Facebook Q&A with Brian Bell about The Relationship - November 9, 2009
An exclusive quick Q&A interview with Brian Bell about The Relationship
By Nicole Simone
So for those of you who were wondering... The Relationship has been very hard at work on their upcoming album. Here's a quick Q&A that was done Brian Bell recently. Enjoy!
1. Can you describe the writing process of The Relationship's album, and how other band members came together to influence the songs and/or production style?
The band The Relationship started as a song writing partnership between Nate Shaw and myself a few years ago. Our intention was to dedicate a year to writing songs, and make it our job, but one that we loved. We didn't care about performing at this stage nor about forming a band. Selling our songs to other people was our primary goal, but we became attached to our body of work and when we went to demo them, our inner performers naturally took over and we knew we had to form a band. Those initial recordings included the songs, Sweet On You, Oh Allen, Young Temptations, Modern Man, Mow The Lawn and Rosetta Stone to name a few.
We've been through a few members, but the current line up consists of Eric J, who was fresh off the boat from NY and whom I met at UCLA, while attending a class on Advanced Harmonic Principles. It turned out he was a sound engineer and offered to record me one day. Ironically our bass player, Jason Hiller, who is also a sound engineer, had to cancel our scheduled recording session, so I was forced to take a chance on this kid from the East Coast. It was during this recording session with Eric that I saw, and more importantly heard, the talent in his voice. His vocal harmonies made my voice sound better creating a new color to our band's texture. Our drummer is Blair Sinta, a working studio drummer and one of the best in LA. The wizard on lap steel guitar, or magic stick, is Ben Peeler, and when we're lucky enough to play with him, we do.
2. Are many of the songs on the upcoming album written specifically for the record or were there some hidden gems from past writing efforts?
The songs that made the record were chosen because they all, in my humble opinion, seem to captured an emotion or moment in time. My goal was to keep that purity of the song's genesis intact without diluting it's essence.
It's funny you use the word gems because most of these songs came from ideas and some were only a few seconds long, which I had recorded on a hand held cassette recorder. After a painstaking month of going through hours of ideas and transferring them from tape to mp3's, I labeled them "cassette gems". This was the first time I saw the potential of itunes as a documenting tool.
3. All good music seems to start in bedrooms, basements and/or a parents' garage but not limited to bathtubs and kitchen tables. Where is your favorite place to write music?
My favorite place to write is my den where my piano is, because it has the best acoustics and the warmest vibe in my house. There's a fireplace, flagstone floor, kind of like a Swiss Alps ski lodge, not that I've ever been to or seen one. It seems that, to really create convincingly, I must be in a relaxed state and be in touch with all my senses, my mind and body in sync if you will. But, I equally like the hustle and bustle of being on tour and having new experiences. Traveling and being constantly in motion is stimulating for me, so having a hand held recorder is crucial because a lot of times ideas come when walking around an unfamiliar town, and these ideas are somewhat ephemeral, so a system of notation them is crucial.
5. You have been notorious for putting up different versions of songs on your myspace. Is this something you do intentionally, to expose the writing and production process? Or do you like to get people guessing about the direction of your work?
The reason I have different versions of the same songs is sometimes a song will present new and exciting paths to explore, and it's inner message and meaning becomes clearer as I follow where it leads. This thrill of discovery is what makes music so important and exciting to me. The most well known example of more than one version to the same song is, Thought I Knew. It was recorded for Weezer's Red Album and for the forthcoming Relationship record. Other than most of the lyrics being the same they sound drastically different but both versions stand on their own. While some may prefer one over the other, it depends on my mood as to which version I'd rather listen to. MySpace also seems like a safe place to get feedback from folks. That's why I started a MySpace page in the first place.
Q&A conducted by Nicole Simone