Clay and Greg recently had the chance to catch up with the mastermind behind The Goldberg Sisters, Adam Goldberg and discuss the release of Stranger’s Morning, how it compares to The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds, Lady Gaga and the epic fight scene in Dazed and Confused.
Nanobot Rock Reviews: Thank you for taking the time to sit down with us today.
Adam Goldberg: Thank you. I appreciate your interest.
Clay: Anyone who looks at your current list of projects would know better than to ask “what do you do with your free time?” So instead I’ll ask, when do you sleep, or is polyphasic sleep another one of the areas you study?
AG: Well I don’t sleep as much as I should. Or as well. But usually I carve out my time fairly well and stay pretty focused on that one project. In the case of the release of this album I might have maxed out, as I’m also prepping a movie I wrote, to direct next month.
Greg: Speaking of movies, in the ever growing trend of musicians bridging over into acting and actors bridging over into music the sound tends to be rather generic, but with Stranger’s Morning it is unlike anything I can find. As a big fan of this sound, I’d love to know what inspired your sound. Take me through the development process.
AG: Thanks so much. Well, I’ve been making and recording music in some variety or another since the early ’90s. But only began to put out albums in 2009. My style changed I guess from more alt-rock/power pop, Sebadoh-wannabe-like stuff, to more classically structured songs. I think by default I used to do a lot with repetition. I’d cite Sonic Youth or Philip Glass as influences, but really that was a pretentious way of justifying my inability to find the next chord. This sound of this album, and arguably much of what I’ve done since around 2002, is really just born out of a love of harmonies and soundscapes in which more or less hooky tunes reside.
Clay: As you mentioned, you have been making music for some time now, but what drew you to music, and more specifically, 4-tracking?
AG: I always loved and listened to tons of music. I remember being a little kid and walking around with the lyrics to Logical Song by Supertramp and singing it on the bus; god I was obsessed with Breakfast in America; and musicals for that matter. Anyways…recording and playing music were always sort of one in the same for me. I never played live much. When I played drums as a kid, it was almost always by myself – to David Bowie records mainly. I bought my first electric guitar (pretty late, like when I was 23) and my first Tascam 4-track maybe the same day. I loved the process of layering sound, flipping the tape over, recording a backwards line, doing a track of just amp hiss, etc. It – especially in those 4-track days – felt a bit like sculpting – which I also tried to do for 5 minutes until I was reminded I have absolutely no business drawing, painting, or sculpting.
Clay: What was your first thought upon hearing Stranger’s Morning as a finished product? What did Celeste think?
AG: Well, that’s a tough question. Partly because there are so many phases to the process and by the time it’s done, it’s been done about twelve other times. But, I always think about the story of Brian Wilson listing to the final mix (I think) of Pet Sounds for the first time, up all night, with his wife at the time, and how excited and moved he was by that – how he knew. He just knew.
For me, not so much. I hear all the problems. I hear the songs I didn’t record. I wonder why I chose the songs I did. I also have found myself playing in a negligibly different style lately (like in the last year) and don’t feel that’s represented much on the record. Maybe “As You Fall” does a little. Celeste loves it if I hate it. And hates it if I love it.
Greg: While you were recording did you ever feel that you were reaching too far into the abstract? Would it bother you if mainstream radio did not pick this up?
AG: I would be thrilled. I think, if anything, the problem with my stuff is that it’s not that weird. It’s just songs. Pretty hooky. Erring on the hooky side. I’d love mainstream acceptance. I’ve always yearned for it. I’m sure I would recoil if I got it. Grass is half-empty, the glass is always greener.
Clay: At Nanobot, we feel that sharing new music with friends is one of the best ways to get into a sound you never heard before. On your Songs the Shaped Us feature, you list Nick Drake and Big Star as 2 of your “why haven’t I been listening to these guys my whole life? moments.” We live for those moments and know bands do, too. What can we do to help the Nick Drakes and Big Stars of (whatever we’re calling this decade) break out in this decade and not 2030? Are our “super-awesome playlists” on Spotify and Rdio enough?
AG: Gosh, it’s so noisy out there; for all art. It’s a wonderful thing, the internet age — this opportunity for artists, me included, to be discovered and rediscovered…So many outlets for artists of all varieties, so many outlets for films…But so noisy. So goddamn noisy. I don’t know. I guess things like Pandora (is that too ’09?) can really be helpful. I don’t know.
I used my roommate at college and his Trouser Press Record Guide. That’s how I discovered most of the music that shaped me. That book and my pal, John Glick.
Clay: It is definitely very noisy out there. Through it all, in your opinion, who are the artists we should stop what we’re doing and go discover?
Bridget St. John — a phenomenal ’70s singer/songwriter
Tom Rapp — also of that era
Gary Higgins — same deal
Loscil — I do all my yoga and sleep or don’t sleep to his ambient music
Colleen — I’m in love with her ethereal loop like self-played musical hypnoses.
Claudine Longet — vaguely kitsch but beautiful arrangements
Clay: What album has stood the test of time the best and does not show its age?
Plastic Ono Band
Five Leaves Left
Everybody Knows This is Nowhere
Kind of Blue
Village Green Preservation Society
I mean, so many….
Greg: So if we were to hit shuffle on your musical library, what would we hear?
Clay: Thank you very much for your time, I know you’re a very busy man. Before we go, I just have to ask: was Neil Young mixed with vodka and orange juice really your muse for the big fight scene in Dazed and Confused or were their more layers in that parfait of a performance? (I ask as one of the scrawny outcasts of the mid 90s)
Yes; that and every guy who I never had the balls to sucker punch.