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Broke-Ass Band Interview – Think About Life

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I checked out Think About Life a few Fridays ago at Bottom of the Hill.  Their second album, Family, was released last May.  I listened to it for the first time the day before the show and was hooked, literally, ten seconds into the album.  It’s accessible from the first track through the end.  And'they’re better live.  High-energy, grooved songs make it impossible not to move.  The only bad part of the show was that it wasn’t sold out.  It should have been.

The band. Pleading isn't necessary to listen.

The band participated in an email interview to offer a glimpse into their music and lives.  But to give y’all some visceral Think About Life perspective before learning more about them, check out the YouTube clip of 'œJohanna', the first single on Family.  The audio quality isn’t great, but the visuals tell the story.

For a sample of what the album sounds like, click here.  That song is called Sweet Sixteen.

StevenThanks for taking time out of the grueling tour schedule to answer a few questions for us.  I saw you perform Friday night (a few back) and was curious if you find it disappointing when venues aren’t at capacity.  You guys are tons of fun, so it’s strange that people pass on tons of fun for a little bit of fun.  Does it affect your performances?

Gary Coleman is a little bit of fun. The car is tons of fun. David Hasselhoff is lame. Unless he's hammered and groveling on the floor.

Think About Life:  Thanks for the kind words. Glad you had “tons of fun”…we sure did! The size of a crowd can’t really affect our performance.  We have so much fun playing the songs, and just as much fun writing the songs.  It’s just exciting getting to travel around playing songs we’re proud of and that make us happy, to new people every night.  I think usually that’s obvious to a crowd, no matter what size and we get lots of reciprocated energy. Couldn’t ask for more.

StevenHow are you going about spreading the word of your music and sound?  Paying the PR agencies?  Do you favor a particularly cheap strategy that you could offer to other aspiring artists?

TAL:  I don’t know if I really have much advice as far as strategy.  We just play lots, whether that’s on the road or just in our jam space at home.  If you’re proud of what you’re doing and as long as you’re putting yourself out there and having fun there’s really no better way to attract attention.  People can tell if you’re faking it, or just aren’t completely passionate about what you’re doing.

This dude's obviously faking it. TAL...not faking it.

StevenVocally, I hear TV on the Radio.  Musically, well, there’s a lot going on musically.  That variety gives your sound a real complexity.  Do you have specific influences or styles?

TAL:  We definitely have a lot of influences, but I’m not too sure if TV on the Radio is one of them.  I’ve never really got into them, I have heard interviews with them and appreciated a lot of what they had to say on new music and their approach to music…so in that way I guess they’ve influenced me a little bit.  It’s pretty crazy actually, we all have so many different influences but there’s not too much music that any of us disagree on, so in the van we’ll jump from classics like Roy Orbison or old crooners like Bing Crosby, to stuff like the Dirty Projectors or Joan of Arc (one of my personal favorites), then we’ll turn on the radio and try to catch some Lady Gaga or any classic pop tune, then we’ll feel a little guilty so we’ll put on some Brazilian samba or Bossa nova stuff.  Oh, and Elton John definitely makes the rounds on our CD player.  Also I think a lot of us find inspiration in our peers here in Montreal or maybe just people we play with on the road like TuNe YaRds, or Slam Dunk from Victoria, British Columbia…they were awesome!

StevenGetting people to listen to full albums today is almost impossible, so the need to grab a listener with the first track is crucial.  The first twenty seconds of 'œJohanna' did just that and hooked me into the album.  It was immediate.  Was the placement of 'œJohanna' a conscious decision?

TAL: The placement was for sure pre-meditated. It’s fun to piece things together consciously like that, within a song, or in this case, the record as a whole.

StevenDo you still listen to albums, rather than shuffle it up on the iPod?  Is the idea of a cohesive album important to you as musicians?

Skippin' around on the ol' iPod.

TAL:  Oh man, for sure.  A full album is like any good story and hopefully as much thought is put into the structure just as much as some of the songs.  We are definitely guilty of skipping around like crazy on the radio or iPod, but who isn’t?  Sometimes you just want to rock out to your favorite jam or gem, or both, depending, but we listen to lots of full records cover to cover.

StevenWhat are your favorite songs to perform?  Do you try and mix covers in?  If so, which?

TAL:  For us, its just always fun to play new songs, and keep things fresh. But songs like “Havin’ my baby”, “Set you on Fire” and “Sweet Sixteen” seem to always get us and the crowd going. We never really do covers, although a couple months ago we played a 10 year anniversary show in Montreal where they asked us to play at least one cover from 1999.  So we did “Will You Be There” by Michael Jackson.  That was so much fun.  The song from the Free Willy movie. Pretty sweet.

StevenThere’s a lot of good music being made today, and competition is fierce to make a living of it.  Describe that type of pressure.  Ideally, making music is supposed to be a pure endeavor, so does monetizing yourselves alter the music-making process?

TAL: We are extremely lucky, and we have lots of great people doing things for us. Amy Butterer, from Billions Booking, can’t be thanked enough, Brian Neuman, our tour manager, works so hard for us and our manager, Andre Guerette from Opak, does so much for us, I can’t even imagine it all.  So, they all make it easy for us to keep it pure and we can just write, travel and perform without really thinking about it as a competition or anything like that.  Although sometimes Graham and I like to get into some competitions with other bands on the basketball court while we’re on the road.  We’re undefeated on the last tour, so bring it on!!

StevenTo all members'is this your full-time job?  What other sources of income are you relying on if not?

TAL:  For the most part we all have other part time jobs here in Montreal.  Caila works at a B&B, Martin works at a dance studio, Graham works at a Recording studio called The Pines in Griffin Town (an area of Montreal), and I work at a really great vegetarian cafe called Le Cagibi in the mile-end of Montreal.  We’re all lucky to have really great bosses that allow us to travel lots and give us work when we’re in town (we seldom are around to work these days).

StevenWhere’d you go while you were in San Francisco?

TAL:  We were only in town for the day but we managed to squeeze in some “Can Cun” burrito (soooo good), Martin and I walked down to the “dock of the bay” and did some whistling, we played some basketball at a court next to the venue, oh and I bought a skateboard at Deluxe. Pretty quick trip, but we’re all excited to spend some more time in San Francisco soon.  Love that city!

Thanks, guys.  For those of you in New York, Think About Life is playing at The Mercury Lounge on April 27th for the tons o’ fun price of $10.  It’s a Tuesday.  Check '˜em out.  Who doesn’t like dancin’ on a Tuesday?  No one.  That’s who.

April 27th'Show’s at 9:30.

Think About Life

The Mercury Lounge

217 East Houston Street

New York, NY

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Steven K. - Sound Reasoner

Steven K. - Sound Reasoner

Steven's road to San Francisco (in chronological order): Woodbury (CT), Bethlehem (CT), Woodbury, Storrs (CT), Woodbury, Brighton (MA), Brookline (MA), Cambridge (MA), Woodbury, San Francisco. He picked up a BA in Storrs 2002 and an MBA in Boston in 2007. He still uses his student ID card to get discounts. Shhhhhhhhhhhhh.

1 Comment

  1. […] Steven: Thanks for taking time out of the grueling tour schedule to answer a few questions for us. I saw you perform Friday night (a few back) and was curious if you find it disappointing when venues aren’t at capacity. You guys are tons of fun, so it’s strange that people pass on tons of fun for a little bit of fun. Does it affect your performances?. […]