LINKS TO INTERVIEWS (CLICK ON NAME):


BANDS
AUGUST INFINITY (aka SHE SAID FIRE)
BLACK SHAPE OF NEXUS
KALLING
MILITANTS
THERAPHOSA

SINGER-GUITARISTS
RAYMOND BALLY ..... (The Renegades)
REV. DR. BILL GRAM ..... (Killing For Christ)
PHIL JONES ..... (Phil Jones Band)
THEO CEDAR JONES ..... (Swaybone)
SCOTT KELLY ..... (Neurosis)
SETH MAJKA Interview 1 of 2
SETH MAJKA Interview 2 of 2
SAM PARSONS
UNCLE BOB NYC ..... (3tles, Volunteers Grateful Dead tribute band)

GUITARISTS
J.D. BRADSHAW ..... (Debbie Caldwell Band)
MATT CHABE ..... (Bangtown Timebomb, Chapter Two Marketing)
PAUL CROOK ..... (Anthrax, Meat Loaf, Sebastian Bach)
MATTHEW MEADOWS ..... (Rango The Dog)
JAMES NICKERSON & SARAH NICKERSON ..... (Bangtown Timebomb)
DAX PAGE ..... (Kirra)
MARTY PARIS ..... (Paris Keeling, Permanent Reverse, Barbarian Way)
RUINED MACHINES & MICHAL BRODKA ..... (Celestial Bodies: A 12 Month Galactic Collaboration) Interview 1 of 2
RUINED MACHINES (aka KENYON IV) ..... (World Of Rock Records, Celestial Bodies: A 12 Month Galactic Collaboration) Interview 2 of 2
CHRIS SANDERS ..... (Knight Fury, Lizzy Borden, Nadir D'Priest)
TOM SPITTLE & TROY MONTGOMERY & DAMOND JINIYA ..... (Rebel Pride Band, Under The Gun Project)
ERIC STROTHERS ..... (Enjoy Church's Tribute To Trans-Siberian Orchestra) Interview 1 of 2
ERIC STROTHERS & ZACH LORTON ..... (Enjoy Church's Tribute To Trans-Siberian Orchestra) Interview 2 of 2
CHRIS MICHAEL TAYLOR ..... (Carmine & Vinny Appice's Drum Wars, Sunset Strip, Hair Nation)

VOCALISTS
A.L.X. ..... (Love Crushed Velvet)
GRAHAM BONNET ..... (Rainbow, Alcatrazz, Graham Bonnet Band)
BRANDYN BURNETTE
JOE DENIZON ..... (Stratospheerius, Mark Work Rock Orchestra Camp, Sweet Plantain)
LESLIE DINICOLA
TOMMY FARESE ..... (Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Kings Of Christmas)
ANGIE GOODNIGHT ..... (Fill The Void)
CORNELIUS GOODWIN ..... (12/24 Trans-Siberian Orchestra Tribute)
DAMOND JINIYA & TOM SPITTLE & TROY MONTGOMERY ..... (Savatage, Diet Of Worms, Retribution, Rebel Pride Band, Under The Gun Project)
STEFAN KLEIN ..... (Dethcentrik, Dod Beverte, Dod Incarnate Records)
GUY LEMONNIER ..... (Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Kings Of Christmas)
ZACH LORTON & ERIC STROTHERS ..... (Enjoy Church's Tribute To Trans-Siberian Orchestra) Interview 2 of 2
SARAH NICKERSON & JAMES NICKERSON ..... (Bangtown Timebomb)
PARK SIPES ..... (Sunset Strip, Barbarian Way, Standout, Tune In To Mind Radio Kelly Keeling Tribute album)
ZAK STEVENS ..... (Savatage, Circle II Circle) Interview 1 of 2
ZAK STEVENS ..... (Savatage, Circle II Circle) Interview 2 of 2

KEYBOARDISTS
SHAYFER JAMES
SCOTT KELLY ..... (Wizards Of Winter)
ERIK NORLANDER ..... (Asia Featuring John Payne, Rocket Scientists, Lana Lane)
DOUG RAUSCH
MICHAEL T. ROSS ..... (Lita Ford, Missing Persons, Raiding The Rock Vault)

BASSISTS
CHRIS NUNES ..... (Ornament Trans-Siberian Orchestra Tribute Orchestra)
JOHN WETTON ..... (Asia, King Crimson, Roxy Music)

DRUMMER
RAFA MARTINEZ ..... (Black Cobra)

SONGWRITER
TROY MONTGOMERY & DAMOND JINIYA & TOM SPITTLE ..... (Under The Gun Project)

MUSIC AUTHOR
ALISON TAYLOR & RODNEY MILES ..... (365 Surprising & Inspirational Rock Star Quotes Book)

MUSIC MARKETING
MATT CHABE ..... (Bangtown Timebomb, Chapter Two Marketing)
JAMES MOORE ..... (Independent Music Promotion, Your Band Is A Virus Book)

May 10, 2015

"The musical equivilent to being naked" An Interview With A.L.X.

Click here to visit the official website of Love Crushed Velvet.

Mid-2011 (phone)

NY vocalist/guitarist & songwriter A.L.X. has built a career under his own name & that of his band Love Crushed Velvet, fusing modern & retro hard rock. Love Crushed Velvet's line-up on the album is fleshed out by drummer Thommy Price (Billy Idol, Scandal, Blue Oyster Cult), guitarist Jimi Bones (Skin & Bones, Blondie) & bassist Enzo Penizzotto, all of whom share alumni status from Joan Jett & The Blackhearts. From the album the song "Letter" would be remixed by DJ Asha and 2 a.m. & became a viral hit on electronic music blogs, while another track "Goodbye Goldblatt" was added to the Rock Band 3 video game. In 2013 A.L.X. released a second Love Crushed Velvet album, the Delusions EP, with a different line-up.

This interview was done following the release of Love Crushed Velvet's self-titled debut. A.L.X. took an hour of his day to talk with me over the phone, later broadcast over my Roman Midnight Music podcast.

Special thanks to my friend Sandy Serge of Serge Entertainment Group, LLC, for making this interview possible.

*****

AJ: Playing a gig is stressful. I'm sure you can agree with that.

A.L.X.: There are stressful parts to it.

AJ: The gig itself is enjoyable. But, it's preparing for the gig & getting the gig & getting to the venue & if you get any money out of it at all. That's the stressful part of it for me. Speaking of which, I know you are in between touring & other things. You've been on the road for what seems like somewhat steadily.

A.L.X.: Yeah, it's been awhile. A lot of it comes in stages. Between the live dates we're doing, the album release, the college radio campaign that we just finished 2 weeks ago ... we're really trying to manage everything at once & stagger things. So, it hasn't been a continuous tour where we've been on the road in one lump stretch. It's kinda been broken up. We've also been presenting the music in 2 different formats. We've got the full 5 piece LOVE CRUSHED VELVET line-up. Most of the shows we've been doing as a full band have really been around the northeast, primarily because we're based out of NY. What I've been doing on my own ... at this point I'm really the primary songwriter in the band & a lot of the songs end up starting on acoustic guitar & even if you listen to them on the record they don't sound anything like an acoustic band. At their infancy that's how they all essentially start out. In a weird way they actually do translate very well to a singer/songwriter format, so that's what I do a fair amount of, in addition to the northeast stuff we do as a full band. I'm basically running around the world trying to introduce people with a kinda stripped down version of LOVE CRUSHED VELVET's music. Matter of fact, later on tonight I've got to drive to Nashville where I'll be in transit to some shows in Atlanta this coming weekend. So a lot of the tours have really been mixed up between those 2 different formats, between the acoustic/unplugged & the full band stuff. So, it gives people very very different flavors of the presentation of our music.

AJ: I know, whether it was solo A.L.X. or its LOVE CRUSHED VELVET, last summer you hit Europe with Croatia, Germany, Poland & Norway. Do you find a difference when you're going to Europe in how your music is received, let's say versus here in your home of NY or in the South or just in the States in general?

A.L.X.: You know the reception that the music gets in Europe is great. There tends to be real excitement over there when a band comes or when an act comes from the States. There's a certain openness & a certain curiosity & acceptance that you get over there just by nature of being a bit more of a novelty. Here, if we go play Nashville & say "here's this band coming from NY", they probably get 2 or 3 NY bands a month.

AJ: They're like "oh, another one?"

A.L.X.: Yeah, it's not that much of a novelty. So, in Europe there's a real appreciation for that & the other thing is there's really not much of our kind of music being made in Europe. I mean the rock scene there. You've got a very vibrant metal scene. Then you get this indie scene & a big pop scene, but in terms of the kind of stuff that we do that's kinda modern rock, but also has a bit of a retro flavor to it, there's really nothing like that out there. So, there's this audience that we really didn't know existed for most of these shows. I do keep a backing band in Italy that's available for some larger club shows & some special events, like a TV appearance. That type of thing. But, otherwise, it's really me & the acoustic guitar. You know there the reception is great. Sometimes there will be 200 people in a small club coming out to see me play these songs & then I go on & do 2 or 3 encores. You get that reception sometimes here in the States, but over there there's a real embrace of it. It's a pleasure to be playing over there. There's a novelty also to be in all these great European cities with different food, different languages, cultures. That part of the experience also makes it cool.

AJ: I lived in Budapest Hungary for a year & traveled about the Eastern Bloc, so I kinda know what you're talking about. My family is originally from Germany. But, actually, you're German born.

A.L.X.: Yeah, I was born there. My mother is German, technically East German. I guess in reality I'm a defector. Never really thought of it quite like that.

AJ: You also spent some time in school in Austria, too. You've been in Europe & played in Europe before as a younger man & not as LOVED CRUSHED VELVET, so on one hand it's not a new situation.

A.L.X.: No. In some respects, because I was over there as an exchange student when I was first in college & that was when I was really just starting to play. In some sense that really got me into playing music. That was really the first taste of thinking I could really do this on a higher level due to the crowd I'd fallen in with pretty much right when I got to Vienna. I'd fallen in with a crowd that was just very very well connected. I started playing with Falco's guitar player, who back in the late 80's, early 90's was a really really big star over there. Then did some work with Peter Kruder, who eventually, pretty much right after I left Europe, started to move out of the rock scene & get very into the electronica world & ended up being one of the founding members of KRUDER & DORFMEISTER. For those electronica fans out there they were really major major figures early the 90's & early 2000's in the scene. Those were the people I was working with while I was over there. It didn't last very long, but it picked up a lot of momentum quickly. Eventually I just made a decision to come back to the States because at that point in my life I just didn't want to stay in Europe. But, that was really kinda the first inkling I got of saying I can do this as more than just this passing dabbling teenage phase.

AJ: Sticking your foot in the water. You can actually jump in.

A.L.X.: Yeah, yeah. You know, when you start playing guitar when you're a kid, we all start off with this fantasy of being the biggest rock star in the world when we're 16 or something like that. At this point the fantasies have come & gone & gone again & again & again. I kinda figure at this point that's not going to happen. But, the realization that you can do this on a higher level & be competitive, at least of the quality of music you're putting out, that was kinda the first realization I got from that & that was really what I took out of that experience of being in Europe at that point in my life.

AJ: You just mentioned electronica & earlier you hinted on the fact that Germany does have a big metal scene ... when you bring your music over there, whether it's solo or its with a band, do you ever find any difficulties in taking your music & reaching out to a very different audience? Is there a bridge there you have to cross to connect with the people over there, other than just being an American musician? Is there a challenge there with the music itself?

A.L.X.: For example, when it's being presented in an unplugged format at the end of the day it's really about the songs themselves. As you know, as a musician yourself & somebody whose in this world, at the end the day when you're standing on the stage just yourself & a guitar that's the musical equivalent to being naked. So, the songs are either there or they're not there. We've all seen a million singer/songwriters where the material is just not there. When I first started doing it I was in that format. You're a little bit nervous. Not so much from the performing perspective, but just how the songs are going to be embraced. Ultimately, it's an indictment of your songwriting. How good are these songs really? I still can't be the judge of that. Once you put material into the world in some sense you no longer own it. It's up to other people to, you know, accept it & absorb it as they will, but I guess what I've gotten out of that is that the songs hold up rather nicely in that format. When they're being played that way people that listen to metal, people that listen to pop, people that just listen to singer/songwriter stuff, people that listen to indie music, if they're people who appreciate songwriting & that style of songwriting, irrespective of how it's presented on the record, I find in the unplugged format it almost opens up a wider audience. Just because of the nakedness of the format it leaves room for everybody to interpret it as they will. The metal guys say 'I can really see this stuff being played with big guitars under it & a driving drum beat.' Other people that like the singer/songwriter kinda things say 'Hey, I really like the lyrics.' The pop people say 'Hey, this has pop sensibility. I can imagine this being produced as a pop song.' So, in that sense there's a value in keeping it that sparse & just allowing other people to interpret it as they will. The danger on the other side is that people are going to come out of a very different LOVE CRUSHED VELVET experience to what they hear the next day on the internet. There's that aspect of managing expectations on the other side of it. In terms of introducing people to the music the stripped down acoustic has actually been pretty effective, surprisingly so, happily so.

AJ: Because there is a big difference between you playing with a guitar & the LOVE CRUSHED VELVET album.

A.L.X.: I try to keep the core rhythms in tact, at least, strumming single notes & that type of stuff. I try to reproduce that. I try to still be as dirty as possible, which is the main thing.

AJ: Alright, now here's the question I'm sure you always get asked. How do you describe LOVE CRUSHED VELVET?

A.L.X.: In terms of the musical style?

AJ: You've been talking now about how people receive the music, but how about from your point of view? What is it?

A.L.X.: What it is is it's really very much ... we view ourselves, as all of us are from different generations to some degree or not different generations but different decades or half decades. Thommy Price, whose playing drums, is from the early or late 80's. So, we all bring in different influences from different eras. At the same time we don't view ourselves as a retro band. There's certainly early 80's to late 80's influences that we have. You know, when I was a very young kid. The early U2 records & stuff like that that was the stuff I was hearing when I was 8 years old. I was too young to be in the scene at the time, but it still planted very formative musical seeds in me. We tend to describe ourselves as a kinda hybrid of classic rock, early post-punk & modern rock, because we don't want to sound so retro that we sound stuck in an era. All of us really try to stay real current in terms of what we're listening to these days & our musical sensibilities. It's hard when you have these bands or artists that just can't name any new act that's been out in the past 15 years. I find that a shame, because there's a lot of good music that's always coming out. Even as we're working on our new record it's important, because we're starting pre-production next week on the next one. It's really important for us to really keep our feet in the current scene. You know, to not make something that's not pinned to a particular era where somebody automatically says something like 1986 or 1994 or 1978. We don't mind some confusion with people. Like one reviewer, we just got a review that came out this week, someone said "The song "Goodbye Goldblatt" I swear I've heard this before. It kind of reminds me of something I heard. I swear I heard this in the mid-80's." The reviewer, of course, immediately dated himself. We want to be a modern edgy band, but we're also not afraid of wearing our influences on our sleeve where it comes out naturally in the music.

AJ: Well, there's something I've read in books that says that all the music we liked up until 30 or 35 is our favorite. After that age, when we start getting married & have kids & have jobs, we stop paying attention to new music. Talk to someone who is 50 & they're probably going to tell you the music they love is what they listened to when they were in their 20's & 30's. That's the way it is largely. I find with a lot of folks there's a resistance to new bands. It's not a venomous resistance, it's more like the new bands aren't like the old music they like & know so well & in turn not as good. So, in a way, in LOVE CRUSHED VELVET there's this thing, it may not be deliberate, you're connecting with music of the past, you know that song they thought they heard 20 years ago, but yet giving it a modern slant. So, you are roping them in. The retro sound ropes them in because it sounds familiar, yet it doesn't sound familiar. I've listened to the album many many times & it doesn't really sound familiar, but it does have a feeling that is retro.

A.L.X.: It's been an interesting response, because the fan base that we've picked up it's almost like this generational split, because you have people that are in their 30's & it reminds them ... we get a lot of Billy Idol comparisons because Thommy was the drummer with Billy's "White Wedding"/Rebel Yell days. We haven't gone back & listened to the music. So, the people who grew up in that era it reminds them of that. Yet, you've got people who are 20 where in many cases have never heard of a lot of the bands in that era & for them it's fresh because it sounds totally different than the conventional rock that's being made now. So, it's this kinda interesting generational split that we're seeing. It's cool. You know, for us it's nice to see that there is a demographic out there that does find this to be a new sound, even though there are certainly elements of past genres & generations in there.

AJ: Thanks for reminding me that the music I grew up with nobody remembers.

A.L.X: Yeah, totally. But, I think a lot of that also, like you said before, when people hit their 30's they get stuck. Remember when we were all 20 all we were doing was, for those of us who were either musicians or music fans ...

AJ: We just listened to music.

A.L.X.: Our life was really all about music. Listening to the newest release of this act or that act. It was so all encompassing. Then, I think as people get busier, as they get busier with their jobs or when they get busier with their families, they just don't have the time to put into that. Sometimes they just become lazy though.

AJ: Well, you can't exactly bring home 12 new albums to your wife & say "Hey, look at what I just bought with my paycheck this week."

A.L.X.: Totally. Absolutely. I have so many friends that are in their 30's now that still love music, they still love live music, but now they're living in the suburbs so they're more disconnected from the scene. I'm always hearing how they'd love to check out some of the new bands, but they're so disconnected from it. I think that is an open audience still. But, for them the means of accessing what's new out there it's very ...

AJ: I see also that the major record labels do all their advertising for the young generation. It's like if you're 18 you care about music, but if you're 50 & might be into the new Tom Petty or HEART album you probably don't care about music. But, as you just said, just because you get older doesn't mean you lose the interest. But, the music industry doesn't really show us that there's a whole constituency of people out there who still love music. The country is getting older, but we're not marketing to them. We're not keeping them in the loop. The irony is they're the ones buying music CD's, while the younger generation is downloading bringing in less money.

A.L.X.: Totally. We all share the same opinion that the record industry is pretty out of touch these days. Our perspective is we don't have a record deal. We don't want a record deal. The last thing we really want is the labels in their current form, because they don't offer a lot.

AJ: Plus, things are changing so fast, too, that labels don't mean what they used to mean. Speaking of what things used to mean, you do get that Billy Idol comparison quite a lot. Every time I see a review of LOVE CRUSHED VELVET Billy Idol comes up. Does that ever bother you? Do you ever go 'Enough with the Billy Idol' or 'You're not paying attention to the music'? I should say, it's not a bad comparison in the least, but you have been connected with him quite a lot.

A.L.X.: Personally, I think it's a flattering comparison. I can't say he's been relevant or doing much interesting for quite awhile, but certainly in the 80's he was making some great music. A lot of people tend to look at later stuff, the post "Cradle Of Love" period when he really became more of a pop star than this creation that had kinda crawled its way out of the punk scene creating this really interesting hybrid of music. But, the stuff Billy was doing at the time was great. Nothing sounded like Billy Idol. Nothing to this day really sounds like Billy Idol. That music was sexy & it rocked out, be it headbanging, really really tied a lot of genres in it. For me, it's a flattering comparison. I mean, people do need to have something ... whenever you hear a new band you want to describe their sound, so people are naturally doing that.

AJ: You've got quite an array of folks who have either worked with you on the album or are on stage with you. Can you tell me about the band, who they are & who they've worked with? I guess, we could say, drop some names? You've already mentioned Thommy.

A.L.X.: For the people that don't know Thommy Price he's still to this day really one of the best rock drummers on the planet. If you look at his career back in the 80's, at one point he was telling me he had 4 or 5 records that he'd played on that were in the top 10 at the same time. He was pretty much the go-to drummer in the post-punk/new wave era in the early to mid-80's. He's a genuine legend. We've kinda known each other by 6 degrees of separation where we knew 4 or 5 of the same people. A couple of whom were also fellow musicians & just trying to hook us up, but it just never happened. The timing on that just never worked out. So, when we finally did connect he responded positively to the music I was sending him & was open to playing with me. I was thrilled. It's not that often in your life that somebody of that stature will want to play with you, so that for me was a personal thrill. I love Thommy to death as a person & as a phenomenal musician. But, his resume, he played with MINK DEVILLE, he was with SCANDAL. Mostly, for the past 10 to 15 years, or something like that, he's been Joan Jett's drummer, but he still does a lot of work.

AJ: Not just has he worked with Joan Jett & Billy Idol, but he's also worked with Billy Joel & BLUE OYSTER CULT. Those are 4 very different outings, so you've got a drummer here whose not just a rock drummer, but a guy whose been a little bit all over the place. I'm sure in the studio when you're working together this has been an asset.

A.L.X.: Absolutely. It's interesting, because I remember the first time I was over at Thommy's apartment. The first thing I noticed on his coffee table was this giant book about the WHO & it turns out maybe his biggest influence was Keith Moon. & when we're in the studio just in rehearsal, just jamming loosely, that tells you a lot about where somebody's musical core is. The thing is with some of the rock drummers, there are times when I've had to have guys fill in for
Thommy for gigs when Thommy was on tour with Joan or something like that, with some of the traditional rock drummers you'll end up jamming on AC/DC or something like that.

AJ: True.

A.L.X.: Thommy doesn't gravitate towards hard rock. He'll gravitate towards 70's rock or even go back to like the 50's & the 60's. Then some of his drumming style, it's interesting, he hits hard, but he's not one of these guys who slams. He's got amazing delivery & just fantastic feel. A lot of time when we'll just jam in the studio it's not ... you'd be surprised at the directions it takes. The stuff that comes out has a very finesse feel to it. So, it's interesting. His range always continues to surprise me. A lot of people traditionally think of him as this straight ahead guy whose got unbelievable timing & good musical instincts, but is primarily a straight ahead rock drummer. But, he's not. He's got so much more range than that. That's really been one of the pleasant surprises about making a record with him. There's a couple cuts that we didn't release on the album, but have done some pre-releases, like the song "Hipster" which I ended up releasing as an A.L.X. solo song that's got a totally different vibe. Thommy's playing on there. You tell him what direction & he'll take it. He's by no means stuck in a single genre. As far as some of the other guys. Jimi Bones was in a band called SKIN & BONES back in the 80's. His reputation is as a hard rock/hair metal guitarist. SKIN & BONES was a quintessential hair metal band. But, he also played with BLONDIE when they reunited. He did 1 or 2 tours with them. He's done a lot of studio work. He was with the BLACKHEARTS, I think, Joan Jett & the BLACKHEARTS for a year or 2 years, as well. Enzo Penizzotto is the bass player. Enzo is not playing with us live anymore, but he was with us for a bit & did a bunch of studio work when we were making the record as well. He also spent a number of years with the BLACKHEARTS. So, we had a great bunch of guys working on the album.

AJ: Excellent. Now, was that coincidence they were all in the BLACKHEARTS? Were they all in the BLACKHEARTS at the same & that's how they know each other, or you just happen to gravitate towards Joan Jett alumni?

A.L.X.: A lot of it was really ... the way that Jimi & I connected was through ... I finished my A.L.X. solo record called No Eyes For The Future that was produced by Sammy Merendino, who drums for Cyndi Lauper, interestingly enough. When I was making that record I didn't make it the way that we made the Love Crushed Velvet record with a full band. Basically, Sammy & I went went in essentially on our own, with a session guitarist, & we just really built the songs up in layers. When that album was done & I went out to promote it I didn't use the same musicians live that I ended up using in the studio. & so Sammy & I were talking back & forth about who might be a good guitar player to use who could interpret the material well. I was having the same conversation with Thommy & both of them suggested to me Jimi Bones. Thommy obviously knew of him through his days playing with him in the BLACKHEARTS. Sammy had known him through session work & numerous live gigs that they'd done together. So, that was how. You figure, if 2 separate people are giving you the same answer there's got to be something there. So, that's how Jimi ended up in the band. & with Enzo we had ... when we went in to do the Love Crushed Velvet basic tracking sessions, we'd been playing with a couple different bass players. All great players, but none of them I really felt had that straight ahead feel that we really needed. Thommy recommended giving Enzo a shot & he ended up sounding great & that's based on his BLACKHEARTS experience. I don't know Joan personally. I've met her. We're friendly. But, we're not pals or what not.

AJ: I know what you're saying. I guess we can just say she has good taste in musicians.

A.L.X.: Great taste in musicians, for sure. I really like her music, but I didn't grow up as a BLACKHEARTS fan, per se.

AJ: There's another person you've worked with who has a very interesting background. Not so much hard rock, but a little bit more, how could we say, 80's electronica or New Wave, & that's your producer Dave Bascombe.

A.L.X.: Dave wasn't a producer. He was a mixer on the record.

AJ: I'm sorry.

A.L.X.: For the producers we ended up using, I think, 3? It took 4 different producers on the album, actually. The inspiration on the production side, well, for me one of the formative records when I was young was U2's Achtung Baby.

AJ: Great album.

A.L.X.: What I loved is how they ... one of the things I think that made that record the way it was was that you had 3 great producers working on it simultaneously. Daniel Lanois, Steve Lillywhite & Brian Eno on it. You can really feel the hybridization of those influences on that record. One of the things we really tried to create with the LOVE CRUSHED VELVET sound was to work with a couple different guys on the same song. That's why if you look at the credits there's a lot of co-producers. There's either a single producer & additional production by producer X or a lot of the songs are co-productions. We're going to take the same approach with the next one. If you can get everybody to get along ... once you remove the ego out of the equation & you make it clear that it's just about the music it's a phenomenal way to make a record. But, who we were looking for in a mixer is who can tie all these disparate elements together. Who gets some of the retro roots but still has modern sensibilities. If you look at a lot of the great mixers from the 80's, 90's & even early 2000's, they really, particularly with mixers, they often tend to be stuck in a genre. Sometimes more so than musicians. You know you're going to go to this particular one for a very specific sound. One of the things that we really loved about Dave Bascombe is that he's not ... you look at what he did in the 80's, the TEARS FOR FEARS record Songs From The Big Chair that's what really put him on the charts, literally speaking, as a big time mixer. But, if you look at the range of the stuff he's worked on, outside of maybe hard rock, he's done all kinds of stuff. He's worked with the VERVE, PLACEBO. He did some DEPECHE MODE records. Stylistically they're all over the map. Then the new stuff he's making also. He continues to make very very modern sounds mixes for the genre that he's in. So, Dave kinda got where we were from. He got the direction that we were trying to take & also understood that we still view ourselves as a modern band. That's how we ended up working with him.

AJ: Interesting you would talk about a mixer. Because people don't tend to talk about that person, outside of musicians. That's just not someone who comes up in conversation. They talk about the producer. They talk about the session musicians. But, the mixer, that's like the engineer. You never think about that person.

A.L.X.: The mixer always tends to be thought of as the backdoor man of sorts.

AJ: Exactly.

A.L.X.: But, the mixer is so important. The mixer ultimately defines what your record is going to sound like. It's as much & as important as the performances & as the production. The mixer is ultimately going to be the one that melds this into a final product. It's really, when you're making record, & I've made this mistake in the past, saying 'a mix is a mix' & that reflects itself in the final product. A great mixer can make or break a record. You can have a decent record & a great mix will just give it a life of its own & if you have a very good record & you get a great mixer then you're on to something.

AJ: You may not hear the mixer when it's good, but when it's bad you immediately hear the problem.

A.L.X.: Oh, yes, totally.

AJ: But, normally it's one of those things where you don't even want to notice it, because it's such a good mix you don't notice it. The thing is, with producers these are famous people. We can talk about producers like Rick Rubin or Todd Rundgren or whoever, but a mixer ... name a mixer for me. I don't think most people can do that.

A.L.X.: But, if you look at a lot of the great records being made & run through the liner notes & the credits you get that there's certain names that just consistently run through. I was listening to the FLORENCE & THE MACHINE album again the other day. Great great stuff.

AJ: I really like her stuff. & that has a good sound to it. It's really vibrant.

A.L.X.: You look at her mix & it's a Cenzo Townshend mix. Then you look at some of the other great records that are out there & Townsend mixed it [including albums by Tom Jones, Bryan Ferry, U2, FRANZ FERDINAND]. There's a handful of these guys that are very of the moment. & the pop world kinda has its own mixers, but certainly in the rock/indie/pop world to get a particular sound these are the go-to guys & Dave Bascombe is one of those guys.

AJ: Like I said, these are people who in the music industry tend to fall through the cracks. They don't get noticed. They don't get the acclaim, but they are just as important as anyone on stage, you know, when it comes down to it. That's the way of the music business. You're not a big fan of the music business. I don't know if anyone is. But, I know you have some other stuff you do, like a green technology company to sort of offset the pressures you go through in creating your music.

A.L.X.: I've never really ... there's certain people out there, I feel, that are born to do just one thing. A lot of artists say that, 'I can't imagine not being an artist.' But, at the same time you see a lot of business people or firemen or policemen or accountants that say 'This is just what I was born to do.' I've never felt that. As strongly as I feel that I'm an artist & always will be an artist in my core, I've never been one that says 'This is the only thing I can do.' I find having other lives outside of music actually makes the music richer, because it doesn't become this kind of incestuous inward spiral. A lot of artists really have a hard time separating themselves from their art, keeping some sense of perspective about it. At the end of a the day I'm always a curious person, so that's where I've gotten into other businesses outside of music & other activities. My head is always still ... I've always got a new song running through my head or a new idea. I'm always mumbling something into my tape recorder or whatever. At the end of the day, for me, it is nice to have other worlds I can step into outside of being a musician, because when I come back to the music it makes it all the fresher again, it makes it exciting. Almost like kind of having the same girlfriend for a long time, but every time you see her she has a different hair color. It kinda feels like its a new person all the time. For me music has been like that.

AJ: What is then the next world for A.L.X. & LOVE CRUSHED VELVET to expore? What's on the horizon? You briefly mentioned you had a new album you're working on.

A.L.X.: The first step is really getting ... because this album just came out. We just finished a college radio campaign, so we're still doing a lot of support work for that. Some interviews, trying to set up some live shows. We're probably going to start launching to commercial radio the first part of next year. So, a lot of the calendar is supporting this current release. At the same time, because we really took basically 2 years to make this record, kinda did it at our luxury, all the songs on this record are at least 2 years old. I've written probably 25 new songs since then. After awhile, you know, you just get restless to start working on new material. We're really excited about some of these new songs also. So, we're going to start doing some pre-production work next week to start ferreting out which ones we think are going to be the right fit for the album. Start to work out arrangements & grooves & tempos & things like that. It'll take awhile to make this, but we're already thinking ahead of what the next process of the evolution is going to be.

AJ: Where would you like to see your music go? What's your big plan?

A.L.X.: From a creative perspective?

AJ: Yeah, or whatever happens to be on your mind. Creative. Commercially. Which ever one is easier to answer, I guess.

A.L.X.: From a commercial perspective it's really about ... you know none of us are interested in being the biggest band in the world. We're all realistic at this point. We're not 17 anymore, so we all recognize that that's probably not going to happen. For us, right now, it's more important to get this music out, as broadly as we can get it out, so that it can find its base. There's people out there ... because the ones that we're finding just really respond to this stuff. Those people who respond to LOVE CRUSHED VELVET & love the music that we make, we want to make sure they have an opportunity to access it, either to see us live or just to find out about who we are. Now it's like we're starting to see people coming to shows & knowing the lyrics to a lot of the songs. There were these 2 girls that just showed up, we played NY 2 weeks ago, & they knew the lyrics to every song. I don't know the lyrics to every song.

AJ: Wow.

A.L.X.: As a new band, that kind of stuff is exciting. We've had a couple really strong placements on the college charts. Schools have gotten us into their top 10. At one of the schools we were number 1 for, I think, 3 or 4 weeks, which was great. So, for us, there is an audience out there that responds to it. For the ones that don't like LOVE CRUSHED VELVET that's great. Thanks. Sorry you don't like it, but that's okay. What we're trying to do now is get as many people out there, access as many people out there, who we think will respond to this music. That's going to be our core pace. So, commercially that's our goal. To make sure the people that want this kind of music get it. From a creative perspective now. For the new crop of songs there's a very different feel to it, for the most part, then the stuff on this last record. So, how that's going to translate to how the band interprets it, production choices we make, I'm not sure. That's one of the fun things about the record making process is I'm constantly surprised about the evolution it's going to take. But, they're good songs. You ask 100 songwriters "W+hat's the best song you ever wrote?" & they'll always tell you "The one that I just wrote yesterday." Every artist is always excited about the stuff that they've most recently done, because it's fresh. I don't want to sit here & say I think this is our best material yet, because I think that's something that we need a bit more perspective to be able to say that & ultimately it's really up to other people to make that decision. But, I do feel very strongly that the material is very very solid.

AJ: If nothing else LOVE CRUSHED VELVET is moving forward musically.

A.L.X.: No doubt about that. The new album will have a different sound than this one There will be elements of this current one. I think absolutely you'll see an evolution for sure.

AJ: So, no more Billy Idol comparisons?

A.L.X.: I don't know. Who knows a year from now. Who knows, we may have Billy singing a song on there.

AJ: I appreciate you spending some time with me. Is there anything we haven't touched on that you'd like to share?

A.L.X.: We'd love everybody to give our music a listen. If you like it become a part of our world. If you don't like it, we hope we catch you on the next one.

AJ: How can people become a part of your world? How can people find A.L.X. & LOVE CRUSHED VELVET online?

A.L.X.: If you google LOVE CRUSHED VELVET any number of sites come up. We've got our own website, facebook, youtube & all the major music sites. If you want to buy the record we encourage people to buy it from CDBaby.


No comments:

Post a Comment