Monday, February 20, 2006
Brett Armstrong does NOT sound like Tyler Hilton. Maybe Pete Yorn, or Gavin DeGraw. But definitely not Tyler Hilton. The Lawrence songwriter proves this much on his debut EP "Selling Something or Myself," which features seven of the most radio-ready rock songs you'll hear this year. Armstrong has kept a steady schedule of solo gigs while searching for the right cast of backup musicians. He stopped by to preview tracks from his EP and discuss the merits of battery eating and one-man banding.
Interview highlights (sans music) long-hand-style:
This piece of music came out last year?
Like early October : A buddy of mine recorded it back in Oklahoma. I'm from Tulsa, so we just went to his place for a couple weeks and that's what we came out with.
As of today, you're a solo performer?
Yeah, still. It's supposed to be a full band : I did (Wednesday) open mic nights at the Jazzhaus for a long time : It can get huge, actually. It's surprising how many people will come.
Tell me about the process of recording this CD. You played drums, bass?
I didn't play bass and I didn't do about half the keyboard stuff. Tony Romanello, my good friend back in Tulsa, did that stuff. I'm originally a drummer from about age 10.
I wasn't good at sports. I think I had seven points my whole fifth grade season of basketball.
What else do you do around Lawrence?
I work at the juvenile detention center up in North Lawrence : They're good kids, actually, just in bad situations : I have lots of funny stories. I can't tell too many, but we'll just say, 'Don't eat batteries.' Because if you do, you'll go to the hospital.
What happens if you do eat batteries?
I think you go to the hospital and they say, 'Wait a week, and if it doesn't pass, then come back and we'll deal with it.' I think we waited a week and we were good. I just hope they didn't come out sideways.
So tell me a little bit about what you're up to these days.
Still trying to get that full band thing together, actually : It's hard just to get rehearsal space : I live in a pretty small house. My roommate's not a musician, so I don't know how much he'd be up for making toast behind the drum kit.
Can you tell me a little bit about why the "Devil Loves Rock and Roll"?
That song is kind of about hooking up with ladies. There's only one song about that so it's happened to me at least maybe once. Sometimes it's really great. Sometimes you're like, 'What did I just do?'
So how often do you hook up with ladies?
Not enough. A couple days ago I was promoting the show for Thursday and this girl was like : 'I couldn't date you - you're in a band.' She's assuming that I'm this big player and I'm like, 'If girls don't date me because I'm in a band or I sing, then how do I date girls?' You could tell she got this face like, 'Oh shit how does this guy meet girls?'