In an exclusive interview, guest writer, Nick Quantrill, talks to Jeff Caudill, frontman and main songwriter with California’s Low Coast, about his band’s debut album, Existing The Dream, which came out this month. “I’ve been chasing the idea of a band like this forever,” Caudill tells Say It With Garage Flowers.
Sometimes making a dream reality takes a while. Sometimes it takes longer than you’d expect, but the journey and the end result is the pay-off.
“I almost feel embarrassed by how long I’ve been talking about this,” says Jeff Caudill, Low Coast’s frontman and chief songwriter. “But it’s finally here and I’ve been chasing the idea of a band like this forever. I’ve always wanted to be in the Heartbreakers – the kind of band that can do anything.”
The band’s debut album, Existing The Dream, takes that wish to be one of Tom Petty’s Heartbreakers, but mixes it with classic Americana touchstones, such as Whiskeytown and early Wilco, but adds something contemporary to the mix, via the sound of bands like The War on Drugs and Death Cab for Cutie.
Spending his youth playing pop-punk before releasing a series of solo records, it’s a change of gear for Caudill, the former frontman of Californian band Gameface, and an exciting new start.
“With Gameface, it was, we do what we do and there was a pretty narrow scope of what it is, or what it should be,” he says. “We never wanted to alienate an audience. But with this band, our spectrum is a lot broader. This band has elevated anything I’m capable of. It’s lifted it so much. I feel so fortunate to have made this record.”
It’s not just Caudill who has musical pedigree stretching back through the years. The rhythm section of Mike Fratantuno and Terence Yoshiaki played with a nascent Black Eyed Peas and are complemented by Dave Hemann on lead guitar and Brian Lapin on keyboards.
“They don’t come from the same punk scene as I came up in,” Caudill says. “I met Mike because our kids went to the same school. He played some bass on my Reset The Sun record, so I always wanted to bring him in to do something more real and more official. Mike was responsible for bringing Terence along on drums.
‘This band has elevated anything I’m capable of. I feel so fortunate to have made this record’
“Dave is a cool guy who’s played a lot of guitar on records and he’s an incredible lead guitarist. To have him come in and do a lot of the heavy lifting because I’m more limited on the guitar is incredible. I had four or five songs written and the original idea was that they’d be for a solo record, even more stripped-down and stark. That was the direction. But once I started playing with the band, I knew that the songs were my big opportunity to blow it up. There was an opportunity to see where these songs could go and that was exciting to me. It was fun and liberating to bring the songs in and share them. There was lot more experimentation than in my solo endeavours.”
When the world came to a halt in 2020, it was a moment for the band to hit pause – something they turned to their advantage.
“The idea was to approach it like the old days by going into the studio for a couple of weeks and really hammering it out,” says Caudill. “We’d got basic tracks down and thought we had the songs ready to go, but we suddenly had time to really listen to the songs and break them down get into the separate parts – really think about it.
“We were able to take each song and focus on one at a time, rather than looking at it globally. We even had the songs mixed one at a time. We rerecorded everything and got it right before moving on to the next song. It was a pretty long process, and I don’t think we’re going to record like that again, but it had its benefits.”
Existing The Dream is released by Seattle’s Spartan Records, an independent label Caudill has had his eye on for some time.
“At the start of the recording process, we only had a song or two in the can and I reached out. I’d always loved their aesthetic,” he says. “I thought they were a real class act in the way that they present themselves, and the bands that they sign are great.
“I sent a couple of songs and it seemed pretty amicable from the beginning. From the get-go, they were who I had in mind for the whole time and luckily they felt the same way. It felts like we were in good hands, just seeing what had been done with other groups made us feel confident handing it over to these guys. They’re very, very capable. It made sense to trust a good label with a good reputation.”
The independent streak dies hard, though. As with solo projects, Caudill has taken the lead on the band’s artwork and visual representation. The video for lead single, Hard to Believe, was a lockdown project fired by pain felt in the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd and the need to feel a connection again.
The song is a brooding indie number that builds into something more urgent – a perfect introduction to the album. The video, featuring over 100 faces from around the world – family, friends and fans – resonates and sets the tone for the album’s lyrical content, a clear need to engage with the world and look outwards rather than inwards.
It’s an approach that sits hand in hand with something more old school and straightforward. “Because we’re men of a certain age, where it’s really at for us is playing live,” says Caudill.
“The goal is to get out and play wherever we’re wanted, but we have to find where that is. We’re going to figure that out as we go, but we definitely have intentions of being a live band, maybe not with extensive touring, but nothing is out of the question.
‘I hate to sound like we’re in a mid-life crisis, but it’s great to have that feeling we had back in our twenties, when we felt like we were creating something brand new’
“We want to be a band that can show up and play. Of course, I’m more realistic about what can and is going to happen now. At this stage of our lives we are looking for that creative spark. I hate to sound like we’re in a mid-life crisis, but it is great to have that feeling we had back in our twenties when we felt like we were creating something that was brand new.
“Even when we stated recording, I wasn’t sure how much of a real unit this was going to be, but everyone right now is on the same page and equally invested. There are hypothetical plans to make another record. It certainly won’t be one album from the band. We’re going to keep writing and pushing things forward.”
Sheffield psych-rocker and velvet-voiced crooner, Richard Hawley, has put together a new compilation album for the Ace Records label.
Called 28 Little Bangers From Richard Hawley’s Jukebox, it’s a brilliant and eclectic collection of mostly instrumental, garage rock, surf, rock ‘n’ roll and R & B seven-inch singles from the ‘50s and ‘60s that he’s hand-picked from his own vinyl collection.
Full of killer riffs, dirty sounds, fuzzed-up guitars, mean organ and twangy licks, most of these tunes are guaranteed dancehall floor-fillers and quiff shakers.
There are choice cuts from obscure artists like Ahab & The Wailers and The Dyna-Sores, as well as lesser-known tracks from famous acts like The Shadows, The Troggs, and even Jimi Hendrix, whose ferocious Hornet’s Nest, credited to Curtis Knight & The Squires, opens the compilation – it’s the first time it’s been released in its unedited version.
Say It With Garage Flowers dragged Hawley away from his jukebox and got him on the phone to tell us about the new album, his love of the seven-inch single, his music listening habits and compulsive record collecting tendencies.
“My obsession with it has carried on my whole life. It’s kept me out of a shitload of trouble,” he says, adding wryly, “but probably got me into a different kind of trouble…”
How did the idea for the compilation come about?
Richard Hawley: Do you know what? I can’t fucking remember – I think there was Guinness involved, which wouldn’t surprise me. In all fairness, it’s taken so long for it to come out, for various reasons – lockdown being a massive component.
Ace is a fantastic label. I had a long chat with Liz [Buckley – label manager at Ace Records] – she’s amazing – and all the folks there. They’re all fans of music – shit you don’t hear on the radio.
Liz and all the Ace people are incredibly knowledgeable about some of the most obscure music on the planet, but I think the stuff I mentioned surprised them – and me, to be honest. They’d never heard of it, and it sparked their interest.
I can remember Liz phoning me up and saying, ‘It’s about time we did something…’ It was pre-lockdown. They asked me to put 28 tracks together and, in all honesty, this is the funny bit about it… I know a lot of folks who do compilations and spend months agonising about what singles to put on them… I’m being completely honest, cos I don’t like lying – my manager, Graham, came around to see me and said, ‘Rich – you’ve been wanting to do this compilation with Ace for years, but you’re dragging your heels and you haven’t given them a list – get it together!’
So, I randomly picked up one of my many DJ boxes, pulled out a pile of records, counted 28 tracks, played them and there was only two I rejected. That was how it was. I guess I am a bloke who makes lists, but I’m not obsessive about it and I’m terrible at organising things. I deliberately have my singles in a random order, but roughly speaking, in whichever decade they’re from. I just like to reach in, pull a single out and play it.
Being a record collector, there’s a danger, but, to a certain extent, you have to put things in rough alphabetical order. But I’m very mindful that that’s super-anal. You end up stood at your record collection looking at it and you can never decide what to play. Do you know what I mean? I don’t know if you’re the same.
I am, but I have young kids and I don’t have time to play a lot of my records at the moment. I still buy a lot of new and second-hand vinyl, though – albums and seven-inch singles…
RH: I feel your pain, Sean. We’re empty nesters now – our kids have all flown. That’s a recent thing. For the last decade or decade and a half, I’ve been completely obsessed with the seven-inch single. I’ve been wanting to get a jukebox my whole life and I don’t know how I did it, but I convinced my long-suffering wife, Helen, that it would be a great idea. She always said, ‘Oh God, no, – you’ve got a record player and you come back from the pub pissed-up and play that stupidly loud…’
She knows what I’m like – I’ll come back, a few beers, and play rockabilly and old R & B singles up to the max. I managed to convince her a jukebox was a great idea and thank fuck for the timing – it was a month or a month and a half before lockdown. It’s a 1955 Wurlitzer 1800 and it’s a thing of beauty.
I got it from a dear friend of mine, Ian Clarricoates – he’s a restorer and a lover of jukeboxes –[www.jukejoint.co.uk]. He’s an expert and a top-flight electrician – he’s a lovely man.
We did a deal and he delivered it – the picture that’s on the cover of the compilation was taken in my house. On the left-hand side, you can see a shadow of me and there’s one of my guitars on the other side. I’ve been obsessed with writing out the labels – it’s really super-nerdy. It takes 55 singles and you can actually DJ with it.
How does your wife feel about it?
RH: Oh, she loves it, honest.
You’ve collected lots of seven-inch singles when you’ve been touring all over the world. If you’re abroad in a town or city, do you make a beeline for a record shop?
RH: Yeah, basically, but there’s a darker side to it. I got into the ephemera of Americana and stuff when I was touring because it kept me from doing shitloads of drugs and hanging around with people I shouldn’t have been hanging around with and getting off me head.
I haven’t done drugs for nearly 24 years and there’s no chance of me ever going back. I was spending a lot of my time being far more productive and going to record shops – it was a way of keeping myself busy on tour. Touring is incredibly boring, with long drives and all that. I’m not moaning about it and I’m very fortunate to have had the life that I’ve had – me dad was a steel worker who certainly didn’t have the opportunities I’ve had.
‘I got into the ephemera of Americana when I was touring because it kept me from doing shitloads of drugs. I haven’t done drugs for nearly 24 years and there’s no chance of me ever going back’
My dad was a massive record collector. I was just this little kid who’d tag along with him and I got into choosing me own music – he encouraged it. We used to go to Kenny’s Records in Sheffield – me dad’s mate Kenny used to drink in working men’s clubs and he was a massive rock ‘n’ roll, hillbilly and R & B expert. He’s in his eighties now but his record collection is just off the fucking scale – all originals and mint. He ran his record shop and I used to go there and hang out. I also heard a shitload of music from mum and dad, but it carried on… it wasn’t just a childhood thing.
I was too young for punk, but the whole post-punk thing was when I got into listening to John Peel, when I was a very young teenager. You’d just go out and buy the records – it’s not complicated! But the obsession with it has carried on my whole life. It’s kept me out of a shitload of trouble but probably got me into a different kind of trouble. Records contain information and, to me, it’s vital information.
You’ve called the compilation 28 Little Bangers because you said that seven-inch singles are like miniature musical hand grenades…
RH:Yeah – that’s one way to look at it. They fizzle out before they’ve even started – they’re over so quickly. You’ve only got so much time and a seven-inch single can only effectively and efficiently contain so much information before it starts to degrade.
Songs like Hey Jude and Bohemian Rhapsody that are really long took ages to master to get it right, but, generally speaking, it’s easier and quicker with seven-inch singles in terms of the length of time and less information.
I worked with Lee Hazlewood – he would look at a song and if it was two minutes two seconds, he would say it was three seconds too long. It had to be under two minutes – he was obsessed with that.
Now there are digital ‘singles’ for streaming, do you lament the loss of the physical classic seven-inch?
RH: Completely. I am a gentleman of a certain age. We’ve got loads of CDs but I can’t remember the last time me or me wife played ‘em – it’s just the jukebox…
My friend Meurig Jones, who runs Portmeirion [in North Wales] – you’re going to love this, Sean, and if you Google it, you’ll go fucking mental – got me into a Sanyo G2311KL James Bond portable record player.
I managed to get hold of one in fully working order for next to nothing and that’s kept me entertained. It’s good ‘cos it can only play records at a certain volume, but I’m happy coming back from the pub and playing ‘em on that, and, so’s my wife. It’s a really clear sound and it looks cool as fuck as well.
I’ve got Technics 1210s as well – so I listen to records on them, the James Bond portable and the jukebox.
Whenever I go to record fairs, I take a Columbia GP3 portable record player – I got it in Japan on tour, in 1998. They’re really expensive now.
‘In the old days, going to Europe, I’d be stuffing albums and singles in my guitar cases and amps and in the clothes wardrobe – anywhere I could shove a record I’d shove one’
I really like your sleeve notes for the compilation – you’ve included some great stories about where you first heard and bought some of the singles featured. Like when you were in a record shop in Germany on tour and the bloke working there played you the A-side of a single by The Troggs called Everything’s Funny, but it was awful, so he flipped it over and played the B-side, Feels Like A Woman, which you thought was great and have included on the compilation…
RH:That’s what happened. It was a friend of Anne Haffmans’, who worked at Mute Records. She knew I was into records, so to keep me out of the pub because I had work to do, she took me to a record shop. It was great, but I think it closed down in lockdown, unfortunately.
The bloke who ran it used to do the classic thing – get on a flight to America with two empty suitcases, fill ‘em with singles and bring ‘em back.
When you’re on tour, you have a thing called a carnet – you have to weigh all the equipment you go out with. In the old days, especially going to Europe, I’d be stuffing albums and singles in my guitar cases and amps and in the clothes wardrobe – anywhere I could shove a record I’d shove one and pick ‘em up at the other end. Brexit’s fucked that completely ‘cos you have to have a piece of paper for even a plectrum these days.
You got the seven-inch single of Jungle Walk by The Dyna-Sores, which is on the compilation, for five dollars from a woman in a second-hand clothes shop in Tucson, Arizona, and you bought a shirt there at the same time…
RH: That’s right – I had to wrangle for it. I don’t think she charged me for the single in the end – I had to pay a dollar more for the shirt, so she could write it down in her book.
Have you still got the shirt?
RH: I think I probably have.
‘There’s a sort of disdain when people buy records online. I’m certainly not snobby about it – I buy a lot of stuff online’
There are a couple of good record shops in Sheffield, aren’t there?
RH: There’s Record Collector and Bear Tree Records – that’s more modern stuff. I try and avoid the online thing but, the trouble is, nobody stocks anything serious – you have to go to record fairs for that.
There’s a sort of disdain when people buy records online – some people look down their noses at it – but, to be fair, I think that record shops selling online has kept them alive. I’m certainly not snobby about it – I buy a lot of stuff online.
If I see something I want that’s in Japan or Australia… I got an Australian release of a John D. Loudermilk single – he wrote Tobacco Road. Spending three grand or whatever it is on a fucking flight to Australia to buy a seven-inch single seems a little bit ridiculous.
The guy I bought it from wrote me a little note – he didn’t know who I was – but he said, ‘Thanks ever so much for buying my record – the online stuff keeps the record shop alive.’
What’s the most money you’ve ever spent on a seven-inch single?
RH: Oh, God. Sean – do you think me missus is going to read this?
What about rare vinyl? Are you on the lookout for anything?
RH: I bought a track called Hey Ma Ma by a garage band called The Crystal Rain. It was on a Texas psychedelia compilation and it’s such a fucking awesome track. My wife bought the compilation from Barry [owner] at Record Collector – there’s some landfill on it, but there are a couple of absolute bangers.
I always wanted a copy of Hey Ma Ma and one came up in the UK – I couldn’t believe it. It was some guy in Whitby and he just wanted a ‘buy it now’ price of £220. I paid that for it.
I bought a mint copy of Rock ‘N’ Roll no. 2 by Elvis – the English cover with the yellow background and he’s wearing a green velvet shirt – and I paid £250 for it. Me dad had it and played it to death, so his copy is unplayable now.
The first track on the compilation, Hornet’s Nest by Curtis Knight and The Squires, featuring Hendrix, is awesome. It’s a demented surf-garage rock instrumental – like a theme to a ‘60s superhero TV show…
RH: They were just jamming – a lot of those records were made as jukebox fillers. When you did a vocal, you had to pay more money to ASCAP [American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers], so there were lots of instrumentals which cost less money. Artists would just bang ‘em out – they didn’t spend hours, well some of them did, like Duane Eddy.
On that track, you can hear Hendrix starting to stretch out and starting to become what he became later. He was still playing the sort of Chitlin’ Circuit R & B.
I picked it up in New York for fuck all – about five dollars, if that. I can remember buying it. Now it’s one of the Holy Grails of seven-inch singles. I can remember there was a cardboard box filled with copies of it – I wish I’d bought the fucking lot!
When I pulled the record out, it was a eureka moment, and when I first heard it, it was beautiful. I’ve been a Hendrix fan my whole life. I know what amp, guitar and pedals he used.
Has it been released on CD before?
RH: From what I can gather, it’s the first time it’s been released unedited and the first time it’s had a proper pressing. On the original single, the track is split, like those old soul or James Brown records – Sex Machine Part 1 and Part 2.
It was a long track but because seven-inch singles only contain so much information, they had to split it between an A-side and a B-side.
Liz at Ace said that the Hendrix Foundation and his family gave her their blessing – they wrote her a really nice long message. It was a real coup. From what I’ve been told, it’s the first time ever the Hendrix Foundation and his family have willingly given their blessing for the track to be released.
‘The intention is to do several volumes, but I don’t deliberately want to make them obscure. With a lot of collectors, it’s about how obscure something is rather than how good it is’
There are some well-known artists on the compilation, like Hendrix, Bobby Darin, The Shadows and Bobbie Gentry, but lots of obscure ones too…
RH: There’s virtually no information on some of them and part of me kind of likes that…
The mystery of it…
RH: Yeah. The intention is to hopefully do several volumes. I’ve got so many records, but I don’t deliberately want to make them obscure because obscure is not always great, as we know from some ‘50s and ‘60s compilation albums. With a lot of collectors, it’s about how obscure something is rather than how good it is.
‘There’s some great stuff out there on radio, but mainstream radio is just unlistenable’
When you’re asked to do your own compilation, let’s be honest, it’s a bit of a vanity project – I’m obviously aware of that – but I like the idea that folks might hear stuff that they haven’t heard before and fans of mine might be turned onto a different path when the only other option is just listening to the radio. There’s some great stuff out there on radio, but mainstream radio is just unlistenable.
Have you got a favourite track on the compilation?
RH: No – I love ‘em all and I kind of like the randomness. It wasn’t that I was just going to do all instrumentals… I pulled about 50 singles out of a box – I roughly knew there were a couple of tracks in there… Hornet’s Nest was definitely one I wanted and there was all this other stuff, but, together, by accident, it sounded great. Often the things that we do in life are by accident rather than design.
So, finally, you’ve chosen your 28 Little Bangers. Any plans to do Hawley’s Big Bangers – a range of sausages flavoured with Henderson’s Relish?
RH: [Laughs]. Perhaps I could do some chipolatas.
28 Little Bangers From Richard Hawley’s Jukeboxis out now on Ace Records. It’s available on CD and two-LP gatefold.
After months of working on a special project, I can finally announce it… and it’s music to my ears, as well as yours.
I’ve teamed up with leading British hi-fi brand Cambridge Audio to launch a new podcast series called Made By Music, which is available to listen to exclusively on Spotify from today – just click here.
In each episode, I will get up close and personal with guests from the world of music to discuss key moments from their lives, in particular the records that shaped and influenced them, songs from their back catalogue, plus an ultimate “Music Moment.”
The first three episodes – streaming now – feature interviews with Pink Floyd bassist Guy Pratt, cultural icon Boy George, and legendary DJ/producer Norman Cook, better known as Fatboy Slim.
Further episodes with multi-award-winning and chart-topping artists, producers and more will be released every fortnight.
As well as their Music Moments, the artists tell me about their careers, identities, and the power of music.
When I spoke to Boy George, he told me: “When I hear a piece of music, it’s always about what it makes me feel emotionally, whether it makes me want to cry or burn down a building – those are the two options!”
Made By Music is the biggest and most exciting – and fun – project I’ve worked on, and I’d like to thank Cambridge Audio for giving me the chance to host this brand-new podcast and for supporting me during the past few months, while we’ve been coming up with the concept and recording the first few episodes – there are plenty more to come, so we’re going to be really busy. I can’t believe this is actually work!
‘When I hear a piece of music, it’s always about what it makes me feel emotionally, whether it makes me want to cry or burn down a building – those are the two options!’
Talking about the project, Cambridge Audio CEO, Stuart George, says: “It’s no secret that music connects with listeners on an emotional level and our new podcast celebrates that. Listening to these incredible artists and producers talk about life-changing music moments is spine-tingling.”
As well as being the name of the new podcast series, Made By Music also becomes Cambridge Audio’s new brand slogan, underlining its lifelong obsession for music and the musicians themselves.
You can also enjoy the video of each episode, which are filmed predominantly at Cambridge Audio’s own London-based live music venue, Melomania, and at key locations around the world.
‘It’s no secret that music connects with listeners on an emotional level and our new podcast celebrates that. Listening to these incredible artists and producers talk about life-changing music moments is spine-tingling’
I hope you enjoy Made By Music – don’t forget to follow us on Spotify. Right, I’d better be off – I’ve got research to do, music to play and people to meet…