Tag Archives: Noel Gallagher

Exclusive Q&A With New York Songwriter Edward Rogers

British-born, New York-bred songwriter Edward Rogers has announced the release of his fourth solo album, Porcelain, on November 8, 2011 with the premiere of the title track and a new video.  Early last week, Blurt Online premiered the title track on their site ( http://blurt-online.com/news/view/5401/).  The new video is for another track off Porcelain, “The Biba Crowd”, and set to footage from Jean Luc-Godard’s 1964 film Band of Outsiders (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LoSSUSH_T4o).  “The Biba Crowd” will also be featured on the free November CD from the UK’s Word Magazine.

Rogers, who has been extremely prolific, began his career playing drums in several garage bands.  When a subway accident in October 1985 left him without his right arm and right leg below the knee, he turned to songwriting and found that he enjoyed singing and writing more rewarding than playing drums.  In addition to his four solo albums, Rogers has also released two with Bedsit Poets, a folk/Brit-inspired trio whose name was given to them by The Zombies’ Colin Blunstone.  He has played extensively in New York, Los Angeles, London, Canada, and along the East Coast both solo and with Bedsit Poets.

 I recently caught with Rogers, who discussed his new album, working with Roger McGuinn, and influences such as David Bowie and Ray Davies.  

 

Music has been such a dominant force in your life – you turned to songwriting after your accident.  Do you still find it as powerful and encouraging now as you did then?

 Both listening to and writing music are two of the most fulfilling ways to spend my time. I think since the accident, I’ve become much more aware of how precious life is, and this encourages me to spend more time on writing. There’s an amazing feeling when you write a song, finish it and feel that it’s good. I still love to hear new music of all types, currently The Horrors, Noel Gallagher, Laura Marling, the new Glen Campbell, as well as going back and rediscovering classics from the past and vibing to the sounds of old T.Rex, Martin Newall, Sandy Shaw.

 Though you had been doing songwriting for a long time – why did you suddenly decide to delve into a solo career in 2004? Was this something that you been thinking to do for a long time?

 I always saw myself as a member of a group, but when I met up with singer-songwriter, George Usher, he encouraged me and generously devoted his time to helping me discover my own songwriting potential. So writing and recording my first two solo albums were a learning process for me, with George as a great musical partner and mentor. I had the luxury of having a lot of my musical heroes join me on those records, such as Roger McGuinn, Colin Blunstone & Rod Argent and Marty Willson-Piper, just to name a few.

You also have released two albums with the Bedsit Poets – what’s your role in that group and how does it differ from your solo work?

 I started Bedsit Poets as a way of working on a collaborative project with Amanda Thorpe. Our British backgrounds and sense of humor were very similar. We later added Mac Randall. I was the driving force in the group and one of the principle songwriters. We had a lovely time together, releasing two albums with a third set of demos, but there came a shelf life and we just took different directions. Bedsit Poets (who got their name from Colin Blunstone) still remains one of my favorite musical projects. That group enabled me to learn harmony singing and opened me up to another type of songwriting, mainly British acoustic, folk-pop.

 “Porcelain” recalls the albums you grew up with as a kid.  My first thought was that many sounded like a lost-Kinks songs.  Where they a major inspiration?  

 Funny you picked up on that. My last album, “Sparkle Lane”, was definitely intended to be a nod to  (The Kink’s) Village Green Preservation Society/Arthur from being a kid growing up in Birmingham, England to arriving in the U.S. of A., whereas Porcelain is a more guitar-driven, forceful album, with a few soft diamonds, reminiscent to me of the music I listened to during the period of 1972-1975. This album is actually more influenced by writers like Ian Hunter, John Cale and Kevin Ayers, so you are not far off the track. Ray Davies is obviously a major influence on my work.

 You’ve been busy over the past decade, releasing several albums.  Porcelain seems to culminate everything you’ve done so far.  Would you agree that is a fair assessment?  

That’s very perceptive. Each of my solo albums has been a learning process, trying to move myself forward. With this album, I feel I have finally reached a new level and something I’m going to have to work hard to match next time through, but I’ve got about 20 new songs waiting to be demoed. I think a large part of the difference comes with the musicians who were kind enough to play on Porcelain and also give their creative input. You really can’t go wrong when you have people like Don Piper producing, James Mastro, Don Fleming, Pete Kennedy, Sal Maida, Konrad Meissner, Ira Elliot and Joe McGinty and many other friends giving their time and support.

You’re British-born but currently live in New York City.  Your music seems to pick the cool vibe of New York with the sonic textures of England. Does that combination come naturally to you?

 You really have been listening! Again, very perceptive. That’s exactly the vibe I was looking for during the making of Porcelain. Sonically, the music is New York City and lyrically, it combines experiences I’ve had in the last 18 months. Yes, I’ve lived in NYC most of my life but my roots are still in England. If you listen to “Porcelain” the sax solo was definitely an attempt to channel the energy of Roxy Music’s Andy Mackay’s sax solo from “Virginia Plain.”

 “Tears Left in the Bottle” is such a beautiful song.  Is that an autobiographical song?

 Thankfully, the song is not written about myself, but about several really good friends of mine who have bottomed out and have had to fight the battle to get their lives back in order. It seems the environment surrounding music and the creative process often gives license to indulge whenever and as much as you can or can’t handle. There’s even a mythical element to that indulgence. Look at all the people we’ve lost at the age of 27, most recently Amy Winehouse.

 “Silent Singer” is a great way to the end the album. It’s got one of your best vocals and melodies contrasted with a biting guitar line.  How did that song come about?  It sounds like a David Bowie song.  

This song is really special to me as it was inspired by my late Dad, who I lost last October. As he was fighting for his life with lung cancer, he kept telling me about the singer who was taking him to a bar at night. And, he could hear the songs in his head. That’s what inspired the demo, with very soft vocals. Again, I must credit the producer, Don Piper, and musician Don Fleming for transitioning the song into a “Spiritualized”-like ending to the album. Thanks for your musical reference to David Bowie, another major influence.

“Porcelain” comes out in November. How are you going to celebrate its release?  Any plans after that?  

I just booked a record release show at the new Cutting Room in NYC on November 17th with all the musicians on the album. Before that, I’m going over to London in October to do some promotion (the album comes out there in January). For the New York show, Syd Straw, who did some backing vocals, will be on the bill, as will my producer Don Piper with a don piper situation. After that, depending on how the album is received, we will continue to play live dates. I would love to get this band to play in Europe, as well as the United States! Always have to have the aspirations and dreams to make the reality happen. Thanks for listening to the record. For those of you reading this, give it a spin. Cheers.

http://www.edwardrogersmusic.com/

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Band of Brothers?

The infamous Gallagher brothers from Oasis are at war, once again. This time, Liam is suing his older brother for libel regarding comments about the break-up of the band. Noel claims that Liam was too hung-over to play the V Festival in 2009, which the band eventually pulled out of. Liam wants everybody to know this is a lie.

Even between these two brothers, a lawsuit seems a bit extreme. Over the fifteen years since Oasis first burst onto the Brit-Pop Scene, both Liam and Noel have engaged in so much verbal warfare it’s nauseating to comprehend. Both of them are probably guilty of libel and slander towards each other at various points in their career, but they’ve always managed to put their feelings aside for the band. Indeed, if Noel can still work with Liam after their disastrous Unplugged performance – why not let bygones be bygones?

Note that Liam’s lawsuit was filed within mere weeks after Noel announced plans for a new solo album. In recent weeks, Noel has had massive interviews with numerous British Magazines including Q, and Mojo as well as Rolling Stone. The actual incident in question happened over two years ago.

Getting into a band with your siblings can be a messy affair, especially if one sibling is the creative genius in the group, like Noel Gallagher.  Just ask the Beach Boys, whose Brian Wilson was the driving force behind their biggest hits, and the seminal Pet Sounds album. Brothers Dennis and Carl Wilson were entangled in many legal battles with disputes over Brian’s psychological issues, and publishing rights. Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Tom and John Fogerty constantly battled over which direction the band would take, even though John wrote nearly all of the band’s music. The rift was so wide after the group broke up that the brothers didn’t speak to each other for nearly twenty years. Similarly, The Black Crowes Chris and Rich Robinson have always seemed to be at odds with each other since the beginning (and have gone on record as stating that they don’t talk to each other outside of the band) but have recently made-up enough to make new music before going on hiatus last fall.

Kings of Leon seem to be going down a similar path of sibling self-destruction. The three brothers and cousin are known just as much for their rivalry as they are their music. A clip for their new documentary Talihina Sky shows drummer Nathan screaming at lead singer Caleb, calling him “a piece of shit”. A few weeks ago, when the band was forced to cancel a gig mid-set due to Caleb’s “voice issues”, younger brother and bass player Jared came on stage to a crowd of boos informing the audience not to hate them, but Caleb.

Whatever issues remain within a band always seem to be exaggerated whenever siblings are involved. Sibling rivalry can certainly be intense, but it seems when it comes to music, some siblings have no problem throwing each other under the bus in exchange for saving face.

 

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The Ten Most Important Artists Of The Last Decade – 3. Jay-Z

Last year, Jay-Z appeared on The Daily Show to promote his book Decoded.  Jay-Z has always come off as an intelligent dude, and the excerpts I’ve read from Decoded solidified this.  What really stood out from Jay-Z’s appearance on The Daily Show, was his humbleness.  As Jon Stewart asked the questions, Jay-Z seemed shy, awkward, and out of his element.  I’ve been a fan of Jay-Z for a while, but his demeanor made me like him even more.  It was direct contrast to his rap persona – bigger than life, and untouchable.  Jay-Z has always been larger than life.   And for those brief moments on The Daily Show, he seemed human.

Many rappers tend to boast – it’s part of hip-hop culture.  When Jay-Z declared himself the “8th Wonder of the World” in “Izzo”, it seemed ridiculous.  And it is.  But the crux of the line lies in the fact that Jay-Z views himself as simply great – not just the “greatest rapper alive” (which he is.)  It’s hard to accuse him of being arrogant, when it’s true.  It reminds me of Brian Wilson listing 8 Beach Boys songs as his Top 10 Songs of all time.  Are you really going to argue?

As a rapper, Jay-Z is instantly recognizable with that deep voice.  His flow is impeccable, and legend has it that he never writes down his lyrics, and if that is the case, it’s all the more impressive.  “Moment of Clarity” remains of one of his best songs – where he takes down his critics for going mainstream – “I dumb down for my audience/And double my dollars/They criticize me for it/Yet they all yell “Holla“.

Jay-Z has always been ahead of the game, and a trend-setter.   But with his 2001 release The Blueprint, he truly became a hip-hop titan.  His rhymes were tighter, and he tore down his rivals with such ease that almost every other rapper seemed small in comparison.  The Blueprint was also significant for bringing back sampling as a hip-hop tool, eschewing the keyboard heavy sound that was prominent at the time.   It was also one of the first albums to incorporate soul samples,which has now become something of a common practice in hip-hop.   His next release, The Black Album was a slight dip in quality (though not by much).  “99 Problems” is a fusion of rock and hip-hop where Jay-Z recalls his early days, as if it remind his audience that’s still the same guy he used to be.

To some, Jay-Z tirade against auto-tune  – “D.O.A.” – may have made him seem like a cranky old man who doesn’t understand the new trends.  But rather, it cemented the fact that he still be the greatest by existing in his own world.  And when he played Glastonbury a couple years back – to Noel Gallagher’s chagrin – Jay-Z proved that he wasn’t bound by the hip-hop world.  He could draw a crowd, and put on a show that everybody loved.

Over the past decade, Jay-Z has proved time and again that as a hip-hop artist you can be huge, and still create music that is intelligent, while still maintaining street-cred.

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Beady Eye – Stealing From The Beatles Even More Than Oasis

I have to admit that I have a bit of curiosity for Beady Eye, the group that Liam Gallagher formed since his brother Noel Gallagher split from Oasis.  Truth be told, I probably wouldn’t have even known that he had formed another band if it weren’t for my occasional reading of British Rock magazines such as Mojo, Uncut, and Q.  Unlike US rock magazines, the British rock world hasn’t seem to have gotten tired of the Gallagher’s antics.

Oasis’ place in rock history isn’t quite as cemented as the British press would have you believe.  Their first two albums (Definitely Maybe and (What’s the Story )Morning Glory?) are great, but not life-changing.  But post-Glory, the most interesting thing about the band was the flares between the two brothers.  But despite the name-calling their drama can easily  be summed up by Noel’s hubris over his songwriting, and Liam’s insistence of being a “real” rock star.

Different Gear, Still Speeding sounds like Paul McCartney discovered some long lost Beatles demos and gave them to Liam Gallagher.   But at least Noel had the instinct to slightly cover up his Beatles’ obsession with loud guitars, and the occasional slight detour into the Manchester sound as if to prove he listened to new music post-1975.  But on Beady Eye’s debut, Liam not only takes cues from The Beatles, he’s even retained some of the Fab Four’s sonic textures.  George Harrison’s ghost plays some pretty great riffs, and busts out some pretty fantastic solos. “Millionaire” is  probably the song George Harrison wrote after his tax problems.  “The Roller” takes cues from Lennon’s White Album-era songwriting.  And “Bright Light” is a Paul McCartney rave-up on the likes of “I’m Down” and “The Night Before”.   Even the names of the songs themselves don’t disguise the younger Gallagher’s love for The Beatles. “Three Ring Circus” – “Being For The Benefit of Mr. Kite”, anybody?  And there’s no way “Wigwam” isn’t taken from the lyrics of “Hey Bulldog”: “Wigwam, frightening of the dark”

Of course, it’s kind of redundant to pick apart Gallagher’s obsession with The Beatles. When Oasis came out, it might have seemed that some people forgot about The Beatles, or didn’t view them as cool – I’m looking at you, Seattle.  Circa 1994-1995, Oasis filled a void of classicist pop that was missing, at least from American shores.  Since then, sales of Beatles albums and collections have soared, so it remains to be seen whether people will still be interested in a Beatles retread band without the drama.

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