Interview: Junior Prom
Fri, 25 Oct 2013 10:32:48
"We want to make witty and tasteful pop music," says Erik Ratensperger of Junior Prom.
He and his cohort Mark Solomich have certainly accomplished that mission. Songs like "Sheila Put The Knife Down" are as smart and sly as they are soaring. That's the magic of Junior Prom they make catchy music that's still smart, warranting a much closer listen. Start paying attention to them now...
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Junior Prom talk "Sheila Put The Knife Down" and so much more.
What's the story behind "Sheila Put The Knife Down"?
Mark Solomich: Well, it's sort of based on a real story. The name is changed. There is no actual "Sheila", although there is someone whose name sounds a lot like it. We changed it to make life easier [Laughs]. It's a girl who's pretty vengeful. You're trying to disarm her with humor, but it doesn't really work all the time. She's in a very bad mood. Once she's like that, there's no making jokes about it.
Erik Ratensperger: There's no turning back [Laughs].
How did it come together musically?
Erik Ratensperger: Mark sent me a really early demo of it, and we both knew it was something we wanted to develop. We brought the demo to the practice space and fleshed it out.
Mark Solomich: It was a different song. It almost sounded like Pulp almost. It was very simple. It wasn't a rock song in anyway. It was based on a nursery rhyme almost rapped. That's how it started. It was almost like a joke. It was something I sang in the shower. I came up with the keyboard part then. It was one of those rare songs that wrote itself.
Is that usually the case?
Mark Solomich: It always changes. Usually, it goes around. Because we're really rhythmic, it will be based on a couple of chords and the beat. Then, we'll put the melody to it. Every song is different.
Is it important to make the songs sonically rich? It feel like there are a lot of layers.
Mark Solomich: It's funny you mention that. We're trying to get away from that. When we sent the tracks off to get mixed, we were like, "Damn, there are a lot of tracks! Do we need all this shit?" We did it all at our house. It's a process. There's a decent amount of things going on. If you listen closely, there are lots of things.
Who do you both bond over in terms of influences?
Erik Ratensperger: We listen to so many different kinds of music. I can't say what a direct influence would be. As kids, we both played in punk bands so we really love The Clash, New Order, and The Smiths.
Mark Solomich: We love great songwriters like The Beatles and Leonard Cohen who have something to say.
Erik Ratensperger: We've been listening to a lot of reggae, soul, and nineties R&B shit. It changes by the day, depending on what mood we're in. Because that, it lends itself to an interesting creative process. We don't butt heads creatively on the development process of a song because we usually see eye-to-eye.
Mark Solomich: Working together for so long, we know not every song is going to be a winner. It's a process of trial-and-error. Not every song will make it.
Erik Ratensperger: You can't be afraid to try.
Does "Sheila Put the Knife Down" open the door to new music?
Erik Ratensperger: We have so many songs in the pipeline that may possibly be on the full-length. Lyrically, it's a great introduction for us. Mark's lyrics aren't cookie cutter. They're a little more sophisticated than what a typical pop song might have.
Mark Solomich: It's a good template. It says our take on things is a little bit wry. It's not completely detached or aloof.
Erik Ratensperger: We're trying to entertain, but do it with a story or an idea not a "dear diary" type of thing. This is a story, but it relates to a bigger emotion. We like witty lyrics. You've got to find a different way to say the same emotions everyone feels.
Have you heard Junior Prom?