Sunday, December 4, 2016

Amigo Interview, Tangents Magazine, December 2016

Tangents: You’ve got a new single out, on vinyl. How and where did you record it?

Slade Baird: We recorded with Mitch Easter at his Fidelitrium. It was our first time there. We went to him because Temperance League has been doing so much with him, so we thought, “Let’s go check this place out". We recorded on two-inch tape at the studio, and then mixed to tape, and then mastered it on analog to send to the lacquer pressing plant. We hadn’t planned on doing that, it just happened that day. These songs havrn’t touched digitial yet, why stop now? It was recorded practically live, with a few overdubs. It’s like you’re in the room with us.

As for the songs, it’s where we think we’re at with recording, and reflecting what we sound like now. We brought some friends to also play on the record. John Teer, Jay Garrigan. That’s kind in the spirit of the band, too. Along with the three of us, to also have other people on the album and make it a Rock & Roll record as much as possible.

Tangents: What’s the current plans for the new album? 

Baird: We did again with Mitch at the Fidelitorium. with Mitch behind the controls. We’ll mix it before Christmas, and have a release sometime in the new year. We just need to get the details worked out. 

Tangents: How would you describe the sound of Amigo?

Adam Phillips: There’s no agenda with us. There’s nobody saying, “Oh, we have to sound like this.” 

Baird: The way we play usually informs the songs as their being written. We bring our own set of influences, and that makes it sound the way it does. But its just Rock & Roll music, with a little bit of country music, and a little bit of punk rock. We listen to everything. 

Adam: That’s a good description of us, but for some people, that’s a completely unacceptable answer for people that want to classify something. I’ve had conversations with people where they try to describe how they think we sound. I think that we wear influences very plainly on our sleeve, but people want to describe it as something more than Rock & Roll.

Tangents: Do you hope that audiences also don’t separate out your songs as Rock songs, or Country songs, and just say, “That’s a Amigo song”?

Phillips: Yes. The goal is that they would leave a show with a song stuck in their head, and not this larger conversation about what song is what. How can you enjoy music, or anything, if you did that? 

Baird: I would rather that people like us as a band, rather than they think that we’re a sellable brand. We’re playing this for the love of music, rather than trying to anticipate what’s going to be pop music next.

Tangents: Was it a conscious decision to play as a three-piece when Amigo started, or was that just how it evolved?

Baird: How it evolved. It is way easier to get three people prctices scheduled, than it is a larger group. The sound of our records is more relfective of what we would like to do live, but logistically, we haven’t been able to do it.  We always wanted to be a touring band. We wanted to be an Independent American Rock & Roll msuic. We wanted the romance of every punk band since the 1980s. We’re going to go out and play every shitty club, all over the country, and play them all. How are you going to find a bigger audience? You have to go to them. Meet other bands, and play everywhere. 

Tangents: In some ways, is that mindset somewhat liberating? To find to way to fly at a certain level, and find a way to create the music that you want?

Phillips: Yes. Playing out of town and touring has always been our goal. It’s a bucket list item. Make a record, go on tour. 

Tangents: What recording do you think captures your live sound the band, so far?

Baird: I think that the single we just recorded at Mitch Easter’s is pretty close. The three of us was been playing together for two years. Lots of touring, and lots of times on the road together. And that tightnes, musically and otherwise, comes across on that single. I’m still like a kid in a candy store, in the studio. I’m still like, “Whoa!” But I’ve gotten better at vocalising what I think we should do. 

Tangents: What comes first? The music, or the lyrics?

Baird: It can go either way. A phrase can kind of kickstart it, but most of the time, it’s some chords, and you start humming a melody. It’s not always as easy as that, being a three-piece. Because we have less members, it’s like we have to work twice as hard to make it sound good. The life that the songs takes on is a result or working them out, and making sure that we can do everything we need to do. If we have a fully written song, it still takes a good amount of time to make it worthy of sharing with somebody. 

Tangents: When you come up with lyrics, do you already sound of the song in your head? Or does it just come out?

Baird: It really just comes out. Most of the time, if it isn't going to work out, it just gets cast aside. The songs are a reflection of who we are, and how we play. 

Tangents: Wildest, or weirdest Amigo gigs so far.

Baird: I wouldn’t say wildest gigs, but I would say that I really look forward to playing at the Thirsty Beaver. The place has a vibe about it that tells everyone that comes through the door, “Just be your ideal self at all times, and go nuts.” It’s like that you’re walking into a wild family reunion. 

Phillips: I would be remiss to not mention our CD release party at Snug Harbor. We had a sax player, a keyboard player, and a guitar player, and the place was packed. In terms of weird gigs, Anniston, Alabama was pretty weird. 

Baird: There were people at that show that were kind o fbounding off the walls, but conherent. It was also our last gig on the way home from SXSW, afer two weeks on the road. There was nobody there, and they made us play all three hours. 

Tangents: Hypothetical question: You walk into a bar, and you witness a sing-off between Gram Parsons and Jonathan Richman. Who wins, and who is going to win all of the girls that night?

Phillips: Having seen Jonathan Richman live now, I’m going to say that he wins the sing-off, and gets all the girls. 

Baird: It depends on the venue. If it’s on a college campus, than yeah, Jojo is gonna win. If it’s LA circa 1968, it’s Gram Parsons. He’s gets all of the women, the drugs, and everybody’s money.

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