Interview with Brian Kennedy of The Allupons
The Allupons have been in existence, in some form for quite a while. Whether playing shows, dropping demo tracks or just being a part of the NJ/NY music culture, how has the last couple years shaped the Allupons today?
Well, the Allupons started out as more or less just a collection of ideas, my friends referred to it as the Allupons, but I wouldn't say it was a true band until a few years ago when we began playing out. Typically I had songs and song parts on tape or some other form with the intentions of making a band happen from them. Initially it was difficult finding people who wanted to work on these songs with me so I spent a good amount of time mainly writing and recording demos on my own. Eventually I had to recruit musicians and like minded folk, teach them the songs, write some new songs together, and get everything worked out just right. The entire process was an incredible undertaking and took a few years to get rolling in the right direction.
Once the Allupons actually came together as a band, we spent time practicing, working on songs and establishing a set list. While practicing we started getting offers to play shows, and it was a little hard to keep up with at first since we still had a lot of material to go through and work out. Initially we were swamped with work between working on material and working on our live show ---I think one reason we were able to find so many shows was largely due to the number of our friends who are either in bands themselves or are somehow involved in their local music scenes. It started out as word of mouth among our friends that the Allupons was now a real band, and they started putting us on shows. Eventually different friends of ours would call us up saying things like, "Hey, we're playing down in New Brunswick this weekend, would you guys like to play, too?" or "Hey, are you guys interested in driving out to St. Bonaventure for our music festival?". We took every opportunity that came our way, but it was a little hard to manage at first. Eventually people in the areas we were performing started coming out to see us play and we were able to book some of our own shows and even headline them. Since we had yet to release anything professionally, we figured it was time we got ourselves in a studio and started recording.
From playing this initial stretch of shows, we learned a lot about what to do and what not to do on stage as far as performance or sound or even setting up. We waited a while to release a record for a couple of reasons. First, we had so many shows to play that we didn't have time to record material. And second, we wanted to be able to take the time to record the album the way we wanted. So we took a break after our last bunch of shows, I bought a few new pieces of recording equipment, and we hunkered down for the better part of the past year to record.
Where do you draw some of your inspiration?
I'm glad you said "some of your inspiration" because typically this is a hard question to answer. Also, after answering it I know that tomorrow or the next day I am going to feel like an idiot because I have a better answer. But by asking me where I draw "some" of my inspiration from, I feel I can provide a decent answer or half answer if you will.
I love experimentation! For some reason I am never satisfied with one way of doing things or one instrument. Ever since I was a kid, I've enjoyed taking things apart to see how they work or finding different ways of doing things for fun. So I think that has something to do with it. When it comes to listening to music, I cling to the experimental types and the creative individuals who have their own sound and way of making music. Talking Heads is a good example; their music is incredibly talented and unique. Their songs draw from a wide range of influences and you can hear that in their music. My favorite records to listen to are the ones where bands push their limits and see what they can do musically. Another good example is the Jesus and Mary Chain; they have some songs where they took overpowered amp distortion and feedback and made it musical. I admire when bands and musicians can do things like this and test their own limits.
I try to do some of those things myself. I like creative, unique ideas and, as a band, we always mess around with different ideas and ways to do things. They don't always work out, but when they do, that is how we write some of our best material. So it is safe to say the entire band is inspired by creative music, and we have embraced the idea that music can be a creative and experimental process.
So the Allupons have been in the process of recording their debut for a while now. Like so many others bands you guys are trying to hack it at your day jobs to pay the bills and be musicians. How has that played into the recording process?
We have very busy lives and schedules which forced us to evaluate everything from being in a band to establishing a recording schedule. One thing I recommend to anyone recording on their own record is to make a schedule at least a month in advance and make sure everyone sticks to it. We did that and it greatly helped us make this record happen on schedule. We also decided to record it on our own since recording studio time is an incredibly expensive commitment and I already had some gear from recording music in the past, so we decided to skip going to a studio and do this at home, mainly my home. The first step was make sure I had all the equipment we needed, and if not buy it. Recording on our own allowed us to have the freedom to record wherever and whenever we wanted. The only exception to this was recording drums, I don't have a suitable space to record drums properly both in terms of space and acoustics, so we had to book some studio time at the Rents' Recording Studio (Boathouse Record's recording HQ). Luckily, Joe our drummer has a flexible schedule and everything has worked out so far as planned. A few odds and ends were recorded at other places besides my home, a big chunk of the vocals were done in Angel's kitchen. In the end I either brought my equipment to the band or they came to me.
Talk about some of the reasons why it is so important for you guys to make this record together as a band using your own resources, rather than go the way of outside studios and producers?
In addition to studio time being expensive and hard on our personal schedules, I really wanted to handle the role of producer on this album. The Allupons has been a project of mine since early 2004, so if anyone knows the music and how it should sound I feel that person is me. If we were an established band and people had heard our recorded music before, I am sure we would entertain the idea of working with a producer. But as our debut, we want to take the time to work things out how we envisioned them. Doing it on our own allows us to release a record the way we want it to be, and makes the record personal to us. We are showing people that this is who we are, this is our music, and this is how we sound. Besides, for the amount of time we spent working on this record, we would have had to spend a fortune to do it at a recording studio. And I'm sure we would not have gotten a product that makes us as happy as what we recorded on our own.
You're in the final stages of the recording process, give a peak into what we can expect from this album.
We have about 12-15 songs that we worked on. Of course some songs won't make it to the album. Either they don't fit with each other or some other reason. So right now we plan to release a 10-song album---or at least it is safe to say that there will be at least 10 songs released. Our deadline for having the album put together is in about 3 weeks, so a lot can still change between now and then.
I can also say that the second half of the album is a series of songs that make up one long story of love, murder, revenge, cowboys, and all sorts of good things you would find in a western. The story also takes place in the late 1800's. That's all I can really say now without giving too much a way, but we are really excited about it.
Finally if you could share the stage with an artist or spend some tour tie on the road with a band, who would it be?
Ah, I'm sure you are expecting me to say Radiohead ... right?
To be a little more down to earth and honest I would love to do a tour with you guys, that is These Are A Fisherman's Favorite Dreams, and our friends over in Connecticut, Hubbell Mountain. I think that would be a fun time on the road. We shared the stage together a few months ago and I had an incredible time playing with you guys.