Thursday, July 24, 2014

An EXCLUSIVE interview with THE MUFFS!

Weird Band Next Door:

Kim, Ronnie and Roy 

By Stephen SPAZ Schnee

           Twenty three years is an awful long time for a band to be together – that’s three courtships, two marriages, two kids and two messy divorces in the average person’s life.  But The Muffs are no ordinary band.  Led by singer/songwriter Kim Shattuck, the band has persevered through the years, outliving the numerous music trends that both embraced them and tried to knock them down.  Shattuck was formerly a member of L.A. based all-girl Garage Rock band The Pandoras so she was already familiar with the ways of the music business and that worked to her advantage.  Forming The Muffs  in 1991 with fellow Pandoras member Melanie Vammen on guitar, Ronnie Barnett on bass and Criss Crass on drums, the band’s blend of Pop hooks, Punk attitude and timeless tunes made them one of the most talked about bands of the era.  The Muffs appealed to the burgeoning Grunge crowd as well as the Indie Pop kids, punks and even lovers of Girl Pop and Chick Rock.  They signed to Warner Brothers and released their debut album in 1993.  By the time their sophomore album was released in 1995, Vammen and Crass had departed the band.  However, they did not replace Vammen but they did bring in Roy McDonald on drums, who had been their first choice years earlier, but he was unable to join the band at the time and recommended Crass.  This particular line-up remains intact today.  They released two additional albums in the ‘90s before disappearing from the record shelves for a few years.  In 2004, they returned with their fifth album, Really Really Happy before laying low for a longer period of time.  Though they may not have released a new studio album, the band was still active on the L.A. live scene.  Their fans remained rabidly devoted and new audiences were discovering them during this decade-long sabbatical. 
     When the trio reconvened in the studio in 2012 to record their sixth album, they had plenty of material to work with.  During the final stages of putting the album together, fate stepped in when Shattuck was announced as Kim Deal’s replacement in The Pixies.  Her involvement in The Pixies didn’t put an end to The Muffs – it merely extended their sabbatical.  The announcement was made in June of 2013, but by November of the same year, Shattuck was out of The Pixies and free to continue with The Muffs at her own pace.  Thankfully, that meant a new Muffs album sooner than many expected… and after 10 long years, it was about time.  As for The Pixies, they decided to recruit a new female bassist whose name was not Kim. 
     Now that the dust has settled, The Muffs are set to release their long-awaited sixth album, Whoop Dee Doo, which is already creating quite a buzz in the biz.  Shattuck, Barnett and McDonald sound as vital and energetic as ever on the album. Whoop Dee Doo packs plenty of punches while also supplying some tunes that are so catchy that they will stay in your head for days.  Still edgy, still punky and still filled with the joy of playing real Rock ‘n’ Roll again, The Muffs are more alive than ever on Whoop Dee Doo. And Kim can still go from playful Rock goddess to possessed demon in one scream.  Yeah, she’s the Linda Blair of Alternative Rock!
Stephen SPAZ Schnee was able to send off a list of questions to Kim, Ronnie and Roy and discuss the band’s past, present and future…

STEPHEN SPAZ SCHNEE: Your album Whoop Dee Doo is about to be released.  How are you feeling about the album and the reaction you’ve had to it so far?
KIM SHATTUCK:  I am very happy with how it came out. Thrilled actually. And so far people seem to be liking it.  I love producing our music. I'm branching out into producing other bands too, which is something I'm really starting to wrap my head around. 
ROY McDONALD:  I’m very proud of the album! I think it has some of Kim’s best songs. Kim would play these demos for us and I could tell that this record was gonna be hot stuff! I love the way the sound of the drums turned out. They have this great natural sound. We haven’t actually played it for too many people but those who have heard it really like it.
RONNIE BARNETT: We feel really great about this album. People always say this, but we're probably happier with this one overall than any of the other ones. Everything connected to it feels right. The songs, the sound, the artwork, the labels.

SPAZ: It’s been a decade since your last full length album.  What took so long?
KIM:  We took a little break after our Really Really Happy album. I wasn't writing very much after that. Then I went back to school to do more photography studies. I was doing portrait photography a little bit, a few weddings, a little this, a little that. Then I started getting some songs in my head, little musical bits floating around my head, and I had to start writing music again. I really didn't see the guys that much, maybe once in a while. Then our old drummer Jim Laspesa started having dinner parties. He invited Roy, Ronnie and I and our spouses. As we talked it came up that I had some songs brewing and Roy talked me into emailing him a couple of them. He loved them and told me so which inspired me to write more. After a while we decided to make an album and by 2012 it was totally done. Then I joined the Pixies for about 10 months. 
ROY:  About a year after Really Really Happy came out we took a self-imposed sabbatical. I think we needed to find our mojo again. Kim had written a few songs that we were trying out but I think we were burned out and kind of aimless. It was right around that time that Redd Kross reformed so that kept me pretty busy. Then after a couple of years The Muffs got some offers to play overseas and those shows really sparked something in us. Kim started writing more songs and we started playing more local shows. We got some money from Rock Band 3 for one of our songs and that gave us our recording budget. The thing about not being connected to a label is that you don’t have any pressure to finish so we took our sweet time…something like two years. Then, as we were just about finished the whole Pixies thing happened so that put the album on the backburner for a while.
RONNIE: We've been a band for 23 years, There are bound to be some peaks and valleys in a long career. We ended up taking a few years off after our last album ran its course. We've always been family and friends first and foremost. When we started doing shows again after "the break" there was a lot of love for us. We started getting offers to do shows around the world. We had, after all of the years, become an established band. We could play without having an album to "work." The new songs came fast, Some of them we've been playing for 6 years at this point!

SPAZ: Was there a lot of material to choose from for Whoop Dee Doo?  And if so, what were the criteria in choosing this particular batch of songs?
KIM:  Off the top of my head I'm going to say I had 20 songs. It's usually pretty clear which songs are the stronger songs. But some of the remaining songs are amazing actually. Maybe we'll put those out too. 
ROY:  This time we pared it down to the 12 tracks that worked best together. I kept pushing for a shorter album. Really Really Happy had 17 songs.  My opinion is that when you have that many songs people start checking out at some point. Each one of us agreed to leave off songs that we liked in order to make a tighter album. We actually have another half an album of solid material in different stages of completion.
RONNIE: We did have a lot of songs to choose from which hasn't always been the case. It's almost harder that way when you have to let go of songs you love because they don't fit or you simply have too many. Some of these will come out. It's not going to be another 10 years before we have another album. That's for sure!

SPAZ: In regards to recording the album, did you tape the basic tracks live together in the studio?
KIM:  Roy and I recorded the basic tracks in the studio onto tape and that took one day. The next day we recorded a couple extra songs during a half day.  The next day Ronnie recorded his bass. He had to work the day we did the drums. As soon as it was my turn to record my parts I take it home and work that way. Honestly, I have a lot more parts to do so doing it in a couple of days is impossible for me. 
ROY:  The drums were recorded with Kim on guitar and a click track. I think Ronnie overdubbed the bass. Hell, it’s been so long now that I don’t remember! I know that Kim recorded most of her parts at home and then I went over to her house one day and we did the percussion tracks.
RONNIE: We always try to record live as a band but inevitably you end up having to re-record the guitars and bass for a variety of reasons: sound, tuning, performance. It's a great idea to try and do it live.

SPAZ: You’ve always been involved in the production of your albums.  Apart from the changes in technology, was recording Whoop Dee Doo much different to recording your first album together some 20+ years ago?
KIM:  Twenty years ago we recorded in a big giant expensive studio with amazing gear. The result is scratchy and mid rangey, but spirited. We order amazing take-out food and eat our heads off.  Now we record in a cool little home studio with amazing gear for a really good price. The result is warmer tones and just as spirited. We bring our lunches from home. 
ROY:  Well, it was  a lot cheaper! I think we were overindulged at Reprise. The amount of money that we spent on those albums was ridiculous for a three piece garage band. I remember one time we were trying to get the right guitar sound for a song and our producer had a dozen different guitars sent over…vintage Les Pauls, Strats, etc. I think Kim ended up using her trusty ol’ Gretcsh.
RONNIE:  Back in the '90's we had to record in big studios next door to Eric Clapton and spend over 100,000 grand (true). I'm glad we had those experiences because it makes for some great campfire stories but times are just different now. You can make a record at home that sounds better than the ones we used to spend a ton of money on. A fact that has its good and bad points.

SPAZ: Are there any tracks on the album that you feel strongly about at the moment?
KIM:  Right now my faves are "Take a Take a Me," "Up and Down Around," and "Forget The Day." 
ROY:  I always gravitate towards our Pop material. Right now my faves are “Like You Don’t See Me” and “Take A Take A Me,” but it changes all the time.
RONNIE:  My favorite track is "You're So Sad." My favorites always tend to be to pure power pop ones. "Blow Your Mind" from our last album. "Every Single Thing" from our first. My favorite song of ours is "Honeymoon" from Happy Birthday To Me. We have some other "half decent" songs as well!!

SPAZ: There seems to be a lot of influences in The Muffs sound throughout the years: Punk, Power Pop, ‘50s Rock ‘n’ Roll, ‘60s Pop and an independent spirit.  Are there any influences that the band members have that may surprise your fans?
KIM:  I'm a huge fan of Jazz. Old Jazz from the ‘40s and ‘50s. I'm certainly not an expert at it. I just totally enjoy having it play. Sometimes I sing along to the scatting parts. I adore Charlie Parker, Thelonious MonkSarah Vaughn, and Anita O Day, to name a few. 
ROY:  Kim’s a big King Diamond fan. She’s also a big Neil Diamond fan. I think she likes Diamond Rio too.
RONNIE: Our biggest influence that no one probably picks up on is Freddie and The Dreamers. Followed closely by The Honeycombs.

SPAZ:  The Muffs emerged during the Grunge movement, but were not part of that scene.  What were your chief musical influences before the band came together?
KIM:  I was totally into the early KinksThe Beatles, The Pixies, The Ramones and Sex Pistols. I liked Merseybeat and melodic Punk. The only common thread with Grunge we have is loud, feedbacky guitars. 
ROY:  Beatles-Ramones-Kinks-Rolling Stones-early Who-Elvis Costello-Blondie
RONNIE: We did emerge during the "Grunge era" and we were influenced by that scene: the loud, fuzzy guitars; the screaming. We used to throw our instruments and each other around. We wore baby doll dresses and big shorts and flannels, Had long hair. Played with Mudhoney and were friends with a lot of those bands. Had a single on Sub/Pop. Were described as "Grunge Pop”. Some of our material from that era sounds a little dated but because we generally were about melodic songs first and foremost and didn't get produced by Butch Vig or mixed by Andy Wallace, our old stuff actually sounds pretty timeless.

SPAZ: Kim, were you concerned that the band were going to be compared to The Pandoras by your local following?
KIM:  I figured I had no choice. I knew that people in town would be leery of my songwriting because they never heard it before. That's basically why Roy McDonald wasn't our drummer from the beginning. We asked him first and he gave us the phone number of a guy he worked with named Criss Crass. 

SPAZ: This incarnation of the band has been playing together for 20 years.  Are you comfortable in a trio format?  Advantages?  Disadvantages?
KIM:  Being a trio is fun. I can't think of many disadvantages to it. I have to do more since I'm the only guitar now. Advantages are that tuning is simpler, more money to split, more room on stage. There is more room in the van on tour. But we had Melanie Vammen join us on stage for four songs recently. It was the first time since 1994 and it was super powerful with her there. It sounded huge. So really there are advantages and disadvantages to both. 
ROY:  I love the trio. As soon as we started playing as a trio we realized that not only could we pull it off but that musically the chemistry was amazing! When Kim goes into a solo I just compensate by hitting the cymbals harder. Once we realized that we sounded good as a trio there was no point in adding a member. Yeah it would be nice sometimes to have an extra guitar but then we run the risk of having someone in the group that might not mesh with our personalities The secret to our longevity is that we work well together onstage and we are really good friends offstage.
RONNIE: We became a trio by accident. Melanie left right before we made Blonder And Blonder  and we assumed we would get someone else. Fate stepped in in the form of an offer to open for our friends Green Day at the Palladium. We played an unbilled show as a three piece and immediately recognized it as a more rocking thing. It felt totally natural and we never looked back. You miss the extra guitar part sometimes but we definitely prefer it this way. It's been 19 years now.

SPAZ: When trying to settle a band disagreement, does Kim get two votes to Ronnie and Roy’s one?
KIM:  Ha! I wish. I've said that before just to be funny, but really we operate on an equal level. We all weigh in on things. We are a team. 
ROY:  No, actually it’s a democracy which can be very tricky. Years ago there were a couple of times where unilateral decisions were made, but for the most part it’s been one Muff, one vote.
RONNIE: Roy and I are never ones to back down on our opinions. It takes some explaining sometimes, but we generally all have the same vision. Kim who??

SPAZ: What question have you wanted a journalist to ask but has never come up?
KIM:  That's a hard question. People don't usually ask me what the lyrics mean. Not that I want people to ask about that, but they mean a lot to me and a lot of emotion goes into them. But then again, maybe that's a good thing. 

SPAZ: What’s next for The Muffs?
KIM:  A bunch of shows, making videos to go with our songs. Recording new songs that I already have written. Releasing more albums sooner rather than later. 
ROY:  The usual… live shows and plugging the record. We just finished a video for “Weird Boy Next Door.” We’ll be doing some US dates this year and we’re planning some shows in Japan for early November.
RONNIE:  Next is a flurry of live dates. Some real exciting trips and shows coming up. That said, we've been going overseas and across the country for many years now with no album to support. I guess when you reach the kind of "semi-established" status we have and in this day and age we can work and not necessarily have to be supporting some new product.

SPAZ: What is currently spinning on your CD, DVD and record players?
KIM:  I just stuck Kinda Kinks on my turntable and rocked out to that by myself in my little home studio. It sounds amazing and if I could go back in time I'd go to 1965. I'd see Sandy Koufax pitch his perfect game, I'd go to a Kinks concert, and I'd buy a bunch of houses in Los Angeles for $10,000 apiece.
ROY: I just read the Leonard Cohen biography so that got me to investigate some more of his stuff. I must admit that I like his story more than his records. I like that record by The Strypes. I have a two year old so pretty much the only TV I watch now is Yo Gabba GabbaTeam Umizumi, etc. The upside is that I’ve gotten very good at counting to 10! I am breathlessly awaiting my daughter’s “Yellow Submarine” phase.
RONNIE: Currently hanging out around my stereo is: Any Trouble The Complete Stiff Recordings, True Believers Dedication (tour-only CD),The Headboys The Lost AlbumMichael Fennelly - Love Can Change Everything, the Veruca Salt 10",  the Elton Duck compilation,  The Jetz - The Anthology 1977-79, Wayne Cochran - Goin' Back To Miami: The Soul Sides 1965-1970Skafish - What's This 1976-1979, The Paley Brothers The Complete RecordingsHushdrops - Tomorrow and a bunch of other stuff.  I've got a problem!

Thanks to Kim Shattuck, Ronnie Barnett and Roy McDonald
Special thanks to Steve Dixon and Matthew Ingham





Friday, July 18, 2014

LADY ANTEBELLUM/747: New album touches down on September 30th, 2014!


Trio Unveils 747 Album Cover, Track Listing and Additional Details for New Album

Nashville, TN – July 18, 2014 – Seven-time GRAMMY winning trio Lady Antebellum announced today that their fifth studio album 747 will land in stores on Sept. 30. The album’s sultry lead single “Bartender” is already soaring up the country charts to become one of their fastest rising singles.  Nathan Chapman co-produced the 11-song disc with Lady A for the Capitol Records Nashville release. 

“We unanimously knew that our album title had to be 747,” said Lady A’s Hillary Scott. “The track itself has this pushing, driving spirit about it that sums up our attitude right now.  We are pushing ourselves as a band and as songwriters…taking ourselves out of our comfort zone and not taking ourselves too seriously.   There's an urgency and an energy to it that we've never released before."

“We are so ready to get this music out,” continued Charles Kelley. “To get the reaction we’ve gotten from ‘Bartender’ has only made us more fired up about the rest of these songs!”

“We had the opportunity to write with some new songwriters and really dig for outside songs that were songs we wish we’d written,” added Dave Haywood. “As we took them into the studio, we changed our approach and challenged ourselves to try some new things that were outside of what we’d done before."


1. Long Stretch of Love
(Dave Haywood, Charles Kelley, Hillary Scott, Josh Kear)
2. Bartender
(Dave Haywood, Charles Kelley, Hillary Scott, Rodney Clawson)
3. Lie With Me
(Marc Beeson, Abe Stoklasa)
4. Freestyle
(Dave Haywood, Charles Kelley, Hillary Scott, Shane McAnally)
5. Down South
(Stephanie Chapman, Christian Rada, Dave Thomson)
6. One Great Mystery
(Dave Haywood, Charles Kelley, Hillary Scott, Josh Kear)
 7. Sounded Good At The Time
(Dave Haywood, Charles Kelley, Hillary Scott, Brad Warren, Brett Warren)
 8. She Is
(Ben Rector, Jeff Pardo)
 9. Damn You Seventeen
(Rodney Clawson, Luke Laird, Shane McAnally)
10. 747
(Gordie Sampson, Caitlyn Smith, Cary Barlowe)
11. Just A Girl

(Dave Haywood, Charles Kelley, Hillary Scott, Shane McAnally)

Mid-way through their headlining 80-city TAKE ME DOWNTOWN TOUR, Lady A continues to take new music and their biggest hits to fans across the country. For more information on new music and for a full list of upcoming shows, visit

Thursday, July 17, 2014

An EXCLUSIVE interview with DAVE MASON!

You Can All Join In:

An EXCLUSIVE interview 



By Stephen SPAZ Schnee

     Dave Mason has rarely played by the rules.  Born in Worcester, England, the singer and guitar player first came to the public’s attention as a member of legendary Rock band Traffic alongside Steve Winwood, Jim Capaldi and Chris Wood.  The band received a lot of positive press and interest was high when they released their first single in the middle of 1967.  However, magic happened a few months later when their second single, the Mason-penned “Hole In My Shoe,” shot up the UK charts and landed in the #2 position.  Anticipation for the band’s debut album, Mr. Fantasy, was at all-time high, but by the time the LP hit the shops, Dave Mason had already left the band.  Thankfully, he returned to the fold the following year and wrote half of the band’s self-titled sophomore album released in October of 1968. One of his contributions was the song “Feelin’ Alright,” which has become Traffic’s best-known track.  “Feelin’ Alright” has been covered by artists as diverse as Hubert Laws, Three Dog Night, Lulu, The Jackson 5, and Joe Cocker.  However, even the success of “Feelin’ Alright” wasn’t enough and Mason left Traffic again, only to return briefly in 1971.  He pursued a successful solo career that began in earnest with his 1970 debut Alone Together.  The following year, he threw another curveball and released the excellent Dave Mason & Cass Elliot album, a collaboration with the vocalist best known for her work with The Mamas & The Papas.  For the next decade he continued to release albums that stayed true to his Rock roots but also added more interesting musical elements into the mix. He was not afraid to work outside of the box, creating music that he wanted to make in hopes that his fans would follow – and they did.  Though he remained a critically successful solo artist and a popular touring act, Dave Mason didn’t score his next hit until 1977’s “We Just Disagree,” which reached #12 on the Billboard charts. While  was focused on his own career, he did manage to work with some of the biggest names in music including Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, The Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, Fleetwood Mac, George Harrison, Michael Jackson, Phoebe Snow, David Crosby, Graham Nash and many others.  These days, Dave Mason is not as prolific as he once was, although he manages to please fans in a live setting when he is out on the road touring.
     To coincide with his 2014 tour, Dave has released the album Future’s Past, which offers fresh new arrangements of solo tracks, one new song (“That’s Freedom”) and new interpretations of two classic Traffic songs – “Dear Mr. Fantasy” and “You Can All Join In.” In choosing those two Traffic tracks instead of his self-penned hits for the band, Mason proves he is still far from predictable.  Having Joe Bonamassa add lead guitar to “Dear Mr. Fantasy” was a stroke of genius. The album is a nice look back at the past but remains rooted in the present.  The new version of “As Sad And Deep As You” (originally from Alone Together) is stunning and betters the original by far. He even manages to add a new twist to his cover of Robert Johnson’s “Come On In My Kitchen.”  Future’s Past is a very worthy entry into his impressive back catalog and will delight long-time fans and bring some new ones along for the ride.
     Stephen SPAZ Schnee was able to chat with Dave Mason about Future’s Past and more…

SPAZ:  Your new album, Future’s Past, is now available.  How are you feeling about this project and the reaction you’ve had to it so far?
DAVE:  Well, it’s a too early for me to know.  Most of the CDs that people will buy are on the road when I’m touring. It’s available on the website too – But what’s going on in the outside of that world, I don’t really know at this point.  I’m going to have to wait to see what happens.

SPAZ:  What inspired you to record these specific songs as opposed to just sticking with the hits?
DAVE:   Well, to be honest with you – when we’re not out playing around, I keep myself amused by playing around in my studio and either recording new stuff or finding a new way to do something that I think is still relevant. A lot of my lyrics are somewhat timeless so then it’s just a question of what you’re putting behind it. I tend to record a lot of different things when I’m home and there’s really no intention like planning for an album per se.  But I had these tracks and obviously since I’m out on the road for the rest of this year and into 2015 doing Dave Mason’s Traffic Jam show, I did “Dear Mr. Fantasy,” - which I put in a minor key and did my own interpretation of it – and “You Can All Join In.” I put those on because they both sounded great to me and obviously they were relevant to the tour. 

SPAZ:  It sounds like you’re really reconnecting with the songs.
DAVE:  Yeah, I was.  That’s why I’m doing the Traffic Jam show.  I’m 68 years of age and I was just going on 19 when I was in Traffic.  I’ve been thinking for five or six years about doing this, but I just hadn’t gotten around to it. Frankly I didn’t quite know how it would be accepted with me doing it, but it’s turned out to be rather good and it’s nice to revisit that stuff. 

SPAZ:  Do you feel, being an artist, that sometimes in order to keep things interesting, you have to shake them up a little bit?
DAVE:  Part of it is just that. The same with an audience - they get bored.  So I’m no different from the people in the audience.  It’s just that I’m the guy up there being able to play these songs. I’ve got the same things to deal with as everybody else.  You know, pants go on one leg at a time.  I don’t care what your name is or how special you think you are. 

SPAZ:    I think that “As Sad and Deep as You” is a really powerful track on this record.
DAVE:   Yeah, it’s better than the original. It came out really well. It was basically a live recording.  Actually, the only thing that was not live was the lead guitar on that. 

SPAZ:  Did you approach the Traffic tracks with a little trepidation knowing that Traffic fans might be a little harder to impress?

DAVE:  To be honest with you – I have to make stuff that I like and have to hope that people pick up on what I’m doing.  Everybody’s gonna put their own twist on it anyway no matter what, but essentially, I have to go with what I like.  I tried doing that once early in my career with the label.  “Well, you gotta be more like this..” and I tried it and it was like “Forget this. It’s not me.  It’s not gonna happen.”  So a big part of lasting as long as I have is I try to be as authentic as I can in being me because that’s what I think most people pick up on.  And most certainly when you’re playing live.

SPAZ:  These recordings are very warm and intimate, production-wise.  Is recording today a completely different beast than even 8 to 10 years ago?
DAVE:  It’s no different than it was 40 or 50 years ago other than the technology.  I don’t even begin to record unless there’s a song to record - you’re really just trying to catch a performance with that song.  If you’re getting a great performance then you’ve got the magic. When recording in a studio, you can change and polish things to a certain extent, but you don’t want to do it to the point where it’s just ‘overproduced.’ 

SPAZ:    You’ve got a pretty healthy solo back catalog, but you haven’t been as prolific in the last few decades.  Do you have a stockpile of songs that you’re sitting on that you’re just going to surprise us with in a short amount of time?
DAVE:   Well, I don’t have a huge amount of stuff. I wish there was.  The thing is, I’ve never been that prolific.  I mean, there were were eight songs on Alone Together.  It took me two years to write those eight songs.  And you know, those eight songs would have been on the next Traffic album if things would’ve worked out.  Or at least two or three of them would’ve been. 

SPAZ:  I know that you’ve done like a lot of cover versions and you have your songs covered as well.  Do you find that artists either don’t take enough chances or perhaps take too many in regards to re-interpreting someone else’s songs?
DAVE:  There are certain artists that have a habit of taking one of their songs and kind of making it unrecognizable. (laughs).  Live, that is.  So I don’t really go for that because the bottom line is - your audience spends money to come see you and, for the most part, it’s not a question of just the song that they want to hear.  It’s that the song triggers a moment in time for them.  And that’s what the connection is.  It takes them to a place where they were. I guess the word is ‘touch people’ and I try not to make too much of it. (laughs) I don’t read my own press so I’m not gonna get too carried away with it.  All I can do is just keep moving forward as much as I can.  Thank God I can still get up there and play and sing.
SPAZ:  What’s next for Dave Mason? 
DAVE:  We’ll be back on tour starting in July.
SPAZ:  And then hopefully a new Dave Mason record, right?
DAVE:  Well, I don’t know about that. This one basically just came out on the 13th of May.  There’s only so much that I can put out!

Thanks to Dave Mason

Special thanks to Kevin Day, Aaron Feterl, Tony Valenziano, Danielle Isitt and Dana House




Wednesday, July 16, 2014

LOS PACAMINOS are here! An EXCLUSIVE interview with legendary British vocalist PAUL YOUNG!

Sombrero Times:

An EXCLUSIVE interview
Los Pacaminos’ 
(Yes, THAT Paul Young!)

By Stephen SPAZ Schnee

     Los Pacaminos plays music from the heart. Their blend of Tex Mex, Americana, Country, Folk, Blues, and Rock is passionate and inspiring. Play A Fistful Of Statins for your friends and they'll be certain that the band is made up of musicians who have spent the last few years traveling the U.S., baking under the hot summer sun during the day and sleeping in ramshackle motels at night. Their rootsy sound incorporates many influences that were born and raised along the border between the U.S. and Mexico: haunting pedal steel guitar, gently plucked and fervently strummed acoustic guitars, accordion, harmonica, and melodies that harken back to the wide eyed innocence of early Rock 'n' Roll.  Upon further investigation, it may surprise the listener to find out that Los Pacaminos is not based in Texas or Tennessee - they are actually from the UK.  Not only that, the band features some pretty talented musicians including Pop/Soul vocalist Paul Young, Drew Barfield (formerly of Power Pop legends The Keys), Matt Irving (who has played with many artists including Squeeze), Melvin Duffy (pedal steel player extraordinaire), Jamie Moses (Tom Jones/Queen/Pretenders) Steve Greetham (Joan Armatrading/Julia Fordham)  Mark Pinder (Zaine Griff/Alison Moyet) and Jim Russell (Scotty Moore, Elvis Costello, Bob Geldof).  Even veteran musicians Hamish Stuart and Robbie McIntosh make appearances on A Fistful Of Statins.
     While Paul Young may be the most familiar face in the line-up due to his string of hit singles in the ‘80s – “Wherever I Lay My Hat (That’s My Home),” “Come Back And Stay,” “Oh Girl,” and “Everytime You Go Away” to name a few - the band is a true collaborative effort.  With vocals and songwriting provided equally by all the featured members, Los Pacaminos are far from a side-project for Young… or any member for that matter.  Formed 20 years ago, the band was an informal project that allowed the members to embrace their love of American Roots music.  The first Los Pacaminos album was released in 2002 and it showcased a band that had a passion for the Americana/Tex-Mex sound they admired.  Twelve years on, the band has finally released their follow-up album and it is giant leap forward.  Each and every track on the album sounds as warm and familiar as a trip to grandma’s house, yet they are all self-penned gems apart from the cover of Jay & The Americans’ “Come A Little Bit Closer.”  A Fistful Of Statins is the type of album you should be playing all summer long at family BBQs and chili pepper-eating contests.  One spin of this album and you too might be convinced that A Fistful Of Statins is the best Americana album to emerge from the UK since… the first Los Pacaminos album in 2002!
     Stephen SPAZ Schnee was able to catch up with Paul Young to discuss Los Pacaminos and the new album….

STEPHEN SPAZ SCHNEE:  A Fistful Of Statins is about to be released. How are you feeling about the reaction so far and the long journey to get to the second record?
PAUL YOUNG:  You’re one of the first who have actually heard it outside the band and the record company so It will be very interesting to see how it goes.  We did take a long time making the album.  That’s mainly because it was never made to be a going concern and we did the first album out of politeness really because the fans wanted us to make an album. Then we did the second one because we just thought well, we’ve being going 20 years now.  It was about time we actually should. When we put all the songs together that we’d written in bit and pieces, we weren’t sure we’d have a cohesive album. But then we got about a third of the way in and the engineer was going, you know this is going to be better than the first.  We were going, yeah, it does look that way, doesn’t it?  And so, I don’t think we really know how good we are until we actually sit down and see what we’ve got and then it’s a surprise to us. 

SPAZ:  I think this is a more confident Los Pacaminos record.  It sounds much looser and you seem comfortable in your own skin, so to speak. In a perfect world, “Jump Back Baby” could be a number one single.  It has such a wonderful melody ….
PAUL: If it’s a song that we’ve written that’s got a vague Orbisonist quality to it then it always goes to Drew (to sing).  That song is yet another one that has got very definite Orbison qualities to it. 

SPAZ:    What inspired the whole idea of Los Pacaminos? 
PAUL:  We formed in ’92.  I became engrossed in it because I thought, well if we’re gonna do Tex-Mex music I really gotta explore the genre.  So I was really, really buying lots of it and listening to lots of it. When I made my solo album (1997’s Paul Young), it was difficult to separate the two projects (solo career and Los Pacaminos).  It’s getting kind of easier now. There is a song on the new album that I wrote as a Paul Young song.  I’m working on a Paul Young project at the moment, but its covers.  So that song wasn’t going to see the light of day for a long time and I thought well, all the Pacaminos played on the demos, so I offered it back to the Pacaminos. 

SPAZ:  You’re the most well-known member of the band, so does it surprise your fans when they realize that you are not the only lead singer for Los Pacaminos?
PAUL:   Yeah, when people come to see us for the first time, they still have difficulty with that. You always get one or two adverse comments… One of them said, “You should stick to Soul music Paul” and it wasn’t my vocal in the song (laughs). Then another girl said, “I don’t like where you’re going with this at all, Paul.  You’ve lost a fan.”  They don’t think that I can go up and do something else and do it equally well. I started the band.  I try to steer it as best I can, but at the same time, I want the guys to have input.  It’s so important.  So, I just want to be able to steer it in the right direction and  the fact that Drew sings some of the songs doesn’t make me any less proud of it because I wrote the song and I knew where it was going.

SPAZ:  How did you end up meeting each of the guys?  I’m a huge Drew Barfield fan from his work with The Keys.
PAUL:  Yeah.  Undiscovered talent, but he never got the breaks. He’s a really good songwriter, and he still sounds like a 24-year-old boy. I came across him because of his songs. I covered one on my second album, The Secret Of Association. Then I covered a couple more, and I thought I better start writing with this guy because I really like what he’s doing.  We co-wrote a couple of things for me as a solo artist. When I decided to get Los Pacaminos going, it was quite important to me that I was back in a band and not the focal point of the band so I said, “I want you in it because I think we should share songs.” I asked Jamie to be in it because Jamie has got a good voice even though he’s a guitar player first and foremost.  And that was the idea - I just wanted to be in a band. I’m a reluctant solo artist.  I took the (solo) deal because there was nothing else coming up (laughs) and no one wanted to sign the band I was in and to be truthful, the band I was in didn’t like a few of the ideas I had…  it wasn’t much more than that really
SPAZ: You’ve got a revolving rhythm section.  Who played on the album?
PAUL:  Mark Pinder couldn’t make the recordings.  He’s the first and foremost drummer so, we got Jim Russell who is another Pacamino.  And also we save little places for people.  We always save a place for Robbie MacIntosh.  He does a couple of solos.  Robbie’s on the first album.  He’s a Pacamino, as well. Now the band is growing and we found Jim Cregan recently who has only done a few gigs.  He didn’t make it on the record.  There are plenty of people out there that play in the band once and then go, “Anytime you want, call me.” It’s fun. Just really happy music to play.

SPAZ:  “Come A Little Bit Closer” is a cover.  Are all the others originals?
PAUL:   Yes, it’s all originals apart from that one.
SPAZ:  “The Girl From Tennessee” sounds so authentically Americana, it could have been written at any point here in the States during the last 50 years.  I had to double check that it was an original!
PAUL:   (chuckles)  Really? 

SPAZ:  Now, why did it take so long for this record to come out after the last one?
PAUL:  Because we get involved with the playing and the gigging and everybody’s got other jobs to do so unfortunately, it gets put to the back burner a lot.  I said to the boys, “We really shouldn’t wait this long next time because some of us won’t be here and we really should have a third album.” I also think this material is crying out to be put into movies.  You know, all those spring break semester films…
SPAZ:  I’m thinking this is the perfect soundtrack to the summer here in California.
PAUL:  Yeah, I’d love it to be that.  And like you said, songs like “The Girl From Tennessee,” they’re all based on what we see when we go to America.

SPAZ:  Well, the record is a very cohesive.  I see it as a love letter to the music you guys enjoy…
PAUL:  Yeah, it is. It’s a definite move on from the first one.  I think we have matured a little bit.

SPAZ:  Before your solo career there was Streetband, there was Q-Tips and now there is Los Pacaminos.  Do you feel more comfortable in a band environment as opposed to being a solo artist?
PAUL:   Yeah, I do. When I made solo records, I always got great players. I didn’t get them in to tell them what to do - I got them in and I said, “What would you do on this?” And I’d listen to what they would come up with.  I didn’t always use it, but I listened. That’s the way it is with the Pacaminos.  Everybody’s got their input and I welcome that and just want to be able to keep the focus. I know it moves away from being a basic Tex-Mex band.  I think we’re more a cowboy band that’s playing border music.  That is the best way I can put it really.

SPAZ:  This record could possibly introduce you to a whole new audience that is completely unaware of your solo career.
PAUL:  There’s a part of me that wants to be able to say that I went away from something that I knew was good and was successful, then started something else and that too became successful.  That would be great.

SPAZ:  What’s been spinning on your record, CD, and DVD players?
PAUL:  My kids have been saying, “You’ve got to watch Breaking Bad.”  I’m just on the first series. The most recent things I’ve been listening to? There’s a guitarist by the name of Tomatito, he’s a Flamenco player that I really like.  I kind of just discovered him.  And as far as pop music goes, the latest one is Miley Cyrus’ “We Can’t Stop” which I think is fantastic. 
SPAZ:  So, do I see a Miley Cyrus and Paul Young duet in the future?
PAUL:  (Laughs) I don’t think so! But my favorite at the moment is “Happy” by Pharell Williams….what’s not to like about it? I think the last perfect pop record I heard was “Valerie” by Amy Winehouse - everything was in the right place.  And it’s the same with “Happy” as well. It can be played on the radio for years.

Thanks to Paul Young

Special thanks to Matthew Ingham and Dana House