Throughout Matthew Sweet’s long career, one thing has remained constant: his uncanny ability to create memorable melodic rock. After spending the 80’s in relative obscurity, soaking in the fertile scenes of Athens, Georgia & Hoboken, New Jersey, Sweet finally hit his stride with 1991’s Girlfriend. Two years later, he followed that with Altered Beast, a darker affair.
He put together a supergroup called the Thorns with Pete Droge and Shawn Mullins. He also teamed with Bangles frontwoman Sussannah Hoffs for a trio of covers albums, while continuing to issue albums on his own.
His latest project is the closest he’s ever come to a true “solo album” – everything except drums was played by Sweet, he also produced and mixed the album himself at his home studio. Called Catspaw, it shows off a heavier, darker side of Sweet, something we haven’t seen since Altered Beast.
We talk with the Nebraska native about handling all the lead guitar for the first time on an album, and how an obscure band inspired the title of one of his new songs. Plus, he talks about how he became a part of the Athens, Georgia music scene fresh out of high school.
Chris Hillman was a founding member of the Byrds, one of the most important American bands of the 1960’s, charting hits like “Mr. Tambourine Man,” and “Turn Turn Turn.” After recording the groundbreaking Sweetheart of the Rodeo, which mixed country and rock together, he formed the Flying Burrito Brothers with Gram Parsons.
He also spent time in Stephen Stills’ supergroup, Manassas, worked with Richie Furay and JD Souther, and eventually had commercial success with the Desert Rose Band.
Hillman chronicles his life in music with Time Between – My Life and a Byrd, Burrito Brother and Beyond, just out from BMG Books.
We chat with Hillman about why he chose to write his autobiography without a co-author, and why he eschewed the typical “tell all” book. He also talks about what made Gene Clark such a gifted songwriter and how playing with Stephen Stills really taught him a lot.
Van Duren came out of the same Memphis music scene as cult heroes Big Star and has played with various members of that band. After years of making melodic music in relative obscurity, Duren was approached by a pair of Australian filmmakers who wanted to make a documentary about him. The resulting movie, Waiting – the Van Duren Story, has played at a few film festivals, but has yet to secure wide distribution.
More importantly, Omnivore Recordings assembled a soundtrack to the film, which helped introduce Duren’s music to a whole new audience. Now, that same label has issued the artist’s first two solo albums – Are You Serious? and Idiot Optimism – the former being highly collectible among power pop aficionados, the latter getting its first official release.
We chat with the Memphis native about twice auditioning for Big Star, and what he learned from guitarist Chris Bell. Plus, why after recording his second album, he walked away without it being released, and the prospect of new music from his duo Loveland Duren in 2021.
NRBQ has been around for over 50 years, flying under the radar, all the while blending rock, jazz, blues, rockabilly, country and whatever else they see fit, into their own unique brand of music. The band teamed up with Omnivore Recordings several years ago, and that collaboration has netted a career-spanning, 5-disc collection called High Noon, and a 5-song EP, Happy Talk, among other great releases.
The latest partnership is the band’s first-ever rarities collection, entitled In-Frequencies. This new, 16-track set literally spans the band’s entire career, starting with a sound check (recorded in a bowling alley!) that dates back to 1968 all the way to 2018 and the band’s version of the classic standard “April Showers.”
We chat with band leader and keyboardist Terry Adams about some of the crazy stories behind rarities, like “Sho’ Need Love,” performed by the Dickens (who were actually NRBQ roadies); “Orioles,” a track written for, but never given to, the Baltimore baseball team; and their unlikely cover of “Chapel of Love.” Plus he tells us of a new NRBQ album that should be issued early next year.
Savoy Brown, one of the last of the original British blues bands. led by guitarist Kim Simmonds. Formed in 1965, the band has been through numerous lineup changes, with former members going on to be in Fleetwood Mac, UFO, King Crimson, Foghat and others. The one constant has been Simmonds, who is showing no signs of slowing down. Hot on the heels of the critically-acclaimed album City Night from last year, the band returns with their 41st long player, appropriately titled Ain’t Done Yet. Full of multi-layered guitars and the blues rock that Simmonds perfected decades ago.
He tells us why he decided to layer up the guitars on this album and the stories behind the songs. Plus, interesting tidbits on how he chooses which guitar to play on each song and how he puts together demos. Surprisingly, he also tells us good things that will come of the recent pandemic.
The Kings blasted out of Ontario in 1980 with the one-two punch of “This Beat Goes On/Switchin’ to Glide,” which became a weekend anthem for a large part of both Canada & the US. The parent album, The Kings Are Here, came out on Elektra and was produced by the great Bob Ezrin, who helmed classic records by Alice Cooper, Kiss and Pink Floyd.
Right as all of that was happening in the States, the Kings played to one of their largest crowds back in their native Canada at the Heatwave Festival. Known as the Punk and New Wave Woodstock, the outdoor concert boasted a crowd at around 100,000 people, and featured a bulletproof lineup of Talking Heads, B-52’s, the Pretenders, Rockpile, Elvis Costello and – the Kings, who closed the night at around midnight.
40 years later, this historic performance is finally being made available through the band’s Youtube channel, thekingsarehere. We talk with singer/bassist David Diamond and guitarist Mr. Zero from the Mercedes!
They talk about the painstaking process that went in to the restoration of this historic video. Plus, they tell the stories of how they got hooked up with producer Ezrin and how “This Beat Goes On” / “Switchin’ to Glide” became a surprise hit.
Cheryl Pawelski is one of the founders of Omnivore Recordings – since 2010 they’ve issued over 400 releases, including archival albums from the Beach Boys, Big Star, Gene Clark, Lone Justice, Jellyfish, the Raspberries, Buck Owens, the Knack, the Staple Singers and NRBQ, just to name a few. From their website description, the label says that their releases contribute to “the ongoing conversation between artists and their audiences.”
Cheryl won a Grammy for Best Historical Album in 2014 for Hank Williams – The Garden Spot Programs, 1950, and has been nominated for several others. Omnivore has just signed a deal for the rights to reissue music from CoEd Records, one of the legendary labels of the doo wop era, featuring The Duprees, The Crests, The Rivieras, Adam Wade and others.
Cheryl provided much of the original artwork of these classic releases from her personal collection. We chat how her label acquired the rights to this hallowed material. Besides doo wop, we also chat upcoming releases from Little Richard and NRBQ.
Doug “Cosmo” Clifford was the drummer for the legendary band, Creedence Clearwater Revival – recording seven studio albums, and charting 12 songs in the Top 40, many like “Proud Mary” and “Fortunate Son,” woven into the fabric of our American culture. He helped keep that music alive in the concert scene with bassist Stu Cook in Creedence Clearwater Revisited – a band that just hung up their shoes last year.
With a little extra time on his hands, Clifford did some spring cleaning and came across a stack of tapes that he’d forgotten about – among them a solo album that he recorded back in 1985, but never released called Magic Window. Now, 35 years later, that record is finally getting its release.
We chat about the early beginnings of CCR, what a crazy year 1969 was for the band (3 albums and a historic performance at Woodstock), and how some of his musical buddies have been holding up during this pandemic.
Lisa Mills is a soul/blues singer who belts out her music in a raw, melodic and soulfully-honest way with blues, gospel and soul influences. Born in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, she now lives in Alabama. We first talked with Lisa back with her I’m Changing album in 2014.
Her latest project, you might call a soul/blues tour de force – The Triangle. With the guidance of producer Fred Mollin, the idea was to travel, in one week’s time, to three different musical hotbeds – Memphis, Tennessee; Jackson, Mississippi; and Muscle Shoals, Alabama, and record there. But, they took this idea a step further – only recording songs that were originally recorded in each of those cities. The result is easily the finest, most passionate set of songs Lisa has ever put together.
We chat with Lisa from her temporary home in Germany about picking all the great soul covers on the album, plus how the Covid-19 pandemic has affected the album’s promotion.
Marty Stuart has won multiple Grammys, had big hits on the Country charts, like “The Whiskey Ain’t Workin” with Travis Tritt, and has played with a who’s who of country legends. In 1999, Stuart recorded a concept album called The Pilgrim. Based on true events from his hometown of Philadelphia, Mississippi, the album is a story of tragedy, loss and redemption. Featuring guest performances from Emmylou Harris, Johnny Cash, George Jones, Ralph Stanley, and more, it was a heady project for sure.
Unfortunately, the album was deemed out of step by his then-record label, who didn’t know what to do with it. Yet, the album’s commercial failure help set Stuart on a truer path musically. Now, 20 years later, he’s revisiting project in a beautiful, hard cover book called The Pilgrim, a Wall to Wall Odyssey from BMG books. The 187 page coffee table item is chock full of essays about the writing and recording process, plus fantastic photographs, many that Stuart took himself. In addition, the set comes with a bonus CD of this landmark album.
We talk to Stuart about the events that led to The Pilgrim, how he chose the guest artists, and what advice Johnny Cash gave him after the album’s commercial failure.