THE PINDER BROTHERS
Melancholy Sea
(Pinder Brothers Music)

 

Back in 2012, The Pinder Brothers released a 5 song CD EP called Speeding Cars, offering a preview of what was to become their next full length album. In 2015, The Pinder Brothers once again speed forward with Melancholy Sea—a CD featuring 11 tracks that are sure to impress fans of this radio-friendly pop-rock band. Start to finish, Melancholy Sea highlights some of the finest music yet from Michael Lee Pinder (guitars, vocals) and Matt Pinder (bass, vocals). For fans who’ve followed the Pinder Brothers since they arrived with Jupiter Falls in 2006, the 2015 release of Melancholy Sea showcases an even more assured approach from earlier classics like their all time epic, “Jupiter Falls”, "Inside Me" and “Waves Crash”. Several tracks here conjure an even more solid rock vibe. With Melancholy Sea being their most realized album yet, the music of Michael Lee Pinder and Matt Pinder carries forth a logical extension of the Pinder musical legacy that their father predestined when he founded progressive rock icons The Moody Blues 50 years ago. Moody Blues founder Mike Pinder produced the 2006 Pinder Brothers CD debut, Jupiter Falls, and Mike and Moody Blues producer Tony Clark produced Ordinary Man—the second Pinder Brothers album from 2008. Also of note here is that while Michael Lee Pinder is recognized as the main composer on a number of Pinder Brothers classics, younger brother Matt Pinder also shines on Melancholy Sea as a fine singer-songwriter, with both brothers also sounding very competent as lead vocalists on different tracks here. Backing up Mike and Matt on Melancholy Sea are ace musicians, including guitarist Stef Burns. A first rate guitarist, Stef Burns truly blazes his way through a number of classic guitar solos here, while Mike Lee adds another sound on electric guitars. Also on board is producer Scott Reams, who adds in keyboards, including mellotron, bringing in further classic Pinder-esque and Moody Blues type mellotron flavors. Of course, Mike Pinder, the legend, and his Moody Blues cofounding band mate Ray Thomas are also here, most notably on the CD closing "Summer Moon". There’s eleven good reasons why fans of the Moody Blues will enjoy Melancholy Sea, and in fact one could surmise that the Pinder name is once again making music history.


mwe3.com presents an interview with
Michael Lee Pinder of
THE PINDER BROTHERS



mwe3
: So here we are in 2015 with a new Pinder Brothers album, Melancholy Sea. What was the process to complete the album from start to finish? Why did you call the album Melancholy Sea and how does the artwork fit into the concept of the album? Who did the art?

Michael Lee Pinder: The core songs of Melancholy Sea were written very soon after we finished the previous album Ordinary Man. I had a batch of new songs and Matt was writing some really killer songs at the time so the material came together rather quickly. The basic tracking featured many of the same musicians. I wanted to catch them while they were fresh and working on Ordinary Man had given me a lot of ideas as to what I wanted to do on this record.

It worked very well on Melancholy Sea to do our ‘preproduction thing’ giving Paul Revelli (drums) some tight roughs that he could absorb a week or two before the sessions. Those were some great days. As always Paul showed up having charted out some of his own ideas to bring to the table and he told me... He does this ‘in his kitchen!’

He listens to the songs and then jots down some creative ideas as they come to him. It was great to know he spent some quality time with the songs in an environment that is comfortable for him.

Paul is very easy to work with and in this way it felt very organic while at the same time letting everyone have their own head. He is such a great player he doesn’t really need to map things out but the fact that he does is such a substantial testament to his level of musicianship.

The art was done by Jon Rozmarin from Eleven33 Design Studio who we really enjoyed working with. The actual concept for the art came later. It was inspired by the last song on the record, “Summer Moon”, which was written and recorded toward the end of the recording process. I phoned Jon and explained the idea to him. Immediately he was on board and able to bring the idea to life. His attention to detail is amazing.

The title, “Melancholy Sea” came from one of the lines of the final song: “Cross the sea of melancholy sayin’ I’ll be home soon.” For me, the last song just seemed to connect all of the songs together. I don’t think the art would have been as interesting if we hadn’t gone in this direction.

mwe3: “Last Days Of Summer” mixes prog-pop and California rock. Did something just click for you on that track? That track has many different parts in it. Is that a trademark of the Pinder song writing style? Endless melodic twists and turns that always take you home again.

Michael Lee Pinder: “Last Days of Summer” is a good example of how this album took shape. It started as a nucleus in my home studio. Then I took the tracks into Scott Reams. Scott and I created the basic arrangement for Paul to track to. We added flavors to give the song just enough direction and I had already added a few electric guitar ideas.

mwe3: Were the tracks recorded live or was there a lot of overdubs?

Michael Lee Pinder: On Melancholy Sea I tried to do everything as tightly as possible before we brought the music into Scott. Most of the scratch guitars on “Last Days Of Summer” were done so closely to the grid that they stayed as the final tracks of that song. I started with a Martin acoustic and then came up with these single line electric guitars using a tremolo effect that I created using guitar rig software. Then I added the chorus electric guitars, which were later re-amped. We added a few touches later like a single line clean electric guitar in the bridge section. But the majority of the original guitars on that track stayed.

During the initial tracking this culminated into a ‘best of both worlds approach.’ Matt plugged in and played with Paul as he was tracking which gave us that live feel. Stef was also there and we recorded his rhythm parts right after the drums and bass had been laid down. We felt this helped it stay as organic as possible.

mwe3: “Same Mistake” is a great way to start the Melancholy Sea album. The song has a definite Beatles edge to it. Do you every get to play live with these guys? Do you agree that it sounds like you’ve reached a new height with this very cool song?

Michael Lee Pinder: I think we have more fun live now more than ever. That song would be an undertaking to play live... I wanted it to sound a certain way and I really had a direction for it. If it reached something for you that is all I could hope for.

mwe3: Speaking of Scott Reams, what does Scott bring to the album as the album producer? It’s not that common to have a producer as a member of band but on Melancholy Sea it really seems to work.

Michael Lee Pinder: Having the opportunity to work with all of these great musicians has really shown me that no two bands are alike and the dynamic created by the interplay of musicians and producer is as unique as the bands themselves are. Scott brings so much to the creation of the music and he really knows what we are going for. He is an amazing musician. But he also really understands the music.

mwe3: I hear a definite Moody Blues edge on Melancholy Sea.

Michael Lee Pinder: Tony Clark became known as the 6th Moody. I think Scott and I operate in a very similar way to how my Dad and Tony worked together in the studio. During Melancholy Sea our creative relationship evolved and we all figured out where we naturally fit into the dynamic. What you may hear as the ‘Moody edge’ could be us getting comfortable in our skin... and getting a chance to bring in all the influences of past and present that we know and love in a way that just felt right. The previous album Ordinary Man had set the scene and Melancholy Sea really allowed us to create in a way that pays homage to the music of the past but that comes directly from our own inner selves. It is about the music for us - in the same way as it was for many of the bands of the 60’s and 70’s and in seeking the music.... we find ourselves.

mwe3: Do you ever feel you should be right up there on stage with John, Justin and Graeme representing the Pinder influence and history of the band? Speaking of Moody news, what did Mike add to the music on the upcoming John Lodge album? Have you heard it? What do you think and have you spoken with John in the past?

Michael Lee Pinder: I always especially loved Justin’s song writing growing up. But I never imagined myself onstage with them. I reached out to Ray Thomas on this album because I had envisioned taking the last song, ‘Summer Moon’ in a 60’s prog rock meets 70’s prog rock direction. A lot of what I do comes out of the creativity of song writing and following where the song leads. In this way we are sort of absorbing a bit of the music of the 60’s and bringing those sounds forward in our own way. I feel that a lot of my favorite artists have done this.

In regards to John’s new record, I have only heard the song that my Dad played on so far. I am looking forward to hearing it. It was a really fun experience assisting with the mellotron tracking. We brought my Dad into our studio environment and he tracked the mellotron for John’s song during the same session in which he tracked the mellotron for “Summer Moon.” It was my first time being in contact with John and he was so friendly and welcoming. It felt very easy and I like how it turned out.

mwe3: Track 2 on Melancholy Sea is “Pale December”. Is that the single off the album? Or maybe it was the first video. You’re playing some great guitar work on that track. What was your choice of guitars on the album?

Michael Lee Pinder: “Pale December” is one of the singles and has an accompanying video that has just been released. I played Clapton’s new Blackie model on “Summer Moon” and one or two other songs. For the rest of the record I played my ’92 Strat Plus which is my favorite guitar. Scott has a couple other guitars hanging on the wall at Mister Cat studios and if we need another type of sound to suit the song we will grab one of those off of the wall. This enables us to stay flexible with the music. But most of the time I have what I feel is a certain signature sound I am going for.

mwe3: I heard you just started a new studio.

Michael Lee Pinder: I love to use Mesa amps paired with a Fender as part of my tone. My home studio now includes a triple rectifier that I am eager to use on the next record. The studio is still taking shape but it feels great to have such a vibrant working relationship with the guys and to be getting settled into my home studio.

mwe3: Speaking of guitars can you tell us about the guitars played by Matt and Stef on the album and did Scott use a real mellotron on the tracks?

Michael Lee Pinder: Stef and Matt both provided their special sauce on the guitar sounds. Stef usually plays a Strat and also played a Rickenbacker 12 string on “Overboard”. If Matt or Stef has an idea it can be great to set down my guitar and focus on playing another instrument or singing harmonies. I go into Brian Wilson mode and love to watch the songs taking shape.

It was excellent to work with Stef again and have him on most of the tracks. He is not only a master technician but has a relaxed calmness in the studio that is a pleasure to watch. He really gets into the moment and has fun between takes. We tracked some of Stef’s guitars at John Morris’ place Tanglewood Studios and the rest were recorded at One Way Studio in Benicia.

Scott used authentic mellotron samples from his library on the recording. Besides strings he also played mellotron choir sounds. He used some great UVI mellotron samples on “Summer Moon” which had an otherworldly feel. We enjoyed putting in ‘tron at different points in the album and I played mellotron flute on “Same Mistake” and also on the song “Driving You Home”.

mwe3: Matt has really come out swinging as another composer on Melancholy Sea. His two compositions here are really great. I hope he keeps writing those rockers coming.

Michael Lee Pinder: He already has a few songs in preproduction that continue in the same line and if you like those, then I know you will enjoy these. Matt and I have been playing each other our ideas and I really like what he is writing.

mwe3: Track 3, “Talk To You” gets back a little to the early Pinder Brothers sound of Jupiter Falls. Is that track a little of a flashback to the first Pinder Brothers album in mid ‘06? What do you remember most about the first two albums and working closer with your dad and then with the now late great Moody Blues producer Tony Clark?

Michael Lee Pinder: When “Talk To You” was first written I was going back in my mind to those early days of song writing leading up to Jupiter Falls, so that is probably what you are hearing. It is amazing how a song can take you into a creative space or seem to take you back in time as you are writing it.

There are so many memories with Tony and our Dad. Our Dad can’t help but grab the tambourine and while we were doing the final overdubs on Melancholy Sea he came in and played tambourine on some of the songs. I don’t think I can pick just one favorite memory with Tony but watching him with our Dad while we were working in the studio gave me a whole new appreciation of the fun you can have while recording. Tony worked tirelessly as well though. It was great to sit out in the backyard with Tony and our Dad after an all day session and be in that creative space together.

When Tony first arrived to produce our album Ordinary Man, he said he thought our songs were ‘ready.’ He was always brainstorming with us ways that we could break thru with those songs. He wanted to see us succeed and was not only creative but also a patient guiding force for Matt and I. I’m so glad we got a chance to spend that time together.

mwe3: Is track 4 “Trust Being You” the first original by Matt? It’s a great driving rocker and you add in a great vocal on the track. It has a little Bon Jovi edge but you really nail the vocal. It's easily one of the more memorable rockers in the Pinder Brothers catalog! How does he do it?

Michael Lee Pinder: Matt sang the lead vocal on that track. Matt also wrote the song “Inside Me” on Ordinary Man, which had a really compelling driving feel as well. As such an accomplished musician and bass player, he writes some of his songs with the bass in mind.

I know Paul and Stef had a great time playing on that one and everybody just knew what to do in the studio. During tracking sometimes parts get replaced but the bass on that track and the bass on “Summer Moon” were laid down with the drummer and stayed untouched.

mwe3: Who plays drums on Melancholy Sea?

Michael Lee Pinder: We were able to work with two of my favorite drummers. Paul Revelli played on the album and Bruce Spencer came in and tracked three songs as well. Bruce was the one who played drums on “Summer Moon” with Matt on bass. We loved how the drums and bass turned out so much that we left Matt’s bass untouched.

mwe3: Speaking of Pinder history, how was your trip to England a few years ago? That was your first or second time there? Did you go up to Birmingham, where your family is from? What did you glean from your ancestry - do you study Pinder history?

Michael Lee Pinder: My cousin Lee who lives in Australia has done a wonderful job researching our family tree. It is always a blast visiting the UK; we have been there more than a few times and would definitely love to go more frequently. We make the trip up to Birmingham each time we go. Reconnecting with family definitely links us to our ancestry even in the present day and I feel very connected to our family over there. It was brilliant to see everybody and the jokes are the same every time we go. It is like a home away from home.

mwe3: What are your favorite Moody Blues albums? I think I forgot to ask. Also I wanted to congratulate you on the two Pinder Brothers tracks on the 2014 remaster of your dad’s box set on Esoteric. It’s a gratifying way to see him winding down his career.

Michael Lee Pinder: When I was a teenager I loved to listen to A Question of Balance. I also spent a lot of time listening to Days Of Future Passed. But I like them all. When I think of my Dad’s music those are some of the first songs that come to mind and I always dug the way the songs flow into each other. It is amazing how music takes you on a journey and those albums certainly do. Stuff like that certainly can’t be minimized in my book.

mwe3: “Crash Down” is a Melancholy Sea rework from Speeding Cars. Is that the most dynamic rocker in the Pinder Brothers catalog? It’s gone through several incarnations but this one sounds best I think. Love that funky clavinet ending! (lol) Is that a fake ending?

Michael Lee Pinder: “Crash Down” had never been released on iTunes so we did a special remix of it for Melancholy Sea. Speeding Cars was intended to give fans a glimpse of what was to come on Melancholy Sea. We had a vision for a few of these songs and remixed them. In the process we added a few surprise overdubs and some extra sheen to the mastering for the hardcore fans.

As we were working in the studio, we realized that the songs on Melancholy Sea were all pieces of a puzzle that fit together just right when we assembled them in the correct order. It was such an amazing process to put the album together and watch it grow and evolve into a complete picture.

Overdriven guitars were a must and “Crash Down” and the combination of rock and funk was one of my favorite styles growing up. We did a lo-fi ending, which is kind of a bit of a fake out if that is what you mean!

mwe3: Track 8 on Melancholy Sea, “Pictures Of Rachel” is a new sounding kind of track. Sounds like folk-rock played rock style. Another track where you’re playing all the guitars. Who’s Rachel? It’s a very scenic sounding kind of song.

Michael Lee Pinder: If I answered that it might take all of the mystery out of it!

mwe3: “Here We Go” is pretty lighthearted stuff. Sounds like a fun, upbeat, uptempo track. Do you try to lighten things up after the heavier, more cosmic Moody-esque type tracks?

Michael Lee Pinder: That wasn’t my intention but you bring up a good point… the chorus lyrics do talk about relaxing and enjoying the ride, which kind of provides a good contrast to the previous song. Steely Dan has that song, “Janie Runaway”, which is kind of a bopper and Matt and I are influenced by stuff like that as well in our writing.

mwe3: Matt gets another song writing credit with “Overboard”. Were you surprised to hear Matt’s songs lately? “Overboard” is very Beatles inspired. You guys share the harmony vocals but you’re singing lead on “Overboard” right? Stef adds in some cool guitar licks too. So how cool is that song?

Michael Lee Pinder: Matt is singing the lead vocal on “Overboard”. I feel the verse and chorus sections really play off of each other well. There is a cool vamp that Matt came up with and I know that one will be fun to play live because of entrance of the harmonies in the bridge and how the vamp stretches out at the end.

mwe3: “Summer Moon” is a great way to close the album. I guess you wanted to have a very atmospheric close to the album. Amazing to hear both your dad and Moody Blues flutist Ray Thomas on that track. That’s also the song that mentions the words “Melancholy Sea” on it. Ray did a great job on the flute and your dad, of course is Mr. Mellotron. And Scott also plays mellotron on the track.

Michael Lee Pinder: We have gotten a lot of good feedback on that song. I was very happy when the song came together as the last track and it was a fun way to let loose a bit as we were finishing up the album. The song shows some of our other influences and hints at the direction we are going as a band.

mwe3: So how do you balance your life now as you and Matt also own Imagine Music Instruction? Tell us something about your music school and how you blend in your band work with teaching. Also, how’s your other brother Dan? I hear he’s very good in film audio and sound editing.

Michael Lee Pinder: It is definitely a balancing act but working with aspiring musicians really inspires us and reminds us of why we do this. We are so grateful to be able to make music a part of peoples lives each day. And that inspiration carries over into our own music. We have always been encouraged by our older brother Dan who helped us to learn to play music in the same way that we help others learn now. Matt and I are so proud of Dan; not only of the wonderful things he has achieved in the film business but also of who he is as a person. He has always been a personal inspiration to me.

mwe3: Any new plans musically or looking down the road this year? I know Melancholy Sea is just underway so good luck with the album.

Michael Lee Pinder: Well we have basic tracks for a batch of 8 more songs recorded that are still in production. Bruce Spencer laid down the drum tracks, which is going to be amazing! So it is exciting for us to have a really solid direction for the future that has taking shape in all this. As you mentioned, our main focus right now is getting the word out about Melancholy Sea and performing the songs. Melancholy Sea comes out April 7th. We are so excited to share in the joy of the music and keep forging ahead on the road that lies before us.

Thanks to The Pinder Brothers @ www.PinderBrothers.com







 

 
   
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