Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Young Sportsmen interview, part 2

Here's the second part of my long-ass interview with Young Sportsmen. Their new CD, Death to Palaces, is being officially released this weekend (Saturday, August 18) at the Sunset Tavern.

The next post will be my review of their record, with song-by-song commentary by Wesley and Ryan.

Young Sportsmen interview, part 2

SPB: Do you guys collaborate, or is it “here’s a Ryan song, here’s a Wesley song.”

Ryan: It’s not so cut and dried. For the most part, I write the majority – I don’t know how much of a majority – but I write the basic structure the chords and the melody, and we’ll work it out in practice he (Wesley) will write the lyrics. He writes 95% of the lyrics.

Wesley: Sometimes he’ll write a line or two that sticks with him and he’ll give me the freedom to come up with whatever. With this project, Ryan is more prolific than I am. I have a tendency to edit as I go, and I’m more reluctant to bring something in until I’m really comfortable with the parts. So, Ryan will bring something in that is fairly fleshed out, and we’ll add parts or whatever

Ryan: And sometimes we keep it and sometimes we revert to the original.

SPB: So, what do you guys think it takes to make waves in the Seattle music scene?

Wesley: Beard and a mustache?

Ryan: A beard doesn’t hurt. But, I can’t grow a beard. So, I’m screwed. We thought about going to a costume shop and buying some beards to see if that works.

SPB: Like long beards? More than five o’clock shadow, but less than zz top? Maybe Abe Lincoln?

(back to serious)
Wesley: I think who you know is just as important now as it’s always been. Maybe easier now, since we’re able to communicate with each other at an instant.

Ryan: I think you have to be good looking and know people who work at the right places.

SPB: Are the right places radio and record stores?

Ryan: You know at like Cha Cha or whatever. And I’m not taking shit about those bands. But, I think that’s kind of a prerequisite, at least to make waves. (pause) That and beards. And I just don’t get it, they look like the cover of a Bread record or whatever.

Wesley: Some of it is also what producer you use, especially lately. A lot of producers are getting a lot of attention. They always have in this town. But, I definitely think the producer you use lends a lot of attention. It was like back in the 80s and 90s putting the name Sub Pop on something gave it attention. It still is. Certain labels or producers will get attention.

Johnny Sangster has been getting, and rightfully so, a lot of attention for the good, solid work he’s doing.

I don’t know that it’s different than it’s ever been. But, I think more attention is being paid to it.

Ryan: Also, weird keyboard parts. Odd sounding synthesizers and whatnot.

Wesley: When it works it sounds great. Keys are fabulous additions to bands when they use them the right way. I was thrilled with The Change (The Small Change) brought Nick in on keyboard.

SBP: Do you guys care about making waves?

Ryan: We want people to like our music. We’d be lying if we said we didn’t. But, not so much that we deliberately try jumping people’s bandwangons. We’re just doing our little powerpop thing and we try to get it into as many peoples' ears as possible. If they like it, great. So, I guess we care. But, not the point where (street noise overpowers him).

Wesley: I think with a band like us… (chuckles) how do I word this? The only thing that would make waves for us is simply the strength of the songs. It’s not going to be the way we look. Or a stage show with something excessive. We don’t have youth on our side, but we have a very youthful approach and enthusiasm to what we do. For us, if the songs don’t cut it…

Ryan: It has to be the songwriting and our live show, which is usually pretty good. I’m not trying to pat us on the back, but we do translate live, and I think that’s because we’re really excited to play. We’re out of control stoked to be playing.

Wesley: If something doesn’t come unplugged or broken, then I feel lucky. But, then I think “what went wrong?”

SPB: What are you hoping happens with this record?

Ryan: I would like it to be more successful than the last one. More people at shows. More sold

Wesley: That’s really about it. This record has been really amazing to make, but also really stressful in many ways. We’ve been sitting on it and working on it a long time. We’re extremely proud of it and that it’s coming out. We’re also excited to start working on the next one. So, just the fact that it’s coming out is the most exciting thing. We’re putting it out, it looks great, it sounds great. We worked really hard to get it where it is. So, if we sold a respectable amount and caught the ears of people who hadn’t heard us, that’d be great. If KEXP plays some tunes off of it, that’d be great. Beyond that, I’d like it to open opportunities to play good shows and good bills. That’s what’s fulfilling to me.

Ryan: I think all of us... I think it’s still a dream to have music be our job. It’s probably not realistic to expect it at this point. But, it’s still okay to hope for it. So, when you do have small successes, it makes it really thrilling. I think this album would help us move toward that, just as much as any record we put out would. Not that we want to sell a jillion records, because that would probably be a pain in the ass. I work closely with a band that’s got that kind of success and some of the stuff I’ve seen, I’d just as soon not have that.

Wesley: But we wouldn’t say no.

Ryan: But, it’s scary to think about not being able to go to the grocery store and things like that. Or be afraid of what some insane fan is going to do. (pause) I should qualify that I don’t think that’s something we’re going to have to worry about. But, it puts it in perspective. I look at that end of the spectrum and think I probably don’t want to have that much success.

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