Ryan Roger O’Toole is a songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and vocalist who releases his music under the banner, Amateur Blonde. By turns rocking and atmospheric, Ryan’s songs are contemplative and frequently autobiographical. Initially a studio project, Ryan also performs live as Amateur Blonde backed by a rotating group of friends and musicians. Ryan and I discussed his process of solo recording in contrast with his experiences with group collaboration, how record companies sowed the seeds of their own downfall, and how he nearly blew up one of our musical heroes.
Nick Africano is a Brooklyn based singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist whose work combines American roots music with soul and straight ahead rock n' roll. A powerful and impassioned performer, he has toured extensively in the United States and Europe. We got together and played some tracks from his latest album, If Timing Were of Different Course and Fire, while discussing the origins of rock n' roll, the advantages and disadvantages of self-producing, and aspects of Bruce Springsteen's wardrobe.
Victoria Levy is a spirited and idiosyncratic singer and songwriter who is not afraid to mine awkward personal experiences and utilize wry humor in her songwriting. Her latest album, Nowhere to Be, was recorded with multiple Grammy Award winning producer Kirk Yano and features musicians Neal Evans (Soulive, & Lettuce), Steve Holley (Paul McCartney/Wings, Ian Hunter, Joe Cocker) Tommy Mandel (Bryan Adams, Dire Straits, Cyndi Lauper, B52's) & Beki Brindle (Gracepool, Jerry Lee Lewis, Yank Rachell). We sat down to talk about her creative process and discuss the classic question posed by Frank Zappa: Does humor belong in music? (Spoiler: Yes.)
Jesse Fairbairn is the bassist for the Brooklyn based band, Hounds Basket (the omission of the apostrophe is intentional) and formerly played guitar with the sadly defunct Long Island City local favorites, St. Angels. We discussed his band's newest single, "Asshole City," his eclectic musical tastes and early influences, and his "kick 'em in the face and get off stage" approach to performing.
Tom Kelleher (T.K. to his friends) is a born and bred New Yorker, who honed his vocal chops in 1950s, singing doo-wop harmony under the corner streetlights. His group, The Gentle-Tones, performed locally and would record demos of several songs at NBC studies in New York. Though Tom would later leave The Gentle-Tones to join the military, the remaining group, renamed The C-Tones, would record a song that Tom had written. The song, “Last Saturday Night,” was released on Arc Records, and met with some success on local charts, before the group disbanded.
WYPISI - Episode 10 - Featuring Diallo House
When You Play It, Say It! is a Cloudcast that ostensibly focuses on interviews with musical artists who present their work and explain their creative processes and influences, but in reality is a free-form (and usually somewhat drunken) show in which we talk about music and let slip some other things that maybe shouldn't be said.
These shows usually end up featuring broader discussions of genre (and the blurring of lines between), and plenty of music from out of left field is featured. When You Play It, Say It! is still in its relative infancy, and is continuing to search for the right mix of insightful and thought-provoking musical discussion, eclectic and often rare music, and just the right amount of juvenile humor.
Brett Warwick is a theatre artist and musician whose band, The Trembling Turncoats, spent years gigging around New York and released several albums of tight, intelligent power pop. We discussed the recording of his albums, the difference between power-pop and punk, and why TV theme songs may be the best songwriting.
In 1988, the doo-wop bug would bite again. Revisiting the music of his youth, Tom would put together a new a cappella vocal group called The Magic Touch. The group, which performs classics from the 50s and 60s alongside original material and inspired interpretations of more contemporary songs, performs and records to this day.
During this session we talked about learning how to harmonize on the street corner, the different great harmonic groups from all eras, and why disco music was bad for bartenders.
John Eccher, a.k.a. Big John, a.k.a. Big Daddy heads up the Long Island City based Big Daddy Project. Playing a brand of straight-ahead hard rock mixed with a bit of funk and plenty of New York attitude, they're known for the energy and party atmosphere of their live performances. John and I had a surprisingly wide ranging conversation discussing his own material along with other diverse subjects including outsider music, rock star deaths, and how to correctly pronounce the name of the Polish city, Lodz.
Diallo House is a New York based bassist, composer, and visual artist whose work spans multiple genres. Though he prefers to avoid categorization, much of his work has been in the jazz milieu. He has played alongside luminaries of the past, including the late John Hicks, while bringing the music into its future with his own band, Brooklyn Circle, featuring saxophonist Stacy Dillard and percussionist Ismael Lawal. When we got together, we played music from his debut album Night at the Eclipse while conversing about his working with and merging different musical styles, as well as discussing the effects of technology on music recording and distribution. Then we got too drunk to make any more sense. But at least we had fun.
When You Play It, Say It! is streamable via MixCloud.
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Christian Coleman plays the drums. Often. On almost any given night in New York City, he can be found playing with any of a number of his regular bands, including Trampleman, Brawlik, Martin Kelley & Affinity, The Adam Platt Trio, and Little Gorgeous. As a recording artist, his album (with pianist Gavin Ahearn) Cooper Ridge was released on Steeplechase Records. We talked about his musical upbringing, how his style vacillates between different collaborators, and for some reason we ended up talking about death.
Mike Varian a.k.a."Nice Guy Mike," is the drummer for the New York based punk band, Headfloss, as well as being a founding member of Long Island City's St. Angels. We played some material from the last Headfloss album, Bad Thoughts, and then spent some time talking about some of our favorite percussionists, trading off-color comments, and discussing Mike's preference for the "shut the fuck up" style of drumming.
Murat Aktürk plays guitar in the rock and blues trio, Daddy Long Legs. Recently inducted into the New York Blues Hall of Fame, the band is known for its raw and aggressive style, which infuses primal blues with the energy of punk. In this episode, we played some cuts from Daddy Long Legs' Norton Records LPs, Blood from a Stone and Evil Eye on You, discussed why New York is still the capitol of the world in terms of rock and roll (even though artists are treated better abroad), waxed rhapsodic about vinyl and cassette tapes, and dug out some rare live cuts from some New York legends.
Zac Lasher and Jay Leibowitz are two of the creators of Very Very, a pop/rock theatre piece based on William Shakespeare's As You Like It. Along with director Jason King Jones, they have put on a number of concert productions of the piece, showcasing the powerful and stylistically diverse score, exploring Shakespeare's play with contemporary eyes, and injecting it with the energy of rock n' roll.
Separately, their musical ventures have been no less intriguing and varied, with Lasher making a mark as a part of the progressive groove-oriented band, U-Melt, and Jay showcasing his songwriting on his album, Pedestrian Life. We sat down to discuss their work on Very Very as well as their own projects. Unfortunately, there were a number of technical problems during the session, but hopefully they will not distract too much from an engaging (and often humorous) session with these two unique artists.
Megan Kerper has been performing all over New York City for nearly a decade. She has played in numerous bands as well as having shared the stage with many local and national artists. Her self-produced debut EP, Looking On, showcases her capabilities as a singer, songwriter, guitarist, & producer. Currently, she is working on her follow-up Sophomore Album due out 2016. Apparently tequila does not agree with her, but that did not get the in way of discussing her diverse influences, intense study of jazz guitar, and her producer's mindset.