Monday, January 08, 2007

Andy Werth interview & show

Andy Werth is a fellow who writes cool, breezy and catchy pop tunes that bring to mind 1970s AM radio on a sunny Saturday afternoon. He (and full band) are performing tomorrow (Tuesday, 1/9) at the Crocodile. I did this interview with him early last week, as you can likely tell by the holiday references.

1. First and foremost, was Santa good to you last week?

Santa was good and bad to me this year. He got me a great setup for making mixed drinks, which is good, but this will make it very difficult for me to make to work on time in 2007, which is bad.

2. Any New Year's resolutions?

My New Year’s resolution is to get things for my friends and family throughout the year so that I don’t feel obliged to get them stuff on Christmas.

3. What are your feelings about the state of pop music in the Northwest and Seattle in particular?

There are lots of exciting things on the rise in Seattle pop music. Great local talents like Shane Tutmarc (Dolour), Sameer Shukla, and The Young Sportsmen are getting ready to unleash pop records (I’m lucky enough to have heard the in-progress tracks for some of these bands), and other locals like Tennis Pro and The Sun-Ups have recently released albums that prove there is a vibrant pop scene in this town. And while these bands do a great job of putting the “rock” in pop rock, we also have some incredible pop songwriters who can give us doses of excellent softer pop. For example, Andrea Wittgens’ album How Do You Love, Aquamarine? is a little pop masterpiece and always seems to find its way into my CD player (she also recently came out with a new EP), and Central Services, whose new CD is also excellent. When I look at the Northwest in general, there are certainly some very bright spots: I enjoy looking north to Vancouver’s The New Pornographers to see what a truly fantastic pop rock band can do. Portland also has a small but dedicated group of musicians writing excellent pop songs, like Danny Delegato and Blitzen Trapper.

4. If you could be the opening act for any band, any time period, who would that be and why?

I’d open for Harry Nilsson during one of his extremely rare concert appearances just so I could grab him by the collar and scream, “Teach me everything you know, you reclusive S.O.B!” Since that would probably land me in jail, maybe I’d choose to open for Rufus Wainwright so I could grab him by his feather boa and scream, “Teach me everything you know, you flamboyant S.O.B.!”

5. How do you think others would describe your music, and is that the same or different than you'd like to think of yourself?

Based on the reviews my EP has gotten, people often hear Brian Wilson (The Beach Boys), Chicago, and Randy Newman in my music, along with relative unknowns like Bobby Goldsboro and Rupert Holmes. I can honestly say haven’t spent much time listening to any of these artists. When I get compared to someone I’m not that familiar with, I check them out, and some of these comparisons are really flattering. I raised myself on jazz and the whole pantheon of 60’s and 70’s pop rock, and I think the music I write reflects the variety of those influences. When I hear a melody in my head and start to write a song, I don’t know if the end result is going to harken back to Neil Young, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Louis Armstrong, The Beatles, Jerry Lee Lewis, or what.

6. Who are your favorite Seattle bands and why?

Some of my favorite Seattle bands are, in no particular order: The Jim Knapp Orchestra (best jazz in town, hands down); Tennis Pro (great pop rock songs, and live shows offer the chance to be flipped off by the talented multi-instrumentalist Phil Petersen), The Young Sportsmen (killer live shows), Central Services (beautiful, balanced sound)—Actually, there’s just too many great local bands to name.

7. What's the latest news from you and what's on the horizon?

The band and I have really only been at this since September, so pretty much everything qualifies as “latest news” for us. The EP generated some excellent comments from indie reviewers, as well as from The Stranger and KEXP, and made a couple of “Best of” lists for 2006 and has received some airplay. We also were just covered in VegNews magazine, one of the largest vegetarian lifestyle magazines with a readership of 150,000+. We’re excited to already be playing great venues like the Crocodile and the High Dive, and have managed to get out of Seattle and play as well. We’ll continue to develop our set list and play shows around the Northwest, and will be recording a full-length record around July of 07.

8. What's something people don't know about Andy Werth?

I speak German, and at an upcoming show I’ll be singing one of my songs in German.

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