Friday, August 01, 2008

Interview: The Broken Remotes

Earlier this week, The Broken Remotes' Jonathan Leahy and I completed a marathon IM session where we talked about the past, present, and future of the upbeat local rock act.

At least, eventually...

RFSL (6:08:07 PM): Hey! You around? Sorry that I'm late.
BrokenRemotes (6:08:20 PM): The Broken Remotes do not tolerate lateness.
RFSL (6:08:41 PM): There you are.
BrokenRemotes (6:08:48 PM): That could not be a false-er statement...
BrokenRemotes (6:08:57 PM): Mark showed up late for the last gig.
BrokenRemotes (6:09:11 PM): And it was 100 yards away from his house...
BrokenRemotes (6:09:25 PM): Ha. Where was that?
BrokenRemotes (6:09:31 PM): The Echo
BrokenRemotes (6:09:52 PM): He and I live in a house, Sunset and Alvarado.
RFSL (6:10:05 PM): Ah, I used to live pretty close to there.
RFSL (6:10:13 PM): Over the hill on... McCollum.
BrokenRemotes (6:10:36 PM): Hmmm... don't know that one.
BrokenRemotes (6:10:47 PM): Can you tell me where it is, in terms of proximity to Burrito King?
RFSL (6:10:47 PM): It's near the Happy/Sad Foot sign.
BrokenRemotes (6:11:43 PM): Shit, you've stumped me. Should I know where that is?
RFSL (6:11:53 PM): It's by Mae Ploy?
RFSL (6:12:07 PM): The best (and perhaps cheapest) Thai restaurant in town.
RFSL (6:12:09 PM): IMHO.
RFSL (6:12:30 PM): Near Benton and Sunset.
BrokenRemotes (6:12:48 PM): Okay, I've been there.
BrokenRemotes (6:13:05 PM): My Thai isn't what it used to be.
RFSL (6:13:37 PM): Then down the street is the foot doctor that has a big rotating sign that has a foot with a smiling face on one side and a foot that looks exhausted and is propped up on crutches on the other.
BrokenRemotes (6:13:56 PM): Oh how I love classic signage like that.
RFSL (6:14:00 PM): I hear that Beck used to say he went by that to figure out what kind of day it would be.
RFSL (6:14:13 PM): That Beck...
BrokenRemotes (6:14:34 PM): Remember that carwash in the valley with the giant arm that held up the car for a sign?
RFSL (6:14:44 PM): Nope!
RFSL (6:14:56 PM): But I would probably go there.
BrokenRemotes (6:15:00 PM): Ventura near Poquito Mas.
RFSL (6:15:17 PM): So you guys just had two songs on an ABC Family program?
BrokenRemotes (6:15:19 PM): Somebody got pissed about this enormous disembodied arm
BrokenRemotes (6:15:27 PM): and they made them amputate it
RFSL (6:15:32 PM): !!!
BrokenRemotes (6:15:36 PM): so now it's just a hand holding a car
BrokenRemotes (6:15:46 PM): went from 60ft tall to 10ft tall...
RFSL (6:15:49 PM): Because that's much more subtle.
BrokenRemotes (6:15:56 PM): Exactly.
BrokenRemotes (6:16:12 PM): I like to imagine it's like Planet of the Apes -- the rest of the arm is still underground.
RFSL (6:16:27 PM): "You blew the whole thing up!"
RFSL (6:16:44 PM): As I misquote the late great Charlton Heston.
BrokenRemotes (6:16:49 PM): I'm sorry, were you trying to start the interview a little while ago?
BrokenRemotes (6:17:03 PM): I feel like we could talk about LA signs all night
BrokenRemotes (6:17:12 PM): Circus Liquor!
BrokenRemotes (6:17:15 PM): Now there's a sign.
BrokenRemotes (6:17:19 PM): With the clown.
RFSL (6:17:34 PM): We should eventually, but I personally love how LA is like the graveyard of chain restaurants.
RFSL (6:17:56 PM): There are so many chain restaurants that don't exist anywhere else in the country anymore except here.
RFSL (6:18:14 PM): But if we could just get a Dunkin Donuts, I'd be happy.
BrokenRemotes (6:18:25 PM): Oh, but NY has some great ones like that too-- two words, "Howard Johnson."
RFSL (6:18:26 PM): (Maybe a Stuckies...)
RFSL (6:18:35 PM): I miss those, too.
RFSL (6:18:45 PM): The aqua blue and faded orange.
BrokenRemotes (6:18:52 PM): I grew up on Dunkin Donuts.
RFSL (6:18:58 PM): Where are you from?
BrokenRemotes (6:19:14 PM): To someone who's never lived in New England, it's hard to describe just how huge a cultural force DD is...
BrokenRemotes (6:19:26 PM): I grew up in New Hampshire.
BrokenRemotes (6:19:40 PM): Pronounced "Hampshah."
RFSL (6:19:46 PM): I brought back some of their coffee when I went to Chicago last time.
RFSL (6:20:03 PM): Tried to find some French Crullers.
BrokenRemotes (6:20:24 PM): I got monthly delivery of their coffee (beans, that is) for a birthday present not too long ago...
RFSL (6:20:55 PM): That's from someone who cares.
RFSL (6:21:02 PM): So, you're in a band.
BrokenRemotes (6:21:12 PM): That's what my drummer tells me
RFSL (6:21:46 PM): Are you called The Broken Remotes because you have a bad habit of throwing them against the wall?
RFSL (6:22:02 PM): [Insert a wittier comment there. I'll probably edit one in later.]
RFSL (6:22:30 PM): [That one was like Fozzy The Bear.]
BrokenRemotes (6:22:39 PM): Well I'm glad there's a level of trust between us that allows you to be open about this...
BrokenRemotes (6:22:44 PM): Yeah
BrokenRemotes (6:22:47 PM): The band name.
BrokenRemotes (6:22:58 PM): Like most people in bands, I think, I hate my band's name
BrokenRemotes (6:23:29 PM): We had other names early on, but had to change because they were already taken...
RFSL (6:23:34 PM): Maybe you'll find out there's some obscure business on the east coast that's using it already and they'll force you under threat of legal action to change it.
RFSL (6:23:52 PM): Happened to Hazelden!
BrokenRemotes (6:23:59 PM): really?
RFSL (6:24:02 PM): (They are now "End Roulette.")
BrokenRemotes (6:24:08 PM): I like that band.
RFSL (6:24:11 PM): I read it in The LA Times so it must be true.
BrokenRemotes (6:24:29 PM): Well, that was back when The LA Times still had writers...
BrokenRemotes (6:24:41 PM): Pretty soon the paper will be all pictures and crosswords
RFSL (6:24:54 PM): I have a hard time writing about bands with really hot female leads because I'm not sure if the hotness is making me biased.
RFSL (6:24:57 PM): Too true.
RFSL (6:25:08 PM): So I just don't write about them in order to be safe.
RFSL (6:25:36 PM): Conflict of interest?
BrokenRemotes (6:26:37 PM): Safety vs. distinct possibility of crushing regret 10 years from now...
RFSL (6:27:02 PM): Yeah...
RFSL (6:27:16 PM): There's a fine line between blogger and creeper.
BrokenRemotes (6:27:22 PM): Well said.
RFSL (6:27:35 PM): So it's good to avoid any walk towards said line.
BrokenRemotes (6:27:57 PM): Well, by talking to me, you're NOWHERE NEAR the line...
RFSL (6:28:04 PM): Ha, ha.
BrokenRemotes (6:28:06 PM): Well, I take that back, Amy is pretty hot.
BrokenRemotes (6:28:16 PM): Why are you stalking my drummer?
RFSL (6:28:31 PM): I just happened to be at some of the same places as you guys, I swear.
RFSL (6:28:42 PM): About ten times.
BrokenRemotes (6:28:58 PM): That doesn't explain why your cell phone number was written in sharpie on the head of her snare drum.
RFSL (6:29:23 PM): You're so getting me in trouble w/ my girlfriend Amber...
RFSL (6:29:30 PM): So, how long has the band been together?
BrokenRemotes (6:29:46 PM): Since 2004 I guess.
RFSL (6:30:01 PM): This interview is totally coming up in couples' therapy.
RFSL (6:30:04 PM): How did you meet?
BrokenRemotes (6:30:41 PM): Is that a question for me or a potential question at couples therapy?
RFSL (6:31:02 PM): Ha, ha.
RFSL (6:31:09 PM): Let's both use it.
RFSL (6:31:21 PM): But remember to come from a place of loving when you answer.
BrokenRemotes (6:33:31 PM): So, how long have you and Amber been together?
RFSL (6:33:42 PM): About nine months.
RFSL (6:33:48 PM): She ordered me online.
RFSL (6:33:53 PM): "Add To Cart."
RFSL (6:34:00 PM): How did you guys meet?
BrokenRemotes (6:34:54 PM): I met her father, John, through my friend Shark (guitar player in Wild Colonials).
RFSL (6:36:52 PM): And then how did you meet everyone else?
BrokenRemotes (6:37:10 PM): Let's see...
BrokenRemotes (6:38:12 PM): The current bass player, Mark Lane, I met through the movie Walk Hard.
BrokenRemotes (6:38:28 PM): He was playing in John C. Reilly's house band for a while.
BrokenRemotes (6:39:30 PM): Lots of great players involved in that film-- Mike Andrews, Joey Waronker, Mikey G, Gus, John Wood, et. al.
RFSL (6:41:32 PM): Ahh. I remember that the female singer in the movie was sung by...
BrokenRemotes (6:41:39 PM): Angela Correa
RFSL (6:41:46 PM): Thank you.
BrokenRemotes (6:42:01 PM): Yeah, Angela is great...
BrokenRemotes (6:42:42 PM): That song on her new EP-- I think it's called All The World -- it's so damn great it makes me want to cry.
RFSL (6:43:05 PM): She just sent over a new track called Wood Tiger that is pretty great.
RFSL (6:43:53 PM): So you guys have been playing together for four years. When did you record the album?
BrokenRemotes (6:44:11 PM): A long, long time ago.
BrokenRemotes (6:44:17 PM): 2006?
RFSL (6:44:25 PM): Who recorded that with you?
BrokenRemotes (6:44:27 PM): Yeah, I think it was October, 2006.
BrokenRemotes (6:45:10 PM): Josh Schwartz played a lot of electric guitar on the album.
BrokenRemotes (6:45:18 PM): but otherwise it was all Amy and Me.
BrokenRemotes (6:45:45 PM): Handful of friends here and there...
RFSL (6:45:52 PM): So you two are effectively the leads?
BrokenRemotes (6:46:20 PM): Seems that way.
BrokenRemotes (6:46:57 PM): Though after every show the first thing anyone says to me is "Wow, Amy is amazing."
BrokenRemotes (6:47:03 PM): So I think technically she's the lead.
BrokenRemotes (6:47:26 PM): She lets me stay in the band because I'm the only one who knows all the lyrics.
RFSL (6:48:44 PM): Have you been working on new material more recently?
BrokenRemotes (6:48:59 PM): Happy to say—yes.
BrokenRemotes (6:49:20 PM): Last set had four un-recorded new tracks in it...
BrokenRemotes (6:50:01 PM): We're in that position where there's a whole new LP written, it's just a matter of time and money to get it done...
RFSL (6:50:08 PM): It seems like you're running out of songs to have on TV shows, so you better record more.
RFSL (6:50:20 PM): How many has it been now?
BrokenRemotes (6:50:50 PM): We've been really lucky lately, I think we've licensed five different songs off the last album.
BrokenRemotes (6:51:12 PM): Which all goes to help pay for the next one...
RFSL (6:51:32 PM): Excellent.
RFSL (6:51:47 PM): What's next for you all? Are you hiding out recording, playing out more, or both?
BrokenRemotes (6:56:31 PM): Right now actually Amy and I have been rehearsing to play a friend's record release show as his back-up band.
BrokenRemotes (6:56:40 PM): We tend to get distracted with side projects.
RFSL (6:57:23 PM): What band is that?
BrokenRemotes (6:58:03 PM): His name is Jim Salinger, singer songwriter.
BrokenRemotes (6:58:25 PM): Halfway between Jeff Tweedy and Paul Westerberg.
RFSL (6:58:35 PM): Cool. When and where is the show?
BrokenRemotes (6:58:55 PM): this Saturday, August 2nd at Tangier.
RFSL (6:59:50 PM): Cool. When's your next show as The Broken Remotes?
BrokenRemotes (7:00:24 PM): None booked now-- We'll be recording starting next weekend.
RFSL (7:00:53 PM): You're self-producing?
BrokenRemotes (7:01:16 PM): Amy's father, John Wood, will be producing.
BrokenRemotes (7:01:38 PM): He runs a studio called Stanley Recordings in Santa Monica.
BrokenRemotes (7:01:45 PM): In the old Clown Rehearsal space.
BrokenRemotes (7:02:39 PM): I just got an IM from Mark the bass player
BrokenRemotes (7:02:53 PM): His car door was just ripped off by an MTA bus.
BrokenRemotes (7:03:56 PM): Okay, I'm getting the whole story now... maybe I was exaggerating a little... The door is damaged but still attached to the car.
RFSL (7:03:58 PM): That's a hell of a note.
RFSL (7:06:06 PM): He's alright?
BrokenRemotes (7:06:49 PM): Yeah, he's okay-- I guess he had just barely opened his door when the bus zoomed by, and the force of the air or whatever sucked his door open, and then the end of the bus clipped it.
RFSL (7:07:33 PM): That's terrible. Glad nothing happened to him at least.
RFSL (7:09:33 PM): I read an older interview where you said you write a lot of lyrics while driving. You still do that?
BrokenRemotes (7:10:20 PM): 95%
RFSL (7:10:34 PM): How does that work?
BrokenRemotes (7:11:17 PM): As much as I love listening to the radio, I found out a while ago that if I sit in the car, in silence, lyrics will magically appear.
BrokenRemotes (7:11:36 PM): So when I need new lyrics I turn the radio off and wait...
BrokenRemotes (7:11:39 PM): and wait...
BrokenRemotes (7:12:08 PM): and then something happens and I grab the pen and notebook there in my e-brake compartment.
RFSL (7:12:21 PM): That must be expensive these days.
BrokenRemotes (7:12:33 PM): Ha.
BrokenRemotes (7:12:47 PM): Tell me about it. Songs used to only cost $2.
BrokenRemotes (7:12:57 PM): Can you imagine that on a record budget?
BrokenRemotes (7:13:09 PM): "Lyric Writing: $1250.00"
RFSL (7:13:54 PM): You can write that off on your taxes.
BrokenRemotes (7:14:11 PM): The other 5% gets written in the shower
BrokenRemotes (7:14:42 PM): My ex-girlfriend was thoughtful enough to buy me one of those underwater writing tablets-- like the ones Jacques Cousteau used to use...
BrokenRemotes (7:14:57 PM): Kept it next to the Pert Plus
RFSL (7:15:49 PM): You seem to get pretty thoughtful presents.
RFSL (7:16:19 PM): Okay, so this has nothing to do with music, directly, but you've mentioned in earlier interviews that the French director Melville was an inspiration.
RFSL (7:16:41 PM): I'm a huge fan of Le Samourai and Le Circle Rouge.
RFSL (7:17:09 PM): What else have you seen from him that you like and what are more recent artistic inspirations?
BrokenRemotes (7:27:38 PM): Army of Shadows-- How great was that when it finally came out here in America?
BrokenRemotes (7:27:43 PM): When was that? ‘05?
RFSL (7:28:06 PM): I still haven't seen that one...
RFSL (7:28:21 PM): Had it from Netflix for forever and never got to it somehow.
BrokenRemotes (7:28:50 PM): very sad
RFSL (7:28:52 PM): One of the only material things I care about is an old rare poster for Le Samourai I got a few years ago.
RFSL (7:28:58 PM): Such a perfect film.
BrokenRemotes (7:29:15 PM): Agreed.
BrokenRemotes (7:29:53 PM): As far as artistic inspirations...
BrokenRemotes (7:30:02 PM): Are we talking about visual art?
BrokenRemotes (7:30:17 PM): I'm a huge fan of Duchamp, Christo, and Chuck Close.
RFSL (7:31:35 PM): One last one for you: What are you listening to these days?
BrokenRemotes (7:32:31 PM): The Growler's CD is in my car right now.
BrokenRemotes (7:32:43 PM): Just heard three new tracks from Ida Maria
BrokenRemotes (7:33:07 PM): and the new M83...
BrokenRemotes (7:34:01 PM): But I have ulterior motives on that one...
RFSL (7:35:18 PM): Yeah?
BrokenRemotes (7:36:44 PM): Yeah, the singer is sitting next to me right now...
BrokenRemotes (7:36:49 PM): She just cooked me dinner.
RFSL (7:37:23 PM): I can see where that would somewhat oblige you to listen to it, yes.
RFSL (7:37:40 PM): Though I'm guessing it's pretty damn good, too.
BrokenRemotes (7:38:43 PM): I like it a lot, actually. Long, ambient dreamy tracks... Driving in the desert at night music.
RFSL (7:40:30 PM): Sometimes I want to go driving out in the desert so I can listen to The Lights From Here, Signal Hill, Explosions in the Sky, Brian Eno, etc.
RFSL (7:41:14 PM): Well, that's all I have for you.
BrokenRemotes (7:41:34 PM): Oh, I have one last record to tell you about--
BrokenRemotes (7:42:17 PM): It's a compilation called "Wheedle's Groove" an underground funk/soul collection, all the artists are from Seattle
BrokenRemotes (7:42:26 PM): Some serious nuggets on that one
RFSL (7:43:04 PM): Excellent.
BrokenRemotes (7:43:21 PM): Oh shit!
BrokenRemotes (7:43:26 PM): How could I forget?
BrokenRemotes (7:43:38 PM): The album I've been listening to the most!
RFSL (7:43:43 PM): It's always that way.
BrokenRemotes (7:43:43 PM): Benji Hughes.
RFSL (7:43:50 PM): I've been meaning to check him out for awhile.
BrokenRemotes (7:44:00 PM): new double album is about to come out on New West
RFSL (7:44:00 PM): Eagle & Talon love his stuff.
BrokenRemotes (7:44:20 PM): Might be my favorite record of the year so far, no bullshit
BrokenRemotes (7:44:34 PM): Even though he's been playing these songs for a while now, the album is new...
RFSL (7:45:37 PM): I'll definitely check it out.
RFSL (7:45:46 PM): Thanks again for all your time!
BrokenRemotes (7:47:51 PM): Nice talking with you.

- Lose The Swagger MP3


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