Friday, March 09, 2007

Mini-Interview: One Trick Pony

One of the best things about the LA music scene is how distinctly varied it can often be. You'd never mistake Cold War Kids for The Little Ones, or The Lights From Here for The Movies.

Take One Trick Pony, for example, a band that refers to themselves as "indie/experimental" on the Myspace, but "really goddamn pretty" would probably be a more apt description. Just listen to Box Song, the quiet, almost lullaby-like track off of their new album Phantom Pains -- you can find the MP3 for download at the end of this article -- and you'll find it's about different from anything you're probably listening to right now.

We recently corresponded with One Trick Pony's lead, Randolph, about the making of the album, what inspires the band's unique sound, and more.

Hi, Randolph. Can you tell me a little bit about the recording of the album?

The album actually took almost two years to complete, mostly beacause drastic band member changes, money, and and changing of studio's in the middle of recording. The first song was Little Packets of... which I recorded with a producer named George Dum. It was done when our drummer and bassist at the time decided they'd rather vacation than stay around to record.

However I have the philosophy that things should get done whether people show up or not and you deal with your limitations, hopefully turning them into assets. The result was a stripped down song with guitar, vox, violin (Chanlene Huang), and some sampled and looped snare clicking noises.

I think the theme of the album was created out of limitations. After that, we toured with Death to Anders for a short while which pushed the process back. We recorded off and on for the next year or so and late in the game I ever rerecorded all the vocals in another studio.

Where did you record?

We started the recording in George Dum's studio in North Hollywood where we did little packets of..., spinning movies, and parts of machines night out and city heart.

We ran out of money so the whole project stalled for months, however I met Jon Mattox who started a small label called Bright Orange Records and he decided to front us and finish the album in his studio, also in north hollywood. Our first song together was box song.

What was the process like?

I think the process as a whole was rather frustrating in our particular situation. There were so many stops and starts due to money that I felt it interferred with the the continuity of the songs. But it gave me time to really listen to them over the stalled months, and pin point what I liked and didn't like, allowing me to strip out or add in what I probably wouldn't have thought of had I been rushed.

Also, since the span of time from start to completion was so long, my writing as well as my taste started to change the later songs hint at what is to come. Under the conditions, lack of money and restricted studio usage, I am happy with how it came out and I learned a great deal as to how I want to do the next album, which is already in the planning stage.

Who did you work with?

Initially we were working with George Dum and later we switch over to working Jon Mattox, both of who worked as engineers and consultative co-producers. I met Jon through an artist he recorded named Erinn Williams. I liked the stripped down aesthetic of her recordings so she put me in touch.

When did you start making music? What inspired you to start?

I started relatively late in life, picked up a guitar at 15 then quit until was 19. Went to college and played alone for years, blues mostly and Hendrix (my first inspiration, the song Elecric Lady Land).

By my last year I was in a incredibly lame jam band , just doing blues riffs. I didn't know much about rock actually, I grew up on random things as a kid like Stevie Wonder, The Police, James Taylor, Paul Simon, jazz like Jimmy Smith, and Prince. After that my sisters and the neigborhood turned me onto hip-hop, which, oddly enough, lasted through most of my life.

The more I played guitar, the more I had to expand my taste through a none-linear web of influences in a short period of time, going backward and branching out, learning what most people probably grew up with naturally. Radiohead being my next big discovery and inspiration.

Still, I'd never sang until I heard Jeff Buckley (after he had been dead for years) in early 2003. I feel I did some strange musical growth spurt and expansion, somehow ending up in this bizarre genre (whatever genre that is).

You have a very unique sound in the LA music scene. Do you think that's helped you, hindered you, or a bit of both?

I think it's both. In the short term, it's always painful to be different. Not to be too self important because when I think of someone truly unique I don't necessarily think of myself, I think of people like David Thomas Broughton or Bjork or Deerhoof, but it can be frustrating to feel unappreciated and to be passed over for bands that you would consider unoriginal or contrived.

Unfortunately, I get the feeling that people will always feel more comfortable with sounds that they've heard before or what the formidable crowd of "cool" deems worthy.

Not that I'm bitter! Seriousely, I like the music I'm making and I feel thats all I wanted. People will recognize it if it has merit, at some point in time at least. If not, I did what I wanted to do.

What's your favorite song that you've worked on?

I think Eater of Hearts is my fovorite however Box Song was the most fun to record. I loved doing all the random voices and melodies and playing the glockenspiel. It was also a time when the whole band (morgan/bass, josh/drums) was in the studio hanging out, it was happy time for our disfunctional otp family.

Last question... What are you listerning to these days?

David Thomas Broughton - A Complete Guide to Insufficiency, Deerhoof - Apple O, Koop - Waltz For Koop, Thom York - Eraser, Nick Drake - Way to Blue, Tom Waits - Nighthawks at The Diner & The Black Rider, Astrud Gilberto - Best of, The Libertines - the song called The Man Who Would be King, Belle and Sebastian - Story Telling, Joy Division - Closer, Emily Haines - Knives Don't Have Your Back, Modest Mouse - Good News..., Sigur Ros - Von, El P - I'll Sleep When You're Dead, and Mr. Lif.

And local bands like Transmissions, Death to Anders, The Happy Hollows, Henry Clay People, Die Rockers Die, Health, Rademacher from fresno (I love this band), Todd Mclaughlin. I really like the venues The Cocaine and il Corral.

That's it! Thanks for your time.

One Trick Pony are playing this Sunday night at The Eagle Rock Bowling and Drinking Club at All-Star Lanes in, duh, Eagle Rock.

- Box Song MP3 (YouSendIt Link - Expires in one week)


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