Monday, December 1, 2008
Jacob Turnbloom, formerly of First Wave Hello, did a nice little interview with fishpork.com, with excerpts found below...
[Fishpork.com] First Wave Hello was a San Diego, CA based band that I was first saw during their 2007 tour with former Failure frontman Ken Andrews. Not only did the band open up but they were also the backing band for Andrews. I immediately picked up their debut LP, The Lord & Its Penguin, and was blown away by the sonic energy and songwriting ability of the band. Jacob Turnbloom was the force behind that songwriting and Fishpork got a chance to ask him a few questions about his approach to songwriting, how First Wave Hello hooked up with Ken Andrews, as well as what is up next for one of the most talented songwriters around today.
Can you tell me how you formed First Wave Hello?
I was fiddling with audio engineering in late 2003 early 2004. I basically had to record a bunch of demo’s for my classes. So songs like “Portable People” and “Our Best Policy” I had recorded as demos for school. It took some time to find an initial line up. The recordings I had made ended up in local record stores, and in the hands of friends here in San Diego. Our first drummer Dave heard those early recordings and wanted to start a band that was actually serious. Sarah was very encouraging with my song writing at the time and I asked her if she wanted to play synthesizers along side my good friend Eric. We recorded our first EP as a four-piece band. Coner eventually heard our record while he was on tour with Counterfit and joined the band as second guitar as soon as he returned home. After a year, Sarah left the band and was replaced with a good friend of ours, Dan Reed. That was the line up that recorded on our first full-length record. The band kept changing over the years, with our good friend Ryan Flach replacing Dave on the drums when we would go on tour. And eventually our long time friend/producer/engineer Christian Cummings would replace Ryan on the Ken Andrews tour. It was always changing.
What were your early musical influences?
Sonic Youth was always a band that I could listen to and hear new things every time. That band changed the way people looked at guitar solo’s and song structure in mainstream alternative music, whether they intended on that or not. That band inspired me from an early age to play what feels right, not what’s gonna work for everyone.
What are your influences outside of music?
It’s hard to say. It’s such a huge part of my life, that it’s really all that ever goes through my mind. But, I think failing is a huge influence on me, if everyone embraced failing and embraced the flaws that we all possess, then we’d live in a more honest society. You can’t learn anything if you’re right all the time. How would you progress?
What was the song-writing process with FWH?
In the beginning, it was a challenge to get everyone to write together. So, I would usually bring in song ideas, like the basic structure and key melodies, usually chorus melodies, and the band would fill in the blanks. It wasn’t until we started writing The Lord and Its Penguin where people stopped holding back so much and started coming up with cool ideas and themes. Like the long ending to “Submarine Decibels” was an idea Coner came up with, and in the studio I thought it was such a good idea I had our drummer add on another measure even though it felt too long. When everything feels right in a song that’s usually when I start to feel like it’s wrong. I liked when the other guys in the band would bring in an idea that I hated, because that usually meant it was going to fit in the song somehow and work well.
When I listen to your work with First Wave Hello, sincerity seems to be a theme. How would you describe your work?
Everyone in FWH came from other bands. And after so long of playing shows in San Diego and touring, you get to a point where you realize you’re never going to be happy doing this if your trying to be the next “big thing” or trying to “make a living”. We’ve all been through the ringer with sleazy managers and slimy handshakes. Dealing with those kind of distorted views of how music works from record industry professionals, who incidentally are almost all out of a job anyway, kind of puts everything into perspective. There is a strong network of DIY bands in San Diego and will be forever, so I think that kind of attitude and honesty slips into the music a little.
How did you initially hook up with Ken Andrews?
We were looking for someone to mix the record that understood what we were trying to accomplish with it. I love the way that guy mixes drums and heavy guitars, but I was really interested in the way he mixed synthesizers. The first ON record is really colorful. The old analog synth sound that reminded me of Gary Numan or Dick Hyman. I wanted all of the synthesizer work to be prominent but also tasteful. There’s a fine line and, believe me, we pulled back a lot on that first record. We took a shot in the dark and just asked him if he would want to work with us. He sent us a quote which was waaaaaay out of our price range. We then politely declined and started looking elsewhere. A few days later, Ken called us saying that he would be willing to mix the record with what we had, which was not a lot. We stayed in contact with him after the record was finished. And by the time his solo record was coming to fruition, he was looking for a band to tour with.
For more from this interview, click HERE!!
Posted by Dan Goldin at 4:37 PM