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Interview: Five Star Friend Talks New Release, “Maybe It’s True”

Welcome to BuzzMusic, Five Star Friend! We’re incredibly excited to feature your song “Maybe It’s True” off your debut album. Could you share with us some inspirations you had for the album?

I wanted to best capture what I was thinking, listening to and playing at that moment and go full steam ahead. There’s a little bit of pretty much everything that I like on this album - I wanted it to be varied. If for no other reason, it kept things interesting when I was recording! And it’s really cool to take stuff from one genre and apply it to another one. Especially when you wouldn’t think those two would fit. Like some of the lyrics - I thought they were working for one song, then I tried ‘em on another tune, and it just stuck. Some of my lyrics are about weird, fizzled-out relationships, feeling really good about the start of a weekend, or just driving and sitting in traffic going, “Why the hell am I doing this?” It’s all inspired by what I’m listening to at the moment, previous experiences that I made note of, and what made an impression on me.

Your sound varies from easy listening alternative to a grungy-sounding rock. Who are some artists that have helped shape your sound?

So one of the singles, “Maybe It’s True,” is taken from a whole bunch of rock/pop bands that I love. Especially the 90s/early 00s sound like The Lemonheads, Wilco, and Fountains of Wayne. And you gotta mix in a little Weezer/RHCP in there too. I love those albums that have both soft and hard rock sounds, like “There Is Nothing Left To Lose” by the Foo Fighters. Some of those tracks are pretty raucous; some are kinda delicate. That stark contrast makes it stand out even more to me.

And you can’t really talk about this 90s alt-rock scene without mentioning Nirvana, so there’s the whole grunge side of the rock that I love too. Have you heard the baby lullaby version of “All Apologies”? Kurt wrote beautiful melodies! It’s insane to me. So they definitely shaped the sound of my song “Impish Inklings.” It was really fun to record a couple of instrumentals too, where I could explore some synth-y, pop-soul type of vibes.

Get real lo-fi with it. Play around with the percussion and basslines too, give it a little Marvin/Stevie funky feel. It’s the hardest question you can ask, really, but it’s a combination of all this stuff with an extra spoonful of rock n’ roll on top.

“Maybe It’s True” has a powerful message behind it; What’s your approach to putting your thoughts to lyrics?

It’s funny because I’ve heard from a few friends what they think the message of the chorus to this song is, and I’m like, “Damn, I never really thought of it this way…” But I’m glad people are thinking about it. There are always different interpretations.

The way the lyric process goes for me is a bit different. I usually jot stuff down on my phone or my notebook with little phrases, fragments and things like that. Then when I’m playing, I’ll try to think of some of those ideas and see if I can use them in something. Often times I’ll start humming and fill in the blanks with random words. Some of those words stick! It’s a good feeling coming up with a lyric that you never thought would work, but then when you hear it back, it makes sense. I think of it as a puzzle - fitting all the pieces together takes some trial and error. And then I go - does this sound good? Does it feel good? And so it begins all over again.

You’ve mentioned your “Keep it Simple Stupid” approach. When do you know if a song needs a little more or is finished?

I try to use this approach more often than not. And that’s the tough thing, knowing when a song needs more or when to let it breathe. It’s the big back-and-forth, and I have to hear it and feel it out. Different songs take on different styles, moods, and auras and knowing how to best get that “thing” that makes the tune pop out is what I strive for. A couple of other musicians came on board to help me out in the production process, and I got some great feedback from them.

That was invaluable - my ears got so used to hearing something a certain way, so getting another perspective really helped me out. And that can sometimes open up something you never would’ve thought. But I never tried to over-complicate things, as hard as it was sometimes. I always came back to my mantra of “keep it simple stupid” and knew that it wasn’t going to let me down.

Thank you for being here, Five Star Friend. Tell us, what is your next move? Do you have any news you'd like to share with us and your fans?

So here’s where it gets interesting for me. The first thing for me is to keep playing and writing. Keep practicing and playing live as much as I can. Then I’ve got some demos that didn’t go on the album, but I know I should take another look at them. And, going back to the “keep it simple” approach, I may find that some of the demos work best as acoustic songs, but some may need more. Whatever they need, I plan on releasing them in the near future. I’ve got a lot of things in the works, and I’m excited about the outlook for 2020.

Read our full song review of "Maybe It's True" here.


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