The Sun Sawed in ½ – ‘Sirens’ and ‘Beaches in Bali’

The Sun Sawed in ½ released two EPs in the past few months. ‘Sirens’ and ‘Beaches in Bali’ are musically very rich. That sound did not arise in a swanky recording studio. The pandemic made songwriter, guitarist, and producer Tim Rose look for new ways to record his music. He found it and told Sweet Sweet Music about the creation of, in total,  eleven new songs.

How did the new music come together?

Owing to the pandemic, I had a lot of time at home. So I began playing with Logic Pro X on my Mac for the first time. I ended up building fully realized demos to more than 30 new songs during my learning curve. Then I found that I wasn’t the only musician sitting at home. I got in touch with our lead singer, Doug Bobenhouse, and he and I started culling and building the best of the material.

Thankfully, I was contacted by a start-up company in Portugal called Musiversal that helped pro-studio musicians during the pandemic by giving them easy 30 minute booked gigs during the day doing a remote recording. This was incredible as it allowed our band to work with some world-class players and use sounds and instruments we never thought to implement.

What’s the gig you will always remember? And why?

The Sun Sawed in ½ has had some really fun gigs. From opening for bands such as Echo & The Bunnymen, Semisonic, and Cracker to performing with Chuck Berry in the audience.

However, having the opportunity to play at the Cavern Club in Liverpool was a stand-out. Given the Beatles were my role models as a young songwriter, just the chance to be in their hometown was enough of a dream come true. But to perform at the International Pop Overthrow at the Cavern was the icing. 

When was the last time you thought, ‘I just wrote a hit!’?

For everything we produce that we foist upon the general public, we put through a rigorous cycle of doubt. We deconstruct the song, question the lyrics, poke at it, trash it, and if it still wakes us up at night bouncing through our heads, we know we have a hit.

To answer the question directly, the last song I wrote gave me that feeling right away. However, like all the others, it needs to go through the scientific peer-review process before I’ll swear to it.

Recording music. What’s all the fun about?

Everything. It’s like designing a palace. Building the structure and then adding the filigree and the frescoes. Today, it is really simple to build a fully realized song online. With Zoom, Audiomovers, and a Mac, we were able to record hundreds of sessions with talented musicians with ease.

In fact, we never set foot in a recording studio for these EPs. And, everything sounds as good as the work we did with Keith Olsen at Sound City/Goodnight L.A. studios in the ’90s. Technology has been really kind to composers and producers. I’ve had more fun making these EPs than anything else we’ve done with The Sun.

You can pick three co-writers to write new songs with. Who? … and Why?

Given that none of my picks are likely, I will pick those who are purely hypothetical. 

  1. Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky would be a wonderful mentor to write with. His sense of melody is sublime, and his deep knowledge of music and composition would push our songs beyond anything anyone is doing today. I remember listening to The Nutcracker with headphones in the dark and thinking how this was the first epic rock opera.
  2. Nina Simone is an artist I admire, owing to her unique voice, piano skills, and her ability to take a song and turn it into an emotional journey. I would love to access that depth of my soul and have the skill to translate it to my music. Few artists have done this or can do this. Brittney Howard comes to mind for someone still with us. But, Nina is in a class by herself.
  3. Sam Cooke. I don’t believe I’ve ever heard a better voice on a human. And, that talent goes way deeper than his smooth voice and stellar performances. Sam was an impassioned songwriter who was first to bring the pain of the black existence to the masses and a decade ahead of Marvin Gaye and “What’s Going On.” On top of that, Sam Cooke was a brilliant writer who knew what a hit song sounded like and had the directions mapped out in his mind to drive there in style every time. One of my mentors, Andy Partridge of XTC, is an A-level Power Pop songsmith, and his “Earn Enough for Us” song has a Sam Cooke pastiche from “What a Wonderful World.” To be that sure of myself and to be that talented would be ideal. To co-write with someone at that level would be a life-changer.
  4. I wanted to mention the names of my songwriting influences: Brian Wilson, Lennon-McCartney, Dylan, Elvis Costello, etc. I don’t think it would be ideal to write with any of them because I’ve studied them in detail my whole life. However, it would be an honor.

The Foreign Films – Starlight Serenade (Q&A)

You would expect that after the release of The Record Collector”, The Foreign Films’ Magnus Opus, Bill Majoros’ musical inspiration tank would be empty. Nothing could be further from the truth. With Starlight Serenade, another highlight is added to the already so rich oeuvre.

Bill Majoros explains to Sweet Sweet Music how this is possible.

What was the moment you knew you were on to something?

When a lightning bolt of inspiration hits, it’s always a magical feeling. I love creating music from thin air! Songwriting is a daily ritual for me, but intuitively you feel the excitement and energy when you’re on to something special. It’s like tuning into an imaginary radio station and discovering a new song!

I’ve been working with a fantastic bass player and co-producer, Carl Jennings, for many years now. When we work together, it’s like musical telepathy. When I showed Carl the basic ideas for the songs, he immediately came up with fantastic bass lines. That was a eureka moment! The overall vision for the album materialized!

How did this record come together?

After a pretty epic project- A 3 LP, 31 song, vinyl box set “The Record Collector” I began to romanticize about the way bands recorded and released music in the 1960s, exciting singles and albums being released within a short period of time, capturing the energy and zeitgeist of the moment. I’ve been using this concept as my current blueprint for releasing music.

With that in mind, my two most recent albums came out back to back, with Ocean Moon in 2020, followed by my brand new release, Starlight Serenade. I’m a multi-instrumentalist; in the studio, I begin with a guitar or keyboard part and lead vocal.

Having said that, the chemistry of collaboration elevates and illuminates the songs! I’ve been working with Rob Preuss, legendary Canadian keyboard player, and the incredible orchestrator Jason Frederick from the UK for these records. Steve Eggers from the fantastic Canadian band The Nines also contributed some background vocals. I’ve been loving the collective sound; suddenly, a song will start to transcend a sketch and become a technicolor painting.

Both records were created around the idea of shining positive light in dark times. I think of it as retro-futurism or kaleidoscope pop, A musical alchemy of the past and present while dreaming of the positive future. A new “roaring 20s”!

The meaning of success has changed over the years. What would success look like for the new record?

If you put all your heart and soul into a record and love the people you’re working with, that’s success.

For me, success is doing what I love the very best I can. From the time I was a kid, all I’ve wanted to do is make cool records like my musical heroes. I’m thankful to be able to pursue that goal.

As a writer, I always hope the music reaches more listeners. I always hope my music brings musical joy the way my favorite artists brighten my life.

In a tangible way, I’m working with a great record company Sonic Envy/ Warner Music. It’s my first time being affiliated with a major label for quite a while. I’m optimistic the melodies will reach many more ears, lol!

How great is the urge to stay creative? To keep writing songs and lyrics?

It’s incredibly important to stay creative; I’m always passionate about writing new songs and recording! I love and live for sonic discoveries. It keeps my sense of wonder alive. Composing can turn a grey day into beautiful technicolor; it truly elevates my spirit! Music illuminates the heart and soul; it’s a beacon of light in the dark.

Staying creative is part of my life’s philosophy or mantra; I’m always striving to grow as a musician/artist. For me, the secret of songwriting is to immerse yourself in great music, film, and art, then combining influences you love to create something new, in a humble way, adding to the grand tapestry of music.

In other words, listen to tons of cool records, then put lots of love into making cool records of your own.

As an artist, you chose to show your emotions to the world. Is it always comfortable to do so?

I think of it from a cinematic point of view. I love to create characters and atmospheres, telling stories, and painting musical pictures. That’s why I go under the name “The Foreign Films” My own emotions are definitely in every note, but I feel it’s much more interesting to create creative, imaginary scenarios.

Songwriting is also an exploration of the subconscious, like a deep-sea dive into the dream world. Ultimately The Foreign Films’ new LP Starlight Serenade is my imagination’s jukebox. The songs became the soundtrack to my life.

You can pick three co-writers to write new songs with. Who? … and Why?

Wow, I may as well go big, lol, Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon…hmmm maybe Elton John. Any of the greats would be a tremendous honor.

What’s the gig you will never forget? And why?

That’s a great question; I’ve been a touring musician for many years! A couple of years ago I played The legendary Cavern Club “birthplace of The Beatles” in Liverpool. It was a thrill! The Fabs made me want to become a musician! As a boy, my parents bought my first records, Revolver and The White Album. It opened my mind to a universe of creativity. It was full circle as an artist! I’ll never forget that fantastic experience!

I was also lucky enough to play the infamous CBGB’s in New York City, 1st Avenue in Minneapolis (Prince owned it and filmed Purple Rain there), and The Stone Pony in Asbury Park (made famous by Bruce Springsteen).

All of these are very memorable, beautiful experiences!

Recording music. What’s all the fun about?

We love to record in an old-school way, playing live drums, guitars, bass, and vocals in a traditional studio (Westmoreland Hamilton, Ontario, Canada). We try to capture the human spirit in every note, not relying too heavily on technology.

For me, it’s important to keep the music organic, like all the vintage albums I love. Having said that. Jason Frederick makes the string arrangements from the UK, and Rob Preuss (keys) is in NYC. Modern recording technology makes this possible! Carl Jennings and I lay down the basic tracks at his studio, capturing live energy, then mix in overdubs for extra sonic magic!

It’s incredibly fun to work with such fantastic musicians. At the conclusion of a recording project, it’s wonderful to press vinyl. It makes everything feel complete. Album art is incredibly important; it helps bring the recording to life visually. I’m fortunate to work with the artist named Kristie Ryder (Poppermost Prints). Every recording has a corresponding cover that captures the technicolor spirit of the songs.

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 always play every note with heart and soul, wanting my songs to radiate good feelings; musical sun through the clouds. I try to write creative, psychedelic pop songs that are fun to sing along with, but there’s often a story hidden within. I love to take the listener on a sonic journey. You could listen to the music and float downstream on a river or dive deep beneath the surface.

My songs often function on a few levels. For example; The mystical premise of “All The Love You Give” asks the question, “if you could go back in time, what would you change?”

The character magically wakes up in the 1960s with a chance to begin again. She decides to follow her bliss and take the path less traveled.

“All this love you give, live the life you want to live with all the love you give.”

Like a musical time machine, you’ll hear jangly guitars, vintage drums, bass, and synthesizers played with a very live feel. All of my songs tend to have a subplot.

Another example, inspired by a reoccurring dream, “A Photograph of You” is a ghost story, from the point of view of a spirit who haunts a dusty old attic in a ramshackle cottage that time forgot.

While playing crackling records on an antique gramophone, he spends his days gazing at faded photographs, reliving earthly delights from long ago. The apparition reflects on bittersweet moments of love and loss, then suddenly vanishes following a startling revelation!

Ultimately I want to take the listener on a musical adventure and illuminate the heart. Lyrics are too often taken for granted.

What is the line of text, or are the lines of text that you hope listeners will remember?  And why?

“Everything comes and goes, nobody really knows

Darling our love still grows flowers in the spring”

This is from my song “Rainbows” it’s an acoustic meditation on the ever-changing nature of life. As the seasons’ cycle around, everything is temporary and simultaneously eternal, like flowers dying in the autumn frost to be reborn in the spring.

This song is dedicated to my Mom’s beautiful memory and magical spirit.

“Rainbows in your eyes

Everyone laughs and everyone cries

All that shall live surely will die

Maybe we arise

Neath summer skies

And maybe I’ll see you again.”

Steve Rosenbaum – Have a Cool Summer! (Q&A)

‘During the 80s, I was playing in Ann Arbor, then in LA. During those years, I recorded many demos of my originals in my home “studio”, which consisted of, at first, two cassette decks, then a Tascam Portastudio 4-track cassette recorder. I never thought much about them being at all good enough to “release” so I sat on them from nearly 40 years.

About a year ago, I started posting a few of them on Facebook groups (Power Pop and Home Recording). The response was overwhelming, which was quite a surprise to me.’, says Steve Rosenbaum.

And now 23 of those demos have been bundled and released, on 8-track and reel!

Find out how that came about.

Have a Cool Summer! is a collection of 23 demos you recorded in the 80s. Have you always known the songs were too good to go unheard?

Quite frankly, I didn’t know. In a vacuum, I do think my stuff is excellent, but then, when I hear one of my favorite artists, I get a doubt in my mind: is it really that good? Many of the songs in this collection have not been heard by anyone else ever.

I joined a group on Facebook for fans of 4-track cassette machines (loosely referred to as Portastudios). These machines came out in the 80s as a cheap alternative to big studios. I posted a few of these recordings, and the members of that group were effusive in their praise – not only for the quality of the recordings but also for the songs themselves. It was then that I realized I might actually have a bit of a goldmine hidden in this collection of tunes.

A lot has changed in the music business since you recorded these demos. What change has had the most impact on your career?

If I had to pick one change in the business, it would have to be the ability to easily share music online, either by streaming, sharing, or posting. When I was recording these demos, the bar to distribution was incredibly high. If you really wanted to reach a large population, you needed a record deal, which I was not likely to get with these demos or this style of music.

Now, I can find blogs online (like yours), Facebook groups, or a hundred other avenues, and get these songs into the ears of exactly the people who will like them. Case in point – these songs are finally catching the ear of quite a few power pop and home recording fans.

In my experience, My Innocence could have been a hit for anyone who hit the charts in the ’80s. Have you often offered the song to others?

Thanks for saying that! I always thought the song was good, and others have told me the same. I’m open to anyone covering my songs but was never in a position to promote that happening. Nonetheless, funny you should mention it, this song actually *was* recorded by a singer named Niki something in the mid-80s in Los Angeles. My friend and bandmate, Mitch Goodman, knew her. She needed a song to showcase her vocals for a contest, so he suggested “My Innocence.” I still have a copy of it.

If anyone wants to cover it or any other song I’ve written, please let me know!

And then suddenly the question came up, ‘shall we release your demos from the ‘80s?

So, this guy I met on Facebook, Nathan Brown, heard some of my Portastudio and two-cassette demos, saw all the interest that they were generating, and proposed that he release them on his label, Dead Media Tapes. I was surprised that anyone would take these demos seriously, but he heard something in them. He has exclusive rights on them for 8-track and reel-to-reel release, with digital download, until sometime after the first of the year. After that, we will move to more typical media. I think it’s kind of cool that they are only available on tape since that’s how they were originally recorded.

A little more about the Portastudio: this machine, and others like it, was a big deal for songwriters in the 80s. For about a thousand dollars, you could actually do a multitrack recording at home. Famously, Bruce Springsteen did “Nebraska” on one. They didn’t sound great, but they got the job done. Before the Portastudio, I used an even cruder technique where I “bounced” tracks between two regular cassette recorders.

In the early days, I didn’t even have a drum machine and was doing my “drums” with buckets, Tupperware, coffee cans; you name it. I was running a mic through a guitar amp to add some reverberation. So, the sound of these recordings is a bit unusual, to say the least. But I figured out how to work within my limitations and still produce something that sounded good, even though it didn’t sound like an $800 an hour pro studio.

Hopefully, we are almost over a very crazy period. Do you already dare to look ahead and make musical plans?

Here in San Diego, the venues are re-opening, so there are starting to be opportunities to play live. I work with a couple of terrific musicians here in town that play my originals live with me in a band called “Mess Of Fun.” The last time we played was on the eve of the shutdown, March 12, 2020. We were supposed to open for Power Pop legend Paul Collins, but he cut short his tour right before our date. We went ahead and played what was probably the last live music show in San Diego that night. Now, with things opening up a bit, I’m back on the phone and email hustling for gigs.

Kerosene Stars – Where Have You Been?/Don’t Pass Me By

Chicago’s Kerosene Stars is composed of Scott Schaafsma (bass, vocals), Andy Seagram (guitar, backing vocals), Jim Adair (drums), and Tom Sorich (percussion).The band released its debut EP in 2011, a self-titled album in 2014, and a series of EPs, 2015-2017.

“Don’t Pass Me By” is the second single in a series of eleven that Kerosene Stars have released with more music in the pipeline for the next year and a half. It follows “Where Have You Been?,” which Big Stir Records released last week (“Don’t Pass Me By” is the digital “B-side”)

Sweet Sweet Music spoke with Scott Schaafsma about what’s good and what’s not, what’s overdone or too cliché, but especially about how the music of Kerosene Stars is created.

When did you decide to start asking for opinions on the new songs?

I’ve always wanted input from bandmates on what’s good and what’s not, what’s overdone or too cliché, etc. Even though I generally present the songs core structure as mostly completed to the group, I try to be mindful not to micromanage what parts someone plays and allow for each individual’s artistic contribution to come through in the song rather than forcing an unnatural reproduction of a part to be performed precisely as I envisioned it or like another band member may have done previously.

This way of working gives the overall feeling of ownership to each performer, creates a more positive experience, and allows us to play the same songs in varying ways, making our live sets less routine and machine-like and a bit more fun.

How great is the urge to stay creative, to keep writing songs and lyrics?

Since I was a child, I’ve been writing lyrics and creating songs, even if only in my head. The need to continue to create earworms to share with the world has only become more important to me as I get older.

As an artist, you chose to show your emotions to the world. Is it always comfortable to do so?

It’s always nerve-racking to reveal your creative soul to the world, no matter the size of the stage. If you aren’t feeling a bit of anxiety before each performance, then you’re probably doing it wrong. Sometimes the most anxiety-inducing shows are the ones where you know the audience is actually paying attention.

When was the last time you thought, ‘I just wrote a hit!’?

Sunday, August 25th, 2019. 2:45 pm. The result is the latest single, “Where Have You Been?” and it took me about 40 minutes to write, start to finish. Another single called “Stay Low” will be released in the coming months and was written the same day, sort of simultaneously with this one.

Cassettes are back. Which 5 five songs would make your first mixtape?

“Brecon Beacons”- Supergrass.

“Fools Gold” – Stone Roses.

“Watching the Detectives” – Elvis Costello.

“Stagger Lee” – Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds.

“Reptile” – The Church.

“Jonathon Fisk” – Spoon.

“Big Exit” – PJ Harvey… wait, did you say 5?

Recording music. What’s all the fun about?

Creating an eternal aural sculpture with your friends; there’s an awful amount of work that goes into the process, but once it’s completed and out there, it will live on and be heard somewhere, someday, by someone whether the band is still on earth or not. It gives me chills to think that 50 years from now, Kerosene Stars songs could still be heard and appreciated.

Playing music in front of a crowd. What’s all the fun about?

When there is a crowd, and the crowd is interested in what you are presenting to them.

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?

Kerosene Stars strives to create high-quality recordings both sonically and artistically. The vision we lean towards is best described as “if Elvis Costello were making ‘This Years Model’ in the modern era.” The writing isn’t from the 70s, but most of the instruments and gear are, so we naturally get that quality, but with technology, we can achieve the presence and aural colors in a way that puts our unique spin on things. I want to hear a particular sonic quality, a hard to describe energy and feeling from the vocals and band mix so that maybe in the future, it’d be hard to know precisely what time period these songs were recorded.

Enjoy Talk Talk, which was released in 2016. You can buy the Burn the Evidence ep here.

Hazy Weekends – Hurricane (Q&A)

Hazy Weekends is a Swedish based pop band consisting of musicians Marcus Bohm (Kyte/Marcus Bohm & the Bang) and Magnus Sorensen (Suburbia/Magnus Sorensen & The Captains Inc).

Hurricane, a four-track EP, was released in May.

Sweet Sweet Music spoke to Marcus and Magnus about the creation of Hurricane.

What was the moment you knew you were on to something?

The fact that we so quickly got a great bunch of songs together at our Cabin Sessions kind of hinted that we had that thing we had hoped to find together. The Cabin Sessions was a weekend out in the woods, in a cabin, without phones, internet, people, and other distractions. We wrote the EP in one night.

How did this record come together?

After writing the songs together, we recorded drums with a friend and then in our home studios—Marcus in Gothenburg and Magnus in Trollhattan. Tracks were then sent back and forth to each other, and finally, we had what would become the “Hurricane” EP.

When did you decide to start asking for opinions on the new songs?

We actually held the songs for a couple of years before releasing them this summer. We didn’t know what to do with them or how to release them.

No one heard them until the official release. Okay, maybe someone now and then, but mainly we wanted to keep the songs a secret until the unveiling.

The meaning of success has changed over the years. What would success look like for the new record?

The same could be said for the goal of making music for us. It has changed. Yeah, of course, we would still like to become famous and play everywhere. After making music for so long, it’s better just to go along and write, play and have fun instead of thinking of what might happen. With that said, we would be happy if people listened to the record if we could just stand out in the ocean of songs released worldwide every day; that’s a kind of success.

How great is the urge to stay creative?  To keep writing songs and lyrics?

Oh, it’s huge! We love writing songs, and we love changing them up, trying new things. We already have our second EP done, and it’s a bit different as it’s got synths and drum machines this time. EP #3 might have a new sound as well… who knows; we’ll let the creativity decide!

As an artist, you chose to show your emotions to the world. Is it always comfortable to do so?

When writing the songs, it’s okay.

When releasing them, not always.

It’s weird as songs can be so emotional and personal. But you get used to it.

You can pick three co-writers to write new songs with. Who? And Why?


1. The Roots, because I’d like to try working with a great hip-hop artist sometimes. It could be an exciting offspring. 

2. Max Martin, because I’d like to see how an artist who writes with that kind of purpose works. 

3. David Bowie, because he’s a genius.


1. Butch Walker, that guy is amazing in so many ways.

2. Bleu (William James McAuley), I love his melodies and playfulness 

3. Adam Schlesinger of Fountains Of Wayne. RIP. One of the greatest pop writers ever.

What’s the gig you will never forget? And why?

Magnus: Butch Walker live in a cellar under a restaurant in Los Angeles. 

Marcus: Beach House at Trädgårn in Gothenburg-15 (I think)

When was the last time you thought, ‘I just wrote a hit!’?

Marcus: “I kind of always think that, if the song is produced the “right” way. But the last time, I guess, was a few weeks ago or so.”

Magnus: “Im currently mixing two tracks that I can’t get enough of. Songs I don’t seem to get tired of. They are hits to me!”

Is recording a record easier than getting it heard nowadays?

The technology makes it way easier. Many artists, therefore, only focused on the production; we think writing a good song is more important.

Cassettes are back. Which 5 five songs would make your first mixtape?

Magnus: Oh yeah, I love cassettes! Always have, always will! My solo work has always hinted at my love of cassettes in some way.

Making mixtapes was my favorite thing as a kid. The planning before even pressing the record button was a great process.

I’ve got boxes and boxes of old mixtapes. The order of the songs is so important! But this five-track mixtape will be a bit different. Highlighting some of my favorite tracks.

1. Nick Lowe – Cruel To Be Kind

2. Teenage Fanclub – Sparkys Dream

3. Big Star – The Ballad of El Goodo

4. Tom Petty – Refugee

5. Fountains of Wayne – Hackensack


1. Don’t you (forget about me) – Simple Minds

2. DARLING- Beach House 

3. The highwaymen- The highwaymen

4. Elite-Kent

5. Lily, Rosemary & the Jack of Hearts- Bob Dylan 

Recording music. What’s all the fun about?

The whole process is fun. From steering the song’s direction with the main idea, then adding and trying different jewelry on top of that. Following that song, you probably wrote on an acoustic guitar through the recording process until it becomes a full-blown pop song—Thats magic.

Playing music in front of a crowd. What’s all the fun about?

Here it’s so much about energy and vibe. When you connect with your audience, anything can happen. Seeing and hearing the reactions from them can fill you with so much energy.”

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?

To always pay attention to the lyrics. Sometimes to hear how a bass line or a background instrument goes/plays.