Chats With Favored Nations' Morgan Phalen, Dave Bassett and Austin Plaine, Plus Cold Fronts, Stevie B Wolf and Mooji Exclusives

10/06/2015 11:09 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

COLD FRONTS' "RADIO" EXCLUSIVE

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photo credit: CJ Harvey

"Radio" is a track culled from Cold Fronts' new album Forever Whatever on legendary Sire Records, the act hailing from Philly, featuring frontman Craig Almquist.

Here's the official story behind the Sire signing...

The band was playing an impromptu show in the streets of Austin at SXSW in 2012 when the legendary Sire Records co-founder Seymour Stein passed by. Liking what he heard, Stein asked Almquist for a CD. Almquist had no idea that his admirer was none other than the man who once signed The Ramones, Talking Heads, and Madonna, and only two weeks later did he understand his good fortune. A year later, Stein signed the band to Sire.

About "Radio," Craig Almquist adds...

"Radio is a story, about two people with conflicting schedules who travel a lot and never get to see each other. It's about being in love but the timings not right."

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photo credit: Cybele Malinowski

A Conversation with Favored Nation's Morgan Phalen

Mike Ragogna: Morgan, in law, the term "Favored Nations" is loosely interpreted as a signing entity will not receive less payment than anyone else involved in an agreement, and is seen mostly in licensing. Obviously, as the phrase implies, this must mean the group Favored Nations just wants their fair share, right?

Morgan Phalen: Yeah, totally, that's where we got the phrase. We came across the term in a contract, right when we were bouncing around names for the band. It stands out as so archaic and fantastical in the context of a stiff legal document. When it's time to name a band, it's a tough to find something that pleases everyone involved. We threw out phrases and words from our individual histories and they didn't resonate. Finding something that is part of the history of the band is a much simpler game. So we were initially attracted to Favored Nations in the absurd sense, in the void of our ignorance. Yes, it is a clause that gives equitable returns to all partners in a contract, but what I find most compelling, and what I identify with, is that it is exclusionary in its broader implementation. It is something in law that is used like membership card to an exclusive club. No powerless, underdog nation would be granted a Most Favored Nations status. It's reserved for established economies with indisputable bargaining power. When applied as a band name, it fulfills that adolescent, exclusivist, gang/club inclination, but it does so in a pseudo-grown up, Declaration-Of-Independence, yacht club charter way. It's pompous, hubristic and blind but ultimately a bit tongue- in-cheek. I find it impossible to escape my inborn cynicism so I incorporate it where I can and do my best not to let it hamper my forward progress. To me, the name Favored Nations is in that spirit. A minor cynicism so I don't have to feel that I am playing a complete charade.

MR: Was there anything about recording or writing for your new album The Great Unknown that was greatly unknown?

MP: I mean it's not meant like "The Shape of Jazz to Come" or anything. It's more about life stuff than about the process. The vision was never established at the beginning, so it's been constructed a bit like an exquisite corpse, all pasted together with the internet glue. Since I live in Sweden and the other guys live in Australia, the way we work is very modern. It's kind of an ill-defined, back and forth cyber game. Sid and James typically generate the instrumentals and I do the vocals on my own and chop the product up into structured songs. There are exceptions like "The Set Up" and the title track, which they built around snippets I've emailed to them. And in a more traditional way, "Blame Game" and "Go" were constructed while we were together in in Adelaide in James' studio. When I consider the title The Great Unknown, it seems like an agoraphobic's play on "the great outdoors." Something simultaneously thrilling and terrifying. I grew up in San Francisco and Mexico City and have lived in Boston, New York, Los Angeles and Stockholm in adulthood. I have ended up pretty rootless and sometimes homeless throughout that time, not by choice, but because I don't really know where I'm supposed to be. I just follow some kind of stream of opportunity, running from burned bridges. Every time I've moved I've experienced that combination of excitement and terror. I think that's the "Great Unknown" I'm referring to. Of course applying the title to the experience of releasing an album is appropriate too. Who knows what's in store?

MR: What's the story behind your coming together with James Curd and Surahn Sidhu to form Favored Nations?

MP: It's weird I don't really know how Sid and James got together, but I think it was around the same time I got involved. James and I had done some very electronic songs and suddenly the new material he was sending me had great, real bass lines and other instrumentation thanks to some wunderkind named Sid he cajoled into going into the studio. I met James at a random show in LA while we stood at the back of the bar avoiding the music. I guess we commiserated and compared resumes and hit it off. I figured we'd never cross paths again, but a few weeks later when he was back in Adelaide he sent me a folder with a bunch of instrumentals to give a swing at singing over.

MR: I think the story goes that you and James bonded over viewing music as, in general, lacking. How does Favored Nations approach music that contributes in a different way or takes a different approach? And are there any examples on The Great Unknown that might be an example of the band achieving this?

MP: I don't think music is lacking at all. There are plenty of stinkers in any era but also always, a consistent ratio of good ones. I found a book of Billboard monthly charts from 1957 to 1997, and I was fascinated by how crappy most of the songs were. So many boring and corny songs, and so many that have disappeared into obscurity. I'm very picky about what I listen to at home and mostly it's one song on repeat for days on end. But, still, as a musician I'm humbled by all the incredible effort and talent that goes into making things. Even all the shitty stuff. I'm not trying to be hippie-dippy about it. I figure Favored Nations is dedicated to making good songs in a more traditional mode. Songs that are good for singing along to and dancing to. Kind of utilitarian songs. It's not an operational strategy, it's just what comes to us naturally. It's not really a different approach either, but it's maybe out of keeping with the pervasive trend. I have no idea if that is what the world wants and I don't know if I care.

MR: Your single "Always" doesn't seem to land on a genre to call home. Was that intentional?

MP: No intention there, but I'm glad to hear you say that. I wrote all the vocal parts to "Always" in a continuous stream and had a terrible time trying to cut it down to a more simple, repeated thing. So I just kept everything I had written in the first draft. I often feel like Sophie's Choice when I write music and can't readily send one of my children to the gas chamber. Sometimes, as in this case, that indecision works out.

MR: From your perspective, does "The Blame Game" fit into that same paradigm as "Always"?

MP: Even if it does, I really hope not. I aspire to pluralism in my music. Ideally a listener wouldn't be able to link any of my songs to me because they would all be so different. I know that's a bit farfetched in this example, but it really is what I idealize. "Blame Game" does have some elements in common with "Always," most notably in the association of electronic and real instruments and in the varying characterizations of the vocals.

MR: The Great Unknown includes your hit "The Setup" that was included in Grand Theft Auto V. How did that song get picked up by the game's producers?

MP: Oh, I think that was partly nepotism and thanks to James' eternal hustle. It ended up being a perfect match and they even put it in the spot of honor at the end, if you select option C. It's pretty nuts to be sublimated to that position. It's big time exposure to an audience that might never be into our music otherwise. I'm psyched that everyone loves it so much. I corresponded with an Algerian fan the other day and a Kenyan kid today. It looks like violent, crime themes video games might be the great global unifier. There's been a fantastic reaction to the song but it's been almost entirely from the video game crowd. We haven't been accepted by the universal mainstream yet. I'm looking forward to meeting them too.

MR: The new album also includes "Regular Pussy," a vulgar--love that word--phrase that normally refers to a guy getting regular sex. But your song calls out the concept. What made you take that direction with the phrase?

MP: I really just started with the phrase on its own not knowing where it was going. I had it jotted down in a notebook and I had some inkling that it had this duplicity built into it. I'm surprised that so many people are sensationalized by it or that you might call it vulgar. If it were in a Hip-Hop or R&B song, it would be just thought of as sexual. A couple of people begged me to change the lyrics so they could enjoy the song without being distracted by the theme. F**k that. Of course, there's an aspect of it that's tongue-in-cheek and in the spirit of silliness, but I wanted to show a rough exterior that belies a relatable tenderness and yearning for love and security. If the hard shell of the title makes it inaccessible to some, then too bad for them. Just calling someone your "Regular Pussy" doesn't negate deeper, more complex longing and dedication. We have dirty talk and a sense of humor in our private sex lives so why not in our love songs?

MR: Morgan, what advice do you have for new artists?

MP: I don't know if I've officially graduated to being the guy who gets to dole out advice. It's been a crooked path to where I am now for sure, but there aren't as many clear revelations as I would like. I will quote from a 90's LL Cool J MTV interview though. He was asked the same thing and responded: "Don't listen to NOBODY!" It wasn't: "Be wary of advice and don't let people stand in the way of your dreams." It was much more definitive: "Don't listen to NOBODY." I love that. I'm very easily swayed by this and that opinion and my own Jiminy Cricket chirping on my shoulder. I dream of liberating myself from all that. From all the naysayers and my superego or whatever internal machinery is keeping me from being me. Wouldn't that be great?

MR: Do you miss the days of Diamond Nights? What creative approaches or lessons did you take with you into Favored Nations?

MP: Oh sure. That was such a thrilling time. NYC in the new millennium. It was a gold rush. I was so green when I started Diamond Nights. I had never had a high school band or anything to really cut my teeth on. I was learning how to present my private, bedroom musical life to an audience, on the job. My biggest revelation at the time had come from watching my friends and better musicians practice like crazy and dedicate themselves to making the live shows great. So that's what we did. I got so burnt on that. I've never been as into live music as am into records, so after Diamond Nights I spent all my time working on becoming independent. Learning how to record and write music better. I guess what all that means is: I learned a ton of stuff from being in Diamond Nights, but the musical life I live now is very much in opposition to that one. I'm not a nostalgic person really. I love that I can work with people on the other side of the globe and get fresh, surprising perspectives, while having a very personal adventure on my own. I'm well-adjusted in many ways but I'm becoming more comfortable with the fact that I'm fairly eccentric and often incompatible with other human beings. Having a rich life, artistically and otherwise requires that I give myself some room to be me. I think too much is made of the musical and technical considerations that feed into the artistic product. It's really so much more about getting through life the best you can. The art is the detritus of that. It's the paint spatter you scrape off the floor.

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STEVIE B WOLF'S "ALONE + ALIVE" EXCLUSIVE

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photo credit: Jason Riker

According to Stevie B Wolf...

"This song is about taking control of my own life and except for the occasional easy-to-decipher metaphor, it's pretty literal. The line 'if you want 60 watts instead of a flame' is indicative of what's going on between two people; she's choosing to be with someone who doesn't provide as much heat and passion, but at least she won't get burned. There is a distinction between simply surviving and truly living that is the cause of all the pain. So it ended up feeling to me like a sort of un-hipster song, that is wearing its hurt and anger almost too much on its sleeve. Because this song is really about embracing your pain as a formative thing, and wearing it like a badge, rather than burying it in someone else, so I didn't want to try and hide its claws."

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photo credit: Nick Stabile

A Conversation with Dave Bassett

Mike Ragogna: So you've had quite the football career over in the UK. What made you become a pop songwriter?

Dave Bassett: Well Mike, you've obviously done your "Googling" for the day and uncovered my darkest secret. Kicking a ball around got a bit dull after a few decades, so I started playing music...haha. No, you are referring to Dave Bassett of the UK. I am Dave Bassett from Chicago.

MR: Chicago? What? No football career? Bummer... Okay, fine, let's talk about this "songwriting" career of yours. So adorable. How's that coming? Are you working hard on your instrument so one day, you can present your songs to a music business tycoon?

DB: If by one day you mean 15 years ago, then yes. I've actually been at this a while, but it's amazing to me how after hundreds of songs it still feels fresh and exciting with every song I write and artist I meet.

MR: Next thing you know, you're going to mention something outrageous like how you wrote Rachel Platten's "Fight Song," Elle King's "Ex's And Oh's" or even Pop Evil's "Footsteps."

DB: I didn't mention it, you did! Really though, it's been such an incredible year and I'm just so grateful for all the talented people I've had a chance to collaborate with.

MR: Okay, so I just Google'd you...again...and Wiki says you've had like a thousand #1 hits with artists like Shinedown and Halestorm. So how is all this success affecting you? Do you even talk to your childhood pals anymore?

DB: Haha. I've learned that you never know where or when the hits are going to come, and no one knows a hit is a hit until it's a hit. I just make sure to give every artist and every song the best I've got to give on that particular day, and know that the rest is out of my hands. In the case of "Fight Song," we knew it was a good song, but for months it sat around unrecognized. It wasn't until Rachel released it on her own that the labels took notice. "Ex's and Oh's" actually had little support at radio for the first few months before it got a second wind--a couple of key TV placements and word of mouth brought it back, and now it's everywhere. You just never know.

MR: Who inspired you musically, you know, after you left managing football overseas?

DB: Coincidentally, most of my influences have come from across the pond. It began with The Beatles, then some Zeppelin, then the discovery of The Clash, The Jam, Sex Pistols...then The Smiths and The Cure...all the way up to Blur and Radiohead...wow! Maybe I am that other Dave Bassett. I should've been a Brit!

MR: [laughs] Who are some current artists you'd like to send a reel-to-reel demo to in hopes they'll record your song?

DB: In pop music, most artists are pitched existing songs. Although that process can be hugely successful, it can also feel a bit more generic. As a writer, I prefer the more personal collaborative writing process. There is no substitute for getting in a room with an artist and finding out what makes them tick, to try and uncover a part of their artistry that they might not have otherwise found. The latest example for me is the band machineheart, whose record I co-wrote and produced. The songs we wrote seem to have such an honesty and connection to them as a band, and they really wouldn't seem right sung by any other artist. I think the fans can tell when an artist is really connected to the songs, and that the words, melodies, and rhythms are truly a part of who they are.

MR: Do you have a favorite song that you've ever written and have you sent it to Tony Bennett yet? What's your favorite song of all time?

DB: I have a beautiful standard I wrote about a decade ago, still uncut, called "Parade of Wonders" that I sang at my sister's wedding. Tony would SLAY that song...can you get it to him? I'd appreciate that, but MY favorite song of all time? That is an impossible question to answer. Today, my answer is "How Soon Is Now" by The Smiths.

MR: Are you surprised at how you became an overnight songwriting sensation or did you see it coming?

DB: When I started in bands, I always thought what I was doing at the time was "it"...only to look back the following year and say, "Oh man, what were we thinking?" However it was that kind of confidence, miscalculated as it may have been, that kept me going through the experiences and education as a writer, singer, guitarist, engineer, producer, and mixer. It has led me to this point where I can say, "Wow, I'm still doing what I love everyday." I'm smart enough now to know how much I still have to learn. That's the beauty of music, it's always evolving and changing, and I just go with the flow of it.

MR: What advice do you have for new artists?

DB: I think the best advice I have is to recognize that in today's music business, more than ever, there are no limits to what you can achieve, artistically and creatively. Technology has allowed anyone who has a laptop to have a world class studio, and anyone with internet access to be a record label. With those barriers broken down, artists have the power and resources to compete at the highest level and the means to change the course of music for years to come. Be yourself, become self-sufficient, and when people say "no", say "so what?" and keep going.

MR: What advice do you have for ex-football managers from the UK who are becoming new artists in the US?

DB: That's obvious. Use those football connections to get to Beckham, and maybe his wife will join your band.

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MOOJI'S "MEDLEY" EXCLUSIVE/FREE DOWNLOAD

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photo credit: Paul Black

According to Mooji...

"I wrote 'Medley' in Berlin, and it's my first attempt at something dubby (or anywhere near that genre, really!). The name comes from some bagpipes I warped for the track, which is actually two songs joined together. I was experimenting with spoken voices in the Double Agent album, and I thought featuring Lee 'Scratch' Perry would add a nice Jamaican touch. He talks about the responsibility of leading other musicians during his college years. I hope to come back to this genre in the future, which in the studio we jokingly called HumStep, because I 'hum' towards the end of the track."

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A Conversation with Austin Plaine

Mike Ragogna: Austin, this is your debut album. Was there a mission for the project beyond recording your best material?

Austin Plaine: It was a collaboration of songs that I've written in the past, say over the past five or six years. I was just trying to find the best fit of eleven songs that I've written over these years.

MR: What's it like getting signed to a label?

AP: It was a pretty crazy process in the fact that I wasn't really looking for a record deal or anything, it just kind of happened. I went down to Nashville to record this record, at the time I was going to school at the University of Minnesota and music was always on the back burner for me. Then we got some more motivation with this record and recording more and more down in Nashville, then the label picked it up and we started getting momentum. It's been a big learning year for me ever since signing with Razor & Tie. It just kind of unfolded before my eyes without me ever realizing it. I've just been riding it.

MR: It must be interesting to be a singer-songwriter of depth writing in a culture of heavy electronic and pop music.

AP: I guess I've got to look back at what I grew up listening to. It was always Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen, whatever my dad was listening to in his pickup. I grew up with that music and that's how I started writing those songs. It's just second nature for me. I listen to all sorts of music right now, I'm a big fan of electronic music and hip hop and basically everything, but this type of music is what I know the most.

MR: What's your creative process like?

AP: It's pretty flippant. I don't go out and say, "I'm going to write a song and it's going to be on the next album." It's kind of about observing and finding little things in life and taking things a step further in the writing process. But I'm never looking out to write a song a just to make a song. It's just got to feel right, the creative juices have to be flowing just right. It's kind of a thing that I stumble upon when I'm writing a song. I just go with it and it unfolds and I'm writing.

MR: Do you find yourself needing to complete a song the second it comes to you?

AP: Oh, for sure. I come up with an idea and I have to roll with it. If I don't finish it that day there's a very low chance that I'll come back to it at a later date. I like to finish the process. I would say I'm a pretty fast writer. "Never Come Back Again" I probably wrote in about twenty minutes and it was done. You just get in those moments and you're just rolling with it. I like to finish the song once I get going.

MR: It's kind of a "grocery list" song, used as a method to get to the deeper statement of wanting to grow and "never come back" to the person you were.

AP: Totally. It is a grocery list of things I want to do and things I want to see, but I wrote it as a junior in college and there's a lot of things you learn in college about life and the world around you. You get different viewpoints and meet different people and then you start realizing that the world's a lot bigger than what you realized. Yeah, I want to get out there and see the world, I have this sense of wanderlust and adventure for life, love, passion. It's about taking a step away from who you were and becoming a bigger and better person throughout the world.

MR: And then there's "The Other Side Of Town." Where did that song come from? Was it based around events that happened to you?

AP: I like to be a realist. Not everything's fine and dandy all the time. There's bad things that happen in life and there's good things, and there's hard times and easy times. I just want to get that point across in my writing. Not everything is glitz and glamor. There's that rough part of life that makes life life as weird as that sounds. It's just a real feeling that people go through every day. Not everything is easy.

MR: If you combine that with "The Cost," the type of material you're talking about is a little unusual given your age. What is your perspective on being able to write from this kind of depth?

AP: I guess I don't delve too deep into the meaning when I'm writing these songs. After I write them I think, "Oh, 'The Cost' is a little deeper than I was originally thinking." I don't think it's anything that I personally do in life, I think I just observe a lot, I read a lot, I listen to music and I listen to the old singer-songwriters of the sixties and seventies. The protest songs that Dylan did, he was on to something. He was just preaching. I guess I just look up to that type of stuff. I don't know if it's really anything that I do on a personal day-to-day basis that makes those songs come out.

MR: So it isn't so much from life experience as from conclusions you've drawn from what you've seen.

AP: I think that's a fair assessment for sure.

MR: Which brings us to your single, "Houston," or at least the video. Tell me about that process.

AP: I recorded that song down in Nashville and I co-wrote that with my producer Jordan Schmidt. We actually wrote that in the studio during a recording process. I had all these songs towing into the studio and then we actually ended up writing "Houston" in the process. It just kind of came out of thin air. We were just working on that chord progression and the last line, "Losing don't mean nothing when there's nothing to lose, living don't mean living when I'm missing you," we had that line jumbling around in the studio, we were working on progressions and came up with the idea of "Houston."

MR: And how about the video?

AP: We did a music video shoot for "Never Come Back Again." We went across the country, I started in Minneapolis and drove with a film crew all the way to Santa Monica, two thousand miles. We went to Mount Rushmore, Yellowstone, the desert, everywhere, and shot some really great footage of America for the song "Never Come Back Again."

MR: Nice. Going back to "Houston," Austin...see what I did there? Have you considered what you'd be going back to? This is the home of Rick Perry, Ted Cruz and Greg Abbot...

AP: Eh, I guess I just personify "Houston" as going back home. I don't think it has as much meaning as what people would think it means. It's just more about an idea of home for me--even though I'm not from the south.

MR: That was my evil way of eventually asking what you think about the political landscape these days. So? What do you think about the political landscape these days?

AP: Politics, right now, is pretty crazy. It's just a crazy time of life right now in America. We're all overwhelmed to a certain extent I think.

MR: To me, the "silent majority," these days, is that demo of people looking at at the world going, "How did we end up here?"

AP: Bob Dylan was thinking the same thing back in the sixties. He was just sitting back and reflecting. There were so many things changing back then, I feel like this time period has a lot of moving parts, a lot of changing things happening and you just have to sit back and reflect and observe and say, "Okay, here's where we are, where are we going to go from here?" There's a lot of open-ended questions right now.

MR: All these artists you named as influences are all pretty opinionated, especially about saying, "You don't step on the little guy." Those concepts drove them and their choices. What are choices you've made because of things you've felt passionate about?

AP: That's a good question. You take a look at the words in "Hard Days" and every line is a story of what I see in America. I'm just passionate about this country. I love America. I'm passionate about writing songs and writing them for people. That's what I want to do, I want to be a songwriter and put all my passion into writing songs for people. I don't know what the next songs are going to be about but this is where I'm putting all of my efforts forth, into the songwriting and getting it out to people.

MR: There's also a running theme of love in your material. Are you in love? how does that effect your creative process?

AP: I guess I've been in love, yeah. I was in love once. [laughs] I'm twenty-four.

MR: Yeah, you'll probably be in love one more time. That's it though.

AP: [laughs] I'll probably fall in love again, but yeah, those are all moments, being a young twenty-something kid everybody's got a love fling for a few minutes. Of course it's going to get littered in my song or have some sort of a metaphor for a deeper meaning and mask it with a love story. But yeah, that's always a motivation in my songwriting, former loves and stuff like that. For sure.

MR: Nice. Do you have a pet song on this project? Which songs are most significant to you on the album?

AP: The first track, "Never Come Back Again," is the track I always go back to. If I have to listen to my songs, which I don't really do, that's the song I listen to. It just means a lot to me. Like you said, its a grocery list of everything that I want to do. I just want to see the world and live life. It's kind of like my mission statement in a way; it's all these things I want to do and set out to see.

MR: And also "The Hell If I Go Home" is sort of your confirmation at the end of the album.

AP: That's a little more of an underlying funny song in the respect that it's about a one-night stand. I like that song, too.

MR: By the way, I caught thaton "The Other Side Of Town" you used a suspiciously familiar Jackson Browne-ish guitar figure. Did anybody point that out to you?

AP: I actually pointed it out myself, I was like, "Wow, that sounds really familiar," when I was writing it. I grew up with Jackson Browne so it was probably just in the back of my mind without even realizing it. I definitely hear it, I do.

MR: So most of the major songwriters have come up in conversation so far, but I haven't heard anything about Paul Simon. Well?

AP: I like Simon and Garfunkel, but I never got into the eighties music that much, like Simon's "You Can Call Me Al." But I love Simon and Garfunkel for sure.

MR: Blasphemy! I'm afraid to ask...Joni Mitchell?

AP: Sometimes. I'm just getting into her. I'm going back into that time period again, I grew up listening to those songwriters and then college changes your mind, but recently I've been going back to the old vinyls and listening to Joni Mitchell, some Fleetwood Mac, just those old great bands.

MR: I always ask every artist this, your turn. Austin, what advice do you have for new artists?

AP: I guess my advice is to write songs. Just constantly write. Even if they're bad just write a song. Sooner or later, a good song is going to pop up if you keep writing. That's what I worked on, sitting in my room and writing every day and honing my craft. It's just putting in the time and effort. I think a lot of artists can agree with that. Keep working at it. As corny as that is, I think it's the main answer. It's just doing the little things and keeping your work ethic up.

MR: I was going to ask if you've been a work ethic kind of songwriter, but then you threw in, "If I don't do it now, it won't ever get done."

AP: [laughs] Yeah, I'll get into a moment where I'm like, "Okay, I need to write this song, I need to finish this song." I'm always writing every day, but I toss ten ideas to one that I keep. It's a numbers game for me, just getting out there and writing more and more every day. Then once I find a song I just go with it and hopefully it's a good one.

MR: That makes me wonder what the atmosphere in the studio was like. What was it like doing the co-writes and working with a producer, all that?

AP: It was great. It was really my first experience going into the studio down in Nashville. Both these guys I worked with, Jordan and his brother Dane are both from Minnesota so I had that instant connection. It was super comfortable going in there and recording. It was just a really free-spirited, creative process. If we wanted to stop and just write a song that's what we did. We just kind of took it day by day and let the songs write themselves. Jordan did a great job producing the record. I'm super excited about it. I as super happy going down and recording in that studio, it was super fun. It was a great learning experience. I learned a lot this last year.

MR: Was your debut album everything you wanted it to be? I'm imagining you had a lot more material than what's represented on the album.

AP: Oh, yeah, I probably came in with thirty demos and we honed it down to eleven songs by the end of it. Granted, we wrote a couple in the process, but yeah, it's everything and more that I wanted for this debut album. Honestly, I wouldn't think that I would be having an interview with Huffington Post for this album because things have happened pretty quickly this past year, signing with Razor & Tie and doing all this stuff and getting the momentum for this album and this release and everything. It's been a crazy year. I guess I would've never dreamed of doing what I'm doing at this level already. But I attribute it to the songs and I attribute it to the record and Jordan's production. It's a great record, I love it.

MR: That's nice. And Cliff Chenfeld and Craig Balsam are great people, they totally get artists. You're in very good hands.

AP: Those guys have been really great to me. I've been to New York a few times this summer and I always try and sit down with Cliff and Craig. They're great guys and I know they're super excited about this album and I'm super grateful that they want to get this out to everyone and take a chance with me.

MR: They're awesome. So one last thing: Where's this all going?

AP: More and more music. We're working on getting a tour set up for this fall and winter, and then just getting momentum, start playing shows, get it out to people, and make another record. Just keep doing what I'm doing, I guess. That's the plan.

MR: And since it would be prudent to start planning for the future right now, what do you see your legacy being?

AP: [laughs] Oh...my legacy. I haven't even thought about that, man! I don't know, it would be nice to be remembered to a certain extent, but I guess I'm not looking at that right now. I just want to get it released. A lot can happen in a week.

Transcribed by Galen Hawthorne