You can accomplish a lot in a bathroom. Aside from doing your business, you can read an article, perhaps text your friends, or do as I do: play Angry Birds on your iPad. OK, that's T.M.I. and gross, but it brings us to our next "A-Sides" session. Nuno Goncalves of the Portugal psych pop band The Gift used the trendy iPad tablet -- specifically a keyboard App -- earlier this month in a dressing room restroom located backstage of Le Poisson Rouge in NYC to perform a track with his band. Two hours before The Gift headlined a show at that city venue, they packed inside the private lavatory to perform an intimate version of their song "RGB." The song is off their new album "Explode," which was released late last month.
Before we get "live in the can", here's a breakdown of the Portuguese music makers: The Gift formed in 1994 by Gonçalves and bandmate Miguel Ribeiro. They'd later be joined by Sónia Tavares, John Gonçalves, and Ricardo Braga and soon dominated the Portugal pop-rock scene. I could tell you more about them, but you'll get a better sense watching this:
The Gift -- RGB
Jamie Scott didn't perform a pair of songs in any bathroom in New York City. Why would he honestly? The singer/songwriter, who along with UK producer TommyD make up the duo Graffiti6, sat down with guitar in hand in a city apartment to perform two tracks acoustically. Scott and TommyD are currently touring in support of their "Free" EP, a follow-up to their acclaimed "Stone In My Heart" EP released last year. That first effort garnered raves from MTV and The Guardian and led to songs being used in a variety of television shows from melodramatic city Grey's Anatomy to MTV's Michael J. Fox-less Teen Wolf. One track -- the Sixties-inspired "Stare Into The Sun" -- has been played regularly on rock radio -- notably SiriusXM's Alt Nation -- and in my car with all the windows open and my sunglasses on.
Scott performed a pair off the new EP in stripped-down fashion. Watch the performances and then read about the songs below.
"Lay Me Down"
What was the songwriting process for "Lay Me Down" and "Free." What do the songs mean to you and what are they about?
"Lay me Down" is a song about saying to that certain person in your life -- [you're going to] help them through hard times and just trust that you will be able to be their shelter when needed. It was an experiment with tracking loads of vocals and seeing if that could be brought into the Graffiti6 sound. "Free" is simply asking someone to let go because you couldn't and therefore have them do it so you can be free from the relationship.
Your songs have appeared on an eclectic mix of TV shows -- I trust that exposure helped a lot?
Having our songs in those shows really did give Tommy and I the ability to finish the album ourselves and without a label involved back then and have the chance to let people hear the music
What was the process behind the EP? Do you worry that people will think the Free EP is a "free EP"?
Ha, no hopefully they will get the play on words. The EP is the single and then a few acoustic tracks -- some off the album and a take on another song from Fleet Foxes we toured at the beginning acoustically so we wanted to get that side of our music across.
About "A-Sides with Jon Chattman"
Jon Chattman's music series features artists (established or not) from all genres performing a track, and discussing what it means to them. This informal series focuses on the artist making art in a low-threatening, extremely informal (sometime humorous) way. No bells, no whistles -- just the music performed in a random, low-key setting followed by an unrehearsed chat. In an industry where everything often gets overblown and over manufactured, I'm hoping this is refreshing.