Wednesday, October 16, 2013

My Teenage Stride: Salt water up your nose and CMJ on your brain.

Hello world. CMJ is underway here in New York City (where they make a certain kind of picante sauce that is most definitely NOT Pace brand picante sauce) and I've already seen some killer bands. Our buddies Crazy Pills and Sharkmuffin rocked Legion last night, along with The Brooklyn What (playing our showcase on 10/19) and Hippy (a great garage/indie pop act, who I'd never seen before) and Sideasideb (their first show ever!). It was are really good start to a week that is always parts fun, annoying, surprising, and exhausting. We have two festival showcases this year, HBR CMJ #1 at Legion on 10/17, and HBR CMJ #2 at Matchless on 10/19. My Teenage Stride is closing out the night on Saturday. As far as I'm concerned, they are really closing out the entire official festival (though there's a sweet unofficial show at Spike Hill on Sunday), because after they play, I'm going straight home to pass the F out. I had a little Gchat with the main man behind My Teenage Stride, Jed Smith.

Here is the transcript:

Hearts Bleed Radio: Who exactly is in My Teenage Stride these days?

Jed: Live My Teenage Stride is myself, Jedediah Smith, on guitar and vocals, John Grewell on drums and backing vocals, and Ed Chittenden on bass and backing vocals, although recorded My Teenage Stride is largely myself on all instruments and vocals.

HBR: Do you ever write a song from the drum kit? Or with a bass guitar? Or do you usually form those parts around the guitar/vocal melody?

Jed: Generally I just work it all out in my head and then record it, I find that picking up an actual instrument and trying to write like that doesn't really produce results, I don't know why. Although, if I were to start a song with an instrument, it would be drums. But generally something pops into my head and I arrange it "internally." That's not to say I've never ripped something off...

Jed with an artist's representation of the two cats that live in his head and write music all day.

HBR: I call that like, the internal iPod. Do you listen to songs in your head sometimes and it's just as good as if you were listening to it? I do that on the walk to work a lot.

Jed: Yeah definitely, music largely is a mental rather than physical thing for me, although it's hard to say that without sounding pretentious. Everybody works differently though and that fascinates me.

HBR: I feel like a lot of musicians who hear things in their heads clearly have a certain amount of stress and anxiety connected to trying reproduce actually that music, in a recording or with a band. It does always come out a little different than it was in your head, right?

Jed: Only production-wise, really, but that largely depends upon how lazy I'm being about recording, or if I don't have access to certain equipment at the time, but I think you're probably right overall. I mean when I was a teenager definitely because I couldn't play some of the stuff I was hearing. If anything the problem with digital recording is that you can do anything you want. But like, I feel like making up songs in my head is a way to deal with anxiety, if anything.

HBR: It's a very healthy mental workout, when it's going well. Do you ever have writer's block? Do you ever go through a period when you feel like you're just not writing good material?

Jed: I feel like more for me it's that I'll finish everything but vocals and I'll get weird anxiety about recording vocals and will put it off forever- sometimes because I don't want to finish a lyric and sometimes because I don't want to deal with trying to get the vocal right or something, but the actual writing isn't really the problem generally, although sometimes I'll have snippets floating around in my head that I haven't connected to anything else and that I don't want to deal with. For instance I have this total Troggs/Tommy James thing in my head as a verse that won't play nice with a chorus and it's been driving me nuts.

HBR: Haha, but sometimes you find a home for those parts and it's a happy ending. I feel like, as I get older, lyrics give me more trouble, but I think I'm also harder on myself. You took a little vacation from NYC. How does it feel to be back?

Jed: Oh definitely! It's really really important to be as hard as possible on yourself, it's the only way you get better. I still hate almost everything I've ever done, it's a wonderful feeling. I did take a vacation. Western Mass was great. It's home. But so is this. I'm really happy to be back.

HBR: You seem like a natural songwriter, but also somewhat of a student of songwriting... How much of it is natural and how much is learned?

Jed: Hmm I dunno, I'm definitely a student of songwriting, but I've been making up songs since I was at least 7, I actually recorded the first song I ever made up (at around 7) when I was 18, it's called "Salt Water Up My Nose."

HBR: Do you have a copy of it?

Jed: Ha, yes but NO ONE SHALL HEAR IT!

HBR: Hahaha.

Jed: Imagine an outtake from "Smiley Smiley" with awful vocals...

HBR: Oh man...

Jed: Haha. Yeah, a 4-track recording of like 12 vocals, drums, and organ... I was ambitious.

HBR: I was thinking of starting a blog where I get musicians I know to send me stuff from middle school/high school, and we review it.

Jed: Oh that's a GREAT idea, seriously... Except getting people to do it.... But that's a great idea.

HBR: It's all pretty ridiculous, but like y'know, the ideas are there, but the kids just have really know idea how to pull them off.

Jed: Exactly.

HBR: Maybe if it was anonymous...

Jed: Haha. That would take something away from it, maybe... maybe not. You should do it!

HBR: If I can scratch out some time this winter I just might. I'll send some stuff your way to guest review.

Jed: I'm game...more or less. That would be fun.

Jed in the act of performing.

HBR: So, CMJ, festival time... How do you feel about it? I like it, but it's kinda a mess too.

Jed: CMJ is a total fun mess. I don't always manage to take advantage of the badge... and I think it's more fun for out-of-towners because we already have like 1,000 shows a week here. can be fun.

HBR: Yeah, you gotta take the week off of work and be a tourist. It's just impossible to hit up everything, but it's impossible to hit up everything every other week of the year too. What advice would you give to a band who is in town to play a show or two?

Jed: Yeah totally, there are already like three nights this week where several different friends' bands are playing different shows and I don't know what to do. Advice? Hmm... I guess just pace yourself a bit if you're gonna go to a lot of shows. And talk to other people in bands. Not that I would follow my own advice.

HBR: I mean, it depends on where you're from, what you're looking for. I like that a lot of out-of-towners are around, cause I like to share our city, and you never know when you're gonna be out on the road, and run into them, or whatever. I kinda envy people who come in from out of town and don't have like five friends playing on the same night, cause like, they don't know anyone. They just get to roam around.

Jed: Oh yeah I definitely envy out of town bands for that reason. I mean, there's too much.. That's New York I guess.

HBR: What's on the horizon for MTS after CMJ?

Jed: As far as MTS goes, I'm trying to finish this album I've been not finishing for....a couple years. I have about 70 songs, most of them finished, but I don't know which ones all go together on one album. If it were 1967 I probably wouldn't worry about it but until fairly recently you couldn't be all over the place again like people were back then. It seems like it's sort of becoming okay again but it's still a weird block I have.

HBR: It's all acceptable now, but a release should feel like a body of work, which can be 2 songs on a 7" or a 95 minute double album... But it has to feel right when you release it.

Jed: I agree. I shall be released!

HBR: Haha, I'm gonna release you from this chat.

And with that we leave Jed to contemplate the fate of his next masterpiece. I for one, generally favor absurdly ambitious undertakings, though a single a week released every week for a year would be an interesting thing to keep up with.

We have some awesome shows this weekend, and we hope to see you there! If you can't make it, use the internet and give the bands some online love. It's not the same as seeing them in person, but it's still nice.

RSVP for HBR CMJ #1 and HBR CMJ #2

Like MTS on Facebook ---> here.

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