Thursday, July 16, 2009

Josh Mease doesn't let the distractions get in the way

By Meredith Deliso

In retrospect, Brooklyn-based songwriter Josh Mease wishes he had recorded his debut LP Bon Iver-style, in the backwoods of some empty, but more importantly, quiet cabin. Instead, he did it in his Park Slope closet last summer, battling running showers, Prospect Park Expressway traffic, and a persistent garage sale.

“There was a Spanish garage sale happening everyday outside my window,” remembers Mease. “I was trying to record stuff in-between times of yelling and drinking, which was a challenge.”

Though it was decidedly not recorded in the wild, he decided to call the album “Wilderness.”

“It felt at times like I was by myself bushwhacking, trying to get through the whole process,” says Mease, who currently lives in Ditmas Park. “I felt like I was pioneering my own music.”

Mease celebrates the release of the album, out on Frog Stand Records, July 27 with a show at Mercury Lounge in Manhattan.

Were it not recorded under those circumstances, the album might lack its intimacy and originally, especially in the imaginative lyrics on songs like the summery “Days Like This” and beautifully strange “Tall Trees.” (Watch the new video to the single, "White Diamonds," here).

In his musical education, Mease owes much to greats like The Beatles, Willie Nelson and the Everly Brothers, as well as his classical jazz guitar training at the New School. Halfway through that program, he realized his heart was in songwriting.

“I got into Radiohead and Stevie Wonder in school. It made me want to try my hands at writing songs and singing them,” says Mease. “I felt like I’m better at doing that than playing bebop jazz guitar. It was more fulfilling. I think there’s something to playing a song with words that makes people perk up and pay attention.”

His jazz training will always be in his music, but don’t expect any self-indulgent solos when he takes to the stage at Mercury lounge with his band, comprised of a bassist, drummer, keyboardist, and Mease on guitar. Though he might have some horns for something a little extra special at the show.

With his debut out now, Mease already has his sights set on his next effort. Though for that one he might take the recording sessions into a quieter environment.

“For the next one, I think I’m going to get out of the city, and do part of it in a nice regular studio without distractions,” he says. “Maybe I’ll call it ‘Metropolis.’”

Celebreate the release of ‘Wildnerness with Josh Mease July 27 at Mercury Lounge (217 E. Houston St.) at 9 p.m. Tickets are $10. For more information, call 212-260-4700.


Anonymous,  July 16, 2009 at 5:34 PM  

the video is really cool...should be a good record

Anonymous,  July 17, 2009 at 11:08 AM  

I can't wait for the CD release show! Josh is great live.

Anonymous,  July 17, 2009 at 6:34 PM  

Seeing Josh live is amazing - everyone should go to his show !

Anonymous,  July 18, 2009 at 8:57 PM  

A great composer, singer, and songwriter. This cd is refreshing and a great accomplishment.

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