Nick Quantrill also interviewed Jeff via email.
Thanks to Jeff for kindly agreeing to take part.
Nick: You're probably best known for your work with American punk-pop band Gameface. What has been the response been like to your change in musical direction? Are you finding that you're opening yourself up to a completely new audience or is it still predominantly Gameface fans?
Jeff: Most people who know me, know me from Gameface.
Most die-hard Gameface fans are a little older and saw the change in
musical direction miles away.
There's always been a little rootsy feel in my voice and guitar tone. And it came through more on certain Gameface songs, especially in the last couple of records. I feel like now I get to do what I always wanted to without worrying about what people expect from me. It's been rewarding to meet new fans that have never heard Gameface. I think there's an audience out there for me that doesn't know or care who Gameface was. And I think that's cool.
Nick: How did you go about recording the album?
Although the record retains an urgency that is reminiscent of a band playing live, it
seems to have been mainly realised by yourself and multi-instrumentalist, Robbie Rist.
Jeff: Robbie was and is an incredible asset to this whole thing.
He's immensely talented at just about every instrument and knows his way around a pop song.
In addition to being my rhythm section, he engineered and mixed the whole record and
challenged me to try different things with the songs.
I'd bring in demos of the songs and we'd listen to them, play them together and try to make them better.
He didn't impose too much because he wanted it to be my thing but we definitely explored a lot of his ideas.
I am a better musician now because of him.
Nick: What artists and records, or indeed anything else, influenced the making of
Here's What You Should Do?
Jeff: I'm really inspired by guys like Ryan Adams, Elliott Smith, Pete Yorn and
I thought the album would end up somewhere in that ballpark.
The album was the soundtrack to a really unpredictable time for me so I felt like I had a lot to get off my chest.
It kind of wraps things up and sets the stage for the next one.
Nick: It's interesting to note that a lot of the more celebrated names on the
alt-country scene like Ryan Adams, Jesse Malin and Jeff Tweedy all have a punk-rock background.
Do you think that these styles of music maybe have something in common that encourages such a musical path?
Jeff: Good music is just good storytelling.
What drew me to punk rock was the honesty in the lyrics and delivery.
Alt-country has the same spirit and a little more room to move and grow as an artist.
It's tough to stay punk rock and not have it look like a joke when you're 40. I think it's a pretty logical progression. Those guys are true artists and they will keep evolving and reinventing, as will I but I just won't be as famous.
Nick: I remember that when I discovered Gameface, I did so through
friends giving me mix-tapes. I then had to track down Three To Get Ready to a record
shop in London which was able to order it on import for me. And that was only ten years ago!
Does the Internet and companies like cd-baby make a difference to the way that musicians like yourself operate?
Jeff: I figure that most Gameface fans will find me eventually
if they want to.
But websites like cd-baby have opened up the door to brand new fans that otherwise would
have never heard my music.
People browse through new music on the Internet like
people used to browse through record bins.
The Internet is essential to being a musician, especially an independent one.
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