When you're born at the Jersey Shore the same year Born to Run is released, it's more than likely that a little Bruce Springsteen might have slipped into your DNA. When singer-songwriter Jay Leibowitz started making music on the keyboard he bought with his bar mitzvah money, The Boss' musical presence was virtually "inescapable."
How would you describe your sound?
American Rock Music? Good truck drivin’ music? Especially if you aim to drive yourself off of a cliff after 35 minutes. I’m just kidding. Unless that helps sell records. Does it? Probably not. I actually said that to a guy who owns a pretty big label at a party earlier this year. He laughed. Then his wife yelled at me. Needless to say, I’m not on his label.
The first track is an actual recording of a voicemail I left for my producer and dear friend, Zac Lasher (previously of the popular indie prog rock band, U-Melt). It was supposed to be a two month project but it took two years! When Zac and I sat down to begin work on the record, I had about five different ways of playing each song. There was the solo coffee house version, the band version, and everything in between. I needed help to figure out which style worked for each song and how I could fuse the parts together.
One night, walking home, I got jumped by four kids trying to get into a gang. I fought them off and left town forever a week later. Choice made. I spent the next several months making the demos that would later become the record. Also: women.
What’s the reception been like for Pedestrian Life?
Really great! A lot of people really connect to a lot of different material. Everyone seems to have a different favorite song, which I hope speaks to the diversity of style and content on there. The last song, “Sentimental Song”, is one that a lot of people really connect to the most. That’s interesting to me because it’s really the most personal of all the songs. The more honest we are, the more we connect. A lesson I learn over and over.
Who plays on the record? Who produced it? Where was it recorded?
Zac Lasher produced the record and plays keyboards. We tracked most of the guitars at his previous band’s studio at the McKibbin lofts in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Josh Parrish, who was the sound engineer for U-Melt, did an excellent job mixing the record. Zac and Josh come together to form Brooklyn Sound Lab. I’m playing all the guitars except for the lead on "Pedestrian Life." That’s the incredible Vin Stanton who also plays with (another Riffraf artist) Jem Warren. Dan McNaney is our terrific bass player - except on “Stuck” and “Sentimental” - that’s me on those. Prolific indie punk drummer Jack “Fantastic” Criswell tracked the drums at Rad Studio in Brooklyn with Damon Dorsey engineering. Steve Berson from Totalsonic mastered it.
What’s next musically?
I’ve got a great band in rehearsal and, in the spirit of the tardiness of the record, a record release will happen finally this Fall. Or Winter. I’m writing a lot of material, and I’m hoping to get back in the studio again next year. The new music is shaping up to be a lot more sparse and subtle.
Zac and I are very busy right now creating and workshopping what we’re calling a “Shakespeare Rock Show” based on Shakespeare’s As You Like It where everyone acts, sings, and plays. But it isn’t a musical. It’s a Shakespeare Rock Show.