Friday, December 4, 2009

Narcolepts: An Exclusive Interview with Craig Lawrence

(Click on the title to download this episode)

Craig Lawrence is the lead singer, writer, composer, and producer of the music sensation, Narcolepts. In addition to Lawrence is talented guitarist and back up singer, Aaron Wilson. Lawrence and Wilson began this project in early 2009, but they’ve both worked together on previous projects including their first band, Headshots, which originated in 2002 in Los Angeles where they met while working together at a music store called, West LA Music. Here is where their music inspiration started. They met several inspirational music artists including the famed, Tom Petty who encouraged them into the spotlight. Later, Headshots evolved into the underground scene and called themselves, Cartoon Orchestra with featured hits, “Side of You” and “Silent”.

Throughout Lawrence and Wilson’s music career, their work can be heard on a number of different projects including a musical score for the soundtrack of the 2003 movie, “Car Accident”. They’ve also produced music for radio commercials from 2003 to 2006.

After years of separation Lawrence and Wilson decided to go back to the studio early this year and started recording Narcolepts first debut album, Waking up in Strange Places and showcased their first live show in May 2009. The live band line-up included drummer, Neil Nobriga, guitarist and synthesizer sensation, Jason Rivers of Shadow Fax, and Bassist Chris Ensley. Together they brought the live version of Narcolepts to center stage. With the success of “Waking up in Strange Place”, Narcolepts plans on a West Coast tour.

If you would like to listen to my four track preview of Narcolepts, please go to my show at: The Great Unknowns presents Narcolepts or listen to it right here on my music player,(to the right and click the Narcolepts episode).

From here, I’ll take you to my interview with Craig Lawrence:
Interviewer: I have to start off by saying your music is very compelling. I’ve listen to all your music and it’s very unique (in a good way) to say the least.

Interviewer: “Narcolepts”. That is an interesting name. Who thought of that? What does the name of your band mean?
Lawrence: “We were trying to figure out a cool name that would represent where we were going with this project. So, we had a list that we came up with and we just chose that one to fit the following...

My whole original idea was I wanted it to be- "a soul awakening, finding your purpose that you think you were here to fulfill, looking back at your life in 50 years and feel good about doing what you have chosen and having no regrets".

The album will take you on a tale of being uncertain of who you are and where you stand with Carma, to the confidence to bringing someone to the level of awareness with I Keep Willing. Breaking out of the mold, the rules that other people set for themselves, just being completely you. Finding your own church, listening to self inside. Make sense?

You can change what you want to make it sound better... The other side of it was I wanted to bring back real music, meaning real performances, real songs, and have real art on the sound waves again. Say goodbye to the wretched auto–tune that you hear everywhere and bring back music that made you feel what you use to feel when listening to music. To align the creative senses in all of us.”

Interviewer: Wow, that was deep! I notice that you named several bands as your influences, artists like Al Green, Amy Winehouse, Bob Marley, The Cure, Iggy Pop, Jimi Hendrix, Pearl Jam, Rolling Stones, Peter Gabriel, and Pink Floyd just to name a few. Tell me, who is your main inspiration?

Lawrence: “Most influences for myself is life, growing up and seeing people not being able to choose their paths are not knowing what path that is and just settling down and getting married and having kids because it's the norm. A million different scenarios, the feelings inside of you and how you create your moment to moment can alter your life drastically. Good experiences, bad experiences, family issues, lies, deception, love, trust etc.

As far as bands, way too many.. I loved hip hop in the late 80's early 90's and was majorly following that scene, I kind of got bored with it as it went on, rock, funk, old school country, vanguard music, electronic etc. Bands I really like are Radiohead, Pink Floyd, Cure, Nine Inch Nails, Elvis Presley, jeff buckley, etc. Bands now I like Tv on the Radio, Goldfrapp etc. We like all kinds of music.I know Aaron likes Pearl Jam, Pixies, Radiohead, etc.

We were both really influenced by film music, scores, we both love the mood you get in movies and how that mood is captured with music. without the music in a certain scene the moment would be lost. Thats how we feel about music, It has to be a combined force that makes a good song, the music should tell the story without the vocals, but when the vocals enter the music it makes it that much better. To me that is the perfect song. Although a lot of songs have their strongpoints and not all songs have words. You can still get a cross what your trying to say with music only, but when the words tell the story along with the music it's 'Magic!'”.

Interviewer: As far as lyrics, do you write them yourself?

Lawrence: “We both wrote all the songs, we are going the Lennon/Mcartney way on the album, "Lawrence/Wilson". We played all the instruments you hear on the album, I sang all the songs, we both did background vocals, produced, arranged and final mixed.”

Interviewer: Does anyone else deserve credit?

Lawrence: “No, we wrote and performed them all. I do want to thank the live line-up. They did an awesome job.”

Interviewer: This is your first public launch of your first EP, what are your aspirations?
Lawrence: “As far as our debut being release we just want people to enjoy it and come see our shows. It might not make sense to a lot of people but I think the words a lone will make sense to the majority of people/listeners.
The words will be available on the album to follow with the songs. Just like the good ole days when I would follow bands I liked and read their words, a fun experience. Also, it is a concept album from start to finish.”

Interview: Are you seeking major public exposer or is this just a hobby that you do for fun on weekends?
Lawrence: “I create music for a living so this is a very serious project but not that it has to be
this or nothing. I feel very strongly about this and have a lot of love for it. It is NOT a hobby”

Interviewer: Are you looking for a major label record deal?
Lawrence: “A major label deal, if it works out for all parties involved sure....we are not going to sacrifice our art or message because then the point is lost. Plus, we like making crazy shit. If there is a label that believes in us and feels strong and loves our stuff then we could see a partnership. We are looking for a manager though.

We probably between us both over years and years have made 1000's of songs, together maybe 100 or so, a lot of them are scratch clips that never went anywhere. The ten songs on the album some were first thought of back in Venice Beach and some were straight channeling that took less than 15 minutes.

Just alone for my work with clients, I'm writing everyday. With todays technology you can make albums around the world. That is how Aaron and I made this record. I would create a melody , sing, play a bass part, guitar part and send it to him, vice versa, that's how it all came together. Then we mixed in my studio.”

Interviewer: In your opinion, do you feel that commercial (radio) music has gone in a negative direction?
Lawrence: “I think commercial radio is lost in a way and so are the listeners. They want something new, but don't know where to go to find it. The majority of people are just zombified when it comes to finding the right station.

I do believe with indie scene and the huge movement towards internet etc. There is going to be a big change and Narcolepts is proud to be a part of that.”

Interviewer: Do you listen to what’s out there today?
Lawrence: “As a music producer I am also impressed with a lot of today’s production, but miss the warmth and originality of yesteryear, hearing amps, rooms, and time.

Haha! Did I mention you can hide auto? Tune-it sounds wretched. (Speaking to music artists out there) ‘stop using it and learn how to sing’.One more thing about that, if you're an artist take some chances, not all will pan out, but you would be surprised of what you could create. Also sing live don't lip sync.”

Interviewer: Do you foresee a lineup of future concerts in major cities?
Lawrence: “Our first show rocked! The next show is going to be huge! We still need an agent to help us get us where we need”

Interviewer: Are you looking for an agent to help you reach those goals of more concerts outside of your local venue?
Lawrence: “Yes, we do. I see huge shows, arenas, sold out ! I see Narcolepts best new band of 2010... This is my honest truth.”

Interview: Anything you want to add before we wrap this up?
Lawrence: “The CD will be out in late July, it will alo be available in i-Tunes and CD-Baby shortly after. If anyone is interested in getting a CD they can contact Narcolepts team on Myspace”.

Interviewer: Awesome! I really appreciate your openness and honesty. I really wish you the best of luck and I hope you have much success now and in the future.
Lawrence: “Thanks and same to you. I heard a bunch of your shows, and I like what you are doing. I’m glad we can help each other out.”

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