Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Show Me Everything That You Are”?
This is a song about overcoming doubt and insecurity, and being comfortable with who you really are. Ironically, doubt and insecurity often come when we compare ourselves to others, however, those others we are comparing ourselves to are also typically comparing themselves to others. It’s a circular reality where we often hide the best parts of who we are due to a false sense of insecurity and doubt. So “Show Me Everything That You Are” is a reminder that you are exactly the person you were meant to be—and who you are is pretty great. Sometimes we just need a reminder of that.
Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?
I see far too many people downplay their own abilities and talents. Everyone is good at something. Yet, people often want to change so many things about themselves that don’t really need to be changed. People tend to have trouble seeing what actually makes them unique. Not everyone can be Kobe Bryant, and that’s a good thing. It’s like a movie. Think about what actors do—they try their hardest to portray reality in their roles. They may say to themselves, “I know how life really is, so watch me nail this role.” Yet, look at how many of us allow movies to dictate how we should act. So, are actors trying to be us, or are we trying to be them? Who is copying who? Ultimately, so many of our comparisons are actually false comparisons.
The single comes off your new album Radio Fiction – what’s the story behind the title?
Even though Radio Fiction is a 9-track release, it really has an EP feel to it, and that’s intentional. The title is somewhat ironic because, for the most part, these songs are all based in reality. But, reality for one person, may seem like fiction to another. The idea was to release a special album meant primarily for radio stations. I used to work at a radio station, and I would always appreciate the special releases that record companies would sometimes send us that you really couldn’t get anywhere else. So that influenced some of the thinking here. A lot of radio stations have been very supportive of our music, so I wanted to kind of give back in a way. Ultimately, Radio Fiction is really meant to serve as a partial teaser for our upcoming full-length album, Last Call Before the Fall, which is scheduled for a spring 2021 release.
Tell us a little more about Last Call Before the Fall.
Well a lot of work went into this album. For the most part, all the songs have already been recorded. We are now in the mixing stage, as well as the song-selection stage. We have recorded, what we feel are 17 solid tracks, and the plan is to select the best 12 songs that fit together into one complete album. I’ve always felt like the perfect album has exactly 12 songs on it for some reason. The hard part is cutting tracks you really love—but that’s necessary—because what you want is to have 12 killer tracks that fit perfectly onto one album. So that’s the goal. And, that’s always been the goal. We’ll see if we get there.
Tell me a little about the band.
Our band has evolved a bit through the years, but Tony Robles has been there pretty much from the beginning. Tony is an outstanding guitar player, and he brings a lot to the team. His guitar IQ is top-notch, and he can play just about anything. He’ll listen to a song, and almost immediately, he’ll know what it needs. He’s always been a big fan of Eddie Van Halen, and he can play just about any Van Halen song from memory. On drums we have two main drummers on the team. Amos Przekaza plays most of our studio drums, and does some live performances as well, and Ryan Gio performs a lot of our live shows. Both Amos and Ryan are extremely talented and easy to get along with. We’ve been lucky to attract some good players who are also decent people and fun to be around. You can strike up a conversation with any of them and feel immediately at ease and comfortable.
What role does Southern California play in your music?
There’s something about the weather and the culture out here that does influence our music. There’s a lot of truth to the “blue skies and sunshine” stereotype that you hear about Southern California. I often find depth and meaning in nature. You can look up to the sky and see hope and infinite possibilities. Blue skies and sunny days have always motivated me. They often inspire high school summer memories where life was full of every opportunity you could ever imagine. I like writing uplifting songs with hopeful messages. I hope we’ve created a few songs like that—songs that make you see the opportunity that life really is—songs that make you feel good when you hear them. But, if you’re not careful, this can backfire. Not everything is meant to be positive and bright. Life is full of hope, but it is also full of tragedy, regret, and despair. When I see many New York bands play in Manhattan, there’s often a ruggedness, a realness, and a sense of struggle, and even a sense of desperation that tends to come out in the music. You do see joy on their faces, but you also tend to see genuineness and authenticity. And this authenticity can’t easily be faked. So, it’s good to check yourself from time to time and make sure you really have something to say when you write a song or perform—and that’s what we try to do. This is why it’s often easier to write sad or melancholic songs—the content itself is driven by authenticity. But, to write a positive, feel-good song—that actually has something to say—well that can be a challenging task. But, of course, it can be done. Just look at the Cure’s “Just Like Heaven,” or Prince’s “I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man,” just to name two.
How has Tom Petty and The Cars influenced your writing?
The Cars have a really unique sound. There’s definitely a new-wave kind of punk vibe to many of their songs, but they are also accessible across several genres of music. I think that’s what good artists do. Look at Prince, or the Cure or the Police—for the most part, their music transcends any one particular genre. There’s a timeless feel to many of their songs. I’ve always thought the hallmark of a good song is that it sounds good now, but it would’ve also sounded good 20 years ago, and it will still sound good 20 years from now. Having that timeless quality in music is truly admirable. I think the Cars and Tom Petty were always great at doing that. For instance, look at the song “You Might Think” by the Cars, I mean that song has a really cool sound to it, and would appeal to all kinds of people. Also, look at the song “Refugee” by Tom Petty. That song is solid on nearly every level. Often with music, it’s not just the lyrics or the music that makes the song, but the feel of the song that makes it work. Tom Petty has a real cool, almost punk-sounding vocal on that song, and his phraseology is top-notch. That song is rock, it’s pop, it’s new-wave, it’s even part country if you think about it.
Where do you find the inspiration for your songs and lyrics?
I know how good music should make you feel, and that’s where I like to start. A good song lets you know it’s a good song within seconds. A good song can serve as a time-travel device—it can serve as a retrieval cue for a thousand and one different memories. So, I try to do as much of that as possible—without actually trying to do so. That is, one of the goals is to strive to create a song like that. Some of my strongest songs seem to just come to me out of almost nowhere. I don’t typically set out to write a song on any particular day. I just like to play guitar whenever I have a few spare minutes, and if things go well, I’ll get a good song lead or two out of it. I know some people like to set aside time to write like it’s a job. I tend not to do that. I usually just pick up my guitar and start playing, and after a while ideas start to come. Every now and then you get something that you feel is special, but it has to be special from start to finish. Some songs seem good at first, but when you record them, something gets lost, and they may not be as special as you originally thought they were. Others seem pretty good at first, and then after you record them, they get even better. This happened when we recorded Last Call Before the Fall. There’s a song there called “Alone,” which I always thought was pretty good overall, but after it was recorded, it seemed to actually get even better. I love playing that song—lately I’ve been playing it like 2 or 3 times a day just for fun. I love songs like that—songs that feel good to play. They kind of bring a smile to your face, and you hope, if you’re lucky, they can have that same effect on many others as well.