Band Interview: 1/25/2010  

Longstay : Homes & Houses, and Mazes

The boys of Longstay have been busy. A new album, an online maze (complete with various mp3 treasures), and a January residency at Beauty Bar--oh my. Their first album, Homes & Houses, released in December, is either a rock-pop album that's not afraid to show some soul, or a soul-pop album that's not afraid to rock. Take your pick. The band describes their seven-track oeuvre as a "melting soundscape of americana, blues-ridden guitar licks, harmonies, folkishness, rockability and other imaginary words that aren't real but sound cool." Resplendent with velvet organs and catchy beats, Homes & Houses is definitely worth a spot in your music library, car CD changer, or magical computer device. Intrigued by all their recent happenings, I stopped by the Beauty Bar last Wednesday to catch their show and was pleased to see that somebody was giving the rain a run for its money. The North County band (whose houses, homes, apartments, or otherwise can be found in Oceanside) threw down a rolicking version of "The Weight" with harmonies straight out of 1968.

Who is Longstay? How did you boys get together?

This should, in theory, be the easiest question, but is a loaded question.  Longstay started some years ago as an everchanging supporting/backing band to songs I (Nik) wrote.  For months, the backing band consisted of whichever friend was able to play a certain show.  I would dutifully practice with and teach the newest 'member' of Longstay.  Members would change completely show to show, but the core has more or less remained the same since 2007, joined sometimes on stage by the rare trumpet or violin, a second drummer or an organist.  The core is Nik Ewing, Jordan Groth, Kyle Rosa and Josh Dunn, with rotating supporting cast members.  However, we temporarily lost Mr. Dunn to the philanthropic year-long commitment of teaching English to wealthier-than-us South Korean kids across the Pacific.  As Longstay is accustomed to the rotating cast of characters, the show goes on.  As mentioned with the drummer, we will sometimes joke about this rotation and say our drummer is Kyle filling in for Chris filling in for Donovan filling in for Kevin filling in for Kyle.  Yes, our humor is that un-evolved.

Tell us a bit about Homes & Houses--what was the inspiration/recording process for this album like?

For some reason, of which I'm not entirely sure of, I would write songs that dealt with the concept of home.  I would write these songs with pretentious titles like "The Difference Between Homes & Houses" or "That House Is Not A Home" (neither are on the record) or about greedy houses or broken homes with cheating husbands.  I was originally thinking to name the record "That House Is Not A Home" but thought it sounded too depressing (so we just named a website that because nobody cares about internet urls).

A good number of the songs from Homes & Houses we've been playing for years, so when it came time to record, we attempted to track as much of it live as possible.  Tempos fluctuate, wrong notes were played, mistakes made, but we wanted all that in there.  Recording Homes & Houses took entirely too long, solely because of monetary reasons, but ruled nonetheless.  Basically whenever we could pool enough money together again, we'd go back in to track more or mix or bring in our friends to sing or play strings or whatever was lying around.  I may or may not have used student loans to just finally get everything finished this summer.

Your residency at the Beauty Bar: how was this arranged & how has the experience fared? Highlights/lowlights? Let's hear it.

We played the Beauty Bar a few times on random shows and happened to catch the eye and ear of the promoter.  She was impressed and interested and offered to have us serve a residency there, which traditionally is a NY or LA thing, so we were excited to be the beginning of residencies in San Diego. One of the best parts of a residency is getting to play with touring bands or other local bands you might not play with otherwise.  We have played with some really fun touring bands (Mia Riddle, These United States, Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson, etc.), some awesome local friends (The Howls, The RNRs, etc.) and some you're-terrible-and-we-hope-never-to-share-a-stage-with-you-ever-again bands (not to be named). Residencies also more or less forced to reinvent your set.  No one is going to come watch you play if you show up with the exact same 5-song show you played the last two weeks.  We've really taken that to heart and added a second drummer one week, we will be having strings (cello and violin) this upcoming last residency date and we brought in a second (third) guitarist and a keyboardist a couple weeks ago.  It has been an incredible time of innovation and broadening.  We've also brought out a few new songs to spice things up.

How was the online maze for Homes & Houses conceived?

I spent far too many hours digging through archives to find old photos to use for our album artwork.  Also, due to monetary reasons like previously mentioned, the packaging of the record was reduced from the full booklet insert originally conceived of.  I just started making tons of art including that and tons of other photos I loved but didn't use in the album artwork.  Everything just eventually fell into place.  I would map out this ridiculous maze, then Jordan would make it realistic and put it together, then we'd add more and repeat, throw in song downloads, etc.  My good friend, Jeremy Boggs, made a short video to accompany that is in the maze somewhere, while I'd give notes and direction, a few drafts later, done. I would have dozens of more pages if I had it my way.

Three albums you can't live without?

Bob Dylan - Highway 61 Revisited
Bright Eyes - I'm Wide Awake It's Morning
The Beatles - Abbey Road

And basically every other band that starts with the letter "B" on my iPod, but also this: Ryan Adams - Heartbreaker

What's next?

One last Beauty Bar residency date is this Wednesday with Social Studies, Secret Seven and a DJ set by Writer. An FM 94/9 Casbah show February 22 with Carney and Metrofique.  Hopefully some touring in the near future.  Ideally opening for Creed's reunion tour. 

Catch Longstay tomorrow night (01.27) at the Beauty Bar for their residency finale (doors at 9pm). In the meantime, take a listen below and checkout their maze at thathouseisnotahome.com

Longstay - "Old Heads On Young Shoulders"

Tags: Oceanside, Band Interview, Jordan Karnes, Longstay, Beauty Bar, North County


Played with these guys at Beauty Bar last night. Cool band.
Zach made this post on 1/28/2010 at 1:34 pm
"Old Hands on Young Shoulders" - fresh sound, great build up in the middle, bittersweet finish. and my favorite local band name as of late!
Sophia made this post on 3/26/2010 at 2:43 pm

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