Kingdom of Mustang is a musical collaboration featuring Mark Roebuck [The Deal, Big Circle, Sub-Seven], Michael Clarke [The Deal, Left Lane], Tim Ryan [The Gladstones, Jeebus, Left Lane], and Rusty Speidel [SGG&L]. Kool Kat Musik released their new record, Into Beautiful Blue.
Sweet Sweet Music spoke with Mark Roebuck and Tim Ryan about loving nothing more than writing a good melody with interesting chords and then finding meaningful words for that melody.
How did this record come together?
Mark Roebuck: Tim and I had been writing prolifically over the past year. We had gathered about 25 new songs, and the first step in bringing the record together was to get that number down to 14. For us, this is a very democratic process, involving the whole band. Once the songs were chosen, we rehearsed them as a band and then began the process of turning them into studio recordings.
Tim Ryan: We tend to start each new project right on the heels of the previous one, so we were doing demos for the new record as the last one [Tales From The Atomic Tambourine] was being released. I think we had our best batch of songs yet for this project, and things came together pretty quickly after we picked our favorites from the larger pool of songs that Mark and I had written. We managed to spend a little less time in the studio this time around, so I guess we’re getting better at it !
The meaning of success has changed over the years. What would success look like for the new record?
Mark: This album being released by Kool Kat Music felt pretty great! I think our fundamental goal is to feel we succeeded in realizing each song’s potential to its fullest.
Tim: Working with Ray Gianchetti at Kool Kat Musik has been great, we’re already seeing a bump in responses to the new album and it’s not even officially released yet. I think that ultimately we feel successful when we create music that we’re proud of and that the work we’ve done gets heard and is well received.
How great is the urge to stay creative? To keep writing songs and lyrics?
Mark: My urge to stay creative is a strong one! Unlike Tim, Michael and Rusty, who are amazing musicians, my contribution is songwriting. I love nothing more than writing a good melody with interesting chords and then finding meaningful words for that melody.
Tim: It’s hard to keep up with Mark when it comes to songwriting, but I’m trying ! For me, songwriting hits different pleasure receptors than playing or singing. It’s hard work, a craft. I’m not the singer / songwriter type, so most of my songs don’t see the light of day unless the band runs with them. I hope that I always have the drive to capture song ideas that bounce around in my head and turn them into something real.
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?
Mark: I think our songs are strong both musically and lyrically. A listener can immediately enjoy the guitars and harmony, and then return to the music to explore the messages in the words.
Tim: As a musician, I hope that listeners each find something that makes them want to listen again. Mark is a really great writer of melodies and harmonies, so there’s plenty of goodness there. As an engineer / producer, I hope that people hear and appreciate the subtle, or not so subtle, sonic ideas and arrangements that make us sound like Kingdom of Mustang.
Suppose you were to introduce your music to new listeners through three songs. Which songs would those be and why?
Mark: All I Can Do- because it has pretty much all Kingdom of Mustang has to offer wrapped in one driving package; hooks, great guitar, harmonies, background vocals, and a cool lyric.
High-because it shows the range of Kingdom of Mustang, going far outside our normal box; and because it’s a great song!
A Little Bit Behind the Times- because its a 2:30 minute slice of pure 3 part harmony PowerPop!
Tim: I’d start with the song Kingdom of Mustang off of the first album [also called Kingdom of Mustang]. I think that tune really captures who we are, and it’s one that Mark and I wrote together. I love The Little Rocket Song from the second record [MORE], I think it really shows our influences and is a nice clean, compact arrangement with a little bit of everything. And from the latest record [Into Beautiful Blue] I’d have to pick Divide By Zero, another co-write by Mark and I that really just sounds like a single to me, and showcases Rusty Speidel on the lead vocal. And just for completeness sake, I’ll throw in Jeannie When You Killed The Stars from our 3rd album [Tales From The Atomic Tambourine]. It’s a great example of Mark’s ever-evolving songwriting skills and it shows the band stretching its musical comfort zone a bit.
If you could pick three singers to sing harmony vocals on your next record, who would you ask?
Mark: Hmmmm…Trent Reznor, Sheryl Crow, and of course Paul McCartney. That’s variety!
Tim: Glenn Tilbrook, Joey Spampinato, and Aimee Mann. I can’t wait !