Paul Edelman of “Jangling Sparrows” Band Interview by Christian Lamitschka for Country Music News International Magazine & Radio Show
Lamitschka: Music has many new fans throughout
Europe who may be hearing about you for the first time. How would you describe
yourself and the music you play to someone who has never seen or heard you?
Answer: First, thanks for speaking with me. You do a
valuable thing for independent artists. I would call would I do Roots Rock or
Americana. It’s heavily songwriter driven and lyrically focused. I also have a
style that we call “zydefolk“. I take my songs and play with rhythms. We often
flirt with 2nd line feels, ska feels and zydeco feels. Not every song, all the
time, but it’s a great creative tool.
Lamitschka: How was the last year for you? What were
Answer: Last year was pretty darn good. Not as many
shows as I’m used to but better quality. I’ve got a pretty good duo show going
with lush harmonies and working up the new band to get ready to play. Probably
the thing I’m most excited about is the new record that I just finished mixing.
That will be ready in a few months.
Lamitschka: What is your latest CD and how’s it
Answer: The current CD is called 140 Nickels. I
mean, It’s doin ok. Considering the giant ocean of music out there, it’s
floating. It’s gotten some great reviews from some of the bigger Indy zines and
it’s getting some spins on alt radio stations.
Lamitschka: How did you choose the title for the
CD? Is there a story behind the name?
Answer: 140 Nickels is enough money to buy a cheap
six pack. It’s a shorthand reference to the days of being a broke artist. The
name is designed to be a touchstone to those days of focus and passion as my
Lamitschka: Do you write the songs yourself? If not,
how do you go about finding the songs for your CD?
Answer: Yes, I write them myself. It can actually
take time to decide what works together on an album though. Usually we’ll
record more than we need and see what works. Sometimes, I’ll add a track later
that I think ties everything together, as I did on the upcoming album.
Lamitschka: Please tell us about the songs on your
album (influences, etc).
Answer: Well, stylistically, most of them are
influences by that „“zydefolk“ thing I mentioned above. It’s mostly upbeat, fun
rhythms. They are still very songwriter driven. There aren’t any specific
influences on these songs, they feel pretty original to me. Which is one of the
reasons I’m so excited about this body of work. As any writer can tell you,
that can take time and it’s really exciting to stumble on something unique.
Lamitschka: What is the difference between your last
CD and your current one?
Answer: The last one was much more moody. Very
acoustic driven. Kind of a Sunday morning play. 140 Nickels is more of a Friday
night play, for the party. The last CD would be , like, to clean your house to,
or maybe one to play by yourself if you’re going through a hard time. It might
make you feel understood.
Lamitschka: Your current single is being played by
radio. What do you feel is special about this song that makes people want to
Answer: If we’re talking about ‚‘Burnin‘ A Hole“
It’s actually one of the few downbeat songs on 140 Nickels. Straight forward
tick-tock Rock and Roll feel. Which is what I feel is special about it. No
gimmicks, nothing trendy or fancy. Just a good ole fashioned Rock song. In my
mind, it’s the kind of song that you’d play if your parents were out of town
for the weekend and so the keg party was at your house. But it’s still early on
Friday and it’s just you and like 5 friends sitting around your kitchen table
getting primed up for the night. That’s the kind of song it is to me, and I
think we need more of that.
Lamitschka: What will your next single be?
Answer: Not sure, I’ve got this song written in the
style of the late 50s, early 60s crooners. „“Oh Love“, It’s been getting
incredible feedback live so I might record it as a single. Otherwise, I’ve yet to pick the single from the nect
Album. Probably a song Called „“Estuaries“, where I’m speaking to a friend that
Lamitschka: What kind of songs do you like to record
Answer: All of them. I just love recording. It’s
immensely gratifying to hear your vision come alive. But I guess either my
particularly moody pieces or my big rock songs. The rock songs because there’s
nothing like those giant, viscious, growling, searing guitars coming out of the
speakers, it’s just an uppercut of awesome. The moody pieces because capturing
a mood is really challenging because it’s about more than the instruments. It’s
hard to quantify when it’s successful. I enjoy that challenge.
Lamitschka: You did a duet with Jangling Sparrows.
How did that happen to come about?
Answer: I do have a duo show that came about by wanting
to explore some of my different songs and being able to play smaller listening
Lamitschka: What is your favorite song among all the
songs you have recorded and what’s the story behind it?
Answer: Probably „“Burnin’A Hole“ It’s a recollection
of my childhood and the bay that I grew up on. It’s like a meditation with the
goal of placing me, as well as the listener, there.
Lamitschka: How much creative control do you have
over your music?
Answer: 100%. I am always willing to collaborate and consider other viewpoints and I
try to balance everything but in the end I have to get up there and play it,
talk about it and own it.
Lamitschka: There’s a lot of work that goes into a
number one hit. What did it take to make it in your case?
Answer: Honestly the only work that really needs to
go into it is being true to your vision. That can be challenging when there are
a sea of other voices telling you what you should and shouldn’t do but if you
can navigate that then the rest comes more naturally. It’s easy to market and
promote something that you really believe in.
Lamitschka: Do you have any interesting stories
about how fans have been affected by your music?
Answer: Not specifically. I’ve had several occasions
where folks have approached me after shows and told me a certain song really
toched or moved them. I’ve been told by people that my music makes them feel
understood. Not any particular song but the music overall,
Lamitschka: Who inspires you musically and how deep
do your musical roots run?
Answer: Neil Young, Sonvolt, Springsteen, I grew up
in a musical family so it was always in the house. I was listening to Dylan in
the crib. It’s hard to overstate the impact of being left alone in the living
room at 6 while „“It’s Alright Ma“ is still playing on the turn table.
Lamitschka: What do you think about today’s music
scene versus its post and where do you see it going in the future?
Answer: It depends on what scene. Pop music is a
joke, there are a few shining examples of great artists in pop right now, (St.
Vincent, Lady Gaga, Childish Gambino) but mostly there’s no substance, or at
least, if there is, it’s buried. The Indy/Americana scene is one of the last
places left to find great music of substance, real rock and roll. Under ground
hip hop too.
Lamitschka: What do you think about today’s music
Answer: It’s jumped the shark to me. I understand
needing to sell records and make money but it just doesn’t care about music.
The balance is gone. They’re vultures in my view. Visionless
Lamitschka: If you had the chance to change
something about the music industry, what would it be?
Answer: Obviously getting back to more artist
control. There’s a balance. Artists don’t always make the best business decisions,
I get that, but these label heads don’t seem to know or care anything about the
art. They don’t want artists, they want maliable dolls, empty vessels to
regurgitate their vaccuous bile.
Lamitschka: As an artist, you so many tasks such as
recording, touring, interviews. What do you like best, what’s your favorite
Answer: I love recording the best probably. But
playing to a great crowd is certainly satisfying. When the experience goes
beyong yourself and there’s a bubble that everyone is in. That’s magical.
Lamitschka: Are you doing anything to take music
beyond its current borders or are you happy where it is?
Answer: I mean, the best I can do is write from a
place of integrity. Music seems so focused on just being an ear worm or being
cool that I think exploring real emotions, I mean, really going down the rabbit
hole, is perhaps itself breaking a boundary. That’s what rock and roll was
supposed to be about.
Lamitschka: What inspired you to become an artist?
Answer: I’m not sure anyone can „“become“ an artist.
I think the need to create is built in to some of us. That said, I think there
are a lot of artists walking around unrealized, allowing themselves to be too
molded by their surroundings and not allowing the full flower of their
expression, whatever form that may take, to bloom.
Lamitschka: What inspired you to become a
Answer: Hearing some of the music I grew up with.
Listening to a song really manipulate my feelings or mood. Or how a song can
create a bubble that you’re just inside. What Power! And not just power but
power that is used for good. What a craft.
Lamitschka: What drives you?
Answer: Learning drives me. Growing drives me. Being
a place where people can feel ok with their thoughts and feelings, even if
Lamitschka: What’s unique about you that will
differentiate you from other artists?
Answer: I think it’s that in lyrics and subject
matter I’m willing to express deeper, more complex thoughts and feelings than
what might be easily accessible to most listeners. I’m not here to hand people
things on a platter. People aren’t that stupid or lazy. One could argue that it
makes me less appealling or „“poppy“ but I’ve found my balance and I’m at peace
Lamitschka: What has been your greatest challenge in
learning the business side of it. Getting more and more savvy and finding my
lines. I am totally willing to make certain compromises but it takes time to
figure out where your lines are.
Lamitschka: What moments in your career stand out in
your memory as highlights and achievements which you are proud of?
Answer: Recording with Jimmy Johnson from Muscle
Shoals Studio was one. Sharing the stage with Sheryl Crow, The Dixie Chicks,
Chrissy Hynde and Sarah McGlachlin. Spoiler I crashed the stage with my banjo
but they didn’t care and let me stay.
Lamitschka: Who is your biggest critic, yourself or
Answer: Myself. Most other listeners are only
hearing what I do with relative ears. They have no other context to listen
with, so my songs are filtered through comparisons of whatever they already
know. It is what it is but it rarely makes for thoughtful or insightful
critique and fitting in is rarely high on my list of priorities.
Lamitschka: When you get time off, how do you like
Answer: I work on my guitar skills, bluegrass
picking, lead work. I love to play basketball as well.
Lamitschka: Is there anything in your life that you
would change if you could?
Answer: Not really.
I mean, anything that would fall under that category I have either changed it
or am working on it. If it’s out of my
hannds I don’t worry about it. I will say that many more things are within our
power to change than we think.You just have to be willing to take some risks.
Lamitschka: What hopes and desires do you have?
Answer: Well, it is my desire to grow as an artist
and performer and stay active for a very long time. It is a desire of mine to
use my art to foster understanding and connection between people.
Lamitschka: What has been the biggest disappointment
in your life?
Answer: I am dissapointed that my Mom isn’t around
anymore to see my growth.
Lamitschka: Many European fans travel to the United
States to attend the several of the music festivals for the opportunity to see
so many of their favorite artists, bands and celebrities. Will you be
participating and how will the fans be able to find you?
Answer: The best way to see what I’m up to right now
is by going either to www.janglingsparrows.com
or hit me up on the Jangling Sparrows Facebook fan page.
Lamitschka: Is there any place you haven’t played
that you would like to?
Answer: Sure lots. But I’m not really someone that
looks at venues as badges. If there’s a good crowd I’m down to go.
Lamitschka: What can your fans expect to see when
they see you in concert?
Answer: A lot of energy. I also pride myself in true
renditions of the songs that are recorded, keeping the feel and execution
Lamitschka: When you’re on tour, do you have time to
Answer: A little. Some cities there just isn’t much
to see but if there’s an historic landmark or something I’m always interested
Lamitschka: Do fans mob you everywhere you go or do
they respect your privacy?
Answer: I have never had the experience of being
mobbed. I imagine it’d be fun like twice.
Lamitschka: Many music fans today get their
information about artists online. Do you have your own website and what will
fans find there?
Lamitschka: Tell us about the fan club and how
people can join it.
Answer: Right now I’m just using facebook. People
can like the page and keep up to date right here
Lamitschka: What’s the best compliment a fan has
ever given you?
Answer: That my music makes people feel understood
Lamitschka: What’s your favorite song that you wish
you could have recorded?
Answer: Ooh, I Am A Tree by Guided By Voices
Lamitschka: What message would you like to send your
Answer: Thank you for your support and I hope to get
over there soon and meet all y‘all
Lamitschka: Fans are always hungry for good road
stories. Do you have one you can share with us (come on don’t be shy)?
Answer: mmmm, this is an old one but we were at The
St. Louis Twang festival and I ended up hooking up with a woman and going back
to her apartment. Unfortunately I forgot to tell my band mates. They,
apparantly didn’t notice I was missing until the next day anyway. This was just
before cell phones really became ubiquitous. The woman I was with drove me back
to the hotel where I saw the band van in the diner lot next door with the side
door wide open exosing all the gear. They had stayed up all night and were now
at the diner plotting how to find me when I walked in.
Lamitschka: Describe what a perfect day is like for
Answer: coffee, basketball, couple pints, show
Christian Lamitschka ( Ch.Lamitschka@t-online.de ) for
Country Music News International Magazine & Radio Show
Photo (c) SCOTT CRAIG