MP3 Happy Ashtray - Weathervane
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24 MP3 Songs in this album (74:34) !
Related styles: ROCK: College Rock, POP: Pop/Rock
People who are interested in Eels Wilco should consider this download.
10 Questions With Happy Ashtray's John Swamy
by Angela Bohine
1. So what's the deal? Is John Swamy Happy Ashtray? Or is Happy Ashtray
JS - actually, that's kind of a trick question. it's both. i perform and record
nearly everything you hear within the context of happy ashtray. i think that's
called being a "multilinguist" but i'd have to go look that up.
2. Who are some of your musical influences?
JS - keith richards says he's influenced by everything he's ever heard,
whether he's conscious of it or not. so if there's any truth to that i'd have to
say i was partly influenced by the music my mom played for me while i was
still in the womb. she put headphones on her belly and apparently i really
got into it. or the me as a fetus did. i'm glad i wasn't too jaded yet at that
age i could still get my freak on. the headphones were definitely an
influence. thanks, mom. others (and thanks to their mothers):
velvet underground, van morrison, the replacements, tom waits, beck,
sly stone, nick drake, eels, magnetic fields, wilco, so many more.
oh, and keith richards.
3. Ok, forget that stupid influences question. Don't get me wrong, I really
liked your answer but let's try this: List your five favorite cds excluding
any by the people you just mentioned.
JS - sure. but aren't we straying from the concept a bit? isn't this
10 questions? because i'd have to say you still owe me a number 3.
3a. Ok, Alex Trebek, you are stranded...somewhere. Not an island.
That is such a bad cliche. You are just stranded. No, you're
just somewhere and you're going to be there for some period of time.
You have your five all-time favorite cds with you excluding those by
artists you just mentioned...or anything painfully obvious like the Beatles
or Bob Dylan. So, what are you listening to?
JS - this is a tough one. i'd probably rather pick 5 movies. this is the order
i'd listen to them. then repeat. then rinse...then repeat, and rinse again:
1 elvis costello & the attractions - armed forces
2 yo la tengo - i can hear the heart beating as one
3 portishead - dummy
4 charles mingus - the clown
5 ike & tina turner - live at carnegie hall
4. I've read reviews describing Happy Ashtray as very accessible pop.rock
music but some have been hard pressed to pinpoint any specific influences.
How is it your music is somewhat familiar and refreshingly original
at the same time?
JS - i have a 3 chord pop sensibility for sure (or in a pinch, 4). it's the type
of music i grew up listening to...so i just emulated what i was hearing. it's
a very familiar and oft-abused formula but look how often it's worked!
from dylan to marley to willie nelson to ray charles to lou reed, i've always
loved music that sounds like something you've heard before, but there's
something new and cool about it. not something gimmicky but a melody,
bass line, or phrasing that makes you think of those 3 chords differently.
i guess i'm really just describing a "hook." the shins, magnetic fields, eels,
they're newer bands with a lot of great hooks. there are also some really
bad hooks, too. listen to keith urban for starters. i've always relied on
instinct to lead which way a song is going to go...and sometimes it takes
a while for that special hook to present itself. if it ever shows up at all. it's
kind of cheesy but i do believe songs (or their ideas) are just out there in
some form waiting for you...in the form of a great riff or melody, the rest
is a lot like adding the usual ingredients to a good recipe.
5. Yes, you're right...that is extremely cheesy. But I'll give you points for
mentioning THE SHINS. Love them. They existed as a side project for
a long time, much like you. But I'm afraid they're starting to get a little
too much attention. Of course, it's in a band's best interest to get as much
exposure as they possibly can. But for the average fan it can be bittersweet
to see a band you really like cross the line from cool-and-obscure to
sell-out. Whose crossing of that line was bittersweet for you?
JS - i have to say R.E.M.. their early albums were a huge influence on me.
i hardly ever think of mentioning them, though, for some reason. probably
because they suck now. i'm not sure how that happened. i think i liked
michael stipe a lot more when i couldn't understand what he was singing.
did the mystery make the music more interesting? i listened to chronic town
and murmur not too long ago for the first time in a long time. they're still
awesome. what happened to their music? did they reinvent themselves into
oblivion? or just get bored?
6. Ok. I really thought I would be the one asking the questions, so maybe
I should shift gears a bit. If it's just you writing, playing and recording
everything yourself...how do you play live?
JS - i'm very lucky...i have a group of extremely talented musicians who
do whatever i tell them to. seriously, it's a group of friends new and
old...a rotating bunch. i've done a lot of solo-acoustic stuff as well. but
a whole show of that gets monotonous. it's fun to mix it up. playing live
can be very rewarding but touring extensively has never really been high
on my list. mainly because it is such a grind. and every day is the same.
the few shows a year we do play are plenty for me. there are other ways
to reach an audience if that's what you're after. like, um...the internet.
7. Ok, you did bring it up. I'll add a twist, though. What are your 5 favorite
movies centered around music? Musicals and concert films do not count.
JS - in no particular order:
1 almost famous
2 the commitments
3 this is spinal tap
4 high fidelity
5 the blues brothers
8. (deleted for content)
9. So, what's next for happy ashtray?
JS - actually i just released a new double-cd called weathervane. i wrote and recorded it over the last couple years and i am really happy with how it turned out. it's been a long time coming. five years...wow. where did the time go?
10. Yeah, why such a long time since your official debut (Big Apple) and no follow-up?
JS - i honestly can't believe it's been 5 yrs since Big Apple came out.
life took some crazy turns over the last few years...both good and bad.
it was the first time i'd ever had to deal with actual life and death stuff in my
immediate family. it really makes you forget just about everything else.
but you can't let yourself get mired in that. i mean, focus on what's
important but don't lose yourself. i think i did for a while. but there are
things too essential and really great that can keep you going...like music.
it's like air. air that sounds good turned UP LOUD.
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