|Born||October 31, 1967 |
|Origin||New York, New York, United States|
|Genres||Power pop, rock|
|Occupation(s)||Bassist, songwriter, producer|
|Instruments||Bass guitar, guitar, keyboards, drums, vocals|
|Associated acts||Fountains of Wayne, Ivy, Fever High, Tinted Windows, The Monkees|
For me, it's just more satisfying when you follow the rules rather than just make a bunch of sounds. The magic of just making noise in the studio goes away after a while.
Scotland is a picturesque country where the people are friendly yet completely incomprehensible. Also, the national delicacy is a sheep's stomach filled with its liver, lungs, and heart.
In the '80s, they were using an awful lot of technology but hadn't really figured out how it worked yet… You had these really great, simple pop songs turned into these gigantic overproductions.
Your job as a producer is to make suggestions without putting your ego in front of everything else. Also, I think you want to focus on that artist's best qualities and really highlight them.
I am not very regimented unless I have to be. I wish I was someone that could just write every day, but I tend to work on specific projects for a specific period of time and then stop.
Most of the jobs I've gotten are from people calling me. I don't actively solicit a lot of work like that, but maybe I should.
Coachella is a magnet for music-biz luminaries such as Tara Reid, Paris Hilton, and Cameron Diaz.
Most of your day is spent working, and being in a band is no different. We're just business travelers in a way.
We were called 'Three Men Who, When Standing Side by Side, Have a Wingspan of Over Twelve Feet.' We had that name for a week or so. We were also called 'Are You My Mother?' for awhile. We went through a lot of really dumb band names – almost as dumb as Fountains of Wayne.
I think when we were starting out, it was more about imitating our songwriting heroes. We would try to write songs like Neil Finn, or we would try to write songs like Ray Davies, or we would try to write songs like Glenn Tilbrook.
I think with musicals, it's much more part of the script. They don't want songs that would stop the show; they need songs that keep the plot moving.
With Fountains of Wayne, after 'Stacy's Mom' happened, we started making a little bit more money and getting a little bit more known.
I think I initially started inventing characters in my songs because I didn't want to write directly about myself. Also, as a kid, I loved all the character names in Beatles songs, like Eleanor Rigby and Lovely Rita and Mean Mr. Mustard and Maxwell and Rocky Raccoon.
I had a job transcribing a biotechnology-litigation seminar. You put headphones on and fast-forward and stop with your feet. There were a lot of 'um's.'
I think in most cases, when you're writing a song, you're just making up a little story, and you're not really thinking about making a point one way or another about it. You're just coming up with a little scenario and seeing it through, and that's it.
The Cleveland Cavaliers are forced to play in something called the 'Quicken Loans Arena.' This is a terrible name for a sports venue.
The truth is that I don't work any harder than anyone else in the world. I don't work 18-hour days. I don't stay up until 4 in the morning trying to finish a line.
I think people sometimes confuse 'catchy' with something that should automatically be a hit in today's world. I mean, obviously we write a lot of stuff that's catchy, that sticks in your head. But that doesn't necessarily mean that middle-school kids are going to want to listen to a song about a lawyer or a Subaru or whatever.
The Ting Tings have been a huge hit in my family. I have two young daughters, and both of them love that record, so I pretty much have to listen to that ten times a day.
It would probably be better if I got involved in fewer things just because I'd have more time to write for my own purposes… But if somebody calls you up with a really cool project, it's hard to just say 'no' because you don't feel like working.
Andy Chase and I were keyboard players originally, and we became guitarists later. But it's fun for us to focus more on the keyboard stuff sometimes.
Bands like R.E.M. and even The Replacements, during that initial wave of college rock, would sell 40, 50, 100,000 copies of a record, and that would be seen as extremely successful – and definitely enough to keep doing more.
What should a song be about? It's a trick question for songwriters because lots of amazing songs aren't 'about' anything. Or, at least, they're not about anything that's obvious or logical.
When you're writing for a show, you're writing part of the script. You have to tell the story.
One of the more surreal days I've ever had in the recording studio was Martin Fry teaching Hugh Grant his old dance moves. Showing him how to do the hair-flip and the point, and all these sort of trademark moves of his.
I always have to be thinking about who's going to be singing this song, what the context is. I don't sit around just writing in a vacuum, ever.
I'm just like anybody else: I have stuff to do in the day, whether that's writing a song or recording a song. I try to treat everything I do as just work.
With the TV stuff, we usually hand in final, finished tracks. The turnaround time is so tight that there's no time to demo anything; you just do it.
I normally write on acoustic guitar, although piano is the instrument that I actually studied. Occasionally, I'll write on the piano or sometimes with no instrument at all.
If you're sitting in a place like Martha's Vineyard, I don't think you're going to write a song about a ski resort.
London is a vast, complex city designed by the same guy who created the Habitrail.
In promotional mode, every day is a series of decisions. You can easily fill up your day with checklist stuff.
Saxon, if you are unfamiliar, is a British heavy-metal band that has been around since the mid-'70s and was in no small part the inspiration for Spinal Tap.
Making your own records is really satisfying in the sense that you more or less get to do what you want. It may not sell or whatever, but on an artistic level, the only people that you really have to fight with are the people in your own band.
I've never really had the desire to be a front person or a solo artist. I don't really create that much of a hierarchy in my mind.
The nature of the music business is such that it's better to have a few chances for some things to be successful than just one, and that's kind of been my attitude all along.
Every year, there's some band that plays guitar-oriented pop music that has a single, but for the most part, it's kind of relegated to the sidelines.
I think one of the pitfalls of doing your own music is that sometimes you can never be satisfied with it: you're afraid to say that it's done, and you keep reworking it or re-recording it or re-writing it.
The Mall Of America, outside Minneapolis, is just a mall. Yeah, it's big. So, like, instead of your typical 12 Starbucks, there are 30.
Really, music is what I'm interested in, and the lyric part of it came from just having to have something to sing.
Either I need an assignment with a strict deadline – like something for a movie or a TV show or whatever – or else I need to create a made-up deadline for myself for my own records. Otherwise, I don't write anything.
I'm not comfortable as a lead singer. Maybe I could do it in the studio, but I wouldn't have the confidence to play shows.
I tend to write songs that are about something pretty specific. A lot of them tell some kind of little made-up story.
With Fountains Of Wayne, I almost always start with lyrics – maybe not the entire lyric, but I almost always need a couplet or something, and then I work from there. With Ivy, it's much more about the atmosphere and the vibe.
I generally prefer to come in to the studio with a fully written song and then work on the arrangement with the band. Sometimes even the arrangements are pretty much already worked out in my head, but other times we experiment.
I don't know if there's a particular project, but one movie that I was really disappointed I didn't get to work on was Judd Apatow's 'Walk Hard.'
It's always been my philosophy to keep a lot of balls in the air. With music, most things don't pan out, so you try to increase your odds by being involved with a million things at once.
As a writer, I find it very satisfying when a lyric suddenly ties together more neatly than you expected it to. But for the listener, hearing a good lyric is not generally as exciting as hearing a great beat or a great riff or a great melody or even a distinctive singing voice for the first time.
I started taking piano lessons when I was about 5, and there was always a lot of music in my family: my parents both play instruments, my grandparents were classical violinists, and my grandfather was actually a music professor and a conductor.