Push Puppets – Allegory Grey

Push Puppets is an indie pop/rock ensemble from Palatine, Illinois.

If you are looking for well-crafted and smart Power Pop, don’t look any further!

Sweet Sweet Music spoke with Erich Specht about how Allegory Grey came about.

It’s a fantastic record, treasure it.

Release date September 30th

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

There were several. When “The Bane of My Existence” was written (the first song written for Allegory Grey), I felt I was on to something.

Then when we recorded bass at Gravity Studios with producer Doug McBride helping guide the already nicely arranged bass part that John William Lauler was playing and really getting all of it, I could tell that this album was going to reach new highs.

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

I already feel that the record is a success in that we achieved musically and lyrically what we set out to accomplish – which is making a recording that brings the songs to life in the best possible way. I consider myself to be a slave to the song, and when a song goes to where it feels it should be going, that is success to me.

Beyond that, our hope is that the album will gain us many new fans that will keep the momentum going. That is already happening.

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

That is what I live for. This period of waiting for the release has been difficult – knowing there is so much more that people haven’t heard yet. So to stop dwelling on that, I’ve found that writing songs for the next album is the best distraction. And I’m pleased to say that the follow-up album (likely to be recorded in 2023) is already shaping up to be something special.

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

I often wear my heart on my sleeve and it definitely has led to some discomfort, but I think that’s just part of this trade. I do try to write with characters a little more often these days, which somewhat obscures exactly what is being said, but those who know me can figure it out. In the past I’ve used names that made is immediately clear who I was writing about. In one case I suppose that I really did want that person to know I was talking about her, even though it made it uncomfortable to be around her.

You can pick 3 co-writers to write new songs with. Who? … and Why?

  • Andy Partridge from XTC. I love the way he crafts lyrics and has such a breadth of knowledge to draw upon.
  • AC Newman from the New Pornographers. I’m a big fan. He takes songs in such interesting directions while avoiding being sappy or over sentimental. And all the harmonies!
  • Jeff Tweedy from Wilco. I find his prolific output to be inspiring. I’ve been reading many books about songwriting these days – his being one of them – and am empowered in finding that my heroes don’t have any secret sauce and approach it very much as I do.
  • Elvis Costello. Lyrically he is so amazing. And for someone with so many great songs, he comes across as fairly humble. Funny story – I have a slice of pizza that Elvis handed me preserved and framed in my studio. I met him using a fake backstage pass.

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

That would have to be when my band from the mid 90s was performing at the South by Southwest Music Festival in Austin. On the way there, we noticed that the safety chain on the trailer was hitting the ground and sparking. When we stopped, we found that the welding had given way, so we just tied it.

Then when we were driving in the fast lane in rush hour traffic in Dallas, the ball of the hitch broke and the trailer was dragging behind us, and the tied chain was all that kept it from hitting the cars behind us.
Then as we were loading in to play at a bar on 6th Street, I slammed my left hand in the door of the van. I was barely able to play guitar, but the show went ok. The next day my entire hand was black and couldn’t move.

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

Pretty much every time I write a song, I think it’s the best thing I’ve ever written and will be loved by the masses.

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 something that is unique in my songwriting is how the words marry with the melodies. I listen to the words to hear their natural melodies.

Suppose you were to introduce your music to new listeners through three songs. Which songs would those be and why? 

– “Sometimes the Buds Never Flower” – This is one of those songs that came in a flash. It was the last song written for the album and rather than work on one that I had partially written, I thought about what I wanted to add to the album. I wanted something upbeat and sweet to offset some of the melancholy that is present throughout much of the record. Most of it came within a half hour. I feel that the verses of this song tell a beautiful story that applies to life in general. I did need to ask my mom some questions about flowering trees.

– “There’s No One Else Like Lynette” – I think this song is so much fun. It’s not the most mature song lyrically, but it is focused. I love the way the line “There’s No One Else Like Lynette” is set up with the feel changes and the Tommy James style guitar lick.

– “The Bane of My Existence” – I love the melody of the chorus and how the chord pattern changes for the second half of it. The upright bass supports the retro vibe of the song, and the drum fills at the end kill me.

If you could tour the world with two other bands, who would you ask, and why?

  • Wilco – I love the writing and Nels’s amazing guitar playing. Plus they seem like they’d be nice guys.
  • Guster – They too seem like great guys to hang with.
  • The New Pornographers – I love all the harmony!

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