interview by Christopher M. Halleron
Photos: Michael Koehler at Koehler Photography
He’s been pretty busy since then, by the looks of things. With a new EP forthcoming, he has taken a step back in the hope of moving things forward—seizing the rare opportunity to focus on what matters and leave the rest in the background where it belongs.
hMAG: What are you calling this collection of work? Does the EP have a name?
Liam Brown: We’re calling the EP “The Silver Horse Session”—a classic studio live recording kinda title. There are 5 songs on the released EP, but I think we recorded about 15 songs that day… old as well as very new. I wanted to lay down the new songs but I didn’t really want to get back into the studio and start tracking and overdubbing and click tracks, etc. It takes so long and really I think takes away from the honesty of the songs. I just wanted to get the crew into “Silver Horse Sound”, play music, have a good time and hit record. See what happens.
h: Who would you consider to be your influences, vocally?
LB: Wow, great question. My voice is an instrument I’m constantly learning and tuning. If it’s an storytelling song I tend to sway towards Christy Moore. He is a massive influence on everything I do musically; Singing, Writing, and Guitar. But with that said I love reggae, calypso, the blues, punk so I’m influenced by people I admire and whose songs shaped my style like Harry Belafonte, Greg Allman, Bradley Nowell, Jeff Buckley, Paul Brady, and Bobby Bland. Lets be honest—I sound nothing like any of these people, but I use them as tool to find the right notes to fit a song I’m writing or performing.
h: Musically, you’re drawing from a pretty big buffet. How do you balance it all on one plate?
LB: Probably by not trying to balance it. Let the music do the work. Put in your 10,000 hours and you’re bound to find your style no matter what it is you’re passionate about.
Truth is I’m not able to focus on one style, I’m not good enough! I have to mash em all together. Maybe chaos brings balance. I mean look at the people in the band; the legendary Dave Entwistle on guitar and vocals, Jaime DeJesus on Bass and vocals and John Roccesano (Johnny Rock) who is an absolute class drummer (Not to mention, Studio Owner, Producer, Engineer). But then you’ve got Ryan Freid who is all around musical phenom on the baddest Harmonica you’ll ever hear, but plays it with a Mandolin around his neck. And finally Max Feinstein who, no matter how hard I look, I can’t find a label for him. I basically asked these two guys to be in the band and told them they can do whatever they want. I guess they brought balance.
h: Obviously I was immediately drawn to “Irish Song.” Do you find it’s difficult for Irish singers/songwriters to avoid being pigeon-holed? At the same time, the music is so alluring—as songwriter, do you find it difficult to avoid going back to such a deep well?
LB: I guess you have to ask, is being pigeon-holed a bad thing?
I’m sure I used think so, but then I came down to earth and realized who cares. I’m playing music. I actually feel privileged and lucky to have such a deep well to go back to. You bring up “Irish Song’. That song is a horse of a different color for me. That song is my diary, my biography, and my memoir. That is my most personal song because every line is a moment or a time in my life. It’s goes from me and my family together listening to music in Ireland to me playing my first gig in Hoboken. As far as lyrics go I’ll never write a better song, That’s why it’s the first song on the EP.
h: You’ve taken a bit of a break from the music scene, including a notable absence from the Hoboken Last Waltz. Can you tell us what compelled you to walk it back a bit, and what you’ve done in that time?
LB: I went at it pretty hard for a number of years trying to be the best musician and performer I could be. You can only learn how to be on stage by BEING on stage and you can only get your name out there by BEING out there.
I remember once having 12 gigs in 12 nights at 12 different venues. Also, at one point I was in four bands and running an open mic in JC at The Brightside—as well as going to other open mics.
I wanted nothing more than to perform and make music. But I was burning myself out, which caused me to hit creative walls.
NOT TO MENTION I now have a family and 2 amazing sons. The only way you can learn how to be a father is by BEING a father. I’m now at home a lot more, playing piano and playing guitar with them. And almost every night at 6PM we have the Jackie Wilson hour where we all dance around to Jackie Wilson records. They are inspiring new songs every day.
I of course certainly miss playing the big gigs such as The Last Waltz, but Christina Alessi filled in for me on “Caravan,” so I highly doubt anybody noticed my absence. I’ll be back though.
h: It sounds like you had a lot of fun working on these tracks. What was it like in the studio at Silver Horse Sound, and who was in there with you?
LB: That’s the whole reason I wanted to do a live EP—so you can hear the fun. It was a great day. Local heartthrob Ross Sandler was at the session, which is great because he can be heard singing along in the background at certain spots.
That’s what I love about the recording, pure genuine and professionally raw. Silver Horse is located in Hoboken’s Sound Wars Studios which is run by Laz Pina. Sound Wars has been a home away from home for me for a few years and we have a sort of Fraternity there. So it made sense to record there.
h: What will we see on Friday night at Willie’s?
LB: Friday night? I have no idea but I know it will be fun. You’ll hear some new songs, old songs, covers, Picards, and I’m sure a lot more. Its great also that we’re playing at Willie McBride’s. They reached out to me and really wanted to get more involved in the local music scene. The Ross Sandler Band and Unlimited Breadsticks played there recently, and Casey and The Dirty Water Dogs are playing next month. Local musicians really need more places to play, and now with Willie’s stepping up its great. Between Finnegan’s and Willie McBride’s now, an Irishman doesn’t have to look to hard to find a place to play.
h: What’s your plan for 2018?
LB: Who knows what 2018 is going to bring? I’d love to get another 1 or 2 EP’s out—I have a lot of new songs I need to record. Plus there’s lots of new music coming out of the area and little by little new venues open up. Darryl Joo has a new single being released, Christina Alessi just released some new material, Defending Champions have new stuff, so it’s pretty exciting. You’ve got White Eagle Hall in Jersey City up and running now, so the future of Hudson County Music definitely looks bright.
Catch Liam Brown & The Pounds—Friday, January 12 at Willie McBride’s in Hoboken. Show starts at 10 p.m.