Artist: The Wild Young Hearts
Who: Robb Laffoon (vocals, guitar), Garrett Warren (bass) and Justin Norman (guitar)
Home: Los Angeles, California…
Album: ‘Feel Good’.
Release date: March 31, 2015 …
My first impressions: The Wild Young Hearts’ 2014 debut album ‘California Dreams’ was one of my car records on my holiday in the South of France last year. A highly exuberant collection of adrenaline charged guitar pop sunbeams. Little sing along gems with a high degree of instant infectiousness and surf pop vibes. The French Riviera was my California beach. C’était fantastique ! ‘California Dreams’ was also the main songwriter and frontman Robb Laffoon’s ‘beach’ album. “The new record ‘Feel Good’ is set in the city” says Laffoon. “But it’s still about daily life – day and night – in the city of Los Angeles. On this album Garrett stepped up and had a bigger hand in the creative process. As usual, Justin wrote a good chunk of the guitar parts. I consider the three of us a team, because we all contribute in our own ways.” To my ears the newborn sounds moodier, more varied, more personal and richer in sound than the debut long player. Every time I see the Lakers or the Clippers on television I wonder what Los Angeles, the second largest city of the US, is really all about. Only glamour and sun? Only celebrities and cocktail parties? Open 24/7? I contacted an expert to make me wiser. A young, vatical musician who produced another sparkling album with his band The Wild Young Hearts about his beloved City of Angels. It turns out (again) that, regardless of where you live, it’s all about emotions. Happiness and sadness. Joy and loss. Life and death.
Here’s a ‘Feel Good’ track by track breakdown with guide Robb…
I JUST WANNA GO HOME
“I started writing this based around the opening guitar riff, which I’m pretty sure I subconsciously ripped off from ‘My Girl’ by The Temptations. Lyrically, I was feeling a lot more frustrated than normal. Sick of living in L.A., sick of how things were going, so I ended up writing about it.”
“I think this is the first song I wrote for this album. I was messing around with the guitar progression and freestyling lyrics about my dog, as I normally do when I first come up with melodies and they just stuck. I tried to write the verses like a fun hip hop song, and I tried writing the chorus like The Beach Boys.”
“I wrote the words to the chorus as a joke one day while waiting for our weed dealer, a blonde haired Russian guy who rides around L.A. on a motorcycle and goes by the name ‘Sunshine’. Once I had the chorus, I kind of just based the verses around it. Musically, I think its pretty The Wild Young Hearts-esque, and a good, short pop song. Fun drums, sing a long chorus, and a great guitar lick courtesy of Justin.”
“This is one of my favorite songs I’ve written. Lyrically, this album is pretty heavy and personal, so I thought it’d be nice to write something a little less serious. I wrote the guitar progression and the riff after listening to a lot of Florida-Georgia Line and hip hop, which I know seems like a ridiculous combo, but I think it turned out well. The song has a fun, breezy feel to it that just makes me wanna roll the windows down and cruise.”
“Garrett came up with the progression after we heard a Taylor Swift song that had a similar groove to it. All we could think was “man, this song would sound awesome if it was a rock band playing it and the ending got huge”, so that’s what we did. I was having trouble thinking of lyrics until one day I got an email from my step dad reminiscing about the day he met my mom, fifteen years ago at the restaurant she owned on the west side of town. He even ended the email with “sounds like a good song”. So thanks for the idea Alex.”
“Fun fact: I had only been to Venice Beach like, two times before writing this song. The first time I went though, I had so much fun that I went home and wrote the line “Maybe this week I’ll ride my bike to Venice Beach and we’ll go surfing until my body goes numb”. Also, I was having a bit of trouble coming up with verses to match the awesome chorus, so I asked my dad for help. He is the one who originally told me I should sing more songs about my life and the beach, and to be proud of where were from, so I knew he would have some good ideas. After I received pages of texts with lines about “top shelf margaritas” and “cruising the shore with my whore” I was able to comb out enough lyrics to write the second verse. My dad grew up in Manhattan Beach on a steady diet of Coors Light, carne asada burritos, and The Beach Boys, so I think it’s pretty clear where a lot of my influences come from.”
“This is the second oldest song on the album, and was the last song to make the cut, only because I thought it was too angry and it wouldn’t fit. I wrote it around the same time I wrote ‘I Just Wanna Go Home’, so it has some of the same frustrations showing. We opened a few shows with this song and before the song I would always say “this song is about how I hate myself and want to die” with a big ironic smile on my face.”
ME AND THE MOON
“I came up with this whole song, musically, in about thirty minutes. I wanted us to have a song on the album that people who were not normally into our style would like and want to hear again and again. I told Doug Grean, our producer, to make this song as pretty as possible and I think he accomplished that. Also, this is the first song I’ve ever written that had a title before lyrics.”
“I kind of wrote this song around the time we first started. It was in a different key, and had different lyrics, but the idea was the same: getting drunk and high with your friends. Lyrically, I was trying to write fun, hip hop verses to a fun rock song with a classic blues progression. I had the phrase “denim on denim” before I had the rest of the songs lyrics, so I took the line “liquor on liquor” from the Big Sean song ‘Control’. Some of the lyrical ideas, like getting drunk on Canadian whisky and going to the casino, we’re a nod to my old friends from Canada. I think this song is a banger and a great representation of who we are as people, so I thought it was a great title track. Plus, “Feel Good” is the best way to describe our music if you ask me.”
SMILE FOR ME.
“Last May I was on my way to a sunday rehearsal when I got a call from my aunt Rhonda telling me my mom was being rushed to the hospital with only a few days to live. She had been suffering from cancer for a few years and over the months earlier it had spread, which I had no idea of. I got home on Monday morning and she was dead by Thursday evening. In the three days I was there, she wasn’t doing well at all and wasn’t totally aware of the situation, so my brother and I never got a proper goodbye. This song was me imagining what she would have said to my brother and I before she died. The pre chorus line “if the sun should rise and find your eyes filled up with tears for me” is actually from a poem my mom read to her sisters a few months before she died. Musically, I tried writing something she would like. Something big, and anthemic, with a tinge of the 80s. I think I’m like most artists in the sense that I always find flaws in my work, and I can never sit and be happy with the things I create. Not this song though, I’ve never been happier with something I’ve done. I knew from the second I finished writing it that it would have to be the last song on the album, because nothing was gonna follow that. I just wish she was here to hear the song, because I know she would have loved it.”
Many thanks to Robb for sharing the stories, the emotions and anecdotes behind the tracks…
Time to play the brand new brisky album…