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INTERVIEWS THE TOWELS
POP PROVOCATEURSNice to have you back here on ROCKWIRED. It's nice to see you guys back with a great new CD.
(ACCORDING TO THEIR PUBLICIST ANYWAY!)
NORAL SQUIZZ OF THE TOWELS
RETURNS TO ROCKWIRED
WITH A BRAND NEW CD 'AROUND OUR WORLD'
Two years ago, THE TOWELS came to ROCKWIRED with a rather fine CD called AMERICAN BEAUS (PLATEHEAD RECORDS). This CD had everything that a pop music classicist would cite as non-exisitent in this day and age; strong melodies, infectious riffs, guitar driven bliss and a sense of artistry. In short, the music of THE TOWELS is a good time had by all. Back in 2006, NORAL SQUIZZ had this to say about the musical agenda of THE TOWELS "I'd like for them (listeners) to be pleased with what they heard. We're trying to keep our stuff light and happy. We have some dark songs too but we'd like to keep it to where it's entertainment. We want it to be entertaining, like when the circus comes to town and then you wait for the next year for it to come back. I'd like for people to hear it and go 'Wow! That was great! I wanna know what the next thing they're gonna do is.'"
INTERVIEWED BY BRIAN LUSH
Guess what folks? The circus is back in town! THE TOWELS (NORAL SQUIZZ, with newcomers DOUG DERRINGER on bass and ROY HARDINGE on guitars) have returned with AROUND OUR WORLD (PLATEHEAD RECORDS). While SQUIZZ maintains that the music is "Light and happy", AROUND THE WORLD boasts more percussive material and distorted guitar sounds that will bring back a memory or two of KING CRIMSON'S ROBERT FRIPP, but don't think that this fella from Akron Ohio has done away with pop's sweetness all together. There is the first single NO CHORUS (penned by outside writer JOHN OSWALD) and a couple of other tracks SUNSET BOULEVARD and 8 BALL written by BRUCE BERMUDIEZ and DAN STROHM respectively. The remaining ten tracks are penned by SQUIZZ without the help of his usual partner in crime, LEUSLEY ASCHBUDT.
ROCKWIRED recently spoke to NORAL SQUIZZ over the phone one evening. This is how it went.
So you've had a chance to listen to it in it's entirety?
I had a chance to listen to it this morning. I love it!
Thanks! I'm happy with it. I'm not a perfectionsit, you know what I mean? I put the stuff out and as long as it sounds pleasant to the ear I go "I'll go with that." So, I'm real happy with it.
Took you guys a while.
Yeah, 2005 was when we did AMERICAN BEAUS. It's been a while but it's not like BEATLES times where you put out five albums a year.
Yeah, no one does one album a year anymore.
Plus, I'm on PLATEHEAD RECORDS which is an indie label. They're indie, there's no real money flying around. There is just enough to create it and get it out there to the fans and critics that know THE TOWELS. We do sell them on AMAZON.COM and SQUIDMUSIC.COM and CDBABY. They sell pretty good! Not bad! Can't complain! We're not selling a million but you know, that's the way it is. It's indie you know?
And rock n roll on top of that.
And we've not been discovered by whoever is supposed to discover you these days. We've got some film placement. It's a song off of our first CD. It's an independent film of course so that's something. That's what I'd like to shoot for is TV and movies.
Who did the cover art? It's wonderful!
The concept was mine. I'm sure you're familiar about how the other TOWELS CD's have that sort of harlequin clown thing going on. The demeneted clown in the earth was my idea. I wanted a picture of the earth with him so you could look at the Earth and see something in it. I had a woman help me in putting the concept together. She's really good at the computer and all of those things like Adobe so it was all me and her. Her name is HELENE FREEMAN.
After listening to the CD, I think I've got a good idea of what's different this time around but what do you think is different?
Personally, I think this one is better than the red one (AMERICAN BEAUS). It think it's a step up in some ways. I think it might be a little more poppish and a little less dark.
Really? I think it's darker than the red one.
You never know.
The first two tracks are really alot more percussive than they are melodic and things don't really get to be melodic until NO CHORUS.
That's the pop number!
See what I mean? With this one it takes you a while to get to the pop, where as on the red one, it was instantaneous with ONCE AGAIN.
Being the writer, I listen to it from whole different thing. It says something to me that other people may not get at all. That's what I love about music. You just don't know.
Since we're on the subject of the relationship between the writer and the work, are there any tracks that stand out for you in particular?
One of them that I really love is the song SUNSET BOULEVARD.
That is a good one.
On this CD, there are three songs that are not mine and the other ten are mine. I did three songs of three of my friend songwriters. They had songs that I liked and I asked them, do you mind if I put that song on the next TOWELS CD? And they were like "sure!" They're also my versions of their songs. If you heard their version of their song you'd know they were the same songs but that they were different. I'm like an equal opportunity lender. If I hear a song of a friend of mine that I like I'll put it on my CD. I don't care. For some reason SUNSET BOULEVARD standout for me and that was written by my friend BRUCE BERMUDIEZ and I think my version is pretty lovely.
The one I like is 8-BALL.
Another song written by a friend.
Who is this friend.
That songwriter is DAN STROHM.
Is there a new member in THE TOWELS?
Actually there's to new members. THE TOWELS is pretty much a revolving door. I'm kind of the constant and if people are available then they are in and if they are not available they're not in. It's an easy deal. I have two players that are considered band members. There is DOUG DERRINGER on bass and ROY HARDINGE on lead guitar.
So with THE TOWELS being your vehicle, a NORAL SQUIZZ solo effort would be a moot point.
Yeah. I've toyed with the idea and then I thought that maybe my skull was enlarging so I said forget it. I'm just gonna stick with THE TOWELS. THE TOWELS are what they are you know? This next CD that I'm ready to start recording will be songs written by my songwriting partner LEUSLEY ASCHBUDT who co-wrote the songs with me on the first three CDs. Ten of the 13 songs on this current CD were written by me and not with anyone else. My friend LEUSELY is not in the act anymore but we're still great friends.
How did these current songs come to you?
Well, we were making the AMERICAN BEAUS CD and there was alot music going around and alot of songs to choose from. We happen to write at a nice pace. It's just kind of fun and natural. I started kicking around songs and ideas and as that CD was being built, I had all of these extra things going on
listening to a TOWELS CD is like listening to a concept album.
They are definitely that. The way I put the songs together, I think about things like the tempo, and key. I try to create a story with the songs. By the time you get to the end I try to make it pleasing enough to where a listener will think "you know, I think I'm going to play that over." The CD is a little less than an hour so it's not going to take up much time if they want to listen to it again.
Yes, the CD is a nice little pop-rock confection.
That's the only way I can write this stuff. I can't sit down and go "I've got to write the ultimate pop number!". I never do that. I don't think on those lines. I think these are the ideas I have, so lets go.
When did you start songwriting?
Seriously about 1991. That was when LEUSLEY and I sat down and said "lets start doing this".
Was that in AKRON of here?
No, that was here.
Oh yeah that's right, you guys met out here but you were all from Akron.
What made you guys settle on the name?
Coming up with a name for a group can be really good which is hard or totally stupid. We're not completely serious about ourselves so we thought of naming the band after something in your household that everybody would know. We didn't want to name ourselves PEPPER or CLOCK or something like that. It was LEUSLEY that came up with TOWELS. The good thing about it is that whenever you talk to somebody and they say what's the name of your band and you say "THE TOWELS", they look at you puzzled and then you go "Yeah, you know hand towels, wash towels..." and they crack up. I know you're like me where if something makes you laugh, you remember that thing. If it's goofy, you'll remember it.
THE TOWELS is band with a lot of artistry especially when it comes to the packaging and design of your CDs. I've been asking a lot of people this question for the past year. Now I get to ask you. With all of the downloading that's going on today, do you think that the CD and all of the artwork that goes with it is on it's way out?
You know, that's tough! I don't know about that. It's scary times right now with that. I was wondering that when we were creating this one. I was thinking of how we should put this one out. Are CD's going to be gone? Should we make it so that there's hardly any info on the packaging? We were thinking about all of those things and then I just said forget it. I'm just gonna put it out in the format that's there now. I miss albums and the huge artwork that you used to get and the pages that would be in albums. If you notice on this album the song lyrics is what I filled up the whole booklet with and the kudos to everyone is on the back cover.
That's right. There is no tracklistng at the back of the CD.
You're not going to know what you're getting until you get the CD in your hand as far as the names of the songs and stuff like that. I was trying to be a little mysterious. According to our publicist DOUG DEUTSCH we are "pop provocateurs".
You said earlier that you were starting work on a new TOWELS CD.
We haven't started recording it yet, but we've got all of the songs for it. You want in on it early?
Sure why not.
It going to be twelve songs. They're going to be written by LEUSLEY ASCHBUDT and myself and the CD is going to be called JUJU WEB.
There's going ot be six bluesy type numbers and the other six are going to be pop numbers.
How easy or difficult was it to write AROUND OUR WORLD without LEUSLEY?
It's different. It was a task but it wasn't super difficult. I like it better working with LEUSLEY because we just bounce things back and forth very well.
What do you want someone to come away with after hearing this CD?
I would like them to want to discover the other TOWELS CDs that are out there. I'd also like for people to realize that there is other music out there with an artisitic bent. Sure I'd like to make an million dollars doing this but you know what? I'm going to create it whether I have a million dollars or not. It's like being a painter. If you don't sell your paintings does that mean you're a crappy painter?
READ THE PREVIOUS ROCKWIRED ON-LINE EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH THE TOWELS HERE