Say Say "Like An Animal." It's the song that is doing well for us" (Adam Reiter and Jesse Gurtis) wi
We recently caught up with Say Say in LA for a brief Artist Interview. See what these guys had to say with our own Harriet Kaplan of Punch Records US
PR: How did the band get together
Jesse and I have been together roommates for six years. I'd wake up in the morning, he'd be doing a DJ thing and I would play guitar and sing. I would sometimes sit down with him and mess around with music to see what we came up with. Nothing really materialized from this until Jesse went out of town. I started working on the song "Like An Animal." It's the song that is doing well for us right now. I initially did a basic version of it on my computer and I sent it to him and said let's get this thing going. I have always been writing songs and I didn't know what the project would be. I knew I wanted to go in an electronic pop direction. This direction stemmed from Jesse constantly spinning electronic music. I come from a background of The Beatles, The Beach Boys and Queen. I also liked 80s like Depeche Mode and Tears For Fears. Growing up, I listened to punk rock. I liked The Descendants, Green Day and The Misfits and it transferred into a lot of Brit pop. That music from the early 1990s. Bands like Travis and Kent. Bands that were writing great songs and not getting the recognition for them.
PR: Say Say has been together how long?
Adam: Almost two years in January.
PR: Jesse tell me about your background when it comes to music and influences?
I was into Aerosmith and The Beatles. I'm originally from Orlando, Florida. Around the mid 90s and early 2000s, there was a budding electronic scene going on. Especially with Miami, being so close. I got into that and started DJing. It's been 14 years now, and when I moved out to L.A. I met Adam through mutual friends. I just ingrained electronic music into his head. I would get up in the morning play records and mix them. I messed around with the software and would do little remixes. Adam kind of got used to that. We started to elaborate on that and that's how the project came about. It's been really great so many far and has been an expansion on the DJ side of things. So it's more about the performance aspect and the lyrics and melodies than just electronics.
PR: Jesse is this your first time being in a band?
Yes. I couldn't have told you when I first moved out here, and even the first few years living here, I would be what I would be doing now. I have always been into music and passionate it about it. I'm self taught on everything I use. It was an easy transition to being in a band. I thought this is what I should and need to be doing. I can spend hours putting a song together or mix records. What I have learned from Adam is creating arrangements. I could make these melodies and loops and kind of put them together. Working with him and the producers we have worked with and laying it out as a song start to finish was the one thing that was kind of lacking, so we both really complement each other. That's why it works so well. Adam's strengths and mine combined, overshadow any weaknesses we may have. Then they don't turn into weaknesses anymore. Because you learn from the other person.
Adam: We do discuss the weaknesses we have along the way. Initially, Jesse was a little timid when it came to singing. We worked on it and it's something we will always work on. Then continue to expand. For instance, I didn't know how to program going into this project very well. After working with Jesse, and being in a studio, I slowly turned it into a strength. I can produce - no problem. Everything else can come together but if you don't really connect with the other band members you play with, it won't work. I have tried that. You have to be good friends with them because you spend so much time with them in the studio constantly working on things. Jesse and I live together and its fortunate. If you're touring you have to love that person through and through or it won't work. When I met Jesse, I realized he was a really good person and someone I could trust. We have worked together to bring this project together and here we are now.
Jesse: I'm very calm and Adam is upfront. He lights the fire. It's like fire and ice.
Adam: It's a balance, the ying and yang. There are times I'm very intense. I want everything to happen when it's happens in that instance. Otherwise, I felt like I'm wasting my life away. It's not necessarily a controlling thing but there elements where I feel if I don't push as hard, that things are not going to happen. There is always somebody that will take that spot from you are going for. Yet there is plenty of room for every musician in this industry and I do believe it. No matter if you're a recording musician or performing musician, there is room for everybody. I've found a lot of passion being in a band and writing songs. Also performing and putting out songs and building a team. It's all been able to come to fruition in this project. I wake up every morning and work as hard as I can. Throughout my life I have struggled with idea: Is this really going to happen, but with this project, it was complete positivity right off the bat. We want people to be passionate around us and move this thing forward.
Photo Courtesy of Rowan Daly
PR: What is your songwriting process?
Adam: I have an interesting theory around songs. I believe great songs come from somewhere else. I work on songs all the time. The songs I have done so far, just come to me. I've written them, built the whole concept in my head - the whole story. It's like a movie in my head of how a song is supposed to go. There is the entire story a songwriter is building in their head.
Even when I'm performing, I'm still playing that movie in my head. It's an interesting process to be a songwriter and bring these things to life. Great songs just come to you. I wrote "Like An Animal" in a half hour. Sat down with a guitar and pen and strummed the chords and it all came to me.
PR: What are the song themes?
Adam: Throughout my life, I have pulled from experiences. A lot of the characters I'm writing about I don't make them about myself. Sometimes I think there are elements of that in there but I pull them from a lot of different areas: friends, things I have seen along the way. When you're a songwriter, you're raking ideas through life. Collecting all of them and putting them somewhere. You are holding on to them and letting them go when you are ready to write about them. There are a lot of ideas of love: how to give it and how to take it and let it go. I don't think it can be written about enough. Every story is different so why not continue to talk about it. We share at all times. I also write about coping with getting older and growing up. The music tells me what the lyrics have to say and they come together as a package. The melodies come the way you hear it. I write on an acoustic guitar and go into the studio and that's where Jesse shines. It's the moment he is able do his thing.
Jesse: We can be in the living room and Adam has an idea he is laying down and I'll program a beat. We will then go into the studio and elaborate more on those elements.
Adam: Again, it's going back to our individual strengths and weaknesses. Jesse doesn't write the songs, which is fine. He will get to that point and it will become a strength of his. Who know maybe he will sing lead on one of the songs.
Jesse: One of us may have heard melody over this part. Or I may ask Adam, what do you hear over this part, or he may ask me: do you hear anything over this chorus? Or we have heard something somebody else may said and think: why don't we do this at the end? It's a brainstorming process.
PR: How did the band get involved with KROQ and how has the heritage of the radio station and bands they supported affected Say Say?
Adam: It's been a humbling experience for us. I listened to KROQ even before I moved to L.A. I'm originally from South Bend, Indiana and moved to Chicago. KROQ is a station that in what they do, a lot of the country follows. They have discovered so many bands. Ever since I've lived out here, I've heard so many great bands for the first time. They are very good about finding up-and-coming groups and getting behind them. They say: I believe in this. I think the team over there is made of brilliant people.
PR: How did you get involved with KROQ?
Adam: It's really funny. We played the Sunset Strip Music Festival. Striker tweeted at us something quick like: Hey guys I love the merchandise. We tweeted back and then he wrote: Send me music. I tried to be calm and thought this is awesome. I've listened to his show for years. So I sent him the music. He tweeted at us again that he got it. A few weeks later, he direct messaged us and said: Hey guys, I really like the music you sent me. I'm playing you on the 420 today. I flipped out. Because that is where a lot of the music for KROQ comes from. He spoke about what he thought the song was about. Even for it to happen once was mind blowing. We celebrate every element of this. Every victory we have. Like we just won a Super Bowl. It's a big deal to work this hard and see people appreciate our music. Then KROQ decided to put us on "The Locals Only" show and it all started to move from there. They played us randomly a couple of times out of that and we just try to enjoy the process and live every moment of it.
PR: What do you see happening next for band based in the KROQ exposure?
Adam: We love playing shows and it's an opportunity to get close to the fans and feel their energy while you're giving it back. It almost like a drug or an addiction. You have to get out there and experience it and feel that. We are at the point right now where we are playing very intimate shows. I'm loving it. It's a great time to feel what these people are taking from our songs. Singing the lyrics back to us and seeing the smiles on their faces. There are times when I'm on the stage where I see the audience's reaction to the songs and I get a lump in my throat. I think: I created this in our living room and now here we are. Getting out and touring is not something we feel we have to do. We are going to get out there and see what the world thinks. We are going to release more music. I think one of the worst things that can happen to a band at the point we are at now is to do an up and down thing. You have to continue to go up. You have to keep pushing forward and creating ideas and keep it interesting. Our EP is done - finished. We are waiting for the right time and process to release it. There are five songs and we recorded six. We are deciding whether to hold one back for a full length which will be another single along the lines of "Like An Animal" where we would really push that. The EP will already include "Like An Animal." The other songs are great and we don't know what will happen with them. They could turn into singles, I have no idea.
PR: Is the band looking to get on a label at some point?
Adam: It's always an option. We are just enjoying doing it on our own right now. Not every band signs a record deal these days. It helps and record labels do a great job.
Jesse: We are more actively pursuing just getting the content out there. Building the name and brand basically.
Adam: I think everyone wants to get to the top, the pinnacle, but they forget about the journey. That's what we are realizing every day, it's the whole thing, that really matters.