Baby Lemonade/LOVE guitarist releases his first solo album in 16 years.
Congrats on the excellent new collection. Why is now the right time to release Rough Mixes & Demo Pyxis, Vol.1?
Well, quite a few folks have reached out to me asking what I’m up to, including the label that distributes our catalog. They were like, “You got anything?” So, that got me thinking.
Also, about a year ago, I was staying with a friend in London for a few days and he’s a DJ and he will just play record after record—like, all day long! One night, I played him the songs “REVO” and “Miss Loucifer” and he told me I needed to put them out, maybe as a 7-inch single. I kept that in mind, but found myself finishing up some songs I recorded at home since I couldn’t go out and do anything due to the pandemic. It gave me something new to look forward to each day.
The album kicks off with an epic track called “How Do I Get Close?” What was the inspiration for that song?
Wow! Thank you! What’s funny to me is that’s the one — for the longest time — I didn’t think stood up to the other songs. And then it hit me; this is how the story begins. I was listening to a lot of Shuggie Otis (disclaimer: he played guitar in Arthur Lee & LOVE in the early 1970’s). I was going for groove, soul, rock, with an old school, simple “no frills” sound to it. You can hear me banging on the piano! When we release Vol. 2 (on Xmas Eve) I plan to include my home demo of this song which features one of those early 1970’s Maestro Rhythm Machines. It has a weird synth loop and the arrangement is different and there’s no guitar on it whatsoever.
I’m really drawn to that song, as well as “Twenty Years,” “Moana’s Town” and “Miss Loucifer.” How were the tracks for this album compiled?
“How Do I Get Close?,” “REVO,” “Miss Loucifer” and “Wait For You” were all recorded in the spring of 2017. For “Moana’s Town,” “Twenty Years” and “You Let Me Down,” I recorded drums and scratch vocals with acoustic guitar in 2016 and didn’t mess with them again until 2018 and 2019, with me finishing each of them this past April. So, yeah, they’re bakery fresh.
To my ears, these songs have elements of power pop, psychedelia, dream pop, British Invasion — the genre list goes on and on. How would you describe this album to somebody who hasn’t heard it?
I always tell people I like to think I am a pop songwriter. That’s my roots. And so much music inspires me. All the genres you mentioned. I tell people that the music is me and I am the music. We are one, for lack of a better term!
This record has all the elements of the artists I love to listen to. The term I use to describe it is “Pop Music,” but no one ever listens to it and agrees with me. They default to your descriptions. And I’ll take anything anyone wants to give me. Power Pop? Yep. Alternative Rock? Sure. Garage Rock? Why not. Soul? Sometimes!
Your music has been compared to everybody from Todd Rundgren and Prince to Alex Chilton and Elvis Costello (I’d add The Beach Boys and The Jazz Butcher)? Who are some of your main influences?
Rundgren, Chilton and Costello without a doubt. Also The Replacements, LOVE, Stevie Wonder, The Carpenters, SLOAN, Prince, Fleetwood Mac, Ray Parker Jr., Burt Bacharach, Little Richard, The Beatles (duh), The Zombies, Randy Newman, Chuck Berry, The Pretenders, The Cars, KC & The Sunshine Band, KISS, The Smiths, Missing Persons, The Captain & Tennille, The High Llamas, The Pooh Sticks…to name a few!
With touring off the table for the immediate future, can we expect some streamed living room concerts from you?
It’s really impressive how artists have shifted and adjusted their creative energy into live streams. I’ve done 2 or 3 from my living room and people seem to dig it. I know I dig other people’s stuff.
Doing it live, though, that’s a bit scary. I’m still trying to find my way — a way where I feel comfortable. Maybe playing on the bluffs overlooking the ocean or something. Or the parking lot at Trader Joe’s. I’ve got some ideas cooking, including some reality TV ideas to spread the music around.
Looking ahead, how will Vol. 2 differ from this first collection?
Vol. 2 will explore more piano, possibly. There’s a song I have called “The Naked Punchline” that sounds like Elvis Costello joined Steely Dan — there’s a guitar solo playing the entire duration of the song. It just sounded so cool I couldn’t take it out. It’s the first and only take as well. Vol. 2 is meant to be a companion to Vol. 1, not a mirror image; it won’t be as good, but it’s not supposed to be. But, see, that’s for YOU to judge. I can say it, but that doesn’t necessarily make it so.