The first time I heard American Analog Set was right after I had just written and recorded my first song. I was in college and a friend of mine played me a song he had recorded with a little Tascam Cassette 4-Track. As soon as I heard it, I knew I wanted to write music. I had played in bands for years, but never had any interest in writing songs myself. Thinking of the song-writing process in terms of an entire production, not just me fumbling around with an acoustic guitar, changed my perspective entirely. He let me borrow the Tascam and a microphone and I started piecing together a guitar riff I had floating around in my head with a bass line. Then I added vocals and finally drums. It was a surreal experience. I had created something complete on my own and I could listen to it over and over. I was hooked.
Later, my friend stopped by to pick up his gear and hear the final product. I played it for him and his response was, “This sounds a lot like American Analog Set’s The Postman.” I told him I had heard of them, but never heard their music. He pulled out the CD, “Know By Heart”, and played it for me…and he was right. My song and The Postman were similar. I’ve always been naturally drawn to minimalism in music. At that point my favorite bands would have been Elliott Smith, Yo La Tengo, and Pedro The Lion, so it was no surprise that “Know By Heart” instantly became one of my favorite records. And it has definitely influenced my songs over the years.
I’ve found that when a song is too complex or flashy or gimmicky, I’m likely to listen to it a few times and lose interest. A simple, well-written, well-produced recording is something I’m much more likely to keep coming back to over and over. And I try to keep that approach in mind when I’m writing and recording my own songs.
We Were Pirates plays at DC9 on 7/16/11 with The Wooden Birds, the new project of The American Analog Set’s Andrew Kenny. Show details at http://www.dcnine.com/event/the-wooden-birds/