quarta-feira, 4 de março de 2015

Gone and Lost Forever with Static in Verona - An Interview

Rob Merz é a mente por trás do Static in Verona.

Vida longa já no cenário tocando em várias bandas, mas agora parece que sua verve de compositor e de criação chegou a plena maturidade com o último álbum, Everything You Knew Before You Knew Everything, lançado no ano passado, O disco passeia com desenvoltura por todos os sub gêneros do chamado indie rock, tem shoegazer, tem college rock, tem brit pop, garagem, é um verdadeiro caldeirão de influências que no resultado final dá uma coerência musical ao trabalho

Rob ou Static in Verona tem o dom de compor verdadeiras pérolas pop, pena que ainda não o descobriram.

***** Interview with Static in Verona *****

Q. When did Static in Verona started, tell us about the history...
I was in a band about 7 years ago that recorded an album and started playing gigs around Chicago. After a while, many of the guys wanted to play more and more covers and I was feeling creatively uninspired because of it, so I started recording demos for songs that could be on the next album.

In the process I was having more fun doing that than I was playing in the band and was realizing that many of the songs would probably not work with them. Whether its because of the instrumentation or the style, etc. Eventually, upon the news that my wife was pregnant with our first child, I decided to quit the band and take an extended hiatus from live music to be with my family. I have always been a night owl that doesn't really need much sleep, so I'd spend my nights refining my demos until I had an album's worth of material and then decided to release it onto the internet under the name "Static in Verona" and see what happened. The actual "band" is just me playing all the instruments and mixing/recording/producing the album.

The response was great and I felt like I had something. The debut album came out in 2009 and is called "Be Quiet As You Leave." It's now available for free on Bandcamp.

Q: Who are your influences?
I listen to a very wide range of music and feel like I'm influenced by all of it differently. The band Wilco really opened my eyes to doing stuff you want to do and not really caring about if others like it or not. What's the point of creating music that you don't believe in. From Beck I've learned how to stay true to yourself no matter what style of music you've made. Whether he makes a folk or hip-hop or even his Song Reader sheet music project, you can always tell its inherently Beck. Radiohead showed me how to incorporate modern technology while keeping a foot in the analog side. I get ideas from Jazz musicians such as Cannonball Adderly on structure and melody and I get ideas about mood and atmosphere from a classical artists like Max Richter. I feel like the more music you listen too, the broader your music knowledge will be and, in turn, you'll write better songs.

Q. Make a list of 5 albums of all time…
Radiohead: Kid A
Wilco: Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
Bon Iver: For Emma Forever Ago & Bon Iver (I know this is two but I can't decide between them)
Beck: Sea Change
Guster: Gone and Lost Forever

Also here's 10 more:
Grateful Dead: Europe '72
Animal Collective: Merriweather Post Pavillion
Morphine: Cure for Pain
Cannonball Adderly: Live at the Venue
The Damnwells: Air Stereo
Death Cab for Cutie: Transatlanticism
The Judybats: Pain Makes You Beautiful
Matthew Sweet Girlfriend
Mike Doughty: Haughty Melodic
Pink Floyd: Dark Side of the Moon

Q. How do you feel playing live?
Honestly, playing live was never my absolute favorite thing since I've always been more of a recording guy. All through high school I'd spend my nights recording songs into a Fostex 4-track recorder. It wasn't until college when I really played in front of considerable crowds where I appreciated that side of music. And while I've definitely had those shows that you'll always remember in front of hundreds of screaming people just loving everything you're doing, I'd say 75% of them (especially in the last 10 years) were for a small crowd that really could care less. And those are the shows that made me want to take a break from playing live. I know it’s a very "un-rock and roll" thing to say, but until the demand is there for me to play live again, I'll probably just stick to recording.

Q. How do you describe Static in Verona sounds?
I sometimes call it "dreamrock" or "popgaze". The idea has always been to take the conventional pop song aesthetic, with catchy hooks and strong harmonies and merge them with some of the more unconventional music that the average person might not like or even know. So making the inaccessible a little more accessible. I tend to turn to shoegaze music a lot because I love music that creates a mood and ambience, but I also incorporate elements of EDM and folk as well. One line from a review that I use a lot is "Dreamy indie pop weaving an eclectic mic of experimental, electronic and rock." That about sums it up.

Q: Tell us about the process of recording the songs?
My latest album, “Everything You Knew Before You Knew Everything," which I released in March 2014, took over 4 years to write/record and I went through a lot during it (my parents separated, I had another child, I moved to a different town). There were times where I thought I would never finish it and I was suffering from some writer’s block. So I created it in a somewhat unique way where I recorded all the music first and then I’d listen to it over and over again (in the car, at home, etc.) and write lyrics in small doses when something hit me. Basically I wrote 13 songs at the same time, which is about as productive as it sounds. After a couple years of this, I got really used to hearing the songs as instrumentals and was worried about messing them up with lyrics and vocals. But when I finally sang on that first song, it was very liberating. After that, the rest of the songs took shape and I was really excited about finishing the album. I was then able to further refine the songs in the mixing stages and finally able to convert these songs I'd been listening to for years into a greater cohesive piece of music that even heightened the instrumentals I'd been listening too.

Q. Which new bands do you recommended?
I am constantly listening to new music and every year I make a list of my favorite songs and albums (which can be viewed on my web site at http://staticinverona.com/blog.html ). Here are some of my most recent finds:

Temples, Ages and Ages, Sturgill Simpson, Quiet Hounds, Alvvays, Apache Relay, High/Low, Thumpers, Literature

Q: Which band would you love to made a cover version of?
I am usually opposed to doing covers, it's just not my thing. Although recently some British publishers asked me to contribute a cover to an EP they were creating to market to film companies that make movie trailers and getting a song in a movie, tv show or commercial has always been my dream. So they asked me to do David Bowie's "Heroes" and I thought it was a perfect song for me to cover with all the layers and the way it builds. My version starts incredibly mellow with just a piano and by 40 seconds sounds like a Mogwai or Hammock song (which are 2 more bands you should check out if you don't know them). I was extremely happy with the final product. A rough mix can be heard here: https://soundcloud.com/staticinverona/heroes-david-bowie-cover

Q: What´s the plans for future....
Right now I am 80% done recording my next album "Odd Anthem" which I hope to release this summer. It has a similar dreamy feel, but I explored with layering beats and percussion a bit more. Some of the songs also have a little more of a grander, symphonic feel to them.

Q: Any parting words?
Currently, "Everything You Knew Before You Knew Everything" is name-your-price (even free) on Bandcamp. My feeling was that its been out for 9 months now and at this point I just want people to hear it. If it’s a choice between 20 people paying for it or 200 people getting it for free. I'd rather have the 200 people get it. What's the point of making music if no one hears it and I record everything at my home studio so the cost to make it is very minimual.

Also, I am pretty active on Twitter, so please follow me at @staticinverona and drop me a line to let me know what you think about my music. Love it or hate it, I just like feedback from people.