The recording of Nothing Doing, the new The John Sally Ride record, was a pleasant affair. Resulting in 12 great songs! John Dunbar explains.
At what point, during writing, rehearsing, recording, did you know you were on to something special?
I hope our new album, Nothing Doing, is indeed something special. There’s this effortless magic that happens when playing with Sal Nunziato ( drums) and Sal Maida ( bass). We don’t really discuss much about a song before we first play it. We just give it an initial run through then glance at each other with a look that says “ This sounds pretty great, huh?”.
Once we start breaking down the song, the ideas start flowing and I’m constantly astounded by the parts they come up with. When we started recording the album with Len Monachello at Soundtronics, it truly did start seeming like something special. He informed us that he had a new process for recording and mixing he developed since we worked with him on our debut album, A New Set Of Downs. We certainly reaped the benefits. The first thing we hear when people listen to the record is how blown away they are by the production and the mix.
The meaning of ‘success’ has changed over the years. When will the new record be a success?
Success is such a subjective thing nowadays. There’s a song on the new album called I Won’t Let Failure Go To My Head, so as you may have guessed, I’m more than familiar with the art of failing.
Although, I can happily report that Nothing Doing just made it onto John Borack’s best albums of 2018 list in Goldmine Magazine. He is a music critic I hold in very high esteem so that type of accolade makes the album already a success in my eyes.
I’m very easy to please, but also very easy to discourage. Hearing positive comments from listeners around the world goes a very long way in my book and makes it all worthwhile.
Which is the song you wish you had written every time you hear it? And why?
There are way too many of those. Pretty much everything written by Ray Davies or Ron Mael. I’ll just single out one now. Days by The Kinks. It says so much in such a simple yet beautiful way. Each time I listen to it I never fail to choke up. Whenever I lose someone from my life I put in on, have a long cry, and try to move on ( the key word there is “try”).
So what about putting your ultimate band together? No restrictions. No limitations. If you want David Bowie on backing vocals and Prince on guitar, go ahead. What would the band look like? And what is the song you will start jamming on?
I have a lot of favorite musicians, of course, but I would still choose Sal Nunziato and Sal Maida over any of them. I feel so fortunate to play music with those two. Not only are they the finest musicians I ever played with, but they are also both intimidating musicologists. Sal Nunziato writes one of the best music blogs out there called Burning Wood. Sal Maida wrote a critically acclaimed book last year called Four Strings, Phony Proof and 300 45s that is not only a fascinating memoir of his incredible career but also contains mini-dissertations on his 300 favorite songs.
Their knowledge and passion for music add so much to the songs I bring them. Sal Nunziato is pretty much in charge of which songs become John Sally Ride songs. He hears everything I write and gives the thumbs up or down. I respect his taste so much, I don’t question any of his decisions.
I handle all the guitar playing on the records, but I would like to get another, more accomplished player into the band at some point. One of my favorite guitar players out there is a guy named Joe Pampel. We used to play together in A Confederacy Of Dunces. We recently got back in touch after Nothing Doing was recorded. If that happened a few months earlier, I would’ve pleaded with him to play on this record. Let’s see how convincing I can be for the next one.
What’s up for the rest of the year?
Nothing Doing just came out on December 8th, so I hope we can spread the word and get it heard everywhere in 2019. We hope to play some shows as well. Tour? That would be nice. I have given myself a few self-imposed songwriting assignments for the new year. That kind of homework usually leads to new John Sally Ride material; that’s if they receive the approval of the Sals. That could be the name of the future box set: The Approval Of The Sals.