Tuesday, November 9, 2010
In an age where pop as a packaged product dominates - and talent show hopefuls hold out begging bowls of back stories and shrill trilling to pinch-eyed panels of string pullers and pop puppets. It gives you a glow to know - that away from the cold, controlled production environments of formulaic chart pap, tat and ratbaggery - pure musicians and solid songsmiths are busying themselves in studio bolt holes, writing and refining their craft with the stealth of shoemaking elves.
So let me introduce to you, The Sonic Executive Sessions - session musicians by day, self composers in their downtime - a group whose skill isn't a wily eye on a chart placing or tactical piece in the media. But an ear for a hook, a taste for a tune and the raw talent to fill a fully formed, self penned songbook of multi-layered, hi-polished pop, glowing with a shameless sense of fun, sun and freedom.
I've been following The Sonic Executive Sessions for almost 3 years now - hooked, reeled in and rolling from the opening notes of 17 (Over You). The album arrived last week and what a gem and a joy it is. All honeycomb vocals and milky bar harmonies. Pace shifting from the urgent swish of show tunes to the midnight slink of Steely Dan - the album is 100% Sonic originals with echoes and shadows of both greats and guilty pleasures. The Beach Boys meet Jellyfish with Toto undertones, Bacharach by way of Badfinger with Ben Folds on keys. Oh, and an actual appearance by Oh Lori legends the Alessi Brothers on one track...
11 minty new tunes that immediately feel like old friends....
The Sonic Executive Sessions - You'll Never Be Happy
The Sonic Executive Sessions - Make Do (featuring the Alessi Brothers)
Christian Phillips, lead vocalist of The Sonic Exec's was kind enough to enough to answer a few Q's exclusively for the PM blog.....
How would you describe The Sonics Executive Sessions signature sound to the uninitiated
Yowzer, that's a hard question. Fallen at the first hurdle here. But I guess its me trying to re-write the American songbook, failing miserably and then superimposing our favourite Record/CD/MP3 collection on top of it
What is the bands history, how did you come together
Tim's been running the Sonic-One Studio for a long time and over the years Ryan and I have worked there a lot. Local sessions stuff like that, I've taken other projects there. Tim had some free studio time so we just started doing this
You're a studio based group, but have the band ever played live, or will
there be future gigs
The band has never played live...but never say never. Just don't ask me to play keyboards
You've done a crazy range of sessions: Colin Bluntstone, a TOTP appearance and teamed up with The Alessi Brothers for one track (Make Do) on The Sonic Exec's album..
Top of the Pops, We played for a guy called Steve Balsamo. He had a single called Sugar for the Soul. I was his guitarist and Ry' played drums. I think the Dandy Warhol's were there. Yup done some very weird sessions. Sang backing vocals on a Joey Ramone track once... How weird is that!!! I didn't meet Joey, my bit was done here and he did his bit in new York. I think it's called Punk Boy by a band called Helen Love
I did a session for a guy once (who shall remain nameless) he got so stoned that by the end of the day he forgot who everyone was and whose album we were working on, I'm writing most of Colin Blunstone's new album. And Alessi They just got in touch after finding us on Myspace...isn't the internet great
Are there other hook ups with more hit-makers or heroes planned and who would be on your fantasy team-up list
I love working with as many different people as I can. I'm not a very confident songwriter/lyricist so any help would be greatly appreciated.Hmmm fantasy team up list: John Williams (composer)the Four Freshmen, Andy Sturmer, Take 6,Richard Carpenter, Todd Rundgren,Van Dyke Parks, Rufus Wainwright the 23 year old Brian Wilson you know the usual I could go on and on. People no longer with us...Gershwin,Cole Porter, Nilsson and on and on again
Have you had any TV synch or Soundtrack interest? Or what show or film would your dream soundtrack (past or present)?
The A team (TV show)
I can hear echoes of Jellyfish, Dean Freidman, Steely Dan in the album, but, what would we be surprised to find on the Sonic Exec's iPods?
Hahah well there is no Dean Friedman on there for a start. Ummm the N'Sync Christmas album??? Kings X
The band covered Jellyfish's unreleased track Hello - will other cover versions be added to the band's songbook?
Its a possibility, I'm not a very prolific songwriter so I guess so
Do you keep any vintage gear or collectable kit (synths, guitars, amps) in the Sonics collection?
Most of it is vintage I suppose, especially Tim's studio gear. He's just purchased a 24 track studer tape machine and I think we're going to record any new tunes on that..OLD SCHOOL BABY!
Each track is multi-layered polished pop nugget - what has been your most indulgent or trialling moment of studio trickery?
Well being able to come into a studio like the one Tim has and play all those instruments and sing all those parts is me at my most indulgent, and Ryan and Tim let me indulge. But then Tim has to mix that and make sense out of all of it so for him I think that bit is trialling.
I've been following the band since 2008 when can expect see a second album?
I didn't think people would want a first album, I'm still in shock that anyone would listen to anything I was writing. So if people like it I'll keep writing and see what happens
For a UK band you have a broad international sound - have you had much interest from outside of the UK?
More outside the UK then in the UK. Its getting a release in Japan and the Americans seem to like it. I don't think many people in the UK know we exist....you're the only one I think
I could imagine the Sonic Exec's delivering the perfect Christmas song - any plans for a seasonal single?
Not right now, I have recorded a Christmas album with the vocal group I sing with (The 4o5's) and that's Christmasmungus. I'd love to record one with Roy Wood with that big Phil Spector sound. Hmmmm you've got me thinking now, I would be stroking my beard if I had one.
The Sonic Executive Sessions album 2010 is available right here....
on iTunes or via Amazon
The Sonic Executive Sessions - Myspace
There's more Mondo/Sonic related bits here
The Sonic Executives do Jellyfish (I've posted before, but it's worth a re-run)
A special sonic salute is due to Christian and the band for the use of tunes and making time for my questioning..