M: I think of our sound as underground rock music. I don’t like the words indie or alternative cause they’ve lost all meaning. I don’t have a catchy label for it at the present time, but the kind of music we currently make is underground. It’s in the rock mold. Underground Rock?
CH.89: Where do you draw your inspiration from?
M: I personally draw less influences from other music, than I do from intangible feelings I am trying to trace and put into sound or idea. I’m also influenced by my favorite films. I think of a lot of our songs as short stories, or small films. Some of my biggest influences have been from directors and short stories. Though all our songs lack direct narrative, I think of them as impressionistic short stories.
CH.89: What made you all want to start a band and how did you come up with the band name?
M: The band name is from an old Carter Family song from the early 1930’s. They were my favorite band at the time and are still one of my all time favorite bands. The band I was in when I came up with it was thinking of album names, and in my brainstorm, I came up with that. After a while, I decided that my project I would form when I left that band would be called Kissing is a Crime. The more I thought of anyone else having that name the more jealous and possessive I got. Now it’s mine forever. After that I used to write it in bathroom stalls at bars, or carve it into tables in sleazy restaurants throughout New York City.
CH.89: Can you talk a little bit about what your creative thought process is like when starting a new album?
M: We have only recorded one complete proper album so far. It was the collective experience of going through the first songs I wrote and bringing them to the band, to all the material we worked on since then. We had never made an album, but had a few years of being a band, there was a lot of material we had played live and had demos of to choose from. When knowing, we were going to go in and really make a record, it was a process of putting the pieces of material that fit together and making it a complete statement. We had jams the band had worked on collectively to make into songs, songs we already had finished writing, and songs I had written but hadn’t brought to the band yet to choose from. For me the process was like assembling a puzzle. We sort of knew what the complete picture we were trying to bring to life looked like, but it was figuring out what piece went where, and what pieces needed to be in the picture. In the last few weeks before we started recording, I had finished a large handful of songs that I wanted to bring in for it. It was exciting to have new material to be able to record while it was still brand new.
M: I would want the listener to take away a little world they can connect to and come back to anytime they’d like to. I’m not sure how fully formed the universe I’m trying to build is for the listener at the present time. For all I know, it may appear to be a bunch of nearly empty rooms with a “more to come soon” sign on the walls. Ideally the lyrics, and the feelings represented in the music form imagery in the listener’s imagination and they’re free to collaborate and build on the blank spaces. It’s quite possible the rooms we are trying to decorate and fill with listeners may end up saying to them: “move along, nothing to see here”. Hopefully with each track released and album made, we can expand the world a little more each time. Maybe what makes less sense now, will make more sense then.
CH.89: When starting out an artistic task, do you think it is better to have a particular direction/set plan guiding your way? Or, is it better to act on impulse and go from there?
M: When I try to set out with a particular direction and plan it mostly does not work. When it does, I am so proud of it, I want to hang it on the fridge for everyone in the house to see. Most often, what wants to come out, is what comes out. I can try to shake and trick my favorite ideas into hatching. Ultimately, it’s often allowing an impulse to come through, and follow where it goes. Then hopefully I’ve tracked enough of my footsteps there, so I can get make it home in time for supper. If I get lost further out in the woods, at least I made the journey.
CH.89: What is one major lesson you’ve learned as an artist?
M: The one major lesson I learned is you have to believe in yourself. Ain’t no one gonna believe in you for you. If you, as an artist don’t believe in what you are doing, why should an audience?!? I wasted a lot of time and creative energy not believing in myself for whatever the reasons may have been at the time. I can’t complain about it, cause it won’t change anything, and it got me to where I am today. You can hide out in a dark bathroom all day long playing your favorite Cat Stevens covers on acoustic guitar, but at some point, you’ve got to come out. And when you do, the longer you been in there, the harder it is to ever leave.
CH.89: Do you regard personal style & taste to be of highest importance?
M: Personal style is important. Being able to leave your own stylistic thumbprint on your influences and one’s unique spin is what it’s all about. Taste? often not. What one is good at creating and one enjoys are two different things.
CH.89: Is there anyone in particular, any artists that inspire you in any way?
M: Too many. So many. One of my biggest influences and heroes is an author, JT Le Roy. There’s too much to be said about JT / Laura Albert, but if it wasn’t for JT I wouldn’t be an artist right now. He/She liberated me from turning tricks in the truck stop of my brain and that’s all I can say about it.
CH.89: What do you think of technology in terms of being a useful tool for artists today?
M: It can be, depending on your medium. I wrote way more songs when I first got a phone where I could record on, then came a computer with garage band, then a better recording platform. Once I had the technology and process down, it was a whole new world for me. I would have wished to of had the money for it and the openness to use it earlier in life. The iPhone has been my greatest tool in creating since I first got one. I write everything from drum beats/ patterns, vocal melodies, guitar parts, lyrics, by singing, talking, tapping them into the voice memos of my phone. I then go back to those ideas when I’m at my home studio setup and turn them into songs in have today.
CH.89: Do you think being an artist allows you to view the world differently from those who don’t follow creative paths?
M: I think it possibly teaches you to express the viewpoint you have of the world, or how to articulate your perspective on what you see. But I don’t think it necessarily allows you to view the world any differently from others. Seeing a familiar, yet unrepresented viewpoint of the world, is what draws many people in, who are not in the arts. Being an artist does give you reason to prioritize your creativity over many things. Like basic needs, starting a family, buying property etc. This does give others a different perspective in a way, but overall worldview I couldn’t say it effects much. I’m pretty certain many people have an artistic side in them, they don’t get to express often or nurture.
M: I do enjoy traveling if it’s for the right purpose and with the right people. My favorite cities would be Austin, TX and Berlin. The people and the culture in those two places is beyond special and in possible danger of being destroyed by changing times.
CH.89: Do you have a favorite author or book?
M: My favorite author is Truman Capote. His book, “Other Voices, Other Rooms” may still be my favorite book of all. I do also love many of his short stories, especially Children on Their Birthdays, and Jug of Silver. I read them both almost every year since I first discovered them.
CH.89: Any future goals or plans for your music?
M: Future goals and plans is to tour and play as many shows as we can behind our new album. (Kissing Is a Crime- s/t LP out March 24, 2017 on Don Giovanni Records)
CH.89: What does being an artist mean to you?
M: Being an artist to me, is seeing, living, feeling the same things everyone else does, from the mundane to the bizarre. Only finding a way to capture or document it.
CH.89: Any last words on the aesthetic of your music?
M: I’d like to think our music can blend something angry with something beautiful in a way where they don’t fight nor dilute each other. When artists blend two styles together, there’s parts left of each on the cutting room floor. Ideally, I’d like our sound to be crafted from the same two whole elements that a lot of people before us stitched together, only with the pieces they left behind in their place, and those different left over pieces together.