23 November 2010

POST #248

The last time I had an interview on the blog, it was handled by friend-o'-the-blog, D. She has since left the country to get away from all the ensuing publicity. Alright, she was actually offered a teaching job in Chile, and went south. Just before a bunch of miners got stuck underground. Conspiracy theorists get to work.

Since I didn't have her to lean on this time 'round, I handled things myself. Being the anti-social guy that I am, it was done via this new-fangled e-mail technology thing, so that I wouldn't have to actually speak to another human being.

The other human being that I didn't actually speak face-to-face with in this case was Ryan from Portland-based band Ten Million Lights, whose album has been in heavy rotation on my car stereo lately, and this is:

A Cozy Computer Aided Chat with Ten Million Lights

DeadBilly -- Introduce yourself.

Ryan Carroll -- This is Ryan Carroll, lead singer and guitarist for Ten Million Lights.

DB -- How’d the band come together?

RC -- Eric Block and I were both in Saturna. He played guitar and I sang. We had quite a run with Saturna, putting out a couple of records, playing all around the country and even touring with Bob Mould. But we were split between two cities with our rhythm section being in Seattle and Eric and I being in Portland, so eventually we weren't able to pull it off and decided to call it quits.

That's when Eric
and I started writing the songs that would be Ten Million Lights. We were originally planning on being a two piece, but when we met Emily last spring we knew we had found something special and immediately asked her to join us.

DB -- Portland, Oregon doesn’t seem to have a reputation as a Mecca for music. The only other band that comes to mind from there is Menomena. What’s the music scene like there?

RC -- Actually Portland has quite an active music scene. There are quite a few bands that fill the scene that we play in. Because of the Dandy Warhols there are a handful of bands that play shoegaze/psychedelic music.

There's a label here in town called Reverb Records that are about to put out a compilation that we're on that includes a bunch of those bands like The Upsidedown, Pete International Airport, Go Fever, Hawkeye, The Prids and bands from out of town like The Raveonettes, A Place To Bury Strangers, Serena Maneesh and tons more.

We do feel a bit isolated all the way up in the northwest though, it takes us three hours to get to Seattle and ten hours to San Francisco, so that does create sort of an insular scene.

DB -- Quite a few songs on the album are noticeably influenced by the Shoegaze sound. For some reason, I haven’t listened to much from that scene. Enlighten me on your favorite bands/songs from the scene. Where would be a good place to start if I wanted to give the genre a try?

RC -- Some of my favorite bands from that scene are Ride, My Bloody Valentine, Lush, or Swervedriver.

DB -- Shoegaze is, obviously, not the only style your music is influenced by. What are some other bands/styles that have made a mark on you?

RC -- We're definitely influenced strongly by britpop. One of my favorite bands is The Jesus and Mary Chain. I can't get enough of them. I also love Bauhaus, Love and Rockets, The Cure and Siouxsie. But I'm also really into newer music like new albums from Crocodiles, School of Seven Bells, Grinderman, and Blond Redhead.

DB -- The bio on your website mentions quite a bit about your use of new technology. You also mention that you don’t use a live drummer. How does the rest of the music translate to the live shows? Is it just the three of you on stage, or do you bring along others to broaden the sound?

RC -- Well we all three play guitars and Emily and I sing together, so that is a lot of sound right there, not to mention our robot that we have programmed to do drums, bass and keyboards. Its actually a pretty big sound. We actually try to strip it down in a lot of places, so that you can really hear the vocals. It was tough at first to do, but the effect is really amazing. Its really fun to dance to the big beats too. I love watching people in the crowd moving.

DB -- Here’s a related question that’s been debated for 15+ years, and still has no good answer. What are your feelings on the future of the music industry, given the influences of P2P, the RIAA, etc.?

RC -- I'm really happy with the way things are going. I think the music industry was stuck and stale. It feels good to see the way the internet has opened up the world to being able to put out good music, instead of music being controlled by a select few. I think the smart record companies will change with the times and will be better for it. The ones that fall away will be the ones that can't think outside the box.

Bands are getting more control now and are getting together to form collectives, so there is still a sense of community that the labels once gave them, but bands now have the ability to control their own destiny and reach a world audience that wasn't there before.

DB -- A question you can answer for all the musicians sitting in dorm rooms with no record contract. How difficult was it to self-produce the album and get it on Amazon, iTunes, etc.?

RC -- Its a lot easier than people think. There are some amazing tools out there like CDbaby! They do almost all the work for you. Of course self-producing the record is always a challenge. Sometimes its better if you just record the tracks and then give it to someone you trust to mix and master. They get paid for their ears, use them!

DB -- Being that I was an art major in the college days, I have to ask who designed the cover image and how was it decided upon?

RC -- We really wanted our album artwork to be as clean as possible. We loved the early 4AD album artwork for its simplicity, so we tried to have that feel. Simple, light colors, clear jewel case, but then a fun color for the CD. I'm really pleased with how it turned out. When you open the case, the CD really pops.

DB -- Now that your album is out, and garnering airplay around the country, and hopefully the world, are there any plans to mount a larger tour?

RC -- We would love to get out of Portland and are planning to do so early next year, so keep your eyes and ears open.

Ten Million Lights' debut album is available now on Amazon, CDbaby and iTunes. Here's a couple of tracks to get you all tingly and excited:

Ten Million Lights - "Fast Asleep"
Ten Million Lights - "You Leave Me Hanging"

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