All these bands plus a lot more are naturally in my bloodstream- Its innate. However, I think all these groups had more influence on me on a sonic level as opposed to lyrics. Getting back to Bowie and the Cars ; I was always interested in Bowie’s art component in his music. He was one of the artists which lead me to approach my music in this manner. The Cars early work, in my opinion balanced organic instrumentation with electronics in the most perfect way possible. I always appreciated that.
I find that, lyrics are a very personal thing. Just like every individual has its own unique brain, I feel most lyrics are unique to the artist. The subject matter and the way I express myself is individualistic. It’s what’s going on in my brain at that time.
Although a band might have a myriad of influences, we realized by the second song of recording, AUTOM8theSKY indeed has a lot of influences but at the end of the day, it sounds a lot like AUTOM8theSKY.
How’s your new album coming along? Any tentative release date or title in mind?
The album “Real to Me “is out now on all streaming platforms.
Any plans to hit the road?
Yes, putting a band together now and planning on hitting the road mid winter.
What else is happening next in Autom8theSKY’s world?