You won’t see The Pinwheels listed among those playing gigs at local clubs and you won’t hear them on the radio much, but Roy Anderson and Michael Kloman can’t be described as hobbyists.
As The Pinwheels, the songwriting duo has issued four CDs of rootsy rock and roll. The latest, the 13-song “Alcohol Preservation Society,” like its predecessor, was produced by Michael Hoffmann, who also plays some of the instruments.
“Alcohol Preservation Society” was written entirely by Anderson and Kloman and they, along with Hoffmann, played all the instruments. Only Melaniejane, who played cello and sang harmony on one track, guests.
We asked Anderson and Kloman what makes The Pinwheels tick and how the collaborators work together. We also asked about when we’ll see them on stage in Milwaukee.
OMC: Can you tell us a bit about the history of The Pinwheels?
RA: The Pinwheels formed in about 1992 as a three-piece band with Roy Anderson on guitar and vocals, Michael Kloman on bass guitar and Mike Geraci (MG) on drums. MG left after our third release in 1998. We stopped playing out regularly a while ago but we are still active making records.
OMC: Is this the band's first disc?
RA: This is The Pinwheels fourth release.
MK: (But) in a very significant way it is (the first). It represents a different kind of collaboration, one in which the three of us wore several different hats at any given time, i.e. writer, singer, performer, arranger, etc. I would hope more than anything else that the record captures how much fun it was to make the thing, and how organic the process was.
OMC: How did you come to work with Mike Hoffmann?
RA: Mike Hoffmann has been working with us for a while. He produced our last CD (“Starring In My Dreams”) and we’ve been working with him since. He works on a wide range of projects and he’s pretty well tapped into the type of stuff we try to convey.
OMC: He plays a major role on the record, doesn't he? In addition to producing he also engineered and played a lot of instruments.
RA: We work in a pretty free collaborative way. We all understand the underlying sources and influences of the music. If someone is inspired with a part, it’s probably going to work out to enhance the song and so we try it out.
OMC: It looks like The Pinwheels work a little differently than other bands. For example, it looks like some songs are almost solo performances by you, with Mike, others are written and performed by Michael, you and Mike, while still others are written by Michael, but performed by you. Can you give us a little insight into the songwriting and recording process for The Pinwheels?
MK: It's a work in progress/regress ... seriously, it's hard when there are two good songwriters in a band and only so many album slots, fighting for songs. Mind you, I’m not complaining. Still, at the end of the day, you try to do the right thing; what's best for the record.
OMC: Does the band play gigs? If so, do you have additional musicians that you use? When and where will you play next?
RA: You know, we don’t have plans to play out. It’s not a lack of musicians preventing us from playing out. I’m sorry to say, it’s a pain in the ass. Sometimes I think we should.
OMC: What's your plan for the CD? Are you hoping to use it to get a record deal or are you happy more to have a document of these songs?
RA: That’s a good question. I haven’t had an answer for that for 15 years!
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.