Best Policy Feature
Munro: the Interview 2021
by BPM Staff
January 18, 2021
Our friend Munro talks about his latest album, It Comes and Goes.
Why have you released your second album barely three weeks after your debut?With all the time there is to record, and with the advancements in the home studio, I can finally go through the dozens of songs I've been collecting over the decades and put them out into the world. The SoundClick page wasn't doing it; people just don't go there, I guess. But now I can reference my creations and they're out there for anyone to find and access, in the regular commercial channels. I mean, I've wanted forever to publish my music, I just finally have the means to make a professional-sounding set of songs.
How do you go about selecting the songs from your apparently vast collection?Last year, when the lockdown started, and everyone was doing livestream concerts to satisfy their need to play out, I did a 5-day series of "Live from the Office" performances. I played an acoustic guitar, and I did the most stripped-down versions of all the songs I could come up with and recreate. I kept track of everything, and I made a spreadsheet. When I figured out that I wasn't going to be able to get the Orange Cones sessions so that I could fix them the way I wanted them, I realized that I could start from scratch and do reasonably as well, just without live drums. I could add the vocal harmonies I imagined (and practiced in the car), I could add guitar solos, keyboard tracks... I could make them everything I'd always wished they were, and include the newer stuff I was working on as well. Anyway, after I had finished 2020 Out I went back to that spreadsheet and picked the next set of songs, one at a time, based on what I thought would recreate well. I also went through the SoundClick pages and picked some of the newer songs. Something else I've been doing, as I check off the older songs I've always wanted to do, is to go through my files and find lyrical ideas I'd been working on and see if anything is complete enough to put to music. I'll set it to some chords, and off I go. Once I get the progressions mapped out, it's a fairly quick process to come up with bass lines and keyboard parts.
What is the newest song on the album, and how new is it?The newest song is "I Sometimes Worry." I started that at the end of July and finished it in December. Before that, "I'm Not Worried," which I wrote in April while sitting on the I-10 eastbound freeway. It was a dead stop for about 45 minutes. I keep a ukulele in the car, and I mess around on it when I get the chance. That day I had ample time to sit and work out this song.
Since you mention it, how long does it take you to record a song?Well, like I said, if it's something I'm coming up with, it may take me a few days to fit the words to a set of chords and pin down a melody. For songs that already exist and just need to be recorded, I can do all of that in a few hours. I might get as many as two songs recorded in a day. That's why the albums are coming out so close together.
What's up with the duck?It's a Floradora Goose. I was looking through some public-domain images for some reason, and that photo caught my eye. It has nothing to do with anything. Maybe I didn't spend enough time working on the cover design.
What challenges did you face when writing, recording or publishing this album?I tried to learn from the first album, and fix things I felt I could have done better. As for challenges, the song "Capable" has always been a challenge to sing. The melody jumps up a sixth multiple times in every verse. It's not an easy interval to hit; in music theory class they teach that you shouldn't have one singer jump more than a 4th most times, except for the bass, and here I am, an untrained vocalist, jumping 6ths like I know what I'm doing. It came out better than the demos, but it was a challenge. Besides that, I changed distributors after 2020 Out, and I had to get accustomed to this new company's way of doing things. So far so good, I'd say. The album just came out today, and I am seeing it show up on various platforms, so that's good.
So, what's next?I've got the next album ready to go, and it's scheduled for a Valentine's Day release. It's called Munro III and it has 12 songs, ranging from way back, more than 20 years, to last year. There's a "B-side" from this one too.
2020 Out was released within a day of Christmas. It Comes and Goes is out on MLK Jr. day. Munro III is coming out Valentine's Day. Why these dates?I struggle to not post everything as I come up with it. It's the way I've been doing it for years. I have a new song, I've recorded it, I want to share it. I put it up on SoundClick, SoundCloud, YouTube, Bandcamp, ReverbNation, whatever. I'm proud of it, so I want to share it. I talked with a professor at my school about putting everything out like that, and she suggested some other things I might want to try. That, combined with the quality of my recordings improving so much, the COVID schedule, and my wanting to get my material out there before I die, led to making the investment to publish. The songs that came out on the first album, about dying and the legacy I'll leave, got me thinking that I better move while I still can. Everyone keeps saying these are "uncertain times" and I don't want my legacy to be lo-fi recordings of my dozens of songs collecting dust on websites nobody uses. Anyway, in answer to your question, I have to pick a date, and I want to space them out so each one gets its own time, and when I go to pick release dates, these holidays or days of remembrance stand out to me, and I choose them. I don't know, maybe it doesn't make sense, maybe it's a bad idea from a marketing perspective. It's just something that happened.
If Munro III is ready to go, you must be working on the next thing already. Where are you with that?I've got the basics of 8 songs ready for the next album. I don't have a name for it yet. I'm talking with Orange Cones drummer David Martinez about playing on this one. I would like to enlist the talents of some other friends and family as well, if I can. I'm hoping to get my daughter to sing at least one song. I'm considering collaborating with her on writing one. She's a pretty talented and creative artist herself. She'll be 12 in May. She plays the ukulele. I might reach out to some other friends too, to see if they will participate. I would love to get some tracks from Dave Rubenhold (from Chocolate Zulu). I still haven't mended things with Jaysson, but that's okay, I can play bass.
"I realized that I could start from scratch... I could add the vocal harmonies I imagined... I could add guitar solos, keyboard tracks... I could make them everything I'd always wished they were." - Munro