It's ribbon cutting time on a brand new feature here at lynnguppy.blogspot.com, where we will focus on getting to better know some of our favorite musicians by asking them the hard-hitting, dirt-digging questions most other blogs don't have the balls to ask. Still trying to think of a permanent title for this (yes, have considered "The Balls"). At least for now, it's A Quick Fix-- so, enjoy it while it lasts.
In our very first installment of A Quick Fix, the fabulous Tom Hamilton of the wonderful American Babies sits down to discuss their beautiful new album, Flawed Logic & answer some of these other impossibly mind-bending questions!
LG: TOM, YOU WORK WITH MANY OBSCENELY TALENTED MUSICIANS. CAN YOU PLEASE EXPLAIN WHAT'S UP WITH THE MUSICAL POLYGAMY IN AMERICAN BABIES? WHY/HOW DID IT START, AND HOW DO YOU KEEP THESE GUYS IN LINE? DO THEY EVER FIGHT OVER THEIR TOM-TIME?
TH: The polygamy, along with everything else about the band, comes from necessity. When I started this whole thing I had written a bunch of tunes and needed a band to record them. So I asked my friends if they would be into coming into the studio and tracking. Fortunately, my friends happen to be really talented people.
For this new album I embraced the revolving door aspect of players and had different bands for different songs, which definitely helped vary the songs and bring them to where they needed to be.
The live band these days is pretty set with Dave Butler on drums, my brother Jim on bass, and Keyboard wiz Adam Flicker on keys. It’s a funny group of dudes, for sure.
PLEASE DESCRIBE THE MAIN THEME OF "PRESSURE" RUNNING THROUGH FLAWED LOGIC. THE WEBSITE DESCRIBES IT AS "TEN SHORT STORIES". THE ALBUM SEEMS TO BE WRITTEN FOR A SPECIFIC MOMENT IN TIME, BUT THE TALES WITHIN IT ARE ALSO KIND OF TIMELESS AND COMPLETELY RELATABLE.
At the time when I hunkered down to put the album together there was a lot of turmoil on every level. My personal life (a failed engagement), my family life (my older brother’s impending military deployment), the cities I was living in (the music scenes in Philly and Brooklyn), our country (financial meltdown), and in the world in general (war, war, war). It was too much to ignore.
Most of my songwriting up until this point was looking inward and usually dealt with love in one way or another. It’s a common place to write from that I feel very comfortable in. But I couldn’t, in good conscience, take that easy street again.
I was filled with passion about the subject matter, was feeling overtly self-righteous, and this is where the problem began. I had no idea how to handle these feelings. I had no voice for this type of material and don’t really enjoy heavy-handed, preachy songs. My solution was to observe how other people were dealing with the current state of things. Single men and women, young couples, married couples, professionals, stoners. Whomever would talk to me I would engage.
My records all have a common thread, which was usually the narrator. Where things ended up on “Flawed Logic” was having the common thread be the circumstances in which every character lived.
WEIGHT OF THE WORLD INSTANTLY PUTS ME IN A GOOD MOOD AND INCLUDES ONE OF THE GREATEST LYRICAL OBSERVATIONS EVER: "YOU WALK LIKE YOU'RE MARRIED". FUCKING BRILLIANT! WAS THAT DIVINE INSPIRATION?
Ha! I’m glad that line hit you with some force but I wouldn’t go as far as saying “divine inspiration”. Just casual observation :)
WHEN DID YOU KNOW THE ALBUM WAS COMPLETE? WAS IT A FEELING YOU GOT?
We (my producer, Bill Moriarty and I) were about half way through “Weight of the World” when I saw the light at the end of the tunnel. It was the last song written and it fought me the whole way. I had a verse and one line of the chorus down when I brought it in to the studio and we weren’t sure if it was going to make the record. Once I finished the lyrics to the chorus I felt that the record was finally written. The rest of the verses wrote themselves and the only track left to record at that point was the closer “Great Expectations”, which was already finished.
YOU'RE HEADING OUT ON THE ROAD FOR (AT LEAST) A MONTH, ON A TOUR THAT TAKES YOU FROM BURLINGTON, VT TO CHARLESTON, SC. WHAT'S ROMANTIC ABOUT BEING ON THE ROAD LIKE THAT?
Everything. The camaraderie within a band on the road is magical. Like minds that are all focused on one goal, it’s beautiful.
Then there is the traveling. Where you get to truly see the regional differences in this great country. Different trees, smells, markets, weather. Meeting different people and hearing their views and accents. It’s wonderful and inspiring.
HAVE YOU MISSED BEING ON THE ROAD?
Very much so.
BRINGING ANY BOOKS WITH YOU?
I have a few David Sedaris books I’ve been meaning to go to that I will surely be bringing with me.
WHO PICKS THE SOUNDTRACK?
Definitely a group effort here.
WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE ROADSIDE ATTRACTION?
I love the enormous truck stops in the Midwest. The ones with an entire country-western clothing store inside of them are my fav. One of these days I’m gonna walk onstage wearing only items purchased at one of those places. A Harley leather vest with a Bolo tie is a great look :)
FAVORITE EXOTIC FOOD DISCOVERY? (IE: BOILED PEANUTS, ETC.)
I do love me some boiled peanuts. Being vegetarian (a bad one) makes it so I cant really enjoy those types of things because meat is usually a big part of it. ie: Pulled pork and the like.
JERKY OR NO JERKY? *THIS IS STILL A FOOD QUESTION.
When I still ate red meat, damn right!!! I LOVED that stuff.
HAS THE RISING COST OF GAS EFFECTED YOUR TOUR PLANS? HOW/WHY?
Not as of yet, but it is definitely something I keep my eye on.
ARE THERE ANY NOTICEABLE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN YOUR FANS HERE IN THE NORTHEAST AND THE ONES IN THE SOUTH?
Southern fans are really great. It’s a very relaxed vibe and I think our leanings towards old-school country music goes over very well there.
NEW FANS ARE EVERYWHERE/ANYWHERE-- WHAT CAN YOU SAY TO THE ONES READING THIS, TO CONVINCE THEM THAT THEY SHOULD COME CHECK OUT AMERICAN BABIES IN THEIR CITY?
I can assure anyone that comes to an American Babies show that you will see four guys giving everything they have and more on the stage that night. Any fan of live music knows that energy like that is contagious in a music hall and can be a very powerful thing.
IF THEY MENTION THIS INTERVIEW, CAN THEY HAVE 5% OFF ANY 1 ITEM AT MERCH?
IN THE PAST, I'VE COMPARED YOU TO "HONEY DRENCHED IN BOURBON AND WRAPPED IN BACON." IS THAT ACCURATE? DOES THAT SOUND LIKE SOMETHING YOU WOULD ENJOY?
Yes, that sounds fantastic. I would probably have to not be a vegetarian for at least a day for that :)
EXCLUDING THE MUSICIANS YOU'VE ALREADY WORKED WITH IN AMERICAN BABIES, IF YOU COULD PICK ANOTHER AMERICAN BABIES LINEUP CONSISTING OF ANY MUSICIANS (BOTH LIVING & DEAD), WHO WOULD THEY BE? WHY?
I would take the rhythm section from the Funk Brothers (Motown session band) with Crosby, Stills and Nash as my backing singers. Gregg Allman on organ, and John Lennon on piano (he could do it).
Many thanks to Tom Hamilton for busting the cherry on this new bloggy feature!! I look forward to seeing him in spurs and a bolo, but I look even more forward to the Friday 4/29 American Babies show at the Mercury Lounge in NYC! HUZZAH!!
Flawed Logic, their very excellent new album, dropped last Tuesday and is available: on itunes, through Engine Room Recordings, and of course at every single one of their upcoming shows (see below for dates).
American Babies are hitting the road TODAY! GO SEE THEM AND GET YOUR FACE MELTED! Please check their website for the most updated list of stops!
04.27 American Babies @ The Downtown (Red Bank, NJ)
04.28 American Babies @ World Cafe Live (Philadelphia, PA)
04.29 American Babies @ Mercury Lounge (New York, NY)
04.30 American Babies @ Great Scott (Boston, MA)
05.12 American Babies, 11pm @ Club Metronome (Burlington, VT)
05.13 American Babies, 8pm @ Red Square (Albany, NY)
05.14 American Babies, 8:30pm @ River Street Jazz Cafe (Wilkes-Barre, PA)
05.19 American Babies, 8pm @ The Pour House Music Hall (Raleigh, NC)
05.20 American Babies, 9pm @ Mo Daddy's (Asheville, NC)
05.21 American Babies @ The White Mule (Columbia, SC)
05.22 American Babies @ The Pourhouse (Charleston, SC)
06.25 American Babies @ Majestic Theater/The Magic Stick (Detroit, MI)
08.06 American Babies @ Flood City Music Festival (Johnstown, PA)