We’re going to run with the assumption that our crowd knows just about all there is to know about the history of Big Star. Asking Jody and Luther these questions is a thrill and an honor.
Can you tell us how the two of you met and how the idea for Those Pretty Wrong’s came about?
Jody : Gary Gersh (Geffen A&R) introduced me to Luther about the same time (1992) as he introduced me to Jon and Ken. Amazing how one person can have such an incredible impact on your life with something as simple as an introduction. So fast-forward to 2013. the Big Star documentary has just been released and Danielle McCarthy (doc brainchild and producer) asked me if I would sing a few Big Star songs for a screening at The Nuart Theatre in L.A. At that point the idea of being a lead singer (beyond two songs) sounded like a pretty cool adventure and a nice way to continue to honor Chris, Alex and Andy. Luther was the first person I thought of to join me. Luther asked Jason Hiller to join on bass and we had the starting point for TPW. Luther is a very creative guy, a great motivator and an easy confidant which is what is needed when writing songs together…you feel pretty vulnerable.
Luther :Jody pretty much nails it…we were introduced way back when and always remained friends. Never really played music together until
this opportunity came up and we did the Big Star movie performances. I sensed a blend between us vocally from the very first rehearsal for that.
After a few gigs, which can be nerve-wracking for various reason, it seemed like a logical next step to be writing together…
I read that Chris Bells guitars were used in the studio for the recording of your 1st two songs. How did you come into possession of the those guitars and did you feel that Chris Bells’ spirit was with you in the studio ?
Jody : They were both in my office at Ardent Studios. The Gibson 330 now belongs to Chris’s nephew and the Yamaha acoustic now belongs to me. Andy gave it to me around 1973 as I was learning how to play guitar and the acoustic had a few holes in it…another story.Not a day goes by that I don’t think of Chris, Andy, Alex or John Fry and the impact they’ve had on my life.
Luther : It was obviously a very humbling experience to use Chris’ guitars and it really brought a special spirit to the music. One can hear it on the single, I think.
The ultimate point to recording at Ardent and with this familiar gear was to foster a warm and comfortable experience for Jody, because he’d be out front all the way
for the first time on this album. Well done, Jody!
A lot has been written over the years about the importance of Big Star for our Generation. From R.E.M to The Replacements the impact of Big Star could never be denied. Are you at a point where you are comfortable with all of that and ready to move on?
Jody : Definitely very comfortable with the Big Star “community.” To some extend it is the way I have become comfortable with myself. Don’t feel like I have to move on. TPW and Big Star aren’t mutually exclusive. I’ll be a part of Big Star’s Third live in Minneapolis (9/30) and San Francisco (10/1&2). Luther is joining us on a song or two in San Francisco.
Luther : If by “our” you mean my age too (I’m born in 1970), yes, my introduction to Big Star was definitely via REM & The Replacements, et al. And the first album by them I found was when I was 17 and just kicking around San Francisco aimlessly. Found The blue “3rd” on the street for a few bucks. What an introduction! Then later on when I worked at a record store in L.A. in 1989 called Aron’s, I found the 2-in-1 tape of “Radio City” / “#1 record” and wore that out! So it was defintiely a trip back then to find myself going to dinner and hanging out with Jody, who was a big influence on me as a drummer and writer.
We hear an Album is in the works for Those Pretty Wrongs can you tell us a little more about the album. Is it a “theme” or a collection of songs from both of you?
Jody: The LP (done and mastered) is a collection of the songs from both of us. Initially I would sing lyrics and melody lines to Luther’s voicemail. Subsequently I might begin the song with an idea, but Luther and I would finish. The last song we wrote together (Mystery Trip) was just serendipity. Luther asked if I had a set of lyrics lying around as he had the music and melody lines in reserve. I sent the lyrics and they fit perfectly.
Luther: Yes, we have just finished it. I can’t speak for Jody, but for me the theme feels like a sort of hard-won optimism after a life-time of ups and downs. It’s not a dark record, but more like sun shining through after a long hard rain. Jody is singing beautifully and I’m really proud of the material… Jody and I are playing most of the music but there are a few buddies helping here and there: Jason Hiller on some bass, Danny De La Matyr on vocals and mellotron, and the Memphis engineer Mike Wilson on flugelhorn. Pretty exciting! I’m illustrating the artwork as I did on the single because Jody and I want it to feel like a totally ‘personal’ package. Jody?
Where will the Album be recorded and when can we expect to listen to the LP?
Jody : The LP basic tracks (guitar, piano, drums) were mainly done here at Ardent with Mike Wilson engineering. My vocals and some backing vocals were done here as well. Luther recorded many of the overdubs (backing vocals, guitar, piano) with Jason Hiller engineering at Jason’s studio in L.A.
Luther: It was cut at the legendary Ardent in Memphis! Hope to have it out first thing next year.
What do the two of you think about the music industry today compared to the 70’s or the 90’s , has social media made it easier for you to get the word out or is it all just in a mess.
Jody : Word about a song, LP and/or artist can spread so much faster today. However, there are probably a thousand times the number of artists, than 15-20 years ago, trying to take advantage of that. We still have “taste-makers” that help preview and make recommendations all that’s out there. I know we (TPW) are taking advantage of social media as are Ardent Studios and the Ardent Music label.
Luther : Oh, it helps. It would have been nice to have it back then. But at the end of the day, word of mouth is really incalculable. I would just tell most new artists to play parties, shows, in-stores
and spread the word organically besides virtually!
When the two you are driving across America, what are you playing on the radio?
Jody : Will let you know when we start driving across America. Can’t wait!
Luther : Mostly music by our friends. But some classic stuff too… Ideally were in the middle of nowhere and an amazing station like WFMU comes on playing spooky old blues and gospel and bands we’ve never heard of that have something new to say!
Any last words for you fans…..
Luther : It’s gonna be great to come to your town and share these new tunes with y’all ! Thanks!
and just in case….