I’m Jordan Summers and I’m Morty Coyle. Together, we are two of several members of All Day Sucker.
Where did you grow up and how did you find your ways into becoming musicians?
Morty: We were both born at the same hospital, Cedars of Lebanon in Hollywood, CA. We met in high school in English class. I had on a walkman listening to “Revolution” by The Beatles and Jordan said, ‘Do you sing?’ and I said, ‘yeah.’ This was 11th grade. I had seen him the year before in 10th grade performing with pieces of who would become our original band. I was like, ‘you play keys in that band.’ He said, ‘yeah.’ I said, ‘great.’ I came out to a rehearsal and that set into motion all of the last intervening years of our lives.
Jordan: I remember that I had a set list and you knew every song on that set list.
Morty: Maybe, but I didn’t know Elvis Costello as well as you guys did. It was mostly classic rock. I don’t know anything about sports or cars. So, I have plenty of my reptilian brain left open for some sundry items as music.
How do you feel about working and living in Los Angeles today?
Morty: I don’t think either of us can say that we know anything different. We have always been here. L.A. is very strange. When you meet people that are not from here, they are shocked when you are from here. It is also peculiar because this is a place that is a destiny or proposed destiny for so many people to be doing what we are doing that to, actually, be from here, and do it is often almost a folly. There is a higher chance of an outsider coming in and making it big than for many people from here because we are in their backyard. We see them every day. To this day, I see many people that don’t know that I’m in a band because I’ve been a DJ for so many years. They won’t know I’m in a band and doing this for double the time that I’ve been a DJ.
Jordan: I’ve seen people that have seen our shows and still not know that I’m in the band.
How did you come up with the name All Day Sucker?
Morty: Funny story, there’s a 45 that came with Stevie Wonder’s Songs in the Key of Life when we had a name for our band. We were originally called The Imposters. Then the band broke up and I was playing in a cover band called Men without Sex, which essentially was the rest of All Day Sucker. Jordan and I weren’t working together at the time. Then we got back together and decided it’s somewhat silly. We’re playing covers with Men without Sex. We should probably put something together and just do originals. People seem to like what we do anyway. Let’s just go with those. At the same time, we were friends with a band called Kara’s Flowers. They were doing pop music, but they were probably eight or nine years younger than we were. They’d opened for us on some of our gigs. We played together. Jordan played keyboards on some of their demos and lent them keyboards. We had a tight unit with these guys. They decided after their first album to change the name of their band and they needed something. I had seen All Day Sucker, thought that’s kind of an evocative name for a band, and sent it over to them. Obviously, they didn’t pick the name that we suggested and became Maroon 5, but those guys hadn’t gone anywhere. So we took All Day Sucker. Maybe it would be different if they had picked our name. They added James on guitar and became Maroon 5.
Jordan: We were The Imposters, but after we broke up, Elvis Costello started using The Imposters. He was playing the Kodak Theatre and a booker who knew us called us and said, ‘Oh my God, you guys are playing with Elvis.’ We said, ‘No, but thanks.’
Morty: We were called The Imposters for a long time and people assumed that we were a ska band or, here’s Morty from The Pretenders. I’d always say, ‘I wish, and no, that’s not the name of our band.’ We were done with the name. We put out a soundtrack for someone, signed a couple times, and gone through the record company bowels. We weren’t going after a contract, or whatever it is for the music industry today, but fundamentally, Jordan and I are songwriters. We love performing. We’ve been performing at the Canter’s Kibitz room with our collective, which is F.O.C.K.R.s (Friends of the Canter’s Kibitz Room) since the early 90s. We felt like it was a little scene almost like Greenwich Village in the 60s. It really was a time in Los Angeles when you had the strip and all these metal bands. They had all this camaraderie, but we were a pop band. There weren’t a lot of us. It was hard to find bands to be connected on a bill like our type of music. We had a bunch of friends that joined us at the Kibitz room at Canters. We have to play with our friends even if we weren’t on the same bill. Subsequently, many of us were signed, recorded, and went on the road. It was our scene. In The Imposters, we had a guitar player and a drummer, Jordan Zevon, who is Warren Zevon’s son. Since then, we’ve worked on Jordan Zevon’s records.
Jordan: There were two Jordans in the same band.
Morty: We literally had all of the Jordans who played music in Los Angeles in the same band. It was very difficult. We ended up calling Jordan Zevon, Z. He’s gone on to have a solo project. Noah Shain was the next drummer in The Imposters and he produced Z’s record, produced our last record, a band called Orson, and he produced the second Dead Sara record. He’s been a huge producer. In fact, everybody that has left our band has generally gone on to do really well. Jordan and I have hung on to the dream thinking that somehow if we don’t leave the band that we might find success. There’s probably a high probability that the day that Jordan decide to call it quits, we both win the lottery.
Jordan: Another option is that one of the other members of the band could become so famous that they hire us.
Morty: One of our bass players is our lawyer now. One of our guitar players is now a surgeon. One of our guitar players is a composer for Veronica Mars and a bunch of other shows. One of our bass players is touring now in a bunch of big bands. We definitely know how to pick them and even better, they know when to split.Three records later we have some of our strongest material and we hope that we can keep writing good songs.”
We wrote something for Jordan Zevon that won a songwriting award (USA Songwriting Award – Best Song) which gave us some strength to know that we can do this with other people and it’s not just about what we’re wearing on stage or whatever. It’s a great feeling of accomplishment to know that the material that you work on works regardless of you performing it. I think I can speak for Jordan when I say…
Jordan: That he’s good looking…
Morty: He is incredibly good looking. Jordan is a consummate melody and great lyric writer. The people we look up to are like Elvis Costello, Joni Mitchell, Billy Joel, The Feeling, Crowded House, Blur, and the Beatles, but are bands that have tunefulness to progress. These incredible bands have great writers. We also look up to the classic brill-building people like Paul Simon, Carol King, and Neal Sedaka, Neil Diamond, or the writers for The Monkees. There’s artfulness to it that we really look up to and admire. Even before that, there are people we love Cole Porter, Johnny Mercer, or Burt Bacharach. These guys have written songs that’ll be around forever. In this day and age with so many people asking, ‘Yo, what kind of beats are you working on,’ it’s clear that there’s a teenage young thirst for disposable music of the moment; the zeitgeist music. We want to write music that you can potentially see yourself singing with your kid around the campfire twenty years from now.
Jordan: We are happy, though, to write the zeitgeist song if that comes up. We’re fine being those guys.
Morty: The idea is not to be something disposable. I’m a DJ and I play so much music. Looking up music, I have to familiarize myself. I’m aware of what’s going on and am contemporary conscious in that, but we want to make material that’ll last beyond us performing it. We enjoy performing it, but sometimes that works against us. In America, people really like catharsis or a representation of catharsis. Bands like Creed where it’s like, ‘look, how hard it is for us to do this…I have to pray, I’m singing so hard. We’ve always been performers and showmen. It wasn’t funny at the time, but there was a story of the president of our record company getting on the elevator with our manager at the time asking, ‘what do I have; a comedy act or a music act?’ That’s our show…it’s always been a show. We never took it too seriously even when we were singing sensitive subject matters. In that sense, Jordan and I have very similar senses of humor. We can bleak, dark, and funny, but also we can be very serious.
Jordan: We can also be very bleak, dark, and funny.
Morty: If it happens to you, it’s hysterical. If it happens to us, it’s a tragedy.
Jordan: If it happens to you, it’s an album. If it happens to us, it’s a song.
Morty: We take the creativity very seriously. If it sounds like we’re flippant with our art, we aren’t. We definitely apply ourselves and have respect to what goes into being songwriters. Sometimes our performances almost overshadow that. When you have somebody jumping up on stage having a good time, you forget that that person actually put in hours, days, months, and years into really trying to hone his or her craft to make it look effortless. I have tremendous respect for the arts in general. We hold what we listen to up to sort of an impeccably high standard. How can you compare yourself to Billy Joel and Elvis Costello without wanting to shoot for that?
What’s the idea of selling out mean to you?
Morty: I don’t understand the principle of selling out. I don’t want to be a pop historian, but when the concept of selling out happened it was when the idea of rock n’ roll as this youth culture exploded. They were very protective of this culture and it was a badge of courage to be your own person in the business. You got more props for not playing the game. You were a rebel. Led Zeppelin didn’t release singles. They were like, ‘screw you, you buy the record.’ While The Beatles played the game within that paradigm and did it well. They put out so much more music, more songs, than they likely would’ve done if they just put out records.
Jordan: I think it’s also the change in times. People were so romantic about music, rock n’ roll, and The Beatles, but then commerce took over and they started merging. It’s not so much of ‘Revolution’ in the Nike commercial and people wanting to monetize their stuff, but I don’t think that we could technically sell out. Even if we did a Coke commercial or write one, we would do one that we thought was cool and that we liked. Barry Manilow wrote a commercial a Coke commercial that we all remember. I love theme songs and commercials that I remember, but I don’t think that were capable of just phoning it in that way.
Morty: The music industry is petrified and they’re trying to see where the next thing is coming from and what we notice is that, sure, they’re always going to replace the singer. You’re always going to have the next American Idol because there will always be this thirst for the new boy or girl or pop band, but the material will need to be there or it won’t sell or be around long in general. As you get older, you have to ask yourself, what part of this still has dignity? I think being a songwriter still has a certain sense of dignity to it. If you say, ‘I’m a songwriter.’ People say, ‘oh, ok.’ If you say that you’re a singer, people will ask what’ve you done or where have you played. There are a million songwriters. It’s a craft. Everybody thinks that they can probably do it, but that’s what we admire the most. We see some songwriters that have written until they died. Their material may not be accepted by the same audience, but you say, wow, they’re still doing it. I’m not going to say that Neil Young isn’t able to write a song anymore. Billy Joel hasn’t written popular songs in a while, but even his latest stuff is viable. He decided that he’s done enough. Paul McCartney still writes incredible material now.
Jordan: There are ghostwriters that give it to a popular person where you’d say, ‘Oh My God, they wrote that.’ However, if any of those guys wrote something for the flavor of the month and they did it well, people would be pleasantly surprised. Someone is 70 and can still write a song that a 13-year-old would like is possible.
Morty: That’s why songs like “At Last” are still around. These songs were written when these guys were competing with each other. You have to remember, in the land of the blind, the one eyed man is king.
You should have a lot of respect for yourselves as two guys writing a whole album instead of eleven guys for one song to make it a pop hit.
Morty: Well, I can’t knock that method either. I don’t know what goes into a lot of that pop stuff. It could just be two guys came up with the song and then seven other people…
Jordan: Were in the room.
Morty: Yeah, or were there to help with the lyrics or composing, melody, or pop line. It’s always so dubious when that’s held up as, ‘Beyonce had twelve people on that song.’ I don’t know what goes into doing a Beyonce song, but something is working because it’s reaching the people. Even if it were song writing by committee, I wouldn’t say that my entertainment value is not such that I’m comparative if I saw an episode of Breaking Bad and found out that there was one writer versus five writers. Just because you say that Neil Simon wrote it all by himself instead of four people does not mean that I’m not going to go see it.
Jordan: I do feel as a listener that you feel more of a connection if it’s coming from one, two, or four people where it’s more of a unified voice. You can relate to that person’s experience more than songwriting by a committee. It depends on the song, genre, and fan of music that you are if you want to dig deeper into that. Just as if you’re an auteur of movies or watching a stupid, churned-out teen sex comedy, which I don’t think that they make enough of anymore. They should make more of those. What happened to those?
Morty: I think that they should just make more teen sex and we’ll just laugh at it and think it’s funny. However, back to the topic, I think that the factory farming songwriting of today has its purpose and intended audience. They know what they’re doing it for. Jordan and I have a boutique agency. We have cute little offices with interesting lamps and geodesic designs everywhere. That’s what we hope to do.
The Grammys still appear to respect the artists that come back out to prove their highly credible viability, i.e. Steely Dan or Herbie Hancock, on a critical level and therefore deserve the award over perhaps the best selling artist.
Morty: Older people are voting on most of these awards shows. These are the older artists who came up with these older people. As an example, if Herbie Hancock never did anything again, he has made his bones. He will be brought out whether he’s viable as a contemporary artist or not. Any of the people who are brought out is essentially the Grammys saying, ‘listen, we understand that whoever you are here for is whoever is the taste of the moment, but this is to prove that we’re an organization that’s been around since the mid-50s. This is an example of the prestige of this business.
Jordan: Also, many people confuse the awards with the show. They are two different things. There are the awards, but the show is to entertain people. The awards are given before the show. Just like the Oscars.
So, you’re saying that they want Kanye to rush the stage because that’s the show.
Morty: Yeah, I believe that more people were aware of Kanye in that moment then when his record came out. That’s the viral nature of social media.
Jordan: The producer of the Grammys, the person putting on the show, and the network are more concerned about the show and entertaining than whose music is better and who should be held up and acknowledged. You can’t do that in three hours. I think people are confused by that because the Grammys’ exposure is what they’re concerned about. With the daytime Grammys and Oscars, there are awards where they give away all the other awards that nobody cares about.
Morty: Well nobody shows up because everybody who’s a musician sleeps until after twelve. It’s probably like three guys; one guy who’s been up for three days, his friend, and then the guy who drove the uber to take the first guy there.
How important is your social media game or access to fans in the new digital nature of the industry?
Jordan: It’s very important. In fact, it’s more important than ever. There’s such saturation that you have to make noise and try to be connected with the professional people. Even if there’s a ghostwriter for a song, the artist, and the band performing it, has to use their publicity to pass the information along. That’s the whole thing. How many people can we get to like it? Since we are songwriters and entertainers, we do have to ask, ‘are we a comedy act, a music act, a live show?’ We’re all of that and all of that sells product. We’re happy to do all of that. Anything that gets us out there is fine with us. We’re enjoying all aspects of it. We like to perform, play, write, film, talk, or just do it. It’s the only way to get out there now. You don’t have the five big labels pushing you and shoving it down everyone’s throats. We have to shove it down their throats.
Has it gone from being something that has manageable working hours to something more 24/7?
Morty: That’s the thing. It’s so peculiar about social media. There aren’t office hours to the world anymore. It’s a twenty-four hours news cycle and content is king. There’s a constant flow of information. It’s constantly moving and churning. Years ago, before social media became as active as it is now by everybody, we were talking about trending. We were talking about the 70s coming back. Now, trending is that if you get this many hits, you will trend, but the trend will last 35 seconds. It’s this tiny little blip. If what you’re hoping for is a translation into notoriety or awareness, that’s one thing, but what everybody wants is you’re trying to figure out how to turn this energy into a commodity. I mean it’s great if everyone knows who you are, but if you have to work at the car wash until the end of your life, it’s just that. There’s this thinking that you can somehow turn fame into a job. That’s something that’s come up in the last ten years where they’re famous for being famous. Now people are talking about helping these people keep going without any artistic contribution. There’s nothing being given back to society. It’s only taking away from it. There’s no endeavor it just to be there wearing this person, driving this car, and drinking this drink.
Jordan: You’re a racecar with shit all over you.
Morty: In that, with social media, I’m on it as long as I am awake like most everybody else. Hell, I’m on social media while I’m on stage. I’m literally singing, take a pic or video with my phone, and instantly put it out there or like somebody. I’ve been tweeting on stage and walked back during a solo. In the beginning, people made fun of you for it because you’re separating yourself from the show.
Jordan: You did a video with photos cut together of one of our shows and there’s a little theme going there about Morty being on his phone. You can see it. How many shots are there of him with his phone?
Morty: It has become a preoccupation for everybody. We’re tied to our devices, but in that way, there’s a second world of being connected. Now that all of our parents are on it, they have a different idea about it. My mom will come up to me and be like, ‘oh, well today, Bette Midler wrote me.’ I say, ‘Ma, she didn’t write you. She posted it on her page and you’re reading it.’ But my mom says, ‘yeah, but I told her what I thought about her thing.’ No, you wrote on a page of twelve million people writing her, but there’s this connection to people. It could all go incredibly awry.
Jordan: I think your mom is the wind beneath her wings.
A record used to be played through some radio outlet and now you can use it through the web. Also, you don’t have to wait for the band to come to your town to actually see what you’ve been listening to because you can stream the show live online.
Morty: You don’t have to go back that far to find cases like this. Not even 40-50 years, which isn’t that much time, you could have guys going out that weren’t even the band. The guys from ZZ Top go out as The Zombies. Well, nobody knows what they look like because there are only a couple photos. You guys are them and it doesn’t matter. Now, though, you can’t fool somebody in Somalia if they wanted to book us. It’s not that I would probably play Somalia or have anything against playing Somalia.
Jordan: How many seats are we talking?
Morty: I think it’s just one seat and everybody sits on each other’s lap.
Jordan: Oh, good, we can sell just one big t-shirt.
Morty: Oddly enough, the t-shirts there are made in Nebraska. The point is that nobody anywhere can be duped anymore. It may not be great for the music or film industry that the content gets out there and nobody is buying it. It’s awful in a capitalistic society, but it topples regimes. That is freedom when people in China can look on the internet and see a boob or hear a song at their leisure. If there’s a chance to progress something artistically is a glimpse of freedom. Isn’t that bigger or better than if somebody leaked a movie or steals an album? Grounded in reality, we are blessed to have the ability to be creative and use that creativity. To be able to see it to fruition and actually hear our music in places where we are contemporaries of popular artists. We might not have sales or notoriety like them, but my record is available on the same platform that the Beatles and Beyonce are available. If you go on iTunes and look up All Day Sucker, we are taking up, for the most part, the same amount of counter space that anybody else with three albums is taking up. That’s pretty great for somebody who has been bowing at the altar of the church of rock n’ roll and pop my entire life. I’m in the same store. I may have never got our record in Tower Records, but now, at four in the morning, if a kid heard our record he could buy something off it in the same way that he could buy a Beatles song. Just that gives me shivers. Somebody without a legitimate record deal can put something out. Bands could never have existed like this except for in this time. For that, I am thankful.
Jordan: It’s true that saturation is how we curate now, but that’s what we lost. How can everybody take up that counter space, but curate it in some way to find that stuff and discover it. That’s what we’re still trying to figure out, but we will.
Morty: First, we have to figure out quality control. Everybody can be artists, but there’s no way to have quality control. You’d have to listen to everybody to make a distinction. It’s hard. I wouldn’t want to have the unenviable job of picking out record of the year for any year these days. How do you compare Arcade Fire, Kanye, Beyonce, and Beck? You’d have to invent categories just to categorize people to give out an award. At the end of the day, is your art a success? Are there people who know what you do and appreciate it? Did you make some money off it? Yes. Did you put out something that wasn’t very successful, but is a good showing of your creativity? Yes. Ok, you’re successful.
Jordan: We’re happy that have musicians and people that we look up to who like our music and our band. That is the best. We would do it just for that. If we could sell it to just thirty musicians or artists that like us that we already like is almost bigger than selling millions of records.
Morty: That’s the irony of social media. What you’re looking for and having people banding about big numbers with millions of people following doesn’t matter if you gave me the right fifty people, my creative life would be complete. Every day is funny when you hear somebody say, ‘oh my God, look who’s following me on Twitter!’ I go, ‘wait, what, motherf—ker, I follow you on Twitter and I’m wild. I’m a pretty cool guy!’ I mean maybe I’m not Stephen Malkmus or David Mamet, but it’s kind of cool that I follow you. I respect you and hold you in some kind of esteem.
Tell us about the new album, Denim Days. Who are the artists that you have on it? What has been the response to it so far?
Morty: We just recently released it and we were good about not letting any of it out of our control because we wanted to know that everybody got it at the same time and get there response. Very few people got it in advance. We’ve been working on it for a while. Our bass player and producer, Dan Rothchild is the bass player in Heart. He’s been on the road. We’d started on the record and then he’d go out for a couple weeks.
Jordan: We did two days of drum tracks and then he got the Heart gig. We were stuck having to lay this thing between the length of his tour where he’d be up with us until three in the morning and then doing two weeks of Heart and going back and forth between the two. It went on longer than we thought it would.
Morty: The days were broken up. Jordan has an extraordinary song on the record that I’ve only cheapened by singing it called, “More of You.”
Morty: It’s a great song by itself. He wrote it and played it. That’s all him. We played the song and I sang it. It’s his beautiful expression of sharing with his wife how having a child is an extension of her. I know there’s nothing I could add to it. It’s great. On its own, it held up against any other material we had. Our first record was just called All Day Sucker. It was stuff that Jordan and I had written with The Imposters and some stuff that we had written in the years after we broke up. Our second record called The Big Pretend was essentially a love letter to Los Angeles. We had been spending a lot of time listening to A.M. Gold, L.A.-era pop music of the 70s, early 80s music. That informed a lot of the material. Most of the songs were built around Los Angeles as a theme and diversions of alienation and isolation. Denim Days is called that because there’s a certain period where you’re comfortable and loose where your friendships wear to a comfortable feeling. They wear down. They got a little rip at the knee, but it’s ok. There’s a comfort level and familiarity. You sit around the house in a pair of jeans and denim shirt. It’s built for comfort, not for speed.
Jordan: Then it rips and you can’t wear it anymore.
Morty: I would wear it. They try to tell me I can’t, but I will. Jordan and I were both in a relationship when we had the idea for a record. The impetus for writing it seemed to all be about this domestic bliss that we were going through. Since we still had a skewed view of the world, there’s still going to be a wry sense of humor about looking at life on the record. In the middle of making the record, the disintegration of my relationship happened. Yet there was still so much material committed to this relationship. With very little exception, we moved forward with completing the record with me having gone through the other side of this relationship. It got somewhat dark.
Jordan: It frustrated the hell out of us. It was supposed to be a quick record. Artistically, it seemed like a documentary of the situations in our lives. The pre-existing lyrics became more ironic and the music we started playing took different turns. It all comes through that. There’s a documentary called Exit through the Gift Shop that was like that. The guy started doing one thing and then it became another. That’s this record. It turned into a far more complicated, deeper collection of songs with a story that was semi-intended.
Morty: The dual irony is that I’m singing love songs during this failed relationship and pop music really gets you through. It was a therapy to sing about somebody that I was going through this with whereas had this been started a month later, this record might’ve been a very dark, bleak representation. It’d still be pop, but a darker-themed record. Because of it, I got a lot of it out of my system along with the help of a lot of therapy and outside help of various natures.
Jordan: We really should mention that we came up with the other guys in the band in the cover band, Men without Sex, and the Kibitz room. We’d been playing with Dan Rothchild for like 20 years when he was in Tonic and those other bands with us. Even though All Day Sucker had different lineups, we played the Kibitz room with David Goodstein (drummer), and Jay Gore (guitar) who we’ve known since college. We all played at Canter’s and many were in signed bands. When we decided to do this second record with them, the band became a real band where we all contributed to it. We’ve been working together for so long on the same project. We may have gone into this process intending to make a quick record, but it formed into something else. For us, it’s the most literal “band” project ever.
Morty: Both records up until now had mostly the same players on every song, but not one band played on every song on the record. The first two records were closer to a Steely Dan way of doing things, which was, ‘who could come in with what they played, and did we think it was appropriate for material?’ Every song on this record, with minor exception, used the same guys. We were fortunate to have Lenny Castro play percussion on it who is a master percussionist. Aside from him for the most part, all five of us are the band.
Jordan: Dan and Goodstein did the backup vocals. Morty and I went to Disneyland one day with the kids and when we came back, they had done the backing vocals on three songs. It was great. We were working in little camps. They are extremely capable musicians who tour and record professionally. We are so gratefully lucky to be able to play with the caliber of musicians who have been doing this for their entire lives. We’re playing with peers of ours who have accomplished so much musically and are capable. To trust somebody with your material can be a delicate balance. To say to somebody, this song is about my daughter, so do me a big favor and don’t screw it up. I have certain ideas about how I want this to go. In a way, a song is your baby. People say that all the time. There’s a distinction. I know the difference between my art and my life. To be able to trust me people and ask to know what your instinct is and go, ‘wow, thank you.’
Jordan: We’re all on the same page musically and they’re all badass. They’re really, really, good. We say that our band could kick your band’s ass. Those guys can go on stage and play amazingly well.
Is there anything that you wish you did different on this record?
Morty: Records are not released or completed. They’re abandoned. I will never be happy that I’ve worked on primarily because I’m a part of it. I’m always going to be noticing things that there’s no way that anybody else would ever notice because anything idiosyncratic on there that might stick out to me, nobody knows. You don’t know it because you don’t know that there was a chance of it being there or not being there. You’re taking it at face value. Whether I think that that will change the finished product is negligible. I’m very proud of what we put out. I think we can stand behind the material, performances, and the record as a whole. Out of the three records that we’ve done, it’s some of our strongest work and material. I would not cringe for you to hear anything that’s on the record. We didn’t have to add one more song on. We actually had to cut songs off. Luckily, for us, we have a wealth of material and we’re quick writers. So, the next two records could possibly be done if we had to do them today. They’re not recorded.
Jordan: There’s been a lot of time since we started this record. So there are many other songs written.
Morty: It’ll never happen, but the dream is to get right back in the studio and do the next piece of work. Lucky for me, I’ve actually exorcised most of the demons that would’ve made it on the record to make it either lots of fun or very dark. Now I’m somewhat more chipper again. I think I’m available to write songs of variant subject matter, which is good to hear if you’re writing songs with me. I have it out of my system and now we can move on to writing again. I’d love to perform again. We have shows set up. This is our first record available on vinyl and that’s important. I have a young daughter and I wanted her to have a tactile understanding of music. Records were just the envelope that music in and then tapes followed by CDs were just the envelope that music came in at that time. Nobody would’ve chosen one and said, ‘this is the best we could do.’ In theory, digital is the best ever because it’s like having a radio that we can choose. That was what we wanted as kids. We sat at home and we’d call radio stations asking them to play songs. That was still a thing. Now it’s at your fingertips. I wanted to impart on my child a tactile understanding and in a literal way, know the weight of material. My four-and-a-half year old daughter knows what a side is. There really hasn’t been the concept of a side since cassette tapes. CDs came along and there was one side. DVDs came along and, for the most part, there was one side. My daughter knows what a side is. That alone is a representation of what it means to have it on vinyl.
Jordan: What you’re saying is that she’s a four-year-old hipster.
Morty: yeah, she really is. She’s still growing in her goatee. She’s a four-year-old hipster and can make a latte that’ll knock your ass off.
Would you like to tour with your sound?
Morty: I would love to do that. Realistically, though, Dan is in a band and all the other guys go out on gigs as well. So, whether if we go out and play a significant chunk of times or spot shows, some of the circuits, or festivals, it would be great.
Jordan: We’d love to have it work out that way. We’d wanna get radio play, get more of a buzz going, and play out as much as we can. Hopefully, the opportunity will arise where we can navigate to support the record and play it live. That would be a completely new joy for all of us.
Morty: Some of the material we played at Canter’s on a Tuesday night and got to hone it in pre-production, but we haven’t played all of these songs in their finish state as a band in front of anybody. There’s never been a performance of this material in its completed form that we know now what would be expected if you heard the record. We know what it ended up becoming. We’re right now in a woodshedding and rehearsing our work. This record’s dense with many vocals. David Rothchild and David Goodstein are incredible. They are both better singers probably than I am. They’re both incredible vocal musicians. They both have incredible pitch and relative ideas on how to work things in to the music. So, the stacking of vocals and particulars is kind of genius on a lot of the stuff.
You understand the difference between the live performance art and the recorded performance art. How are you going to translate the record on stage?
Morty: We’re spoiled. We play with people who play with Brian Wilson. We’re part of this benefit for an autism charity called the Wild Honey Orchestra. They do faithful reproductions of records. They’ve done Beach Boys records. They’ve done Beatles records the last couple of years. This year they did the White Album. The amount of care and attention to detail that goes into these records is phenomenal. We’ve been working on this record while these charity events have been going on. We did Revolver and Abbey Road last year. The meticulous eye for detail that went into that work has informed our work. I’d like to go on stage and pull off our material as close to the record as possible. If that means adding auxiliary members to the band to do it, I’d be into it. I know that the result would look like that.
Jordan: We’re five guys and the difference between the recording and the live performance is a lot of ground to cover. You can’t really recreate the record exactly. For us, it’s really picking the crucial parts. If you look back at pre-production, we decided on the musical main parts that we had to get across and how we can get the song to a different angle. Now, we have to ask how do we perform the song and get the vibe across to everybody. How do we sell it in a live way? They’re all pros and they all can do it, but it’s really picking what the most important thing is to play and doing it. I, personally, never like going to see a band play their record exactly like the record.
Morty: Like The Strokes probably sound exactly like the record. I would almost compare them to The Cars, which is that The Cars sound exactly like the record. That’s what they do. They go up there and play the record.
Jordan: Even though All Day Sucker isn’t playing All Day Sucker songs, All Day Sucker is playing with each other at Canter’s every Tuesday doing covers and we’re improvising and playing off the cuff. We have that element that we naturally do and always have done. To do our record, play that, and mess around with it each time when we do it and see what comes up gives us the freedom to run with it. There’s always that discovery and spontaneity that we have that I’d love to apply to the recorded material.
Morty: The interpretation of the material takes on a new life when played live. When I’m in front of a microphone in a studio, there’s going to be more of a sterile environment. You don’t have the same interaction than with a live audience. I hope what we do in the studio comes across, but that one sound that’s on the record that we thought was the focal point of the song may or may not come across live. So far, we’ve gotten nice feedback on the song ironically titled, “The Single,” from the record. We knew it was great and I’m not saying that to be self-aggrandizing. I’m saying that we knew it was one of the stronger songs on the record. It had its intended purpose. That was the co-write with David Goodstein. A lot went into it. It’s funny because the song did what we intended it to do. It really held itself up to classic material by us and I found that many people gravitate towards it. Many people respond to it, but you never know. Maybe, “Quality Problems,” is the song that we pick because it’s this long, it’s punchy, and has a catchy this. However, maybe we did not expect that particular song to catch on. People always tend to agree on one song that stands out to them on any record. You usually know what the best, infallible song from the record is. It’s so weird to me. Who knows when Led Zeppelin went to do a record what they thought would be the single? I had to ask my friends to listen to the record and tell me what you respond to and what you don’t respond to. I wanna know what is appealing about what you do like. We had choices of material for this record. I’d like to think that everything that made this record was the best we could do at the point and a good showing of it. There’s stuff that didn’t make the record that we didn’t bring in that’s strong material, but we didn’t agree that it was as appropriate for what the record was. It’s great! We have more material left over and if we give it to somebody else or do it ourselves, it’s great. The dream is to have an endless vault of material to go back to and stay creative.
What’s the collective theme for the record? Is each song mutually exclusive?
Morty: I think each song stands on its own.
Jordan: There’s a collective sound. Morty would probably be the most constant, unifying thing on the record lyrically with his voice, but lyrically it has more of a connection than it does musically, but it is all the same five guys playing these different songs.
Morty: Like anything else, we still admire and love classic, pop-rock music.
Why did you decide to sequence these songs the way that they are on the record?
Morty: To be quite honest, we fought over the order. If anything, I still don’t know about the order. The only thing that order really matters for is the vinyl. In today’s day and age, you give someone something and you hope they listen to it in one sitting, but at the end of the day when you look at it on iTunes, it’s usually the first three songs on the record that are most popular.
Why did you decide to leave out what you left out from the record?
Morty: The over-arching theme for this record was relationships and family. There are three songs on this record about kids. One of them is about having a stepchild. I don’t ever remember there being a song like that. In that, there was so much love in our lives at that point that it’s about the outpouring of it. The song, “Denim Days,” is about friendship. We have friends that we’ve been friends with, literally, our entire lives. In Los Angeles, so many of our friends that we grew up with are still here. We are fortunate to have supportive people. My parents think it’s wild that we’re still friends all these years later. It’s fascinating to have that for a town that is as much of a metropolis as Los Angeles is. I get that happening in a smaller town where maybe people don’t leave as much or it’s more tight knit, but for Los Angeles, in and of itself is so expansive, is amazing. “Denim Days” is sort of that. Everything else is about the love in our lives, the family, the friends, and there are still moments on “The Single,” which is an observation of what it’s like. It ironically started before I was single and the reminiscing, but then the emotional reality took over and I was singing about being single and what went into that.
Jordan: I’m still lamenting a few songs that I wish we put on the record that I think are great and am excited to do for the next record. I think that they still would have fit in.
Morty: Sure, look, “Strawberry Fields Forever” and “Penny Lane” were the singles made for Sgt. Pepper. In a perfect world, they would’ve been on Sgt. Pepper and that album would have been that much better. However, they weren’t and you can’t say anything bad about the songs or the record. They stand on their own. I’m glad that we didn’t go through the well and stick this crappy song on the record because we need another song. We’ve always had too much material and we’re lucky to have that problem.
Does the process still inspire you today like it did in years past?
Morty: I realized that a little says a lot. I think I’ve mellowed out a lot on stage. When I grew up, the bands that I admired were like Queen, Van Halen, The Beatles, etc. You were looking at these bands that had incredible fun, but also bands like Fishbone where it was a complete working machine on stage with non-stop movement. The material and chops were still there, but nothing was staying in one place. I almost don’t envy anyone coming up at that time because how do you compare yourself to these guys in every direction and still be wonderful. The extension like that was like The Red Hot Chili Peppers who were a little bit older than us, but seen as the guys who had made it. We were always performers and willing to put everything into the show, jumped up and down, and had a good time. That was non-negotiable. I’ve learned since then to be a little more respectful of what it is that I’m putting across. However, if someone takes my picture, I still mug. I don’t understand that it’s not a natural state. I’m on stage amplified, standing there, you see what I’m wearing, take a picture, and I’m going to make a face. It is what it is. I’m just goofy. I think, though, that we all realize that the material is as important as the performance.
Jordan: Also, I think that we always tend to write songs and think that that may be the sister song to this song. That song is the second cousin to that song from when we were twenty. We’re not rewriting the same song, but we do have a common theme. We have things that we do in our music that we’ve always done either consciously or unconsciously. Even when Morty and I write in shorthand, we know. We’ll do the verse and the chorus and then we’ll bring in that verse and melody. We know exactly how it’s going to go. Sometimes we won’t do it because we always do that. Sometimes it’s appropriate and that’s just who we are. I wouldn’t call it a formula, but a natural tendency to try to put on the bells and whistles. We wrote a song years ago and Morty said, ‘It took two minutes to write and its three minutes long.’ It’s true. We always seem to only need to get three-quarters of the way through it before we know it’s done.
Morty: That’s something to say about having a style. It’s bizarre because we can sort of look at each other and say that this is us. We do a certain style because we’ve been doing it forever. We know how to do it.
Jordan: Its cool when people who don’t know us and they get it. We’re getting it across to them. It’s a huge win for us when someone says that it reminds them of this other thing or has a certain kind of vibe, influence, or feeling. When they’re right, it’s great, because, yes, that’s what we intended.
Morty: We’d like to think that if you liked our first album that you’d like our second album and if you liked our second album then you’d like our third album. Even though there are some different players, you’re still being given the kernel of truth that we established on the first album. We evolved, but we want to listen to pop and classic rock music.
Jordan: My three-year-old start singing the last song on our record, “One Long Day,” and he’s just singing it. He hasn’t really heard it but a few times and that’s good. I mean, he’s three. Our song is like “Wheels on the Bus.”
Morty: God, I wish I wrote that.
Jordan: God, I wish I wrote that.
Morty: God, I wish we wrote that.
Jordan: That verse with the wipers always breaks my heart.
Morty: I’d do it just for the money that we would make from ice cream trucks alone. That would be great.
Even if you guys intentionally wanted to experiment with a different sound, would it still turn out, perhaps unconsciously, sounding like your previous All Day Sucker records?
Morty: Well, I think my ship has sailed as far as being a vocalist. I’m probably going to sound how I’m going to sound regardless. There may be only a slight variance, but I’m going to sound like me. If I’m the worst guy that we have on stage, then I think we’re going to be ok. I know what I’m doing, but I often think that I’m the limitation of the band. The band is limited by my range, but whatever I do bring to the band lyrically or melodically is enough to give it some uniqueness singularly to ourselves.
Jordan: If we did a country, metal, or dance record and listened to it enough, you’d say that that’s All Day Sucker.
Morty: It’s our instincts. Jordan and I turn ourselves on to new music all the time. We’re very similar in what we get at the same time. It’s almost like that viral weird twin thing where we ask each other if we heard something already and of course, we both have, at the same time. When there are those rare instances when one of us hasn’t heard something and we turn one or the other on to it, we get it. Even knowing ourselves so well, we might still want to know what you are pulling from this sound. Sometimes, it’s instantaneous, but sometimes it’s a grower. We do what we do because we are the way we are. More often than not, we check all the same boxes for what it is that we love.
Jordan: Yeah, like The Darkness, Morty said, ‘this song is great!’ I was like, ‘you’ve got to be kidding me.’ When it first came out, I thought it was ridiculous. I mean look at the video. It’s absurd with a spaceship, but after the third listen to the chorus, it dawned on me. I had to back into it.
Morty: All I would read is British magazines and then go buy the record that people said sounded like something I like, I would say, ‘great! I’ve got to hear it.’ So, I was bringing people Oasis, The Strokes, Phoenix, and The Feeling to everybody that I could talk to. I’d say that you had to hear this record to everybody.
Jordan: Our first All Day Sucker was based on a British mix-tape that Morty gave me. He was into all shit that I got into as well and wanted to songs like that. Our first record had such Britpop songs.
Morty: I was like, check out The Charlatans and The Boo Radleys. I still think Robbie Williams is so under-rated.
Jordan: I don’t get that, but I tried. No!
Morty: I want to write for Robbie Williams.
Jordan: No! NO!
Morty: I’m going to drag Jordan kicking and screaming to write for Robbie Williams.
Jordan: Look, it’s not like I haven’t tried. The one Robbie Williams song that I like is written by somebody else. It was a cover.
Morty: I think that one is just him interpreting a song. I’m telling you, Robbie Williams is soooo us if we were British and successful. I don’t know how it’s going happen. Even if it takes twenty years, I’m going to write for Robbie Williams one day because I know what you’d sound good doing. In fact, the song, “The Picture That Took Me,” off our second album, in my mind, was the song that I intended to write for Robbie Williams. I was in the shower when I came up with it and immediately called Jordan and left a message on his answering machine about it.
Jordan: Morty was in the shower singing songs for Robbie Williams.
Jordan: It is and if that is the only thing that you got from this interview then I am ok.
I can’t wait to hear your grunge record.
Morty: I wish we weren’t around at the time.
Jordan: We had a little bit of that.
Morty: I can say that we covered Nirvana, “Smells like Teen Spirit,” before the record had even come out. I used to go to a bar called Smalls on Melrose. Someone who had worked at Geffen brought it and that single was being played incessantly. I thought it sounded like a really recorded version of The Replacements and without knowing any of the back story or anything, right after hearing it, I said, ‘cool, let’s just go into it tonight.’ It was just one of those songs that at the time, we didn’t know how big it was going to be. For Weird Al fans, I rhymed Madonna and Nirvana back then. We just went in to it because it was just undeniable. We were around for grunge but we weren’t screamers and we had a keyboardist in the band. So, c’mon, it’s going to be a little bit different.
Jordan: Our first record had “Die Together,” which was written around that time and has grunge elements.
Morty: I guess, yes, you can say that it was informed by that.
Well, pop has its elements, and everything comes back as you said with trending, whether it’s grunge, the 70s, or the 80s, etc. Moreover, songs that might have a flaw for you might be a gem to an audience member for that flaw. Subsequently, that makes that song more valuable, potentially timeless.
Morty: Well, you find that out with trying to perform Beatles records that every detail that’s in a track whether it’s a scream in the background or the wrong hit of a tambourine is gorgeous for us. That’s our bible.
What would you say to a fellow musician trying to come up in the music industry right now?
Jordan: Here, carry this.
Morty: Hone your craft. Do what feels right for you. Don’t chase after something. Stick with the muse that you have and the music. Get as good as you could be at what you do. Stick with what you know and what is true to you. You’ll be rewarded by knowing that what you did was something that meant something to you and you don’t have to go out every night and pretend to be doing something else. You’re never going to be able to chase what the audience wants. You might be able to write something that might appeal, but that’s what your contribution is going to be to pop music.
Jordan: We’ve been around for a long time in L.A. and have been through all the scenes. It’s the same thing with any upcoming band. Keeping the theme of being true to what you do, it’s like when there’s a taco place and they go to tear down the place, but nobody gives a shit until they go to tear it down. Then it becomes a monument because it’s going to go away. They were doing the same thing that they were doing for years and people liked it, but when they want to tear it down, suddenly people go, ‘Oh My God, I love that place!’ You know you’ve had that restaurant already forever, why now do you suddenly care.
Morty: You’re going to miss us when we’re gone.
Jordan: Yes, but even doing what you wanted to do the whole time, people were enjoying it and digging it. Hopefully people will be lining up around the block for the tacos before they tear it down.
What would you like to say to your fans that appreciate your sound and what to hear more artists similar to you?
Morty: Well, Jordan and I are each other’s biggest fans. Is there anybody else out there? If I was to say something to somebody that appreciate what we do then first of all, thank you for making our lives work so far and given a home to each of us. We’re not necessarily a popular, huge successful band, but when you hear somebody say something like, ‘it helped me through a time,’ ‘it’s what I listened to when I was dealing with this,’ or ‘it’s something that I chose to play at an event that meant something to us,’ then it means so much more to me. It’s why we do this. From a personal standpoint, it’s fun to play music, jump around, and be with your friends. As a songwriter, you do this to touch people and find a home for your art or creativity. I think humans are turned by their own reflection, voice, and echo. It’s an echo that what you did was heard. It’s acknowledging that you existed at one point. You’re not going to get that with some other art forms. The best chef in the world might leave a recipe, but his best work was eaten. I get to, actually, say that as long as someone has this record, there’s electricity, and some way to play it, somebody can listen to “The Girl with The Denim Eyes” about my daughter. In fact, my daughter can listen to a song about her when she’s a mother. What other art can do that…really?
Jordan: I would tell other people to share it and turn others on to it. It’s all we’re really asking for. Turn other people on to the music that you like.
In your opinion, what’s the difference between noise and music?
Morty: It’s probably decibel levels.
Jordan: It’s organization.
Morty: Yeah, it’s organization because everything is a noise. I can’t tell you what you’ll respond to. I can’t tell you that something might be too loud, aggressive, obnoxious, and atonal for me, but someone will tell me that I just don’t get it. In that way, they’re right. I don’t get it. It might not appeal to me. Even the stuff that came out in the beginning like ditty little pop songs was something obnoxious to people. Philosophically, if we’re talking about true noise, we’re always constantly looking for organization in the world. We’re looking for order and things that make sense and continue. If you hear a rock and you hear a rock hit twice, then you want to hear it a third time. As long as we’re capable of making noise, we’re capable of making music. Everything will find its way to be what it is. You just rather have faith that we’ve gone this far making music. Regardless of what you think about it, civilization has done pretty, damn well. That Bach could make music in the same existence and planet as The Beatles or whomever, Mancini, is amazing. That would could do a thing on a piece of wood with some strings and with our voice and handclaps be evocative is, pretty, amazing. To have captured the spirit of what it is to exist is an achievement.
Jordan: I’m sticking with organization.
Morty: I’m incredibly disorganized. I’ll throw a bunch of words at you and Jordan says, ‘organization,’ and I think, ‘yeah, I probably should’ve said that.’