jason kundrath debuts his hot new musical column, ‘Rath On Record …
‘Rath On Record #1
Artist: Readymade Breakup
Homebase: New Jersey/New York City
Players: Paul Rosevear — vocals, guitar; G.E. — bass, vocals; Spicy O’Neil — drums; Jim Fitzgerald — guitar, vocals
New Jersey’s own Readymade Breakup are preparing to release their third album: a nine-song, self-titled disc, which also happens to be their greatest album yet. Not merely a a randomly-sequenced collection of songs, Readymade Breakup is a cohesive work of audio art. Truly, it’s a great album in the classic tradition. It has a beginning, a middle and an end. And it’s jam-packed, with just about all the thrills and chills you could ask from a rock band. It glimmers and glows with anthemic choruses, stacked harmonies, delicious guitar tones and powerful performances from everyone involved — the whole of it galvanized with melodies that will reverberate in your brainwaves long after the last song ends. Clocking in at just over 30 minutes, it demands repeated listens.
‘Rath On Record recently sat down with Readymade Breakup’s Paul Rosevear for some Q&A in anticipation of their official record release party at Maxwell’s in Hoboken, N.J., in January.
ROR: So your first album (2007′s Isn’t That What It’s For) was a mature-sounding, pop affair that sometimes bordered on Adult Contemporary territory. Then, 2008′s Alive On The Vine moved more firmly into the pop-rock realm. Readymade Breakup, however, explodes out of the box with a louder, looser, guitar-rock vibe. Was that a conscious change in artistic direction?
PR: Kinda, yeah. It evolved naturally just from playing, but I think we felt like we wanted to bring some more intensity to things live. ITWIF? was more of a studio project with myself, G.E. and our friend and producer Arun Venkatesh. We spent a lot of time building these soundscapes. Spicy had left for a while, and Jim hadn’t joined yet. Whereas once we had the band, we began to develop our sound based on music that the four of us were creating.
ROR: Why did you choose to self-title this record? Do you feel like it’s the definitive statement of your sound?
PR: I wouldn’t say definitive, but I do think it had something to do with a growing confidence in identity.
ROR: You’ve said that you have trouble connecting with modern artists. What classic LPs were you listening to when you were writing for this album?
PR: Hmmm … well I can’t remember any particular classic LPs that influenced the record, but before we laid one note down, I knew I wanted to go for [Counting Crows' 1996 album] Recovering The Satellites meets [Foo Fighters' 1997 album ] The Colour And The Shape.
ROR: Before you began sessions for the latest Readymade Breakup album, you recorded and released your first solo EP, Broken Nosed Poetry. How did that come about?
PR: I had written a bunch of songs that were more on the folky side of things. I was curious to see if I could actually pull it off, but also nervous. Then I heard this record called American Hearts by AA Bondy, and it inspired me so much and I knew I wanted to give it a go.
ROR: As a long time fan of your work, BNP seems like a major achievement, featuring some of your best songwriting to date. It sounds ike on the new Readymade Breakup album, you took that ball and ran with it. Hard. The artistic confidence of both albums is evident. Do you feel like your songwriting has evolved?
PR: Thank you. Yeah, I think it’s evolved. It’s become less scientific and more natural, even accidental. Most of what I write lately, I write in real time. And with the Readymade stuff, the importance of the band’s input cannot be underestimated. It’s like Keith Richards said, “Give the Stones a song half raw, and they’ll cook it.”
ROR: What do you mean when you mentioned writing in “real time”?
PR: Have you seen the Petty documentary, Running Down A Dream? It’s kind of like when he talks about writing “The Waiting” — that he just came up with the opening lines, and then a few weeks later, he comes up with the next bit, and the next, and they arrive sort of naturally and just kind of come out of your mouth or your fingers. Not because you’re actively “writing,” but more because you’re just playing and they show up. Like they’ve been there all along. Now if only mine were half as good as Tom’s.
ROR: Well, speaking of the quality of your recent output, it seems that Readymade Breakup has really hit its stride with LP3. Is there an awareness of that within the band?
PR: Yeah, I think so — everybody just likes playing together and we can relax and let go. The more we do that, the more connected we feel. It really started to happen while we were touring on Vine.
ROR: You recently made an excellent video for the song “Bravest Smile” — one of nine outstanding pop-rock nuggets from the new record. Was it hard to choose a song to put to video?
PR: Not at all. It was so random. We’d been in a few of our friend Jack Roberts’ film projects as “the band,” and he came out to a show recently and said let’s do a video. We knew he was a rock guy and could make a energetic video, so “Bravest” was definitely the track.
ROR: Considering it’s a live video shot in a single location, the video feels very dynamic, making great use of light, shadow, slow-mo and other techniques. Tell me about the director and how you came to work together.
PR: It does, right? Yeah, it’s very energetic, spirited. Mainly because we didn’t overthink it. We gave Jack the track, and 48 hours later, we were in the room setting up lights. Shot for a few hours, two days later, we had a video. I think the whole thing cost us 70 bucks. Says a lot about Jack’s instincts and talents.
ROR: The outro to “Bravest Smile” where you sing out “You’re not alone!” is one of the most powerful moments on the album. What was the inspiration for the song?
PR: Without giving too much away, the song is about losing someone who was very close to me. I wrote it just before she passed, and I think that line was something I wanted her to know as things were coming to the end. I just didn’t want her to be scared.
ROR: So in the last couple of years, you turned 30, got married and moved out of N.J. to NYC. Have all these significant life changes provided you with a wealth of artistic inspiration?
PR: For sure, yeah, all exciting stuff. I always dreamed of living in New York. My dad would take me to record shops in the city as a kid. I loved wandering around — there’s so much to take in. No place like it. But yeah, being married and getting older are things that inspire me because you learn more about yourself and the world around you each day. I try to stay curious.
ROR: Despite your recent move to the Big Apple, how do your New Jersey roots play into RMBU’s artistic identity? Is it a point of pride or a detail you’d rather gloss over?
PR: No way. Very much a point of pride, increasingly so.
ROR: Tell me more about that. Do you feel RMBU is an artistic ambassador of the Garden State? Carrying the proverbial torch?
PR: I wouldn’t say “carrying the torch.” I don’t want that kind of responsibility. [laughs] But it’s funny how your roots make themselves known, just as you are certain you’ve escaped them. I never identified with Springsteen until I left New Jersey. That kind of thing. But as a band we are proud to be from Jersey and if we can bring some good music from the Garden State to new places either in a van or on a website, we’re stoked to do so.
ROR: Besides doing interviews for great up-and-coming websites like this one, do you have a promotional strategy behind LP3? The world really needs to hear this thing.
PR: Thanks. Oh yeah, big spending baby. Hot AC radio play. Automobile commercials. Late-night television — you know, the usual.
ROR: With three out of four of you married (and two of you with children), are there plans to get back in the van and do some extensive touring to promote this record? Or are we exploring new, less tour-centric ways to promote in the new media landscape?
PR: Yes, the Readymade roster is growing by the day, right? We’re gonna need like a KISS tour caravan pretty soon. Except they’ll be Mini vans. It’s funny — it’s really becoming a family affair. We got together for [G.E.'s daughter] Macy’s first birthday. I gave her a Metallica CD. I think this year, we’re gonna have Readymade leftovers on Black Friday. And then, of course, there’s always A Very Readymade Christmas. But to answer the question, I think we’re just going to take things one day at a time and try our best to share our music in whatever ways we can.
ROR: A friend of mine was telling me about a RMBU show he saw earlier this year, and he likened the power of the performance to Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers. How do you take a compliment like that?
PR: Flattering, for sure. You’re friend’s got the right idea. We love Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers. Have you seen that documentary? What an inspiring story. If a Readymade show can elicit a comment like that, we must be doing something right.
ROR: Where is the band headed now? Is there an LP4 in your future? A full-length solo record?
PR: Yes and yes. If the songs keep knockin,g that is.
ROR: What can people expect walking into your record release show come January?
PR: Looseness and unpredictability. You won’t hear any “Good evening, New Jersey!!” The show can change direction at any moment. So can Jim’s hips.