Memphis High Talk "The Memphis High EP" and More
Mon, 01 Nov 2010 09:03:39
Memphis High's sun-drenched pop is utterly dreamy.
The band's debut, The Memphis High EP, floats on the strength of sugary hooks and intriguing guitar melodies. "Criminal Love" soars with a cinematic lyricism and propulsive bounce that's so infectious it should be illegal. Meanwhile, "Another Goodbye" builds via warm tones and hypnotic instrumentation. Memphis High's Grant Vogelfanger and Witt McKay craft pop rock tunes that are as clever as they are catchy, and they'll be stuck in your head for days after just one listen...
Memphis High—Grant Vogelfanter and Witt McKay—spoke to ARTISTdirect.com editor and Dolor author Rick Florino in this exclusive interview about their debut EP, the tale behind "Criminal Love", some big influences and so much more.
Do you feel like you're adding instrumental intricacy to pop?
Grant Vogelfanger: We've always wanted our songs to be catchy. If something is catchy, people will remember it. We certainly take our craft, musicality and how everything sounds very seriously. However, we love pop hooks. The uniqueness comes from the instrumentation. A song can be catchy and unique at the same time.
Witt McKay: The production has a raw and organic feel. You don't hear that many mainstream Top 40 songs with organic production like this. That ties in with our grassroots because we are from the South. It's not country, but it has some of that flavor. We just wanted to do something different.
Grant Vogelfanger: We wanted to provide a southern take on pop that's not country. Memphis is weird. Where the hip hop ends, the real country begins [Laughs]. There's no in-between. However, we're in-between that because we get both worlds. It's southern pop.
What's the story behind "Criminal Love?"
Witt McKay: We were working with this producer named Chris DeStefano. We just started singing this hook and, at the end of it, we knew we wanted to have a post-chorus. For some reason, I'd written a couple lyrics that mentioned crime. Somebody said, "What about 'Love Criminal'?" I didn't want it to sound like Michael Jackson though [Laughs]. So we turned it around to say, "Criminal Love." It could be this story about a relationship that's so good it's criminal—almost. You could also take it as a story about two people and there's a hint that maybe one of them is cheating.
Grant Vogelfanger: We wanted the song to lyrically contrast with the music. The music is very happy and upbeat. Lyrically, it's a little bit edgy. I'm not saying that it's not happy. However, it's not what most people would expect after hearing that music off the bat. Melodically and lyrically, the song flows in a unique way and I think that's why it's interesting to people.
Did you approach this EP with one vision for all of the songs?
Witt McKay: Some of the songs, not all of them, have a bit of the same theme. Songs like "Another Goodbye" and "Taking You with Me" draw from how we went from Memphis, dropped out of high school and left a lot behind. We still take parts of our home and all that we learned from Memphis with us though. Some of the songs have that theme. We tie a lot of that into relationships we've had too.
Was your musical chemistry always instant?
Witt McKay: We've been singing together since we were nine-years-old before we even picked up together. We always sit around and sing and play, and we know what each other is going to do. It's good.
If you were to compare this EP to a movie or a combination of movies what would you compare it to?
Grant Vogelfanger: That's a good question. The songs feel larger than life, which I like. They're very straight-forward, but they could be at that level. I always loved movies that take you to another place. I love Inception and Avatar. I'd love to compare it to those, but who knows? [Laughs]
Which albums or artists shaped you guys? What do you still come back to?
Grant Vogelfanger: When I was a kid, my parents listened to a lot of Stax soul music and Motown as well as some southern rock and great artists like Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, The Beatles, The Beach Boys, The Rolling Stones…
Witt McKay: You're taking all of mine [Laughs]. I grew up on karaoke stuff. That's the only way I knew I could sing because I was actually a football player from the start. I'd listen to The Beach Boys and The Beatles. I was into country. My dad listened to a lot of country so I probably take a lot from that.
Grant Vogelfanger: I didn't listen to a lot of radio. It's weird. I started listening to it now, but I didn't listen to a lot of pop radio up until I was about 12- or 13-years-old. To be honest, I still like the older music better. There's some really great music being made now, but I go back.
Have you heard Memphis High yet?
Watch the band's video for "Criminal Love" below!