For our next interview we have two members (Scott Levesque and Brendan Harney) of the band Wheat. I’m very excited about this due to the fact that Wheat (myspace page) one of my favorite bands to drive down Lexington Ave too and blast. All of their albums bring a unique emotional energy that pleases my soul. Soon they will be reissuing their 1st and 2nd albums, “Medeiros” and “Hope and Adams” with a 3rd disc of rarities that they recorded around the same time. Order it from: http://www.wheatmusic.com/
FFTB: Any background on the band name ‘Wheat’?
[s] it came from our very first bass player, he had his reasons, but for me it was just a hopelessly beautiful sounding word with equally inspiring images attached. …also had great range as a representation of what we may have been up to in the future.
FFTB: What are your non-musical influences?
[s] the people in my life princely. people i run into help me with the most priceless lyrics. concepts are everywhere if you’re looking. thing is you have to give a little first. personal investments are always the highest yields. there is the occasional emotional madoff, but mostly, who cares, as long as you do your part anyway.
FFTB:What inspires or motivates you to write and perform other than music?
[s] the worlds kookiness. when i find i’m the proverbial wayward sheep, i feel blessed to give away some of the concepts i’ve collected from other people.
[b] same here. the people around me….often the dreamers with no real chance of winning in sight. the people who change things on a ground level….. the ones who keep stirring the soup….the ones who keep the world on it’s toes….
FFTB: As a rock band with pop elements, is there a fine line in song writing between singles and regular tracks? In other words, do you ever write a song like ‘I Meet a Girl’ saying, “Ok, let’s write a single”?
[s] well only from the songs themselves, meaning they sort of dictate where they sit in the pecking order of things as you develop them. it’s funny because over the years i’ve run into people that claimed that they could write hit songs if they only wanted to, but the fact is, i always try to write great songs from the inception, but they become what they become. you have to a, know who you are and b, allow the songs to be who they are. sort of the un-carved block concept, where it’s already perfectly done, and you just help it wriggle itself free. btw, i wish i could predict the financial success of anything…
[b] yeah – the song is kinda the song….you can’t turn a strange one into a straight one, and vice versa. but, if everyone involved feels like one has a more universal appeal so to speak, then you can kinda gussy it up a bit, and see if you can’t make people smile.
FFTB: As a band with a distinct lyrical style, do you use lyrics to write music, or music with lyrics to follow?
[s] almost always in this order, melody, (music to hang it on), then lyrics/overall concept. i’m obsessed with doing everything as simply as possible. play less. sing less. using the fewest words possible. we all need less of everything in the civilized world, lets be honest. we don’t need any more from me than the bare minimum, lyrically or otherwise.
FFTB: Would you consider Lyric’s to be music?
[s] well they do religiously serve the melodic notes in our music…
[b] lyrics are music. music is drugs.
FFTB: What is the primary instrument do you use to write music with?
[s] it use to be gtr/voice but the last bunch of years it’s been voice, piano.. it has just opened me up to less rock, more roll. idk, i like changing it up, since i have absolutely no formal training on any instrument. less is more here again, i think.
[b] for me it’s exclusively piano – it’s the only instrument i can play decently enough besides drums. plus for me the piano is just such an open ended thing – it can be anything you want it to be. it’s a true partner….
FFTB: You do a lot of tracking with vocals and instruments on your albums. How do you approach playing those same songs live?
[s] we used to just ask the listeners to imagine and fill in the blanks, but recently we asked a robot to join the group… he’s impeccably on time. is simple, simple, simple. never drinks too much/gets too high. never gets a lap dance in the dressing room. fewer rock dudes with gear and their personalities on stage, bus, etc… we love our robot, i mean it’s 2009.
FFTB: The productions of ‘Hope and Adams’ and ‘Per Second, Per Second, Per Second…Every Second’ are clearly in different places. ‘Per Second’ is more polished while ‘Hope and Adams’ is rawer. I’m not trying to say that one is better than the other; I’m just trying to ask, what happened?
[s] a career and people with range. desire. a focus knob and the where-with-all to use it. life is for the living. changes is the better part… you know.
[b] we had some money to throw at the thing, and we were/are/have always been very into the sheen of pop – so, we went for it. our new one coming out in late spring (white ink, black ink) has some of that sheen, but also retains more of the idiosyncrasy’s that make what we do unique and singular.
FFTB: What is the best concert you’ve ever been too?
[s] miracle legion, godspeed you black emperor., actually a few flaming lips shows we did came super close.
[b]i have to say that seeing lou reed several years back was really amazing. whacky dude – whacky players – totally unique. and, yeah – the lips and their big top bombast.
FFTB: Any advice for young aspiring musicians and songwriters?
[s] write a lot. hang out less. know who you are and always try to be that. don’t write your own reviews. don’t believe you own hype. write more songs. but don’t stop at conception; allow yourself and other people to mold and shift it into greatness. don’t settle. try to be different and expand your range. not the surface or obvious or typical different, but the real searching kind of “i don’t really know where this fits” kind of different. don’t sell yourself short by keeping it all squeezed in a little hip looking box. let everything you come in contact inspire you. listen to what other people say, however at the end of the day trust your own instincts over everyone else’s.
[b] bust your ass – but, be sure to be as much like a child as possible. i think there’s a reason brian wilson sat in the sandbox in his house….