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 November 2015: Q&A with Brian Fallon pre Painkillers - online NOW

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First Among Equals
First Among Equals

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Join date : 2010-08-24
Location : London, UK / Vienna, Austria

PostSubject: November 2015: Q&A with Brian Fallon pre Painkillers - online NOW    Tue Nov 17, 2015 7:41 pm

Unbelievable but after only 1 day we already have Brian's answers back! Thank you for all your questions, they made it again a very interesting and special Q&A session!
Brian answered all 20 questions - and even an extra one - many of them very elaborately (I hope this is the right word †Wink ) You can find all the questions and his very insightful answers below.

This thread is locked but if you want to discuss the answers or leave a message for Brian you can still do that here:
We do appreciate (and crave) your feedback †Smile

Enjoy the read!
The DSS Admin Team


1. I recall an interview from years ago where the reporter asked you if you would ever do a solo album, and you said "No, I couldn't do this without my band", and you didn't want to be alone on the stage. I know you won't be alone on stage, but this is something you're doing under your own name. What changed? Do you feel more confident now?
In this case, the question wasnít in consideration of the position I found myself in when the band decided to take a break. †I find doing a solo record was more out of necessity to play and sing rather than having something running solo at the same time the band was actively working. † For me to start yet another band would be simply too many bands with too many songs scattered for me. †When you form a band, you play that bandís catalog, except maybe a cover, or two. †I was building quite a catalog already with The Horrible Crowes, Molly & the Zombies, and whatever songs I had scattered around at that point. †So this time, a friend of mine said, ďwhy donít you just do this record under your own name and then it can be whatever you want and include whatever you want?Ē †She was right. †I realized that a solo artist can do one folk record, one rock record, then something completely different and back again. †Whatever you do as a solo artist is you because it will always be you. †So, the short answer is: When I was asked that question the band was in full swing, now that itís on a break, I gotta play, itís what I do.

2. Which records inspired you during the writing and recording of this album?
When I set out to make a solo record I thought long and hard about what my record would be if I was given the chance to make a true ďsoloĒ record - what I came up with isnít that new, actually. †But for the first time I got to interpret my influences without filtering them through anyone else. †I would say that ďFull Moon FeverĒ by Tom Petty was the single biggest influence on my record. †I also went back to the first three Bruce Springsteen records, the early ones that were about my home. †(I know, right?!?) †I also was influenced by the Kinks and the early British Invasion bands. Thereís 12 string guitars all over this record. †I had an amazing time making this thing, I think it sounds like it.
So there you have it, pretty simple.

3. When working on Painkillers, did you find yourself writing about new thoughts/experiences in life or were you writing about older things, but from a new/more mature perspective? Is Painkillers a sort of follow-up on 'Elsie'?
Jbdecapua / mingus
Whenever I write I try to capture whatever is going on that Iím feeling from the song. †I donít think too much about what itís about or if itís new or old feelings. †As I write more I find I allow myself to do the thing and figure out later if itís good or not. †What the songs are about changes all the time for me, itís more about a feeling rather than a storyline. †One thing I did do this time was put away my feelings about what people have said about my writing. †I allowed myself to write whatever was exciting to me, if it was New Jersey based, or about the Radio, or used girlís namesÖ anything Iíve been noted as talking about in the past I stayed away from for a few records, but this time I put all that away and wrote what made me feel excited. †I was proud of myself for doing that.

4. At what point did you know 'Painkillers' was turning into the album you had hoped it would be?
I think I knew after about six or seven songs that it was going to be alright. †Around the eighth or ninth song I though, ďoh, this is really good.Ē † But this was the first time I had a few songs to start from. †There were demos and live recordings but no real recordings of some songs I really liked and thought deserved to be on a record. †So I had a good jumping off point with the Molly songs, and some solo songs I had for years. †I wrote a LOT of new songs but some of the Molly stuff I redid for this record, I couldnít leave them to fade away in a side project without recording them properly. †Not all of them, but I kept a couple, so youíll see that on there along side with a bunch of new ones.

5. How do you compare the experience of recording TGA with recording a solo album? How different is the inspiration, mindset and actual production of the record?
Cdala / BeresaTGA
It is a lot more work to record and write your own record and do everything, thank God I had Butch, who plays a ton of instruments I canít play. † When I went into this I wanted it to have energy at times but not sound like Gaslight, which is tough because itís my songs in both. †So production wise we didnít layer guitars, or use too much distortion. †We just played the parts once and left them like they used to do. †We added a lot of acoustic instruments too, mandolins, 12 Strings, even a banjo or two along with the one or two electric guitars. †It was something Gaslight never did recording. †We sang all the vocals right around a microphone like the folk singers would do, so you couldnít edit it. †You had to sing the harmonies right. †It was really a new and wonderful experience for me.

6. Why did you chose Butch as the producer for the record? What did you expect him to bring to the table? And for fun: Butch produced you and Ryan produced Butch are you planning on producing Ryan and go full circle?
First let me answer in reverse, thereís zero chance of me ever producing Ryan, I canít bring anything to the table he doesnít already know or have. †I like his music and I think heís wonderful right where he is. †

Now Butch, a friend recommended him to me and we met up and went over some songs I had and clicked right away. †I liked Butch in about three seconds of meeting him. †I told him what kind of record I wanted to make and played him a few songs and we just hit the ground running and kind of didnít stop until we were done. †So many people were so pleased we were working together. †A lot of our mutual friends and other musicians thought it was a great pair. † Iím really glad we did it.

7. Is there a song on Painkillers that was recorded differently? I remember that in the lead up to Get Hurt, there was a lot of talk about Underneath the Ground being written on a Piano.
For this record I wrote how I used to write rather than looking for a new way. †I sat down with one acoustic guitar and wrote the lyrics. †It was very refreshing to go all the way back to basics. †I think it helped the songs because they had to be interesting without having a band adding things to them, so the songs had to be something before they got to be ďdressed upĒ by other instruments. † On this record I was absolutely not trying to reinvent the wheel, it was the opposite of that. †I just wanted good songs that made me feel good to play.

8. Some of your past records' designs have had a very retro feel to them (Elsie, Handwritten...) How did you come up with the design concept for Painkillers' artwork? Is it created based on your idea?
The records tend to have that old school vibe because thatís what I like. †If I had some neon lights and face paint I would feel I wasnít being true to myself. †When artists do more modern covers now I love it. †I like it all really, but when itís mine, I gotta please me. †I love the soul and jazz artwork and this album art will be no different. †I am going complete Blue Note style on this one. I have no shame about that haha, itís what I love, dearly.

9. Was it a complete coincidence you and Ian both wrote a song called Steve McQueen at the same time? You talked about your inspiration for writing the song at Newport music festival. Did you and Ian talk about it at all?
It was actually, but we did talk about it. †He had his song first and I completely forgot he did it first so when I came back with my song I realized it and went and asked him if he minded. †The songs were about different topics, but I felt it was only right to ask his permission since he did come up with it first. †I donít think his song influenced mine, but if it did subconsciously, then there isnít a better person to have been inspired by, both Steve McQueen and Ian Perkins. †(His song is called ďSteve McQueen GreenĒ on his Local Summer album which you can get on iTunes. for those who havenít heard it yet.)

10. How do you know which songs sound like TGA and which songs will be better for a solo record? Do you set out to write songs specifically for one or the other, or does it just happen and you decide after it's done where it fits in the best? Following up on that, is this record all new material specifically written with it in mind, or are there things you wrote before and were saving for the right time and place?
Cdala / Little Eden
I get that question a lot actually, but I make it really easy for myself since I only write for one project at a time. †If Iím doing a Gaslight record I donít keep songs back for myself, and same way the other way around. †I use whatever comes at the time Iím writing each projectís record. Some people might feel that they are interchangeable but youíd be surprised how different they would sound if they were switched.

For this record, I took three songs I had previously written and put them on the record. †I changed them all a little, one very little, one slightly more, and one I completely rewrote a lot of it. †The one sounds like a completely different song, I needed to rewrite it to make it feel right to me. † I almost didnít put any previously written songs on the record because I had more than enough new ones, but I really knew that I was so proud of these songs I had to give them their just due. †I asked a few close friends and they agreed.

11. I find that all your albums have a loose theme. There is something that makes the songs hang together, work together. At what stage in the writing/recording process does that theme emerge? Is it even intentional? You said in an interview about Painkillers: "Maybe I had like 40 songs or something like that, so I decided to take the best of those and finish them, and then I wrote a bunch of new ones, too." But is it just the best ones as such, each taken on its own, or do you already sense a theme?
Steady now steady now
I think when I come up with the initial title the theme sort of appears to me, and once I have three or four songs itís just very clear what I need to do. †The only hard thing is leaving great songs off the record to become ďbonus songs,Ē or whatever, because they donít fit the theme of the rest of the record. †That happens every single time. †This time it happened less than normal because I had a few songs to start with, and also this time I recorded two bonus songs just because I knew people wanted proper versions, and I figured it was about time to give the songs their proper due.

12. I saw your Instagram post about the Tone King Imperial Amp becoming a mainstay on the new album. Could you talk a little more about the overall tonal sound of the album & how you achieved it through the use of both musical equipment (amps, guitars, pedals) as well as from Butch's side of production?
Boy From Little Eden
For this record is was VERY simple. †We only used a few effects because we were getting a very natural sound and thatís what we were going for when Butch and I recorded them. †We blasted through recording the songs, pretty much one song per day. †So it was really simple like how records were made in the past. †The Tone King just worked with everything we threw at it, it did everything we needed and always gave us the goods so we didnít change it. †It was the first record Butch or I made using only one amp for everything. †I was pretty proud of that. †Itís a clean sounding record in that you can hear everything that went on there. †Thereís not a lot of layering or loud guitars, itís real and some mistakes are left there on purpose. †We wanted it to sound like it was made by people, not studio perfection. †Thereís nothing wrong with perfection on records, I want some records to be perfect, but this record needed flaws left in it. †This was the first time since the old days where we let the pops and clicks stay. †You can hear it when you listen, thereís talking, thereís guitars banging before or after the song, little things that happened that we left in to make it feel like youíre there in the room. †This record really feels like youíre right there. †You can hear me breath in the vocal, thereís very little effect on the vocals, and thereís very few edits of any kind. †We just went for it and had a great time. †Butch is one of the last producers whoís making records like that.

13. Which funny, awkward or outstanding moment in the development process can you remember?
Elbgodess / AnyaTGA
I donít know about funny or awkward, ha. †But for sure there was one point when I realized I wrote one of the catchiest songs Iíve ever written. †I wrote a real ďeverybodyĒ song. †Something I felt any person from any walk of life could relate to, I was very proud of that song. †I wrote a bunch of songs on this record Iíve been waiting my whole life to write and I got the chance so Iím very pleased with this group of songs. †I feel very connected to them in a different way than before because I went straight into the the heart of how I learned to write songs from the beginning. †It was very comfortable to play these songs

14. Other rock musicians recorded americana/country-inspired albums like Mike Ness or Nick 13, is it the style we can expect on Painkillers? If so will you rearrange songs from Elsie in some ways to have a more coherent live set?
I think a lot of people do more of a ďcountry, or AmericanaĒ type record when they do a solo record, and there are some hints of that on this one, but for me, I donít come from country. † I like all music, but I canít do all music. †I can only do what I find exciting for me, which comes from where I live. So, it doesnít have that kind of vibe of an ďAmericanaĒ record. †I think some of the songs are too uptempo for that, I like a big chorus. † Plus, the guys who do American well, are far better at it than I am, so I try to stick to what I can do well these days. †I havenít heard Nick 13ís record, but I love Mikeís first solo record.

15. What should we expect the show to be like with the Crowes? Will the Crossroads holiday shows be different from the official tour dates?
Brianpd / StitchesOnTheRadio /Shrewsbury Stars
The shows with the Crowes will be full band and weíll go through both the ďElsieĒ album and my new record plus some extra songs we have and some covers. †Itíll be a lot of songs because I have a lotÖ really, thereís 24 songs from the two records not including extra songs or covers, which is a full set even by Gaslight standards. †So weíre gonna go give it when we play. † The Crossroads shows will be different because itís not a completely full band, plus, I canít play my whole new record yet. †Itís too soon to be presented in that way before people hear the full versions. † Itís more of an intimate vibe and Iím sure thereíll be more stories. † If you donít like me to talk you should probably go to the movies insteadÖjust saying. (wink)

16. What does it feel like to have people sing your songs back to you? Your creations being sung by so many complete strangers?
It always feels great when people accept something youíve done, so itís an amazing feeling to have a crowd of people singing the songs back. †Itís a special thing that they took time, and language, and learned all the words so they could participate in something with me. †Shows are a great time, itís part of the reason people get into music in the first place, we love to play live.

17. Is there any chance you will play solo acoustic gigs in Europe along your main tour? Something like the Ramones Museum in Berlin. If so, will this gigs be announced in advance, perhaps through your mailinglist, or only on the day of the gig, e.g. on your Twitter?
Iím sure that I will do some solo performances if the opportunity arrises. †I love doing that kind of thing before the shows or on an off day. †Itís a lot of fun to strip everything back and play the same way I started out playing. † I would assume I would announce that kind of stuff via my twitter. †Iíve become quite fond of using it as a way to communicate exactly what Iím trying to say without filtering it through anyone else. † You can always check my twitter for quick announcements like if something came up quickly, it would be the first place Iíd go to let people know.

18. Will you be touring other countries as well in 2016 (South Africa and Canada were mentioned specifically)?
As far as touring other countries, it really depends on if they offer me shows that I can do. † People ask a lot if Iím coming here or there, or why Iím not coming on a particular tour. †Sometimes itís because there wasnít an offer, or it wasnít a good offer. †Or we only had X amount of days to tour and we just couldnít get there. † I try to make my way around to the places I know people want to see me play, but sometimes itís later rather than sooner.

19. In the last Q&A session you mentioned having more work to do, not just work in music.I'm curious what other goals or projects outside of music you dream of accomplishing?As well as what other goals are within the music industry?
I think Iíd like to write more songs for other people. †Iíd love to have the chance to do voice over work for kidís shows or movies. †I think it would be a lot of fun to use my voice for cartoons, itís something Iíve recently wanted to try out.

20. You've often said that you don't like to explain too much what your songs are about so that fans can have their own interpretation. †Do you take the same policy with your bandmates? Do the people you're writing about ever know that you do? †And are you always sure yourself exactly what song is about?
Most people close to me donít ask what the songs are about, itís a little bit of a private thing.
I donít talk too much about what songs are about and Iíd prefer to let people take songs on their own interpretations. †I really donít like reading about what my favorite songs are about because itís always something other than what I thought and sometimes it has hurt the songís meaning for me. † I try to avoid it at all cost. †Iíd much rather hear how a song was written than what itís about.

21. I asked Benny a similar question last year in his Q&A and I was just wondering what your thoughts were on the same matter. People say age gives you perspective so if you could give any advice to your former/teenage self, what would it be?
You know, thereís a lot of things to say once you have the experience and time to reflect on the past. †But itís sort of a thing where if you didnít do what you did you wouldnít know what you know. †So if I went back to say anything to my former self, I might miss something I learned. †I suppose Iíd rather keep working on today and tomorrow to try to learn from where Iím at. † The past is a weird place because none of us are there anymore, I try to keep my eyes on the road now.

twitter / instagram / youtube / last.fm

Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.
Soren Kierkegaard
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