THE GRAND UNDOING
White Space Flavors And Parties On TV
(Secret Candy Rock Records)

 

There’s millions of under 50 types who are getting jazzed again at what their parents did. We’re all sons of Beatles in some ways and on that front, you can count in a new band called The Grand Undoing. On the ten track White Space Flavors And Parties On TV, Grand Undoing leader Seth Goodman seems to pull off the impossible on a fantastic album that doubles as a 21st century retro pop flashback. With Seth’s songs, guitars and vocals in full flight, The Grand Undoing album is kind of reminiscent of early Split Enz, the version with Tim Finn and Phil Judd. Like early Enz, there’s kind of a manic, carnival type atmosphere on several tracks here. Commenting about the amazing musical moods of The Grand Undoing, Seth tells mwe3.com "I came up with the idea of The Grand Undoing amidst some epic life changing events. I finally had to accept the notion that decay and decline are really the rule. Watching your parents age pushes you into an awareness of your own mortality like nothing else." Based up in the Boston area, Goodman’s band also features first rate players with excellent drumming from Dave Westner and Andy Plaisted and the steel guitars of the legendary B.J. Cole with pop maven Allen Devine adding in additional guitar on a track here. Regarding working with B.J. Cole, Seth adds, "I had been listening to a great record from 1972 called Bored Civilians by Keith Cross and Peter Ross, when I realized that BJ was the pedal steel player. I found him online and was thrilled to discover that he did sessions remotely." Seth Goodman is armed with a strong voice and tracks that a voice that strong and daring can make the most of. Pop fans looking for new and interesting spins will catch a sonic wave with White Space Flavors And Parties On TV from The Grand Undoing. www.TheGrandUndoing.com


mwe3.com presents an interview with
Seth Goodman of
THE GRAND UNDOING



mwe3
: Can you tell us where you live now and what you like best about it and where you’re from originally?

Seth Goodman: I live in Quincy, Massachusetts, just south of Boston. I grew up here and moved back about 7 years ago to help look after my folks. Boston is great for tons of stuff, music, the arts, food, the changing seasons.

mwe3: What period of music history did you grow up in? I’m guessing you’re about 40 already or am I way off?

Seth Goodman: I was born in 68' and grew up in the 70's/80's. AM top 40 radio in the 70's, arena rock, punk rock, new wave, hardcore, and the 80's underground all made big impressions on me.

mwe3: Why do you call your band The Grand Undoing? Is undoing the opposite of union? Is the name a kind of a self-deprecating putdown in a way?

Seth Goodman: I came up with the idea of The Grand Undoing amidst some epic life changing events. I finally had to accept the notion that decay and decline are really the rule. Watching your parents age pushes you into an awareness of your own mortality like nothing else.

I think it's not so much self-depreciating but rather a way of thumbing my nose at, or mocking, our own eventual decline and downfall. Of course that decline doesn't mean that we shouldn't enjoy ourselves in the present, which is a key component of the Grand Undoing paradigm.

mwe3: When did you become interested in playing music and what were your early music studies like? What instruments did you gravitate to early on in your life and what would you say is your primary instrument that you play and write music on?

Seth Goodman: I started playing bass at age 16, in a punk rock band with some friends from school. And I picked up the guitar a few years later. And at roughly age 20, took about a years worth of guitar lessons. Guitar is my primary instrument that I write on.

mwe3: Your new album with The Grand Undoing is called White Space Flavors And Parties On TV and it was released on your label Secret Candy Rock Records in 2014. How would you say this album defines you as a singer-songwriter and how would you compare it to the other album you released with The Grand Undoing? What are the challenges involved in releasing an album on your own label?

Seth Goodman: I think that this album is a good indication of what I'm trying to do as an artist. Ultimately, to tell my story and reconcile an amassing of things in mind, in an original way, that reflects a synthesis of my own favorite records and artists. I think that this record is more dynamic, more cohesive, and more realized than the first one.

Releasing an album on your own label is great because you can do whatever you want, but it's tough to get the word out about it when you're on your own.

mwe3: White Space Flavors And Parties On TV kicks off with a bang with the track “New World”. Is there a message in that song? Seeing a new world through the fog and then you wake up to find out “it never was at all”? Do you like people reading messages into your music?

Seth Goodman: "New World" is about having flashes of idealism regarding your own potential, only to have them squashed by the cold hard light of day and your own very real limitations. I like when people relate to the sentiments of my songs, but I also try to leave enough room so they can really make them their own too.

mwe3: Can you tell us something about who’s playing with you on the White Space Flavors And Parties On TV CD? Was it all recorded live or were there a number of overdubs? How did you meet up with and get to work with the great B.J. Cole, who adds steel guitar and who’s playing drums on the CD? All the players sound great. Who else helped you get the album sound together?

Seth Goodman: Dave Westner and Andy Plaisted are both fantastic drummers from Boston. Dave also did a bunch of other engineering on the record as well as mixing it.

I had been listening to a great record from 1972 called Bored Civilians by Keith Cross and Peter Ross, when I realized that BJ was the pedal steel player. I found him online and was thrilled to discover that he did sessions remotely. Chris Nole, an amazing Nashville session player, who's played piano with Faith Hill and John Denver, among others, also tracked on a song remotely for me.

The record was really done with overdubs entirely, save for a few scratch guitar tracks that I kept from the drum sessions, but that's what really let me experiment with the parts. It was also a lot of fun to put together players on a record who otherwise would probably never be making music together.

mwe3: Are you playing all the guitars, electric and acoustic on the CD? What guitars are you playing on the White Space Flavors And Parties On TV CD? Also, it’s good to see Allen Devine playing guitar on a track here. How did you meet Allen? Isn’t he living in Germany now? What guitars is Allen playing on the CD?

Seth Goodman: Except for the track that Allen played on, I played all of the guitar and bass tracks. I mostly use a Tele 52' Reissue, an Epiphone EJ-200, something called a Gibson Challenger, which is almost like a student model Les Paul Studio, and a 76' Jazz bass.

I met Allen in the music scene in Boston, before he moved to Germany. He's a fantastic and very versatile guitar player. And I think he's playing a Tele on the record.

mwe3: “Cross Over Now” is another highlight from White Space Flavors And Parties On TV. I like the line “The years bleed together like a quick one while he’s away.” Is there a Who reference there?

Seth Goodman: Yes! I've been a big fan forever, Tommy was one of the first records that made a massive impression on me.

mwe3: How about the White Space Flavors And Parties On TV track “Piers And Anderson”? Is that song really a tribute to the CNN news guys? “It’s a modern day mass exodus, off of the map, on to parts unknown”. Is that really tongue in cheek or do you really like those two guys? Who’s playing the guitar solos on that track? What’s the most fun guitar solo on White Space Flavors And Parties On TV?

Seth Goodman: It's really another song about alienation, about public figures becoming surrogates for real human connection. I played the solo on that, though I think that the solo that's the most fun on the record is the one on "Cross Over Now". It's the solo that's most likely to put a smile on someone's face.

mwe3: Who’s playing strings on the White Space Flavors And Parties On TV CD? It’s a great idea to broaden out the sound. Is it Spector-esque?

Seth Goodman: There are three violin players on the record. Ian Kennedy, from Boston, actually played most of the string parts himself. I think he did a great job. Also Kurt Baumer, from Texas, played on a few tracks, and Fulvio Renzi, from Italy, played on a track too.

I suppose the strings are a bit Spector-esque. I also like the strings from the whole Country-politan movement, Glen Campbell, I Am The Walrus, Roy Wood's cello parts on the first ELO album and Bernard Hermann, the Alfred Hitchcock film scorer. Placing string arrangements in some high energy driven, punk rock songs was something I've not really heard before that I really wanted to do also.

mwe3: “Long Are The Hours” is a great showcase for you and B.J. Cole. It’s a great combination of the steel guitar and the strings. Is that the most mellow track on the CD?

Seth Goodman: I think it is the most mellow track on the record. I feel like it comes as a welcome breath of fresh air after the first three songs. I wrote it for my girlfriend, Sara.

mwe3: White Space Flavors And Parties On TV is an interesting title for the CD. How do the two parts fit together?

Seth Goodman: The first part, white space flavors, is a metaphor for an unnatural life, which is really a function of the second metaphor, parties on TV, which relates to modern alienation. White space flavors is a term that commercial flavorists use to describe synthetic flavors that don't actually exist in nature, like blue raspberry.

mwe3: Is “Song In B” about the futility of life? Did you write it for your parents? “There was a time when I had it all” is something we all go through right? Are your parents still alive? Do you find music to be a therapeutic way to deal with the harsh realities of life? “Song In B” is another great song for B.J. to add in his sheets of steel.

Seth Goodman: "Song In B" is really a lament for the innocence of childhood and the affinity of family. I think that this experience is universal, though probably more pronounced in modern times.

My father is still alive. I think that music and art in general are wonderfully constructive ways of dealing with grief, loss, and all of the pitfalls of aging. BJ sounds great on this one, as does Ian Kennedy who plays the violin part on the third verse and the coda.

mwe3: “The Shadows Still Draw Me In” is another production number on the White Space Flavors And Parties On TV CD. It’s another song that people will use to compare your music to Bowie and even Ferry. Are the “shadows” a way to escape from reality? It’s got a bit of a McCartney vibe in there too. How much fun are the bigger production numbers versus the more quieter introspective tracks?

Seth Goodman: The "shadows" are just a metaphor for being withdrawn. I've always struggled with impulses to both withdraw from and connect to people, and being an introvert, the withdrawing side definitely wins more.

I don't treat the quieter numbers that differently than the louder ones, they both end up being about dynamics and arrangements that build and lead somewhere. Though I suppose that the quieter ones better lend themselves to forward motion in the arrangement because you have more space to work with.

mwe3: Is “Sparkle Sunday Blue” another moody atmospheric kind of track? It’s got a kind of eerie synth sound running through it but the strings pull the track through and the song crescendos at the end. Was that big ending done on purpose to kind of lull the listener out of the hypnotic groove?

Seth Goodman: The thing that sounds like a synth is actually a violin. I wasn't specifically intending to pull the listener out of the groove, I just wanted the song to build to the point where it was really boiling over by the end. The song is really like depression that gradually morphs into full on anxiety. The bridge offers a little dusty, faint light, but that's completely forgotten by the time you're being held down in the lake of hellfire that is the ending of the song.

mwe3: The atmospherics on the "Sparkle Sunday Blue" track are wiped away with “The Cold Of The Iron Gate”. What is the “Iron Gate” to you? Is that is the wall of silence, the end game that we all eventually hit? “It’s a big big world, there’s a lot of of little roads that you can run down, Still my mind returns to home.” Very existential ideas! The best track on the CD?

Seth Goodman: "The iron gate" is a another metaphor for alienation, both from ourselves and from others. The entire record, both in concept and in mood is wildly existential, to the point where it's not even sure if it wants to curse its fate or revel with abandon in it... with sparkling wine of course. My hope is that it manages to do both.

mwe3: Is the “Ballad Of Alvin Gordon” the epitaph of the album? Who is/was Alvin Gordon? Another great song for B.J. to do his thing! Who knew the steel guitar would work so well on a Beatles type rave-up track? lol

Seth Goodman: Alvin Gordon is really a composite of sad, rootless characters, that I've come across. I hadn't considered it the epitaph of the album, but that really makes sense. I think that it quite possibly, better than any other track, puts forward the dichotomy between dying and having a party. BJ really shines on this one.

mwe3: Is “Drag It Out A little Longer” another tribute to death? “Are you here with us or are you lost forever sleeping?” lol Is there a good way to deal with death in the long run? “I am death and death is near”. How do you think most people deal with death? I am death… seems like a bold way to say “Time’s still passing by....” Who knew that song would end the album in a blast of psychedelic intensity! lol

Seth Goodman: " Drag It Out A Little Longer" is really about the complexity of coming to terms with death. I think it tends to be a long and elusive process for everyone. And although different people have very different ways of dealing with death, I think it makes sense, generally, for people to try to express their grief rather than avoid it.

mwe3: So what’s next for The Grand Undoing? With an album this good, it seems like you’ll either end of playing Madison Square Garden or joining Cirque du Soleil? But it does seem like everyone loves this album so I can only hope, like the others, that you get even a bigger audience for the next Grand Undoing CD... Good luck Seth...

Seth Goodman: When I started the Grand Undoing, I set out to make five records over the course of 10 years. The third album is now well under way. I'm not betting on Madison Square Garden or Cirque du Soleil, though I could really have some fun with that one... but three more records will definitely be arriving over the next five years, as I continue to make my way through untold cases of sparkling wine!

Thanks to Seth Goodman @ www.TheGrandUndoing.com and Peter Holmstedt @ Hemifran.com




 

 
   
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