It's been about a year since the last time I spoke with California's Sherwood, so there was lots to catch up on. Read on to see what they have to say about the past year, as well as years yet to come.
PPJ: First, please tell us your name and what you do in the band.
Mike Leibovich:This is Mikey. I play keyboards and tambourine in Sherwood.
PPJ: It's been a few years since A Different Light was released. What's been going on in the meantime?
Mikey: Since A Different Light was released in 2007 we have toured America five times, toured England/Europe three times and spent two weeks touring Japan. We spent the second half of 2008 and the first half of 2009 writing and recording our new record Qu.
PPJ: How did you go about writing songs for Qu? What was the recording process like?
Mikey: For this record we wanted to have more time to flush out songs and be creative with the knowledge that we would chase a lot of dead end roads, but that we would be left with the best of the best. We rented an apartment in Oakland, CA with a sound proof rehearsal studio so that we could spend the better part of seven months writing music full time. We set a schedule for ourselves, put in at least six hours a day (often much more than that), and wrote over 85 songs. When we were finally satisfied with the best twelve songs, we moved down to LA to record with Brad Wood at Seagrass studios for two months.
PPJ: How does Qu differ from your previous releases?
Mikey: Qu is comprised of better written songs. For the first time we really started to see the collective vision for Sherwood come together. There are more vocal harmonies and melodic hooks, more diverse instrumentation, more rock and more pop. The lyrical content of the songs is also much more mature, exploring topics outside of ourselves, more inspired.
PPJ: You guys tour pretty hard for most of the year. How do you find time to create new music while on the road so much?
Mikey: When music is what fulfills you the time just makes itself available. It is difficult to balance the creative part of the job with the business and entertainment side, but it becomes nourishing and cathartic in ways that can't really be ignored.
PPJ: What is it about California that gives it so much airplay in your songs?
Mikey: California (and really the entire West Coast) has been so inspirational to us. We wrote A Different Light while living in a beach house in Mexico for six weeks and spent this record-writing up near the Golden Gate. From Lake Tahoe to San Francisco to Santa Cruz to San Luis Obispo to San Diego....specifically the rolling hills and quiet ocean towns of central California. Just so incredible.
PPJ: What is your favorite part about the whole process of writing, recording,
Mikey: Albums have always served as a marker of time for me. Writing an album is such a personal process and marks a period in our lives as the creators. Every record that means something to me has had emotions and memories attached that I hope people will find with this album as well. I still meet people who love to tell me where they were and who they were at the time they were listening to one of our earliest songs, "The Summer Sends its Love," written back in 2003.
PPJ: Why have you stuck with MySpace Records? I don't mean that in a bad way, but surely you've had major labels knocking at your door.
Mikey: MySpace Records has been such a supportive label that I couldn't imagine trying to do what we are trying to do on another label. The staff is like an extended family to us at this point and they give us so much independence. We have really been fortunate retain control of all of our creativity.
PPJ: What happened with The Sherwood Show?
Mikey: Nothing has happened! We are recording several more episodes for a second season. Keep an eye out for them!
PPJ: Do Dan and Joe still work with We Shot The Moon?
Mikey: When Jonathan first started We Shot the Moon he did not have a band with him. Dan and Joe were always just a temporary part of the beginning to help get that first record out. He has a really great band of guys with him full time now.
PPJ: What are your plans leading up to and following the release of Qu?
Mikey: We are just finishing a two week tour supporting Better Than Ezra and begin a tour with Hanson and HelloGoodbye from Oct 1- Nov 12. Our album will be out on Oct 13th, and we may be looking at possibly doing a headline tour early next year.
PPJ: What do you hope people will take away with them when they listen to your music?
Mikey: Ha ha. I have about five cliché sentences that come to mind, about being sincere, or about being classic. But really, I think we made a really good album and I would be delighted to find out what you take away with you.
PPJ: Finally, please tell us three bands you think we should be listening to.
Mikey: Grizzly Bear, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and Passion Pit. Each of their latest
records are outstanding.