Interview: Netherfriends (Chicago)

Chicago’s very own psych/synth-pop, Netherfriends has released a new album, Middle America; the first album in his 50 Songs, 50 States project. Shawn has been touring constantly around the country, this summer he will fly out to Alaska. With his pedal loops, synth, and dance moves, Netherfriends not only makes beautiful music, he also performs like no other. I was able to quickly catch up with the very busy Shawn Rosenblatt, the man behind Netherfriends. Shawn talks touring, and the 50 Songs, 50 States project. Chicagoans be sure to check him out on Memorial Day at the Empty Bottle for a FREE show. Yes friends, after that BBQ, those cold beers, and that vegan potato salad; we highly recommend this free show.
Where did the idea to create the 50 Songs, 50 States project come from?
I wanted to do a touring project that also allowed for me to create new music. It was a project to condition me for a life of touring, and creating a ton of music.
Did you have any reservations when you started out on 50 Songs, 50 States? Any premeditated worries?
Yes, touring sucks. I was worried I would lose all my money (which happened) and I wouldn’t finish it. (Which I did)
Where there any specific guidelines you had in mind, or ‘rules” you wanted to follow on creating, Middle America?
Well for the 50 Songs, 50 States project, I couldn’t start writing, and recording until I got into the state. That was the only real rule. I had one year to do it as well.

What are the pros and sons that you have experienced in recording your own record?

Pros and Cons: You can spend a long time working on the songs. Sometimes way too long. Also, I don’t think I have captured everything sonically that I envision in my songs.

How did certain cities’ demographics influence certain songs in the 50 Songs, 50 States project?

The cities that had terrible turn outs made for better songs.

You’ve been referred to as the “one man traveling band” that picks up people along the way to play with. Was this an idea you’ve always had in mine when touring?

No, I have been playing as a one man full-time for a little over a year. I can’t believe I can pull it off as often as I do.


[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KPqcgi3KKv4]

How do you pick the people to play with you along the way? Would you ever consider a rousing game of “Would You Rather” to determine who gets to play with you?

I was desperate to find talented musicians itching to tour for a little money. That was impossible, hence I had to play solo a bunch. I played alone so frequently that I figured out how to make my solo set more entertaining that the band set.

What is your favorite thing about constantly being on the road?

Making a living doing what I love.

Do you have any tour essential items that you never tour without?

My laptop, my bicycle, and underwear.

Do you ever feel like a sample, pedal loop, pop-synth Kerouac?

No, but I wouldn’t hate it if someone compared me to Kerouac. That dude is killing it right now, and he isn’t even alive.

Do you have any plans on “settling” down and staying in one place this summer?

Yes, Chicago. I am trying to get a ton of recording, and practicing done. I have one 2 week tour in Alaska, and a 4 day Midwest Tour with Chicago band, Stephen Paul Smoker.

What is the next project that we can look forward to from Netherfriends?

I am doing Netherfriends Does Summer. Which is a DJ mix. (performed live at the Whistler for free, June 8th) Also doing Netherfriends Let it Bleed Satanic Majesties (a Rolling Stones Sample album), and the next 50 Songs, 50 States project, Sun Belt.

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