‘Seinfeld’ rerun provided inspiration for singer/songwriter Paul Ford

Written by Carson James

Retro rocker Paul Ford is one of those gifted singer/songwriters that, for one reason or another, has been under the radar of mainstream consciousness. A large part of that is because of how segregated music has become. Ford neither fits into rock nor pop, neither commercial nor alternative. In today’s narrowly defined musical landscape you have to wonder how Tom Petty would’ve made it. But, given enough time and exposure, I like to think that Ford could eventually nab a larger audience. Until then, I will remain captivated by his new album, The Moon, in the privacy of my own airspace. For those unfamiliar with Ford, let the following interview provide an introduction.

Carson James: How do you approach your songwriting? Lyrics first, then the music?

Paul Ford: There are so many ways to write songs, and I have several methods of writing. Sometimes a song pops into my head-lyrics and melody completely without much thought or effort. We call those moments “true inspiration.” “If I Were Superman” (from The Moon) was one of these. Other times I will spin a line or melody around in my head for days or weeks, then sit down and try to write. I look at songwriting as kind a puzzle. You start with a thin frame work of an idea and fill it in with lyrics and melody.

James: What advice would you give to people who have just started writing lyrics.

Ford: I would say keep writing! Songwriting is a process. When you learn which processes works best for you, keep doing. It. They are not all gonna be gems. Don’t be afraid of that. The good songs come from repeating the process, changing it up a little from time to time, and just doing it!

James: You’ve been in a number of bands before. What made you decide to go solo?

Ford: Bands are great fun and hard work, but hard to keep together in many cases. I have decided to concentrate more on songwriting and recording my songs. I would also be very interested to hear how other performers would sing, interpet and perform songs I have written. That would be really exciting and quite an honor.

James: Explain the inspiration behind “If I Were Superman.”

Ford: When I wrote “If I Were Superman,” I was laying in bed watching a Seinfeld rerun. It was the one with Terri Hatcher, who played Lois Lane once. I was watching the show, and the song plowed into my head like a lightning bolt. Lyrics, melody, bridge. It was nearly complete when I tried to get what I heard in my head down on paper. It’s in the key of B flat which I very seldom write in, but that is how it sounded in my head.

James: Your album, The Moon, has the cohesiveness of a complete album. When you recorded it, were you conscious of this being an “LP experience” -in other words, something that is greater as a whole?

Ford: Thanks for noticing! I grew up listening to the LP experience as it were. We didn’t mean to do it at first, I was trying to pick the best examples of my songwriting. When we started to put the tracks in order it seemed to have a cohesion to it. If you listen to it in order it’s kind of like an emotional journey through Happiness, Sadness, Love, Loss, Insanity, and Fear. They are all there! I hope the listener will enjoy it!


Published in: on May 30, 2008 at 7:43 am  Leave a Comment  
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No longer solo, singer/songwriter Dodd Lede forms superb rootsy modern rockers the DML Cartel

Written by Carson James

When we last heard from singer/songwriter Dodd Lede, he released an album called Sophomore Jinx that, given a major-label financial push, could’ve found its way alongside John Mayer and Jack Johnson on commercial AAA radio stations. Since then, Lede has formed the DML Cartel, a rootsy modern-rock outfit that was once Lede’s covers band Bare Necessity. Lede discusses their consistently good debut album Word of Mouth and how the DML Cartel enabled him to finally achieve the bigger sound he had been aiming for. 

Carson James: The DML Cartel sounds like a full band effort, but then again so did your last solo album, Sophomore Jinx. Did your approach to songwriting change with having a group backing you up?

Dodd Lede: No. My approach to songwriting is pretty consistent. It was a little easier to record with the same group of musicians, but it didn’t start out that way. The musician process changed on me a few times throughout this recording until all the pieces finally fell together. In the end, the same musicians played together on about 80% of the entire CD. Of course, I expect the next CD to go much easier.

James: The guitars are a little louder and crunchier here than on your solo efforts. Did you feel back then, acting alone, that you were limited in terms of how rocking the tunes could be?

Lede: The original working title for this CD was going to be Twice Removed; since I never got the sound I wanted on the first two CDs, this was going to represent that sound twice removed. I thought it would have been a cool title, but no one else seemed to get it. This was the sound that I originally wanted for the both CDs, but since I didn’t have a permanent band at the time, I chose to scale it down. The decision was made since I was performing more solo acoustic shows. I wanted to be able to successfully pull off the songs live without the band aspect missing too much.

James: Your band used to perform covers with you. Was it an easy transition to go from remakes to original material?

Lede: I had already released Whatever Happened To You and Sophomore Jinx when I joined Bare Necessity. I was hesitant about joining a cover band in the first place and was pretty adamant that I would never do it, but Derek [Prather] is such a phenomenal guitarist and friend that I really wanted to work with him. The idea was that I would help his band out, and he would record in the studio with me. I even put a time limitation on how long I would stay with the band. I think it was supposed to be for one year. It didn’t exactly turn out like that, but it became pretty cool playing to packed houses that were very much into what we were doing. I’ve been with Bare Necessity for almost four years now. It’s still a lot of fun. But as things go, I eventually wanted to release some new original material. The band, at that point, did not want me to quit so they opted to assist me in completing what I had already started with John [Rinkus], Mark [Head], and Richard [Magallanes] .

James: What made you decide to turn Bare Necessity into a full-blown recording group?

Lede: I didn’t actually turn Bare Necessity into a full-blown recording group. It was an idea that never really panned out. Bare Necessity’s bass player, Fred [Morecraft], was not interested in pursuing the originals as much as the rest of us. He was happier just doing the cover songs. Instead, Derek and I are in both Bare Necessity and the DML Cartel. The chain of events goes like this. John had been jamming with us over the past year doing the originals, but he did not want to be a part of the cover band.  So he started jamming with Mark and Richard, whom had both been in the studio recording Word Of Mouth with me before Bare Necessity. They were working on songs that will probably be part of John’s solo project. They didn’t have a singer, so I went out to jam with them while Bare Necessity was on break. We booked a couple shows and asked Derek to come and play with us. That is how the DML Cartel became a separate entity altogether.

James: The opening track, “Best of Monday Night,” recalls the Gin Blossoms. Were they an influence on you?

Lede: It is a safe assumption that I am influenced by the Gin Blossoms although I get more comparisons to Bon Jovi on that song. I’m glad someone else can see the similarities and influence.


Kat Goldman’s ‘Sing Your Song’ grows slowly but remains a keeper

Reviewed by Karla Dettinger, Contributing Writer

Kat Goldman/Sing Your Song

Kat Goldman’s Sing Your Song is one of those albums which sneak up on you. For a while, I couldn’t digest the music on here. It’s not that these are bad tracks or even difficult ones. I simply found them too subtle at first, not even making an attempt to really grab me. However, those are the kind of LPs that probably have the longest shelf life; ones which reward repeated spins.

Goldman’s voice is distinct, not really similar to anyone’s. It’s raspy in places and breathy in others. In fact, on the first two songs – the title cut and “Baby You Gonna Fall in Love” – she doesn’t even sound like the same person. On the first tune, Goldman strikes a more pensive yet hopeful tone while on “Baby You Gonna Fall in Love” she conveys a more distant feeling like a narrator. The music is strikingly different, too, switching from a chamber-pop approach to early ’70s singer/songwriter balladry. I would classify Sing Your Song as a record to play at night when you’re feeling a bit introspective and maybe even lonely. 


Published in: on May 13, 2008 at 5:28 am  Leave a Comment  
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Legendary British singer/songwriter Paul Weller ages gracefully on ‘As Is Now’

Reviewed by Mondo Castro

Paul Weller/As Is Now

After five years, talking to mod god Paul Weller over the phone remains the highlight of my foray into music. He was as casual as, say, an old friend who just got back after a long time, reminiscing about his past. In this case, it was Weller recalling his time with the Jam, the Style Council, the third phase of his career, and his then new album Heliocentric. I was nervous as a high school boy on the day of his prom night; Weller warmly told me that he was “just an ordinary bloke” and said that he’s the one who should be nervous. That broke the ice and paved the way for a 45-minute conversation that would last a lifetime. It’s heartening that one of my idols is still creating music that is relevant.

With the cappuccino-jazz of the Style Council behind him, Weller has solidified his place in the pantheon with excellent albums like Wild Wood, Stanley Road, and Days Of Speed.

On As Is Now, excellent tracks liken “Blink And You’ll Miss It” and “Come On/Let’s Go” oddly yet deftly mixes the punk influence of the Jam with the funk and soul flirtations of the Style Council. Weller gives us a curveball, puts out surprises like “Here’s The Good News” where he goes honky-tonk with the piano.

Yes, I may be a fan of the man, but take my word for it, As Is Now is one of Weller’s best albums. Crowned with the beautiful “All On A Misty Morning” and the gritty “From The Floorboards Up,” the modfather further proves that music gets better with age.


Published in: on May 13, 2008 at 5:10 am  Leave a Comment  
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