Q&A with GREG LASWELL – Talks New Album “Everyone Thinks I Dodged A Bullet” and More.
Posted On 02 Mar 2016
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“While ‘breakup’ songs are littered far and wide across the pop landscape, only a precious few can genuinely bond author and listener through a viscerally shared sense of that particularly tortured experience.” – BlackBook
GREG LASWELL will release his latest album Everyone Thinks I Dodged A Bullet on March 4th on Vanguard Records, which you can pre-order here . The ten-song album was entirely written, performed, produced and mixed by Laswell, with the exception of cello performed by Colette Alexander (Jens Lekman, Rilo Kiley) and the mastering by Grammy-winner Evren Göknar (Iggy Pop).
His most personal release, Everyone Thinks I Dodged A Bullet is a soul-bearing experience that is cathartic, atmospheric and haunting, and at times, channels Leonard Cohen, Elbow and Sigur Ros. Everyone Thinks I Dodged A Bullet is his first release since 2014’s I Was Going To Be An Astronaut, and his first album of all-new material since 2012’s Landline. The album’s current single is “Lifetime Ago” and you can view its lyric video below:
Okay, so what? Here’s another album about heartbreak. Or heartache. But isn’t the worry that when each of us stares down heartbreak/ache (we all do) – we just want so desperately to know that as many as possible are just as miserable as we are? Misery doesn’t just need company – it needs a very specific sort of kinship. And it needs someone who can profoundly articulate it – not just rhyme a few words about some inconsiderate asshole.
It’s not important to reveal the specific catalyst for Laswell’s latest record, but rather to focus anew on what makes him one of the most uncompromising songwriters of these modern times. You may recognize a bit of Leonard Cohen in his tormented baritone. You might think of Tom Waits when you sense how deep down in the gut these songs come from.
But if there is a quality that still and ever marks out Laswell’s writing, it is an ability to use words like unrepentant paper cuts. Should you be at the receiving end, perhaps you might not at first feel the sting; but it will burn like hell later.
Imagine the coldness of being the subject of such biting vitriol as, “I’m gonna be lazy when I write about you.” Imagine that you mean so much nothing to someone you once meant the world to.
But if you feel the same as does he, the words feel like little (or maybe enormous) triumphs. His pen is mighty – especially when it’s aimed at the heart. And the songs urge you to join in pushing the point in deeper.
All Access Music writer, Nicole DeRosa got to chat more GREG LASWELL about the new album and everything in between. Enjoy their chat below!
Hey there Greg! Where does our interview find you today? What’s on the agenda today besides our interview?
On my couch after a long day of Sunday football. There are much worse days.
For those that are not familiar with you and your music, how did you get your start? Who or what was the catalyst for you to want to live the life of a musical gypsy?
I’ve always had an interest in music… even when I was very young. I started fooling around on my sister’s piano when I was in 8th grade, joined choir in High School (social suicide at the time) and it just took.
Music took me through a few ill-fated bands throughout high school and college until I finally ended up being a producer in San Diego. Shortly after that, I decided to record a record of my own… mostly as an exercise, really. A few friends urged me to take it much more seriously and to put producing on the back burner – Anya Marina being chief among them. Within a year I was signed to Vanguard Records and Sony ATV. Off I went.
What did you learn between your previous releases (I Was Going To Be An Astronaut (2014), Landline (2012), collaborations and playing live, that you felt you wanted to infuse into your latest and most personal release, Everyone Thinks I Dodged A Bullet (via Vanguard Records on March 4th)?
This record is very simple. I’m not doing anything out of the box; there are no odd time signatures or complex chord progressions… I aimed to keep things simple from beginning to end, and to focus more on the style of my music and voice, rather than treat it like a sport – which is easy to do when you are self-producing/engineering like I do.
You recently released the visually striking lyric video for the song “Out Of Line” Did you help come up with the treatment for the video as well?
Thanks! It was done by Sylvia Saether. She’s done a few things for me–on my last record cycle as well. I didn’t give any specific direction… only that I didn’t want it to really go anywhere, to have no narrative.
Greg, I understand your ten-song album was written, performed, produced and mixed by you, with the exception of cello performed by Colette Alexander (Jens Lekman, Rilo Kiley) and mastering by Grammy-winner, Evren Goknar (Iggy Pop). Was that intentional for you to be the jack of all trades or was it more organic for you to want to handle a majority of the artistic duties on the album?
Haha. I’m still not so sure I’m a jack of all trades, but I love having control over things. I like my flawed instrument takes… recording is my favorite part of this music stuff, so I take as many jobs as I can!
Who have been your inspirations growing up that also inspire you today?
I really like Kye Kye recently. I just found them. An album called Young Love currently has my attention. I’m also going through a pop phase, with the likes of Marina and the Diamonds, Lana Del Rey and Halsey. Halsey was on repeat for about a week solid.
Nowadays, everything is so instant…you push a button and its yours ala Spotify, Soundcloud, iTunes etc. What was the first album you saved up your money as a kid and bought for yourself? (That you can remember…or what album had the most impact for you growing up?)
U2, Joshua Tree was my first “whoa” album. I loved Billy Idol, Prince, The Cult, Depeche Mode, Tori Amos, The Sundays…
What was the first song you fell in love with (that you can remember) and why?
“It’s A Sin” by the Pet Shop Boys! Haha. I don’t really know what got me about it.
Who is in your current playlist? What artists or bands are in current rotation for you?
Halsey, Kye Kye, Eminem, Sia, Lana Del Rey, Lamb of God and Slipknot.
What’s on tap next for you, Greg? What are you most excited about for this year?
I’m not altogether sure… I know I’ll be in the studio a lot. Perhaps another covers EP? Perhaps another album of B-sides from this record… might get into scoring… I’m letting the wind blow me as it will. Regardless, I will be in the studio a lot!
Stay connected with GREG LASWELL by visiting his socials below:
Official Site – Facebook – Twitter – Instagram