BASTARDS OF MELODY
SOME NICE BASTARDS
By Alison Lauth
The Bastards of Melody formed back in 1998, and have since replaced their bass player. These Jersey Ctiy guys feverishly pump out infectious hooks with the expertise of rock-n-roll veterans. From the first track off their album, ‘Join Me,’ you can’t help but obey. Lead singer and guitarist, Paul Crane, is responsible for this catalog of happiness, along with his band mates, Bill Zafiros, bassist Scott Tully, and drummer Jeff Prosetti.
Their Latest creation, Fun Machine, is true to it’s title. Virtually every track is ready for radio airplay, and sounds even better coming out of your car stereo. Producer, James Mastro, refined this driving delicacy to endure high speeds. The energy level is sustained from start to finish almost seems inhuman. In a time where our appetite for posititvity is insatiable, this collection of smash hits is just what the doctor ordered.
So, how did you hook up with your producer, James Mastro?
PAUL: Jim owns a music store in Hoboken called the Guitar Bar. I basically put all his kids through college, because I’ve spent so much money there.(laughs) So I had known him for a long time. He had produced another album from a different band I had been in. Since I had already worked with him before, I just asked him to do it, and he said yes. He listened to us and he actually said yes!
BILL: We had a great time working with him. He’s a great guy and a great producer.
SCOTT: See I wasn’t around for the album, I was still living in Lousiana.
PAUL: He’s just our touring bass player!
Where did you record your album?
PAUL: At the Pigeon Club, its actually a studio that Jim co-owns. It was actually a real pigeon club at one time, when people used to breed racing pigeons. It used to be a big thing in Hoboken back in the 50’s.
JEFF: Yeah, they actually have trophies around with birds on them.
Are you serious?
PAUL: No, it’s for real! There were these old men that used to get together and race pigeons. Well, they don’t do it any more and there was this big space that they didn’t have any use for, so they decided to rent this space out to Jim. It was turned into this studio, and they decided to keep the name the Pigeon Club.
JEFF: It’s totally out of place, too. It’s this old building in the middle of a totally developed area.
SCOTT: Did it smell like pigeons?
PAUL: No. (laughs)
Coming from my studio background, especially for a band without a major record deal, I thought your album, Fun Machine, sounded really great. What was your first extended studio experience like?
PAUL: It was I incredible…Jim works with this guy named Wayne Dorell, who had engineered it. Wayne had worked with some major label bands and some big indie bands so he had a lot of experience under his belt. So between him and Jim…Jim had started very young recording with the Bongos. That’s the reason it really went so well, because they really knew what they were doing. The studio had a good selection of vintage amps and keyboards. They also had a lot of old mics. I think that had a lot to do with it as well. It makes for a really big sound. I think with a lot of new equipment, you just don’t get the same feel.
BILL: I think a lot of the new stuff just sounds sterile.
PAUL: It’s getting better, but these guys really taught me, that the old stuff still gets a better sound.
BILL: They had a really great keyboard selection.
PAUL: I think for me, I just wanted to be a perfectionist and really get everything down like we play it live. Most of the tracks were done live. We overdubbed the vocal tracks and solos, but all the drums, bass, and rhythm guitar tracks were almost all done live all at the same time.
BILL: Some of the songs are done straight live. “Underground” was done live.
JEFF: The place was very atmospheric and relaxed, which made it very comfortable. Aside from the fact that we were playing most of those songs for about a year before we recorded them. We were very happy to finally get them on tape.
PAUL: The approach was just good mics, good equipment, get everybody in the same room, turn everything up to 10 and just play.
BILL: I think the record does sound like a loud record.
My favorite song on the album was “Billy on Guitar.” It’s rare that a song is blatantly written about one their members. How did that come about?
PAUL: We had a rehearsal once, Bill was trying to play something, and I said he was doing it wrong. Bill was getting upset and said something like, “well I guess I’m just a shitty guitar player.” When we left rehearsal, he was all depressed. So I went home and I was feeling bad, and I needed a way to make it up to him. I guess I wanted to show him how much I appreciated him and what a great guitar player I thought he was. So I actually just wrote out the words first, and I called him up and read them to him. He laughed hysterically for about a half hour. Then I decided to write the music to it, and I just wanted to make it an anthem for him.
Well, then I heard “Hopin’ I Might Die Instead.” It kind of sounded like the black sheep of the album. How did you come up with the idea for that one?
PAUL: Bill wrote the words with his sister, Carolyn, she’s a really good writer, too. Actually, do you want to know what its about?
BILL: Well, my sister was PMSing. We were on the phone together and she started writing, “I’m hopin’ I might die instead…” I was thinking it was kind of cool, and she was just in such a fowl mood that apparently anything would have been better that the PMS situation she was in.
SCOTT: How many dudes write songs about PMS!
PAUL: I think we played it for like a month before he actually told us what it was about! All the studio stuff on that song was totally Mastro. We used one room mic for the drums. And we had recorded 2 different vocal tracks, intending to only use one of them, they were even in 2 separate keys! But, Jim just decided to put them both together to get that sound. So it was pretty much all him. We recorded the song straight, and he messed with it.
JEFF: Paul does write most of the songs, but I think we each bring something different to the table
BILL: It’s funny, every once in a while, Paul will come up with a mellow song, and most of the time, I won’t be in the mood for a mellow song. And I’ll just be like, “dude I am here to rock!” (laughs)