How did you get started in music?
I always wanted to be an astronaut and then, at about age 12, I discovered The Smiths, The Beatles and girls in junior high school. My dad is a guitar player/ songwriter and there were always guitars and keyboards lying around the house for me to experiment with.
Please introduce yourself to our readers and tell us a little about the formation of “Map.” Where did you get the name? How long have you been working on this project?
I have been writing songs since I was 13. From time to time I would play a coffee shop or a friend’s party but nothing serious. In the fall of 1998 I ended a long, unhealthy relationship and I felt like the two years we were together I accomplished nothing in my life except credit card debt. So I vowed to go to school full time and play an open mic in Los Angeles or Orange County at least once a week and see where that would lead. During this period at the Gypsy Den in Costa Mesa a local writer Lee Mallory was going to introduce me and beforehand asked “how do you describe your music” and the first thing that came to my mind was Melancholy Atmospheric Pop. Shortly after, I met Joey and Angelo Esquibel and Cloud at Velvet Blue Music seemed excited that I had a real band and plans in early 2000 were made to start recording the ep Teaching Turtles to Fly.
How did you get involved with Cloud and Velvet Blue Music?
I had actually met Cloud and Jason Martin through mutual friends in high school. When they moved to OC from Riverside we lost touch. I would see them every other year at a Starflyer 59 concert. I always wanted to put something out on his label. Cloud liked my songs but always felt I need a solid band.
The new disc, Secrets by the Highway, is fantastic. What was the writing process like for that disc in particular?
Secrets by the Highway is a collage of feelings. thoughts and ideas from ten years of my life 19-29. I wanted to clean out every thought I had so the next album could be about now and tomorrow. I showed up at Frank Lenz’s studio with all the songs written. I would lay down one guitar part and one vocal to a drum machine for each song. Then Frank and Richard Swift would add there touches. Then I would layer more guitars on top of what they did and this process would repeat each of us taking turns adding to the other two guy’s ideas. The recording was about 12 days spread over 9 months. During the 9 months Frank and Richard were also working on SF59 Old, Swifts own The Novelist and Pony Express Becoming What You Hate. The time off in between each recording session allowed for a lot of reflection about the next session.
I noticed there were lineup changes between the last disc and Secrets. Why the decision to have Lenz and Swift come on board?
Cloud introduced me to Richard Swift last summer (2002) and we three started talking about Swift doing the next album. Then a month later while on tour in the midwest the Esquibels decided to quit Map. So Swift and Lenz offered the idea of me writing the songs and playing guitar and singing and they would produce the album and play all the other instruments. During the process of making the album, I would use about 10 other guys over the 9 month period for shows until I settled on the line up I have now. Jeff Loop on bass, Heather Brey on guitar and Ben Heywood on drums.
Who are some artists that have influenced your song writing?
The Smiths, The Beatles, Woody Allen, Stanley Kubrick, Red House Painters. Slowdive, mojave 3, Leonard Coen, Tom Waits, The Doors, The Velvet Underground. Love, Belle and Sebastian. Jeff Buckley, Depeche Mode, Stereo Lab, The Pet Shop Boys, Burt Bacharach, Henry Mancini, and my friends inspire me Swift, Jason Martin, Jeff Cloud, Frank Lenz, Rob Withem.
What is the future for Map from your point of view?
I want to do this forever. I have an amazing line up of friends that I love that happen to love playing my songs. We are developing songs for the next Map record. We are just going to keep playing shows and making records we believe in and see what happens.
What music are you listening to right now?
I just started listening to Pete Yorn and I like him. For the most part, I just listen to Belle and Sebastian, Stereo Lab, The Pet Shop Boys and my friends records, SF59’s Old is amazing and Swifts Novelist is so good it inspires me and bums me out at the same time.
Are there any authors that influence your lyrics?
I do not read as much as I would like. I am trying to read more. I just read Nick Hornby’s How to be Good. As far as lyrical influence John Lennon, Morrissey and Martin Gore’s style influenced me a lot.
Any other comments? Contact information?
I like fresh baked Chocolate Chip Cookies, Twin Peaks, Robotech, the pier at Santa Monica, Sushi at Yamashiro Hollywood. Aldo Shoes, I have two cats named Hannah and Nigel and I am convinced I will never be a husband or a father and that is fine. It is good to be a brother and a son. JD