With Emerald Green, The Click Beetles release their best record. It’s all right, the songs, the (movie) atmosphere and the beautiful guitar sound on Green.
Dan Pavelich talks about how it came to be.
How did this record come together?
The songs were written over the last year. I do a simple demo of vocals, guitar and bass. Van listens to it for a while and then we add his drums. I take his drum tracks and start a new recording on top of that, paying more attention to getting my final parts the way I want them.
When did you decide to start asking for opinions on the new songs?
I’m always interested to hear what people think of my songs. I start trying to get feedback from friends as soon as we start the mixdown.
The meaning of success has changed over the years. What would success look like for the new record?
For me, success is breaking even and not going into the hole financially. If Emerald Green does that, I’m happy. If it makes enough to partially fund another project, I’m ecstatic.
How great is the urge to stay creative? To keep writing songs and lyrics?
Creating something out of nothing, and seeing it develop, gives me the same thrill now that it did 30 years ago. It’s always amazing.
As an artist, you choose to show your emotions to the world. Is it always comfortable to do so?
When I was younger, maybe, but I’m 55 now. It’s easier to roll with the punches without getting a chip on my shoulder. Most of the time now, I write from the point of view of a character, so, it’s not usually about me, or my life.
You can pick 3 co-writers to write new songs with. Who? … and Why?
Jim Ellison, Pat DiNizio, Matthew Sweet, Susanna Hoffs….so many!
What’s the gig you will always remember? And why?
Another band I play in, The Bradburys, was doing a small theater show. Cliff Johnson of Off Broadway came on stage and sang their big hit, Stay In Time with us, and it sounded fantastic. We also played The Beatles’ version of Bad Boy and Badfinger’s No Matter What. For four guys from the Chicago area, it was quite a night.
When was the last time you thought ‘I just wrote a hit!’?
On this new album, I think the lead-off song, Modern Girl, is one of the best I’ve written in a while.
Cassettes are back. Which 5 five songs would make your first mixtape?
1. Roll To Me – Del Amitri
2. That Thing You Do! – The Wonders
3. You Might Think – The Cars
4. What Girls Want – Material Issue
5. Sorry – The Smithereens
Playing music in front of a crowd. What’s all the fun about?
I don’t play live anymore. My hearing is going steadily downhill, so I try to avoid noisy environments. There’s also a sensitivity that makes most movies so loud to me that I have to wear earplugs. Around the time I decided to stop doing shows, we weren’t really getting many gigs that would tolerate original music anyway.
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’d love to be able to sit people down in front of a good stereo system and listen to Emerald Green all the way through, but people just don’t listen to music like that anymore.
Suppose you were to introduce your music to new listeners through three songs. Which songs would those be and why?
Modern Girl, Natalie Would and Goodbye Margot, all from Emerald Green. I spent a lot of time on them and I think they’re three of my best.
If you could tour the world with two other bands, who would you ask, and why?
Probably Material Issue and The Smithereens. There’s a lot of similarities in our collective DNA.
What compliment you once received will you never forget?
I’ve had several of my musical heroes tell me that they really like my songs. It doesn’t get better than that.
Those magical moments when you’re working in the studio. Which moment was the most magical?
Probably recording at Shoes’ studio. Jeff & Gary both sang background vocals on songs by The Bradburys. We also had Ted from Material Issue in to play bass!
What place do you occupy in the music industry?
I don’t think I’m in the music industry, really. The artists, DJ’s, bloggers and fans of the kind of music The Click Beetles and The Bradburys play, are more of a community. We’re all kind of fans of each other.
If you could pick three singers to sing harmony vocals on your next record, who would you ask?
Shoes. No contest.
The record is done, the music is out. Is the best fun done now or is it just beginning?
The fun is just beginning! It’s always fun seeing which songs people react to.
The Click Beetles:
Dan Pavelich – Vocals, Guitars, Bass, Keys
Van Dyke Brown – Drums & Percussion