“On the cover of The Rolling Stone..”, if you don’t know the original song then you certainly know it from “Almost Famous”. If you don’t know “Almost Famous”……. well you wouldn’t be here at a songwriting blog if you’re not familiar with one of my all-time favorite movies. That’s all I’ll say about that. Now, it’s been decades since I lived or played music in Philly. But a good friend, from Philly, introduced me to The Lawsuits. I really like them and think you will too and… back to my opening statement, you can download a song (“Dreaming #26”) from their new album (‘Cool Cool Cool’) for free via Rolling Stone. Go ahead and take a minute to do that so you can let it play while you read this.
Brief introduction To You
I’m a human being from planet earth.
[and for the benefit of their PR person…taken from their website]
The Lawsuits were once described as a “schizophrenic mix of modern Americana.” However, they don’t stop there – interweaving elements of reggae, 60’s pop flair, and 80’s anthemic refrains, woven together by highly literate lyrics.
They play with an energy that’s infectious, charging through changeups and reveling in every solo, making the playing of each song look as enjoyable as it is to listen to. The songs are intricate and insightful in a way that recalls a time when music was more pure, but with a progressive and lighthearted style that is executed with apparent ease.
The band consists of songwriter and lyricist Brian Dale Allen Strouse, accompanied by Vanessa Winters’ alternately dancing and soulful vocals over the tight and powerful backing of Brendan Cunningham and Josh Friedman.
OSW: What is your songwriting/composing process?
The Lawsuits: There is no real process. Sometimes a melody comes to me and i feel like trying to work it out, so I do. Sometimes I’ll sit at a piano or with a guitar and leave the mics on, then review the tape later…. You can get some good stuff by keeping everything recording and just screwing around.
OSW: What are you most proud of?
The Lawsuits: That i’ve stuck with music. I’ve been singing since 5 yrs old, writing since 10 or 11, and performing live since 12. I have no intention of doing anything other than what i’m doing.
OSW: I grew up in Philly and I loved having access to both Philly and new York because they can be totally different worlds musically. Has being near those two cities impacted your writing?
The Lawsuits: Maybe. I’m not sure what it would be like to have grown up in a different area. I assume my surroundings impacted my development to some degree.
OSW: Everyone has access to a “world of music” now, but you don’t sound like “a band from Philly”? How did your sound/direction come together?
The Lawsuits: Well, thank you.. If that is the case. We owe a lot to the fact that the core group of myself, Brendan, Vanessa, and Josh have stayed together. Keeping a band together is pretty tough, and most people can’t do it. I’ve been able to, and I see no reason why it should change anytime soon. With the new album just about ready to come out, our direction is becoming a bit more focused. This album is the best thing that we’ve ever had the opportunity to put our name on. Good recorded music is something that we’ve been lacking for a long time (funny for a band, right?), and also ironic because we record more than any band I know from Philadelphia (although I’m not sure such a figure exists) …a running catalog of about 1k proper demos, and who knows how many song ideas or lyric pages with no corresponding melody. Maybe someday all these demos will become useful…
OSW: What is your favorite songwriting lyric?
The Lawsuits: “A heart stained in anger grows weak and grows bitter. You’ll become your own prisoner as you watch yourself sit there, wrapped up in a trap of your very own chain of sorrow.” (“Bruised Orange” – John Prine )
OSW: What advice would you give to young songwriters/composers?
The Lawsuits: Record anything and everything. Try playing types of music you don’t like listening to. Keep receipts.
OSW: If you could sit down and talk about songwriting with anyone, who would it be and why?
The Lawsuits: Good question. I’d sit with the guy who writes all these pop songs we hear on the radio. I ought to know his name. He’s brilliant.
Or Dylan 🙂
All interviews and Bonus Materials, including The Lawsuits, will be archived alphabetically HERE for easy access in the future.
Thanks for spending some time here,
Our Scattered Words