Foothill Freeway is a really impressive body of work. So where, exactly, are you from and how did that influence the stories you told here?
Thank you! I am from Bellerose, New York, which is on the border of Queens and Nassau. It's a relatively quiet suburb with an interesting mix of people and cultures. The first Butchers Blind album names a few streets and places around town. I think it affected us in the sense that we are simultaneously a NYC band and a Long Island band. We never really fit in with either scene. My hometown and the neighboring town of Floral Park have had a huge effect on my songwriting. A lot of the characters/narrators that populate my songs are inspired by the people here.
Interesting. What's the Long Island scene like? Is there a lot of country out there?
The LI scene has a few hot spots, most notably Patchogue. There are a lot of great songwriters trying to change the reputation of LI being a haven for cover/tribute acts. There is a fair amount of country separating everything, especially when you get farther East. I have done a ton of gigs out here and met a lot of great people in the process.
It's like a whole separate world out there. What are you most proud of with this album? Did you change your approach to the recording process?
In terms of songwriting, I am most proud of the title track; it took me years to write and I love how it came out. As a producer, I am very happy with the arrangements and overall flow of the record. A lot of people seem to dig the mix as well, which is nice.
The recording process has more or less remained the same, but the one thing that changes from record to record is how comfortable you get in the studio. When we were doing the last Butchers Blind EP, I realized you have to play and sing the hell out of everything like it's a live show. I think you can hear the difference from our earlier recordings.
What about these songs felt like they had to be separate from Butchers Blind?
I have been answering this question a lot lately, haha. The best way I can explain it is that every record I've worked on is like a puzzle. All the various songs/arrangements have to come together in a certain way before I will release it. As this record was taking shape, I realized it was more acoustic based and felt different from Butchers Blind's overall vibe. The record had some old songs, some new ones and a few renditions, so I figured it was the right time to release something under my name. The project actually started as a 6 song EP, but that didn't last long.
That makes sense. Micah Schnabel of Two Cow Garage says if he sits down while he plays it, it's a solo song. If he has to stand, it's for the full band. "Knowlton County Township" was, as you probably read, one of my favorites on the album. But I Googled it (New Yorker that I am, I really don't know anything about Long Island) and it's in South Jersey. Where are they driving to for 6 hours? Wouldn't it be easier to go to Philly?
That song came together after two separate (extremely shitty) experiences on the Jersey Turnpike. I was pulled over for speeding in Knowlton County, and the only way to pay the ticket was to call the Mayor's office. Every time I called, I got the answering machine. I eventually gave up until they started calling me. It was bizarre. Years later, I was on my way to a concert in Philly when my car overheated... in Knowlton County. I combined the experiences together and got a song out of it. 6 hours just sounded better than 3. Haha.
Ha! That's the way it goes I guess -- both in terms of Jersey government and songwriting. Lastly, what do you want listeners to take away from the record?
I think each listener will have their own unique takeaway, which is what makes listening to records the awesome experience it is. As a songwriter, I just have to hope people will enjoy the tunes. A great record can instantly bring you back to a specific time in your life. If I've done my job well, one or two songs will hopefully sneak their way onto someone's "life soundtrack".
Pete Mancini -- Official, Purchase from Paradiddle Records, Bandcamp