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Tarantuela Frontman Discusses New Album: Good Luck-Black Cat-Bad Luck
Paradise Blog: Your shows are known to be a pretty damn good time. Should fans who plan on coming to the album release at The Horseshoe Tavern on May 18th rest up their livers, kidneys, and other organs vital to removing poisonous spirits from the human body?
Jay Swinnerton: The CD release this Friday is going to be an important night for us. I’m certain it will be a memorable night for many people, and were mentally ready to kick some ass on stage and have a good time, so we suggest the same to all the folks coming out. It’s also nice to have The Silver Hearts close the show, as well as Devin Cuddy kick it off. Oh I feel a good thing coming on.
Paradise Blog: What was the gestation period for these songs? Some of the hooks are quite sophisticated in their simplicity. Is that something that just comes to you out of the ether one day, or something you whittle down over several months?
Jay Swinnerton: I knew I wanted our sound to have a loose, ‘good times’ feel as well as a couple numbers with some musical sophistication. Our most complicated song musically is the title track Good Luck – Black Cat – Bad Luck , which was also the first song we learned as a band. From there we mixed in tunes from The Basement Tapes as well as original material I was writing of a similar style and spirit. The stuff I was writing at the time had a simplistic quality to it that reminded me of songs from the 50′s and 60′s, mixed in with other darker blues songs that I wanted to sound like some old field recording from 100 years ago. This set an interesting vibe to the music, then later we also fused that sound with elements of Garage Rock and Soul music.
Paradise Blog: What did James McKenty bring to the table as co-producer?
Jay Swinnerton: James was lots of fun to work with. Being from The Spades, he’s into the Rock and Roll kind of production which worked well for our sound. His approach was very laid back as well as patient, which made for a good collaboration. He’s also done lots of recordings in the past that we all really enjoyed the sound of, so I wanted to hear how he’d capture our sound.
Paradise Blog: How did you get involved with Cameron House Records? What has the experience been like?
Jay Swinnerton: I played in Toronto for the first time by myself when I was 18, and luckily my show was at the Cameron House. Years later I returned with Tarantuela, as we were filling in for our friends band’s residency. After returning a few more times, the new manager and booker Cosmo expressed interest in the songs and show. Shortly after, he told us he was launching a record label and wanted to talk with us about it. It’s been about a year and a half since that first meeting, and now we’re officially on the label which is a nice feeling. The label already has a homegrown, rootsy vibe.
Paradise Blog: There’s a broad range of influences present on the album, could you parse out a few of them and discuss?
Jay Swinnerton: Some of the influences at the time were the mostly Bob Dylan, The Band, Them, and The Kinks. The Band’s always been pretty important to all the people I play with. They understand the musical family spirit that comes across, so we like getting into that as well. A few years ago we did a Kinks cover night, which ended up affecting our sound on certain songs of mine. We understand the approach of certain artists, mostly from the 60′s. And there’s always an influence of older jazz characters like Fats Waller that changes the show.
Paradise Blog: Artists are motivated by many things. One of those things is sometimes spite. Is there a person who doubted you who you can’t wait to dickishly hand a copy of this album to? Names aren’t necessary. The inverse of that—anyone who really supported you who you can’t wait to like healthily and non-spitefully share the album with?
Jay Swinnerton: A lot of artists who are more serious about their career than their songwriting style can quickly get competitive with other musicians, which can be important to make a scene more interesting, but it can also be pretty weird. I haven’t had to deal with this, or maybe I choose not to. But also, you can’t have a horse race with just one horse. Funny enough, I was really excited to give copies to the boys in Tarantuela, those are the guys who I want to impress. Of course I want all my other friends, family, and musical pals to hear what I’ve been up to and doing with my life.
Paradise Blog: You mentioned Dylan earlier. Any connection between your song Rita May and the Dylan song with the same title?
Jay Swinnerton: I’ve always been a big fan of Bob Dylan outtakes and bootlegs. Our Rita May was more like my version of Please Mrs. Henry from The Basement Tapes. funny enough, no connection with Bob’s Rita May.