The John Sally Ride – Now Is Not A Great Time (Q&A)

The John Sally Ride has delivered a great record. I have played ‘Now Is Not A Great Time’ a lot, and because John Dunbar’s lyrics and melodies keep revealing new surprises, the record is getting more and more interesting eight months after its release. And there aren’t many of those, are there?.

The band was on fire during the recording, that’s for sure. How did you capture that?

We couldn’t put the AC on in the studio while recording, so that could be it. But It could also be that we were all in the same room looking each other in the eye, no headphones, hearing the music in the room, and picking up each other’s vibe while cutting the tracks. It’s not an album recorded by email. Nice that you noticed. Thank you.

I Never Understood (Where I Stood With You) is a song that deserves to be covered by a Nashville hotshot. Do you ever think about that when you write?

Not at all. But I would love surely love for something like that to happen. I get told I have a unique way of writing songs, especially my subject matters and turns of phrase. I’m not sure it’s meant as a compliment. That’s not usually the formula for people wanting to cover your songs. It’s a shame because it’s a fantasy of mine. There’s no greater compliment than someone who wanted to do a version of one of your songs.

My favorite part of I Never Understood is towards the end of the song. You have to listen to Sal Maida’s bass playing. He manages to play classic Motown riff after classic Motown riff,  all while holding down the bottom end. I watched him figure that out in front of me and was blown away. I still don’t know how he did it.

Now Is Not a Great Time, the title track. I consider that a typical you song. Does that make sense?

Haha, I think it does, and that kind of explains the theory in my previous answer. The curator of the John Sally Ride is the drummer, Sal Nunziato. He’s the poor soul to whom I send all my voice and guitar/ piano demos. When he gives the thumbs up, they become John Sally Ride songs. Whatever he rejects, I record for other projects.

He singled out Now Is Not A Great Time early on. I didn’t think he would choose this one, but I’m glad he did. It became of my favorites on the album; hell, it became the name of the album. Sal is a respected music journalist besides a fantastic drummer. When he says a song is good, I pay attention and almost believe him.

Was getting that crystal clear guitar sound a purpose in itself, or is that just how you do it?

That is all Joe Pampel. We expanded to a quartet for this album, adding Joe on guitar. As a matter of fact, Patrick, you are responsible for Joe joining the gang. You interviewed me for a previous John Sally Ride album, and one of the questions you asked was for me to name my ideal band. I honestly told you I wouldn’t want to play with anyone else but the two Sals, but I mentioned a desire to play with Joe Pampel again.

We played together in A Confederacy Of Dunces years back. He saw the interview and reached out to me. He played a gig with us, and it was instant chemistry. Bass player, Sal Maida, who has played with some of the greatest greats, asked me after playing with him, “Where did you get this guy? Wow!!!.”  I think Joe is the star of this album. Not only his incredible guitar playing, but he arranged and sings those Beach Boy-eque harmonies on the bridge of Is It Over Already? He’s been working on a solo album, and I keep pushing him to finish it.

The record was released late last year. I can imagine it still makes you proud?

I feel more lucky than proud. To have these amazing musicians, and great friends, bring these silly songs I write to life is not something a lot of songwriters get to experience. I haven’t listened to the album in a while. After talking about it with you now, I feel like hearing it again. I hope it sounds good.

The John Sally Ride:

Sal Maida- Bass
Joe Pampel- Lead guitar, background vocals
Sal Nunziato- Drums, percussion, background vocals
John Dunbar- Vocals, guitar, keyboards, percussion, background vocals.

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