A couple weeks ago I turned you on to some coolness from Go Suburban and their WWDK record (yes, I posted the whole thing) – Let’s take this op to get to know the Swansons and Go Suburban a little better.
What attracted you to the music you practice?
We fell into our sound as a result of a change in the band. After only a few months as Go Suburban, almost simultaneously, we booked our first big show and our lead guitarist announced he’d been accepted to law school and would be leaving the band. We had already confirmed the show with the owner of the club and so we felt we needed to push forward… so in a bind, I asked my 15 (now 16) year old son Jonas if he thought he’d be up for filling in. Of course he was thrilled. We did the show and loved his style and vision of sound and so he stayed. I always knew how talented he was but wasn’t sure how it would be to be in a band together… I guess I was worried about being perceived as a cheesy “family band”. You know like the Osmonds… But the reception has been incredible. As we wrote and engineered WWDK Jonas was a key part of the writing process musically and really helped us nail down the sound which is really atmospheric and indie rock. One of the things we were inspired by is old spaghetti westerns and the music of Ennio Morricone. We wanted to be able to build a feeling in our music like he did on his old western movies. We were also listening to bands like Arcade Fire, Women, Delta Spirit, and Radiohead and so I think we naturally gleaned from them too.
How long have you been making music? Have you been performing or sharing it with the public all that time?
My brother Dave (drums/vocals) and Nick (bass/keys) and I have been playing in bands of some form since high school in the 90’s. When marriage, work, and babies, got in the way we quit music and didn’t expect to ever come back. I never really stopped writing songs though, and always felt a pull to get back. So anyway, in 2014 I was able to convince to some 30 something year old’s to start a band with me and it became Go Suburban.
Who or what influences your writing and performance?
Lyrically I would say my life experiences and beliefs are what influence me but I really love the style of old country, folk and indie rock too and so I’m influenced by guys like Willie Nelson, Mathew Vasquez (Delta Spirit), Bruce Springsteen, Win Butler (Arcade Fire), Tom Petty. To me a great song is comprised of honest lyrics, equally honest vocal performance, and music that makes you feel something. All of my influences (mentioned above) have a formula that meets those measurements for me… In Go Suburban we consistently work our way toward that goal but often fall short… But yeah we continue on.
It seems all creative people go through rough patches or writer’s block of some sort. What motivates you to keep going?
Music. When I hear amazing music it inspires me. Most of the time that’s all I need to get past a block in the road. Sometimes it’s just hearing a story or experiencing something in my life that sparks inspiration. I remember there was this story on the news about a huge windstorm that popped up out of nowhere up at Bear Lake (a large popular lake in Utah) and a family’s boat was capsized. The father and mother and 2 of the 4 children died in the water but the other 2 daughters miraculously were able to swim to the shore and survived. I remember the story really hung on my mind all night. I kept thinking about death and how it can come at any moment. And how precious life really is. Around 1 or 2 am I grabbed my phone and in like 2 minutes wrote the lyrics to “Heavens Harbinger”. So inspiration comes in the most random forms and at the most random times. That’s one reason I love my iphone. I hope I never lose it. Its my storage device for all my random and spontaneous song ideas.
Were you trying to accomplish something different or specific with this project – creatively or otherwise?
We really had one goal and that was to deliver honest lyrics, honest vocals and inspiring music. I don’t know that that is different. We love the raw diy sound. I think we hit our mark in reaching for a sonic sound… We also really wanted a record that flowed cohesively from one song to the next so that the record felt more like an experience than 10 disjointed songs. Again, nothing new here. But I do think the idea of creating a cohesive album is a dying art form. People are caring less about the 45-50 minute album experience as they are about the new hit single. We have bands/artists that literally change genre on each new single. I think the single is ruining music. Most bands I know now only record singles and short eps. Its strange to me.
What was the last song you listened to?
“Lost in the dream” by War On Drugs. Been stuck in my head all morning.
Do you prefer a certain medium for listening – vinyl, CDs, mp3, reel-to-reel, Pono,(lol sort of)?
I like to listen with headphones (mp3)
If you had to choose one place to host your music, would you prefer Spotify, Apple Music, Bandcamp, or … ?
We use all of them really… It sucks. I wish there was just one and it worked for everybody but, since everybody uses who they prefer for this reason or that, we end up trying to get our music on all of them so that it gets heard. I use apple music for personal listening.
Do you ever feel as if your tunes are lost in a sea of music? What are one or two of the biggest challenges you face when trying to attract new listeners?
Yes. We just try to make the best and most honest music we can. We don’t get caught up in trying to sound like whats popular or hip. Its seems like that is changing all the time anyway. We just try to be authentic and honest. I’m tired of all the fake bands. I think the biggest challenge is finding listeners who are willing to crossover from their pop/r&b/rap tendencies. So many kids are listening to crap these days and they have no idea what its like to attend a real rock/indie rock show. When they do, they are usually blown away and its like a whole new world opens up.
Are you playing on live stages, clubs, bars, the local town picnic, festivals?
Were getting more selective about our shows these days… but were really excited about getting out and playing festival. And we will always have a place in our hearts for our hometown venue Velour Live Music Gallery. Its an incredible venue and the owner has been so supportive of us and so many other musicians over the years. We love playing there.
Do you ever stream your performances over the net? Where can music lovers see you perform?
No, we’ve never done that before. But it sounds cool. We do live youtube videos every once in a while.
Where is the best place to connect with you online and/or discover more of your music?
We’re on all the social media platforms and so anything we do will be announced on one or all of them…
@gosuburban on twitter
@gosuburban on instagram
Can you share an anecdote or tale of woe or inspiration like a story about an out-of-touch club manager, your favorite fan interaction, broken busses, or you know… just some experience in your musical journey you’ll never forget?
haha I’ll just say this… If your in New Jersey and your sleeping accommodations fall through don’t try sleeping in the parking lot of the courtyard in Parsippany.
What’s your favorite ice cream?
bicycle for two
Sailing yacht, catamaran, bass boat, or kayak?
Place on Earth you must visit some day
Batman or Spiderman?
James Bond or Jason Borne?
Bugs Bunny or Anime?
Favorite beer or beverage of pleasure?
dont drink but enjoy mate’
Movie or book quote you are liable to drop at the wrong moment?
“Sorry your mom blew up Ricky”
Left with a choice of one instrument, which would you keep?
Any last thoughts? Shout outs? Words of wisdom?