Friday, February 16, 2007

Mini-Interview: The Minor Canon

Your first impression of The Minor Canon's new self-released album No Good Deed Goes Unpunished will likely be that it's the perfect music to listen to on a lazy, slow-to-rise Sunday morning -- but give it a few days and you'll realize that its melancholy pop sound has successfully invaded the rest of your week, as well...

It's solid stuff, songs made by a guy who comes across like his heart is literally on the line, and there's not a single bad or mediocre track to be found on the whole cd. It's so good that we were galled that we hadn't really covered the LA band before on the site and set out to rectify that asap.

Here's how our conversation with singer/songwriter Paul Larson went.

Congratulations on the release of the new album, Paul. I've been enjoying it a lot. What was your experience recording it?

Thanks! Well you know, strikes and gutters. We had to, sort of, claw our way through this record. Recording in different studios on the cheap, at my apartment in Silver Lake, and at a high school auditorium in Burbank. We were trying to spend money as wisely as possible.

We got a little help from our friends here and there, which made the whole process easier and much more fun.

I believe I read elsewhere that you'd written many of these songs years ago. Why wait to record them until now?

Yes, the LA Times article by Kevin Bronson. As I told Kevin, some of the songs on the record were written years ago while I was playing in other bands.

None of which I felt were appropriate stylistically for these songs. It was just me with my acoustic guitar wishing it could sound like Highway 61, but I was playing in indie rock bands opening up for Modest Mouse, Les Savy Fav, and bands like that. I just feel like now is the right time.

I understand you started the band as a solo project. How did it come together?

I had demoed a few songs, where I played, recorded, and produced everything. I didn’t really like the way it came out. I almost gave up on the project.

Then my friend Ian MacKinnon (Strictly Ballroom drummer and current manager of The Minor Canon) and I were sitting in my home studio listening to a Stax box set, when we sort of had a moment... I said to him, “I want to play in a band that sounds like this.” And he said ,“Then do it.”

From there I joined forces with, my childhood friend/piano/Hammond organ player, Ryan Blake and began working on the songs. Things have progressed and morphed since then but the idea’s the same.

We began auditioning people and we went through quite a few different players, but now I think we have a solid core. We have a lot of fun playing together and I’m extremely excited about the bands future. I made it a point to play only acoustic guitar on this record, but I'm itching to pick up an electric again.

Most of the guys in the band can play other instruments as well. The future is bright.

You guys have a very unique sound for an act in the LA music scene. How did you arrive at it?

Some of our influences are right there tapping you on the shoulder, but we aren’t exactly trying to sound like anyone else. As for the rest of the LA music scene, it’s a big pond. I think there’s room for us. Hopefully, people like where we are coming from.

What do you think the best and worst parts of being in a band here in LA are?

The best part is the amount of amazingly talented people in the area. So many resources.

The worst part…the amount of amazingly talented people in the area. Fuck. Everyone you meet is in a band. But seriously, I've found the LA crowd is a little bit harder to please than most, and it keeps you honest and humble. If you are worth watching, than people will watch.

So what's the name of the band from? I've found references online to a children's story by a 19th century writer and the dictionary says, "one who has been admitted to a chapter, but has not yet received a prebend." What's the significance?

I took it, in part, from a children’s book by frank Stockton called the griffin and the minor canon. Maurice Sendak did the illustrations and I have always been drawn to his stuff. I like that there’s room for different interpretations for one simple name.

What's next for you?

Our record release event next week on Tuesday, February 20th at Sea Level Records at 6:30pm. An April residency at Spaceland. (We are doing 5 different cover songs, for 5 Mondays.) Planning a west coast tour. And lots of new songs…

Last question: Who are you listening to these days?

New Dntel record, Tapes n Tapes, Wolf Parade, Mystic Chords of Memory & Nobody(the tree colored see record), The Dying Californian, The Little Ones... I'm waiting for new Arcade Fire and All Rmiles records to come out. Throw in some Bob Dylan, Otis, Supremes, James Carr, Neil Young, Wire, Pavement, Slint, and other old reliables

That's it. Thanks very much for your time.

RELATED LINKS: - It Never Was MP3 (You Send It link - Expires in one week)


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