Jason Myles Goss has kindly taken the time to speak to Smokin’ Charlie Brown about his new record ‘Radio Dial’. Read the exclusive interview below!
01. Your new record Radio Dial will be out June 17th. How do you feel now the record is finished and about to be released?
I feel great, I am so proud of this album and I can’t wait to get it out there and have people hear it.
02. Radio Dial is your fourth album. How do you feel you’ve grown as an artist since you last record?
I think, like anything, the more you do it, the more familiar the process becomes. When you are able to see further down the road at how a song or a record comes together piece by piece, you develop a knack for what kind of preparation is required before setting foot in the studio. For this album, I spent a lot of time with the songs, and had much more cohesive ideas about arrangements, tempos, sounds, as well as overall record concepts. That made a huge difference, especially since we planned to record the rhythm section live to tape, it was vital having this foundation in order to help steward the sessions. With A Plea For Dreamland I was working more piece by piece, and step by step. There is no right or wrong way — but the more you learn about the recording process, which I am very much still learning, the more you realize what kind of shape your songs need to be in before anyone presses that big red button.
03. What are the themes and messages running through Radio Dial?
There are no overt messages to the songs, I tend to shy away from didactical songwriting or trying to tell people something specific through a song. There are a lot of themes though, which is interesting as a writer, because you don’t often realize that is the case until you step back and look at the songs together. A lot of the record deals with growing up, struggling to find your place in the world in the face of confusing adulthood. The idea of struggle is also a central theme — how we have to fight for all the things we love, how we have to struggle with things like loss and death while still seeing the world as a hopeful place. Boxing is also something that comes up over the course of the album. Overall, it is a life-affirming record, even the album title, to me at least, has a scrappiness to it.
04. Radio Dial was self produced. What led you to produce the album on by yourself?
I have been a co-producer on my last two albums, but with Radio Dial, it was mainly out of necessity; that is just the way things happened. I was excited but also a bit apprehensive at first because I am still very much learning my way around the studio. Myles Turney, my engineer, was very patient and helpful throughout the whole process and I learned a tremendous amount from him. Knowing I was going to be facilitating the sessions and ultimately deciding on direction, takes, edits, mixes, etc. is what compelled me to do an extensive amount of prep work. I remember the first day I came in with these big packets for everyone and they were playfully joking about all the paper work. I felt, since I lacked experience, that I could try as best as I could to be really organized. I knew I had a kickass band and a great engineer at the helm and we just took things as they came. In terms of the production, I am deeply indebted to the musicians, they brought some amazing ideas to the table that really took the songs to places I didn’t know they could go.
05. Were there any artists in particular that influenced you during the making of the record?
I knew going into it that I wanted to make a big, classic-sounding album, but I also wanted it to be firmly rooted in the songs. There were a lot of albums we referenced, most of them were recorded in the ’90s. The Wallflowers “Bringing Down The Horse” was a big one. Lucinda Williams “Car Wheels On A Gravel Road” and Gillian Welch “Time (The Revelator)” are two records I love. Delta Sprit “History from Below” I listened to a lot, I love the drums sounds on this album and the snarl that the songs have. I think you can definitely hear various influences depending on the track. Sometimes the references would get more specific if we were trying to capture something, like on Lion’s Mouth we referenced the song Love Sick off Bob Dylan’s “Time Out of Mind” album.
06. The album was engineered by Myles Turney. What was it like working with him?
Myles is the man, he put his heart and soul into this project. He is one of the owners of Vanity Sound in Brooklyn NY (Joel Arnow who played drums is the second owner) and he has a real keen sensibility on what is going to work and fit each song. I think the drums steal the show on the record, he has this incredible knack for dialing in sounds, and his mixes sound huge. He is also is a certified gear junky. He has this extensive collection of microphones and these compressors that were taken out of Navy submarines from the 1940s. Every so often he’d get to the studio with something under his arm and say “I just got this, let’s plug it in and see how it sounds!” When I would ask him what something was I would usually understand the first two sentences of the explanation and would be utterly lost after that. He is also a fantastic guitar player and songwriter in his own right. We mixed the record together at Vanity Sound as well, over a period of three weeks. Myles also can eat a whole sandwich in about 5 seconds. It’s pretty inspiring.
07. The Radio Dial cover art is very interesting. What’s the story behind it?
The cover art features looming and shuttle patents invented by my great grandfather, who emigrated from Italy in the late 19th century. He was working at the massive factory that now sits vacant in the center of my home town and developed new methods of building looms for textile manufacturing. These patents really mean a lot to me, it’s his American story, and they teach me a lot about the struggles involved in trying to build a life for yourself. I draw a lot of strength from them. He was a brilliant man; he was an inventor, a multi-instrumentalist, and an opera singer.
08. Red Letter Man is currently out as a Free MP3. What inspired the song and what are the song’s core messages?
Strangely this song ended up being more confessional than the other tracks on the record. When we started doing demos, I didn’t think this song would have any place on the record. I rarely if ever performed it live. But It ended up as this lush, pop song. It doesn’t have any specific messages, for me, the song touches upon the masks we wear as we grow older, the battles we wage against counterfeit notions of who we are — that feeling of being an imposter of who you want to be — that was my idea of the Red Letter Man. It’s a vague reference to The Scarlett Letter, the idea of a visible, scartet badge that represents the shame of not being true. But the song has a kind of smile to it, it’s a redemptive song about having faith in yourself.
09. What are you plans once the album is released? Do you intend to go on tour?
Definitely. I will be hitting the road in June doing some Northeast shows and then traveling through the Midwest in July. More plans are in the works as well. I am hoping to hit many new cities and hopefully make it over to the UK.
10. The music industry is proving more and more difficult for new artists to break into. Do you have any advice for singer songwriters who are just starting out?
I would advise those starting out to not worry so much about breaking into the music industry but to focus their energies on those things they can control. Keep working on your music and get out there and perform. Open mics are an incredible resource. I would start in your hometown and work on creating steady, reachable goals to help guide you. If you have a one-year goal of selling out your hometown venue, you can work backwards from there to create smaller goals to how you will get there. That way you are always working and making progress. Start local and grow from there. Try to learn as much as you can from you peers and from going out to see shows, and don’t be afraid to ask to pick someone’s brain or ask for advice. It’s pretty exciting to live in a day an age where you can make a record in your bedroom and sell it online, everyone is trying to new things, new ways to create and get there music out there. Be creative, be patient, and be grateful to those who help you. Two things that one of my favorite songwriters told me once: The only way out is through, and, All you can do is keep doing what you love and hope that it loves you back.
11. Finally, what do you like to do to relax when you’re not writing or recording?
I am most definitely a home body, I love spending time with my family, cooking dinner, taking my dog to the park and ambling through the neighborhood. I also eat a lot of sandwiches. I am a fan of sandwiches.
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