McCurdy stretches musical muscles on "15 Favorites"
With a wife, two young sons and a heavy schedule of live performances, Pat McCurdy needed nine months to record his ninth solo CD.
OnMilwaukee.com chatted with the Milwaukee singer-songwriter about his latest effort, "15 Favorites."
OnMilwaukee.com: Whose "15 Favorites" are these songs?
Pat McCurdy: Mine. Well, they're not anybody's, really. I just thought it was a catchy title. They're certainly not the favorite songs of most people who come to see my shows.
OMC: Given all your commitments, how did you find time to write and record a CD?
PM: It's difficult. All the writing gets done late at night. The recording was all done on weekends. It's pretty tough. The studio I use (Nexus Studios in Waukesha) is open evenings and weekends. I can't go there on a weeknight. I just do Saturdays and Sundays, pretty much. It took four sessions a month from October until about June.
OMC: Did you ever think about putting a studio in your house and working there?
PM: I don't know anything about technology. I was floating the idea of getting an 8-track digital recorder and recording a live CD on our own. But, I don't know.
OMC: It seems like most of your fans would be happy if you went into the studio and recorded the songs exactly the way you play them live.
PM: They would prefer live CDs. Almost hands down.
OMC: You play live almost every night, just you and the guitar. How liberating is it to go in the studio and play around and add textures and sounds to the songs?
PM: That's exactly why I do the CDs. I have so much fun. There are songs where there are 24 tracks of me singing. I layered the singing like crazy.
OMC: What's your writing process like? When you compose a song, do you think about it for you and the guitar in the live setting? Or, do you hear in your head the more elaborate things we hear on the CD?
PM: The CD is how I hear the song when I'm playing it live. That's where I get the ideas. I multi-task.
PM: Normally, the ideas I have are much simpler. Then you get in the studio and you say, "Wow. I think I'll do this." I wanted to play a bunch of different instruments on this CD.
OMC: I noticed the ukulele ...
PM: I love the ukulele. Every time I pick it up, I have to refresh myself with the chords. I don't have them locked in. I have this ukulele book. I had a banjo, too, and I got to throw that in there even though it was missing a string.
OMC: There is a fair amount of piano on the CD. Do you write some songs on piano?
PM: Never. A lot of them are written in my head. I don't even sit there with a guitar when I make them up. Here's what I'll do: I'll make them up when we're driving home at night (after a show). Pipe (Jim Schaufelberger, sound and lights) and Murf (manager Brian Murphy) can attest to this. They'll hear me gently singing in the front seat. They know I'm making up songs. What I do sometimes is use my cell phone and call the Pat Line at my house and leave a message for myself. Sometimes, I can't figure out what I was saying. Some of them are keepers. There are a couple songs on this CD that are cell phone songs.
OMC: What do you have against drummers and bass players?
PM: It's bands, not drummers.
OMC: Well, you could have played drums or used a drum machine. You could have thrown a bass in there, too.
PM: I've found that the people who come to see me play like that even less. It's too different from what they're used to. If you strip down these songs, the basic tracks are me singing live with four mics. I sing into one and there are three on the guitar. It's close to what I do live but then I get to have my way and have the fun stuff. If you listen close, there is a little drumming. I played bass drum on one song. I played cymbals. I played bongos a little bit.
Have you ever heard of a band called "The Divine Comedy?"
PM: It's an English guy (Neil Hannon) who does these orchestral pop songs. His stuff will have 30 strings on a song and it's really interesting music. It's kind of gothic, but '60s pop-ish, too. It's pretty cool. I listened to a lot of that and thought, "If he can do it, so can I."
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Thanks, Drew. Way to ignore the answers and just fire off whatevers next in your lil head. Could you be less engaged with the interviewee?
Sandstorm- I gotta give it to you on this one- good comment. ;)
Festival Man | Nov. 8, 2007 at 11:02 p.m. (report)
Pat is ubiquitous on the summer festival scene! It's almost impossible to get away from his shows... that said, they always seem to be a good mood event where people get totally plastered and end up dancing and having a great time.
i think he's a very talented and clever artist/performer but his audiences are just so stupid and annoying it makes the live experience unbearable. sadly, drunk frat boys and sorority girls, tipsy men and their soccer mom wives belching wine coolers become less and less tolerable every year.
...can't stand this guy. especially his "WMLW meaaans Mil-wauukeeeeeee" jingle.... gives me nausea.... Sorry, Pat (and friends)
Show me the other 2 Talkbacks
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