On Friday I will publish my interview with Lawrence Gowan of Styx. One of the things we talk about is this onstage tribute he did to Neil Peart of Rush.
No matter how much programming goes into a social media platform's algorithm, it still has no idea what good is, much less great. It is like having someone rank various songs who does not hear any of the tunes, but only reads keywords that were randomly generated for them.
Make content for people, not algorithms.
Tom Johnston of The Doobie Brothers: One of the things about writing, for me, I'm just speaking for me, the best (songs) are the ones that just write themselves. You don't have to sit there and labor over it. You don't have to think "that doesn't work, this doesn't work"… If it feels good at the front end and it just keeps flowing, you just keep adding parts. And now with the addition of using software and being able to play keyboards, being able to sing into the computer, being able to play guitar in the computer, you can envision the whole thing to the end. It's not something you're going to put out as a recorded song. But you can take it to the band, (show them) how it goes, and then you flesh it out with other guys.
Cris Cohen: I wanted to start off with the newest single, “Sweet Spot.” When you put that together, was it always your intention to have everyone take a turn at the lead vocals with that? Because that's kind of unusual.
Graham Sharp of Steep Canyon Rangers: No, it wasn’t the idea at first. But it was about as simple and as quick of a song that I’ve ever come up with. The song doesn't really change the whole way through. It just kind of stays right about here.
A few things were coming together. I had just sketched out the idea for it, and when Woody was leaving, we wanted to do one send-off song together. It seemed like, thematically, “Sweet Spot” was a good one for that. It just happened to be a confluence of a few different factors: The song was ready, Woody was leaving, and we wanted a way to maybe make a sort of auditory bridge. So, Woody sings some, Barrett sings some, I sing some, Mike sings some. It’s not quite a passing of the torch, but just a way to add some continuity into the whole idea.
So, it seemed to work on a lot of levels. And just as a song, I think when you have a song that stays pretty much the same all the way through, it adds some interest if you layer in some different voices as it goes along.
Cris Cohen interviews Barrett Smith of Steep Canyon Rangers. They discuss:
- What it is like to join this band as a new member
- How getting his Master of Arts degree in Counseling has altered the way he communicates in everyday life and as a musician
- Really committing himself to the bass after joining this band
- The challenges in covering James Taylor's "Sweet Baby James"
- And more
It is also available on most podcast apps.
The Steep Canyon Rangers website: steepcanyon.com
Cris Cohen talks with drummer Sandy Gennaro (Cyndi Lauper / Joan Jett) about his new book, "Beat The Odds (in Business & Life)". They discuss:
- Surviving and thriving even in an environment as unstable as the music business
- Belief, Enthusiasm, Attitude, Tenacity, Service
- Applying the lessons of the book in the internet age
- And more
Sandy Gennaro's website: sandygennaro.com
Listen to the audio-only version of the interview
Order a signed copy of Sandy's book: sandygennaro.com/beat-the-odds-products/
Cris Cohen: In anticipation of whoever may join in the future, what is it like to join this band?
Barrett Smith of Steep Canyon Rangers: It's really good to join this band. The band has what seems to me to be a unique, really natural, organic, family kind of thing. I don't think ‘wholesome’ is quite the right word. But there's a lot of goodness.
On the downside of joining this band, it can be a pretty steep learning curve. You're entering a culture that's really well-established that you're not a part of. It’s just mountains of inside jokes and subtle understandings of the way the organism operates.
And then musically, there's a lot to the music. In a way it's really complicated because it's highly arranged. If somebody sits down and teaches me one of these songs -- as they did -- they would say, “Oh, it's easy. You just have these chords. It's easy.” And then when I studied it myself, I was like, “Yeah, it has those chords in it, but they go this way in the first verse, and then you flip them around backwards in the second verse. You put a stop right here. And then in the third verse, it does the whole thing again, but no drums. And you do this little lick. And then the fourth time…”
It's just constant cues and more chords than they think. I think it was Mike Ashworth -- they were teaching me one of the songs -- and he was like, “It's like three chords and the truth… and then seven more chords.” That was funny.