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Welcome back to the continuing saga that is Some Kind Of Muffin’s interview with The Deafening Colors.


They really do exist.

They really do exist.

What are your hopes and dreams for this album and for The Deafening Colors?

John: My hopes for this album are that people cherish it, listen to it, and love it the way that I do my favorite albums. My hope for The Deafening Colors is that we spend the rest of our lives making music as best as we can. If we focus on that—the making of the best music we can make—all the rest will take care of itself.

Cris: Everything John said, and really: I just want more people to hear it. Sure, it’s nice to get recognition or make money or something, but what I REALLY want more than anything is something I’ve gotten a little bit already with Carousel Season. For the first time, people have “gotten it.” They’ll say, “Oh man, this made me think of that time I….” and it’s not the same thing I thought of when we made it, but it’s similar. It’s an aesthetic that people latched onto in the same way we did making it. It gives you this electric feeling of true and literal connection: like this thing that you can capture sonically can make someone feel the same way you’ve felt, even if you’ve never met this person. It’s what keeps me waking up and doing this stuff every day. Trying to get an answer to the question: “Maybe you’ve felt this way, too?”

Listening to Carousel Season I was immediately hit with a wall of emotion. I know that the album is a nostalgic look back, but it also feels immediate. It doesn’t feel wistful or regretful, as so many nostalgic pieces do. Where does that emotion come from and how are you able to convey it so effectively?

John: First, this is a wonderful reaction and I’m overjoyed that you felt this way when listening to the album. I think a lot of the creation of art comes from a mysterious place lurking somewhere between what might be called our conscious and sub-conscious. So answering this question is tough—but my guess is that the emotion comes from the realization that life is fleeting and that looking back on our experiences with anything other than some combination of joy and wonder would be useless.

Cris: YES!!!! That’s so cool! That’s the kind of thing I was talking about above. This is a roundabout answer, but it’s true so bear with me.

Here’s a secret: I’m deeply afraid of localism. This works on a few levels. For one, as a surfer, there is the constant question of local authenticity. Being a guy who grew up near the beach and now living across the river from Manhattan, every time I come home to paddle out, I wonder if someone is eyeing me up because I have a shirt tan or something stupid like that. Or even the way I surf. Or that I’m on a longboard instead of my shortboard because I’m out of practice or whatever.

Also, this is the same thing with where I live. I’ve been living and working in North Jersey for about a decade now. I’ve been home for extended stays in there, but my permanent residence has been in Morristown, Hoboken, Weehawken, and more for years now. For those are not from the area, it may sound stupid (and it probably, truly, is. But…) those places are decidedly more “New York” in accent, attitude, clothes, pace, and more. So even though some of this might be in my head, when I come back for a holiday or something, it’s as though I’m now the “other.” The difference. But where I live and work now, I’m always the other. You know what I mean? And people don’t move around between North and South Jersey often. The cliche is that they ought to be different states, but it’s actually a little more than cliche. It’s not animosity really. It’s, at least in some cases, a different way of life. It’s Philly vs. NYC. Slow vs. Fast. The beach vs. the city. I’m a diehard Philly sports fan but I live three blocks from the Hudson River and drive by MetLife Stadium and Red Bull Arena on the way to work every day. Go figure. John is much the same way I think. We live in this strange in-between world of New Jersey. We have probably lived in 10-15 cities and worked double that number in jobs between the two of us, so I think we have a firm grip on what it means to live in the Garden State.

So now, here’s the conclusion: when we wrote this thing, we were in a cool spot. Since we grew up here, since we have our families and our friends and our high school and our experiences and memories and childhoods here, we’ve been away long enough to write objectively about it. We can criticize and not feel like some jackass outsider or vacationing tourist (as a lot of recent AC-based songs can certainly feel) or some critical voyeuristic journalist looking to say “look at what a disaster this place is!” We can objectively say (and sleep okay at night saying) “this is our home. This is what it feels like for us. It’s messed up. It’s beautiful. We grew up operating carnival rides on the boardwalk and surfing at sunrise, but we also grew up knowing too many kids who died of heroin/opiate overdoses before we were of legal drinking age. We also saw good, hard-working people lose good jobs because of mismanagement and bureaucracy. We saw two island beach resorts with ludicrous socioeconomic disparity. We saw long summers, but we saw longer and more desolate winters. It’s flat here. It’s featureless. Pine trees and sand and pine trees and sand and cattails and bay grass and low tide and the same bar for the same happy hour with the same people…and we (or they?) like it that way. It’s not cool because it’s different from everyone’s experience. It’s cool because it’s our experience and it’s probably yours. It’s 100% not special. That’s why it’s special. We love where we grew up.” It’s everyone’s story of localism and the conflict in your heart when it comes to going away or coming home. In a weird way, I hope there’s something sort of American about it! Do we owe it to those who stayed or to our conscience to dwell where we please? It’s nostalgic, sure. But it’s OBJECTIVE. Or at least we tried to be that way. It’s good and bad like anywhere else is.  Yikes. That was a lot longer than I wanted it to be.

What are the greatest challenges as songwriters?

John: To avoid cliché, and to say something universal as concisely and simply as possible.

Cris: To explain a feeling people have been trying to explain their whole lives, though they didn’t even know they were trying to explain it.

What haven’t you done yet that you want to either with your music or in life?

John: I want The Deafening Colors to make a masterpiece so undeniably great that it holds its own with the greatest albums, or works of art in general, of all time. To aim any lower seems a waste of time.

Cris: I 100% agree with John. I think his answer is perfect. As audacious and naive as it sounds, grandiosity doesn’t happen without foolishness if you ask me. If the worst thing that happens is someone thinks we’re talking out of turn, well, good.

What has been your darkest moment as The Deafening Colors and what has been your brightest?

John: The darkest moment was probably somewhere between our first full-length album, Upstairs, and Carousel Season, when we only practiced sporadically and recorded even less. The brightest was the whole recording process for Carousel Season. Those were some of the most fun days I’ve ever had.

Cris: We’ve had 20 or so people play in our group over the years and not all of them have been the kind of nice, kind, friendly folks you like to have around the family. With that said, many of them have been, too. Also, John has had some remarkable stability with his wife, and I…well…haven’t sometimes? I don’t recall having even a mild disagreement with John really ever, so the dark moments that have influenced a lack of output or less-than-stellar stuff have really been a symptom of personal stuff rather than TDC.

How do you play live? Is it just the two of you? Do you have additional musicians live or prerecorded tracks?

John: We have played many shows with a full band–usually three guitarists, one bassist, and a drummer. Lately we’ve been doing an acoustic duo/trio depending on who is around, and we’ve also been practicing with a full band. We have never used prerecorded tracks live. We’ve also played with dozens of musicians in our various incarnations over the years.

Do you plan to tour? Because I can’t make it to New Jersey, but it’d be great if you made it to Portland.

John: We do. Do we know when? Not necessarily. Part of it depends on finances, and our work/life circumstances. If circumstances and finances allow, I’d like us to tour anywhere that would have us!

Cris: Agree with John here too. I think that the two of us struggle inherently with a simple concept: we spend so much time getting the right sound on our recordings, and that is a discovery process. So there’s a lot of “trial and error, listen, take time, listen some more, try something else” going on that you can’t really have in a live show. So ultimately, we (unfairly, and maybe inaccurately) feel as though our live show seems like it doesn’t measure up to our records. Also, the real rush of it all at least for me (but I think for John too) is that we get to actually make something NEW when we are recording. We’re not treading over something we have worked to perfect, we are making something. We like that.

I know John is married. Do you both have full-time jobs in addition to the band? How do you manage your time?

John: Yes, I am married, and yes, we have full-time jobs. I am a librarian. I manage my time by filling it with all the things I care about–I love my job, and when I am not working I am playing guitar, or writing to bloggers about The Deafening Colors, or driving to Cris’s place to record music. We record late at night, or very early in the morning, or all day on weekends, or all day on holidays, or whenever we get a chance, really. Cris has been doing all of the instruments himself–which means that whenever I get over there he has a track for me to sing over. It’s been a great arrangement and we don’t plan to stop.

Cris: I am not married, but I have a wonderful girlfriend who is infinitely patient and compassionate in addition to being a gorgeous and strong person. I am a full time 10th/11th grade English teacher at a public high school in northern New Jersey. I have been doing that for five years. I absolutely adore my job, my school, and everyone I work with…not to mention the students who are unquestionably awesome. I also coach girls soccer at the high school, play semipro soccer with a local club, cook at The Little Grocery Uptown in Hoboken during the summertime (the owners are lovely people and the food is incredibly good. I know, because I make it!), I surf as often as possible, and I try to see my family, see my friends, read, and write as often as humanly possible. I’m pretty obsessed with recording and listening to music though. I sort of strangely look at it as studying as much as I look at it as doing something for strictly entertainment purposes. The management of all of this time is a bit of an insane juggling act, but it never seems that way. It’s just what we’ve been doing as long as I can remember. It’s strange: since I’m fourteen or so, I always think that whenever I have free time, in my head, it’s always “I should be recording… I should be recording… I should be recording…

Thank you both so much for taking the time to share about your new album, your process, and a bit about your personal lives!

John: Thank you for taking the time to interview us!


Find The Deafening Colors at these fine locations:

http://www.thedeafeningcolors.com/

https://www.facebook.com/deafeningcolors

https://twitter.com/deafeningcolors

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This week we have Portland, OR “old-timey, banjo and washtub bass, kids music” songsters Father’s Pocketwatch. A trio of talented musicians. They are Tyson, Ryan, and Brian. They apparently had a little extra time on their hands and went and did some vidyas. I am pleased as punch. They were very creative and entertaining in their responses.

Please visit their webiste, www.fatherspocketwatch.com, and enjoy the interview done in 3 parts below. Oh, also, there’s a Pandorpion! That’s right..PANDORPION!!!!

Part the first

Part the second

Part the third

Did you see it? The Pandorpion? Thank you so much Tyson, Ryan, and Brian. The videos are great. And remember kids visit their website and buy their “Premium Sampler” to help fund their next album. www.fatherspocketwatch.com

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As mentioned in the previous post I am embarking on a series of interviews with my talented friends and acquaintances. This first interview is with Terry Sheldrick from Netheravon, Wiltshire, United Kingdom. Terry and I first met via guitar.com. (that site will come up a few more times in future interviews)

Terry’s band/music project is Dirty Face. It’s straight ahead rock. When I listen to his music I can tell the tones he recorded started in his head and he has a real honest vocal style that is easy for me to appreciate. In the interest of full disclosure I did do some design work for Terry’s album “Cocaine Woman”, which you can purchase at Create Space or Amazon. I recommend getting it from Create Space as Terry will see a larger cut of that and I’m all about supporting the arts!


Dirty Face is pretty much just you right?

TS: Yeah Dirty Face is just me. I kind of have been a one man band since I picked up the electric guitar. Just me and my brain!

What does your name mean?

TS: Well, the name came because of my 6 year old son. I never shave when going into a studio or when writing, not sure why just like to be the caveman singing dirty blues! Anyway, when returning home from the studio my son said I had a Dirty face and the name stuck!

What is your song writing process like?

TS: I don’t sit down and think I must write a song. Do that and you end up with a headache. I don’t play guitar everyday. Sorry, but you’ve either got it in your head already or you should just take up needle work!

Tell me about the writing and recording process for Cocaine Woman?

TS: Believe it or not but Cocaine Woman from lyrics to chords, chorus, solo, and bass were done within 15 minutes. It was the first song I had for the album. When I had that I just knew an album was born plus I had just found my old producer on facebook so believe in fate or not something was working that Christmas 2010! Then started recording in jan 2011!!

Did you do all the instruments?

TS: Yeah, done the guitar work also bass, solos, the drums where down to a good old drum machine I’m not really a gadget person I’m fairly lazy like that.

Did you have people sit in?

TS: No just me and my producer Ian Marshall wish I could of really but the budget was tight and I was and still am funding this all by myself! Maybe in the second album!!

Where did you record and what was it like?

TS: The Album was recorded in Salisbury City County Wiltshire England, It was a great feeling getting back into the music studio and meeting up with Ian again who I had not seen for awhile. For me it just feels like you are an 8 year old boy in a sweet shop; you can’t stop smiling!

Tell me a little about the gear you use.

TS: I have my beautiful Fender black top “Mexican” also an 8 track CD Boss recorder which I do all my work demos on. With so much to chose from in pedals “that’s when I get headaches” lol.

What have you learned from that process that will change recording the next album?

TS: This one is a difficult question really. I would have loved more time, money, backing singers, but really go with what you got. I’m a firm believer in not putting things on albums because it sounds nice for someone else; it should be always for you! The second album is something for another day in time, but what I will say is I’ll be playing on it!

Plans for the future?

TS: I want to at least give Dirty Face a shot, a chance out there. We all want to be loved, I’m no different! It’s a good album.

If you could be a plant, what plant would it be and why?

TS: I’ve smoked a lot of plants in my time! But the one I can remember as a child was the Bluebell. We used to go on school trips to Westwood. I was always blown away, hence there is a song called “Bluebell Woods” on the second album! Brings me back a smile again!


I want to thank Terry for taking the time to share a little bit of what makes him and Dirty Face tick. You can find Dirty Face on Facebook here: Dirty Face

Album available at Create Space or Amazon

And I leave you with a fun video of the title track off Terry’s album

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