AND HIS SELF-TITLED DEBUT CD
AUGUST 30, 2008
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SIMON YOUNG OF THE SLANTS TALKS TO ROCKWIRED
ABOUT THE BAND'S DEBUT CD 'SLANTED EYES, SLANTED HEARTS', THEIR SUCCESS ON HE ANIME CIRCUIT
AND TAKING OWNERSHIP OF A STEREOTYPE
A SECOND TIME AROUND:
ABOUT THE BANDS FORTHCOMING CD GIG MICHAELS OF SWAMPDAWAMP TALKS TO ROCKWIRED GOING OUT ON THE ROAD AGAINAND WHERE HE'S AT IN LIFE
LIKE FLOWERS THROUGH THE CONCRETE:
MARC PANNI OF LOS BLANCOS TALKS TO ROCKWIRED
ABOUT THEIR LATEST CD 'JUST THIS ONCE' REELING IN THE AUDIENCE AT MAKING FOLKS RECONSIDER MUSICIANSHIP(READ MORE)
LOVE LIKE THIS:
MIKE ZITO TALKS TO ROCKWIRED ABOUT HIS LATEST CD 'TODAY' GROWING AS A SONGWRITER
AND MAKING THE ALBUM HE'S ALWAYS DREAMED OF (READ MORE)
SOUND AND VISION:
JEFF SHAPIRO ON CIAM TALKS TO ROCKWIRED
ABOUT THEIR CD 'ANONYMOUS' MERGING ART AND MUSIC
AND APPEALING TO OTHER SENSES (READ MORE)
DON'T BORE US! GET TO THE CHORUS!While twenty five year-old CURTIS PEOPLES is on the verge of releasing his self-titled debut CD, he's not exactly going out as a novice. At the age of eleven, CURTIS picked up the guitar and joined his first band; a project that lasted up until five years ago. Perhaps that explains why the songs on 'CURTIS PEOPLES'(THE CONTROL GROUP) sound like the offering of world-worn artist with a few extra years on him and not like some twenty-something whipper-snapper with an acoustic guitar, bleeding with overwrought JOHN MAYER-styled sensitivity. As a matter of fact, CURTIS is just the sort of chap solo artist the music industry needs at the moment, simply because he rocks! "...the thing with me is that alot of that singer-songwriter stuff is like really tender and sensitive." says PEOPLES. "I've got a little of that in me but only so much."
CURTIS PEOPLES TALKS TO ROCKWIRED
ABOUT HIS SELF-TITLED DEBUT CD
HIS BIG CHORUS MENTALITY
AND GIVING OUT SOMETHING GOOD
INTERVIEWED BY BRIAN LUSH
Curiously dubbing his brand of pop music as "Coffee Shop Arena Rock", CURTIS goes for hooks, riffs, and big choruses and turns the mush down to about '2'. Any young buck with a guitar is going to be compared to MAYER these days, but PEOPLES has a little more in common with a rock legend like TOM PETTY - especially on the album's first single, 'BACK WHERE I STARTED'. "I want to make a record that I want to listen to. Thats pretty much how I write." says PEOPLES. "I'm very big on lyrics. Lyrics are very important to me and I want to write lyrics that are open ended, either gender-wise or message-wise. When you know that something is good, you can't help but pick up the guitar and start playing it. If I come up with a chorus, I have to keep playing it."
ROCKWIRED spoke with CURTIS PEOPLES just weeks prior to the release of his album and the kick-off of his nation-wide tour. Here is how it went.
Now that the album is almost out there, what's all going through your head? How does it feel?
It's interesting because I've been doing it for a long time. I'm twenty-five but I've been doing this since I was eleven. I had a band when I was eleven. That band broke up when I was twenty one and I've been on this solo kick ever since. I've been on my own for a very long time and it feels really good to have people helping me. It's exciting to bring people into what I've done. I'm excited about it, but it's different. I've put alot into this record. I believe in it a lot. I'm just trying to do everything I can. August 19th is when the album is coming out and it's approaching faster than I expected. It's very exciting!
ELVIS COSTELLO once said that you have you're whole life to prepare for your first album and about six months to prepare for your second one.
You know, that is one of my favorite quotes of all time.
It really is. I remember an interview with GUNS AND ROSES, where they had quoted that. I always loved that quote because it's very, very true. Even with this record, eighty percent of the songs were written six months before we recorded the record but a couple of them I've recorded a couple of times. So in a sense, the first album is almost like your 'Best of...' the songs you've written up to this point. So it's very true.
You were in a band when you were eleven?
We started back in the fifth grade and we stayed together into college and then the band broke up because the guitar player of that band who to this day is a friend of mine, who I still write with, had this punk band that got signed and that band took off and our band broke up.
What did you have to write about when you were eleven?
When I was that age, WEEZER was big and NIRVANA was big. We wrote a lot of alternative kind of songs with sort of sarcastic/joking kind of lyrics. It wasn't until I was fifteen that I started getting serious with the lyrics. The first couple of records we did, were recorded in my friends garage with just a tape recorder. We would find the best spot in the room and we'd hit record and play through our song and make sure that we had a good take and move on to the next one. That was our recording and we'd sell it at school for two dollars. So we were like the cool kids in school in a band. We took it very seriously.
So it was things like WEEZER and NIRVANA that spoke to you then?
PEARL JAM and NIRVANA were the first bands that I got into that were modern. THE BEATLES was the first group that I got into on my own by listening to classic rock radio. PEARL JAM and NIRVANA were the big first bands for me. PEARL JAM really stuck with me. I love NIRVANA still , but PEARL JAM continues to influence me.
Your music now is rather curiously described as "coffee house arena rock".
Actually, it's coffee "shop" arena rock.
What the hell's the difference?
It just rhymes better.
The more comfortable I've gotten with being a solo artist and who I want to be is where that term came from. When I started doing the solo thing, JOHN MAYER was getting big and it was sort of cool and vogue to be a singer-songwriter, but I had always felt out of my skin with being solo because I'm such a rock fan. But at the same time, I am a singer-songwriter. I write all of my songs on an acoustic guitar. On record, alot of the songs are electric now, but I'm a singer-songwriter and I've played coffee houses and had done that whole thing forever, but what I really wanted to do was play arenas. Every artist that I love from U2 to BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN to PEARL JAM and VAN HALEN are all arena rock bands and they really inspired me and excite me. I'm a singer-songwriter with a big chorus mentality.
You kind of bring up an interesting point. For a long time, there weren't a lot of solo male rock acts. They were all members of a band. I mean you had LENNY KRAVITZ popping up occassionally, but it took a JOHN MAYER to sort of make it stick.
Yeah, but the thing with me is that alot o fthat singer-songwriter stuff is like really tender and sensitive. I've got a little of that in me, but only so much.
Because we're MEN damnit!
In reaction to that, I've always continually tried to open up my sound. The guys I write with are great! I try to seek out songwriters that come from a rock background so we can get a bigger sound out of what we have written, but at the same time not alienating that singer-songwriter fan base.
Who all worked with you on this album? Who contributed what and how is it a better project because of it?
I've made some really good relationships living up here in L.A.. I got to work with people that I really like and respect. The producer was MARSHALL ALTMAN. I met him through this engineer who is a friend of mine and MARSHALL took to me and we wrote together and he loved my voice and loved my songs and offered to make this record and it kind of organically grew. He wanted to start his own imprint, but I was already with the label CONTROL GROUP, so we kind of made it a joint venture and made it happen. Working with him was awesome because we really saw eye to eye. His whole thing was that he wanted make sure that we were making a record along the lines of TOM PETTY AND THE HEARTBREAKERS 'DAMN THE TORPEDOES'. He wanted to concentrate on writing cool songs and not get carried away with all of the bullshit, which was something that TOM PETTY was great at. Songwriting-wise, I worked with this guy TYLER HILTON, who is on WARNER BROTHERS. It was cool to write with him. CHRIS BARREN, who was the lead singer from THE SPIN DOCTORS was a guy I met through these guys I played with in New York. One day, I had a song that I was really stuck on. He was in L.A. doing some shows and I told him "hey man, I need some help with a song." It was really cool to watch how his brain worked. The other guy I want to mention is RYAN TEDDER from ONEREPUBLIC, who had that big hit 'APOLOGIZE'. BRIAN was a roommate of my keyboard player. He co-wrote a song on the record. The whole experience was cool! I got to work with all the people that I respect. I was afraid of them all for a while, but once I got to work with them, it was great.
It sounds like the work experience is a little different in San Diego as opposed to Los Angeles.
It is. I love San Diego but for who I am and what I'm doing musically, I've just had so much more success here in Los Angeles and making relationships and connections. It's just different. San Diego is a great town, but it can be a little too laid back. I plan on moving back there when I have kids and do the whole family thing.
Explain how a song gets written for you.
My big thing is that I'm such a big fan of pop and rock music from the fifties onward. I dig deep to find new bands too but I dig deeper to find bands from the fifties and sixties that were doing what I'm trying to do now. I remember getting into THE RASCALS and finding out how many amazing songs those guys wrote. I want to make a record that I want to listen to. That is pretty much how I write. I'm very big on lyrics. Lyrics are very important to me and I want to write lyrics that are open ended, either gender-wise or message-wise. When you know that something is good, you can't help but pick up the guitar and start playing it. If I come up with a chorus, I have to keep playing it. I always write melodies first. I've never written lyrics first because it kind of boxes me in. I lose the freedom to come up with interesting melodies. Right now, I treat songwriting as a band mentality, just from being in a band. Ninety percent of the time, if I have a song and it sounds done, I take it to someone to at least try to add to it. Nine times out of ten, it brings something to it that is awesome and makes it better than it was. That has become my process for writing. I treat every song like it's someone's moment in time. It's supposed to be someone's song for the Summer of 2008 or the album they listened to when they were dating this girl in high school. I want those kind of memories associated with my kind of music so I tend to write songs that feel good and can be played over and over again without getting tiresome.
Do you think of yourself as more an 'album' artist or a 'singles' artist?
That's tricky because it always sounds like a bad thing to say that you're a singles artist. I'm definitely a singles artist because every song has got it's own character and a little bit of a different sound. I'm still a young artist and still trying to figure it out. So I would definitely say a singles artist, but I'm happy with this new album all the way through.
You're going to start touring pretty soon. Have you ever toured at all?
Yes. I've toured alot over the last few years. I've done countless tours on the east coast and about three or four national tours. I've done alot of opening stuff for other artists.
From this album of yours, are there any tracks that stand out for you at the moment and if so, why?
'BACK WHERE I STARTED' is the surprise of the record because I liked it and I worked on it for a while with MARSHALL and when we got to the studio it was one of the songs that I really wasn't thinking about and it ended up sounding like a TOM PETTY-ish pop rock song. There are two other songs that stick out for me. One of them is is 'HOLDING ME DOWN' and that song is the most rockin', riff-heavy track that I have. It was a song that I really had to push for because everyone felt that it was too different from everything else on the record. The other is a song called 'ALL I WANT', which is the only full-on love song on the record. It's really quiet and really big. I really like how that one turned out. I already sang it at someone's wedding and the song isn't even out yet so that was a big thrill for me to do. Those are the two songs that are really special for me at this point.
As soon as this album is released what would you hope that someone comes away with?
I hope they feel like I'm the type of artist that they can go to for a good feeling. That's what I strive for in my show; something inviting and celebratory. I just saw TOM PETTY recently at the BOWL and it was just a good time. He plays good songs and thats what I want to be. I want to be a guy that's just giving something good out. I want to be exciting and I want to be fun and that's what I think the record is and that's what I hope people will take away from it. I want it to be good time. I want the record to be there for people.
I love your hair! Is it natural?