When I first contact an artist (usually on the phone) to interview them, there's this kind of nowhere land after the initial introductions where everyone isn't quite sure if the interview has started yet. Sometimes this is my fault. Interviewing people is social, and the last thing I want to do is come across as clinical when I have to be friendly.
The life of a working musician sucks. The last thing they usually want to do is talk to the press. Usually, their agent is making them talk to me, and it can't be that fun to do when you've been partying/working/traveling until 3 am, and I'm babbling at you at 8:30 am.
That's not always the case, but I will say I've spoken with some very tired musicians. So I try to get to the point and not waste their fine time, but also ease into the "official interview" so they don't think I'm some sleazy hack.
I've even had a few artists ask me, "Has the interview started, yet?"
One gentleman I interviewed a very long time ago basically had a freak out on me, once. He was not a celebrity or musician, he was a union rep, but for a guy who had spent decades dealing with journalists, he sure couldn't talk to me.
That's ok. I certainly do not want to ever bore or scare anyone, but he basically stopped me mid-question and said, "Can I just do what I normally do and read you our official press release?"
I didn't mind, the interview still worked out ok, but I'm glad that the musicians I usually talk to don't have to read prepared statements to me, and instead just answer my interrogations as naturally as possible. With the union rep, I may as well have just done a copy-and-paste job from his press release after he emailed it to me.
It's more fun to have a real conversation with a talented artist, you know what I mean?
Brendan Hoye (lead guitar) and Alex DiDonato (lead vocals) are both members of the band known to the world as Finish Ticket. Where do they come from? The San Francisco Bay Area. What is the music scene like around there? Pretty cool, according to both of them. “Most of our band is from Alameda, so we’ve played a lot of shows in that area,” says Hoye.
Playing shows throughout the area is a great way to network. “There are a lot of talented bands coming up out here,” Hoye says. “It was like being part of a big family of musicians. Just a lot of the same kids going to a lot of different shows. The whole scene is really thriving out here. It’s also very competitive, which has been so helpful to our band,” he adds.
DiDonato also appreciates the environment. “Definitely having a big music scene was a huge help. We played at a lot of shows, which is how so many people got to know us, up here.” Are there any particular ones that stand out? “Bottom of the Hill,” he says. “It’s a big hot spot for a lot of local bands. We've played there a lot. A lot of great bands have got their big break there.”
There’s a lot of ways to tag the style of music Finish Ticket plays. While the band certainly professes to being pop, like a lot of modern musicians they play a sound to multilayered to place in just one pocket. “We could describe our music as indie pop,” DiDonato says, but that’s being thrown around way too much, now. There are so many bands that are indie pop, or who call themselves indie folk rock. We are definitely a rock band. We play alternative, edgy and melodic, but not bubble pop.”
Finish Ticket’s previous album, Shake a Symphony (released in 2010), is a highly-charged collection of tracks that rock with a positive spirit that makes you feel like driving your car fast with a smile on your face. “New York” brings to mind the uplifting hits bands like U2 created with songs like “Where the Streets Have No Name,” or “Beautiful Day.” Other songs like “Miss Woe, I’m Glad” carry a more somber, sad tone that still possessing a driving force, thanks to aggressive drum work and an imaginative mix of anthem-worthy vocals, keyboards and guitars. When is the next LP?
“We are working on it. It’s going to be a lot darker, though,” DiDonato says. “Our last record felt like the first time we were able to write songs that had a definitive sound.” What’s the title? They can’t tell anyone that, yet. “We are still debating the album title,” Hoye says. “We’re actually nervous about picking a title for the album right now,” he adds.
“It’s pretty much in the same kind of vein as our last record, but it’s a little less pop.” DiDonato says. “It’s a lot more mature, too.” Their next album, set for a release sometime in the spring, is about gazing forward towards an uncertain future and not quite knowing what to do. “There have been a lot more obstacles for us in our career lately, and we’ve had to do things differently,” Hoye says. “Maybe that’s why we’ve experimented so much with the sound of our new album.”