The Resonars – No Exit (Q&A)
AllMusic writes: No Exit is another home-cooked, perfectly baked album that fits right in with previous albums. It’s loaded with brilliant songs, from the jangly Byrds-ian “Days Fade Away” and heart-tugging minor-key ballad “Dull Today” to the pulse-quickening power pop rush of “Louise Tonight” and the beat-group peppy “Fell Into a World.” Rendon claims to have had something akin to writer’s block — which helps to account for the many-year gap between Resonars records — but by the time the tapes were rolling it’s clear he had conquered it. He certainly was in full control of the sound, too. Each song has an immediateness that’s welcome in an age of gauzy production techniques, the arrangements are simple but powerful, and the guitars have a majestic crunch and chime that is hard to get at any price point. Rendon seems unable to put a wrong foot forward, and even after doing basically the same thing for so many years, the Resonars have yet to sound even a little tired. No Exit can be counted among their best work, which is saying a lot.
Sweet Sweet Music talked to Matt Rendon.
For every song you record, how many end up in the bin?
Well – I record every song written but half of them end up on albums. There is a downloadable album on the Resonars Bandcamp called Apostasy, Impatience, Power & Volume that is a collection of rejected songs.
With every song you write, are you still learning to become an even better songwriter?
Yeah, I’m never satisfied with my songwriting so I try to listen to as much new music and new old music as possible. Lately, I’ve been working on condensing songs and writing more inventive bridges so they keep your interest from the beginning to the end.
As an artist, you chose to show your emotions to the world. Is it always comfortable to do so?
In the early days, it was not comfortable. Now that I’m older I’ve become more open and honest and I no longer give a shit.
Any ideas about how to turn this one into a million seller?
None whatsoever haha.
What’s the gig you will always remember? And why?
Resonars played a show in a boat in Stockholm and it was Isaac’s birthday. We all got hopelessly drunk but played great and it was the most fun I’ve ever had playing a gig.
When was the last time you thought ‘I just wrote a hit!’?
Never. I have thought ‘I just recorded a hit!’ though.
Is recording a record easier than getting it heard nowadays?
Oh yeah – we have our own studio so that’s always easier.
Recording music. What’s all the fun about?
For us, meaning the Midtown Island circle of bands, we have a very supportive, encouraging environment. Lenguas Largas, Freezing Hands, Free Machines, Sea Wren, Anchor baby, Resonars, Harsh Mistress – they’re all made up among the same 10-12 people and each one is a talented songwriter, so when somebody has an album full of songs, the others get behind the project. In fact – we just started a record label called Midtown Island so we can have complete control of the release process.
Always proud to answer ‘I am a musician’ to the question ‘what are you doing?’?
Always! It’s the only thing I know how to do.
You can’t control the way people ‘hear’ your music. But if you could make them aware of certain aspects, you think, set your songs apart. What would they be?
I think sometimes people expect something different from us aesthetically because of the sound – like dressing in Beatle boots, fringe, and striped shirts. This was particularly apparent in Spain when we played the Purple Weekend festival – there were so many bands dressed in their late 60s regalia and we show up in jeans and t-shirts like we just got off work. People were taken aback by us.
We’re a bunch of hicks from Tucson who, while making music steeped in 1960s influence, are fully aware of the time in which we’re living. Our country is a fucking mess right now and has been for a while – how that’s affected the well-being of friends and family is the main source of both my songwriting and that of my friends.
Tucson, Arizona’s Matt Rendon has certainly done his homework. Over the course of 22 years and six albums as The Resonars (seven if you count the Butterscotch Cathedral album; a one-ff psychedelic magnum opus released in 2015) for labels like Get Hip & Burger, Rendon’s musical vision has remained unwavering; a paean to a lost-era of analog recording, whip-smart, dynamic songwriting, and soul-stirring anthems to ignite generations. “No Exit” is his latest album as The Resonars.
“No Exit” kicks off with the epic clang of “Louise Tonight”, which merges dive-bombing guitar licks and bombastic drumming, hinting at the controlled chaos of a modern day Townshend/Moon. Elsewhere, “The Man Who Does Nothing” evokes the shimmering harmonies of The Hollies atop a persistent backbeat, and tunes like “Before You’re Gone” “Beagle Theory” sidle up to a dreamy kiwi-jangle strong enough to make Martin Phillips jealous. Conversely, tunes like side two’s “All Those Hats” rages with an amphetamine-laced melodic tension reminiscent of The Buzzcocks or The Undertones. Rendon has consistently proven to have a knack for an everyman style of songwriting that doesn’t seem rote or tired, lacing his melodic vocal harmonies with that melancholic joy omnipresent in the best numbers by bands like The Beach Boys, Big Star or even Simon & Garfunkel’s pop hits.
Rendon typically handles all aspects of Resonars albums from the recording & engineering (at his own Midtown Island Studios) to the performance of every instrument, but for “No Exit” he employs the help of some friends & colleagues; Resonars live drummer Johnnie Rinehart plays on half the tunes, while sometimes live members Ricky Shimo & Travis Spillers play bass & sing (respectively) on two numbers. Despite being the first Resonars album in 5 years, Rendon shows no signs of stopping; He’s a rock & roll lifer, having been raised in a musical environment & osmosis thru older sibling’s rock fandom. Once it’s inside you there’s no escape. “No Exit”, if you will.