Double Interview: Cotton and Like Trains & Taxis

jeanne crump speaks with two rising New Jersey rock bands: Cotton and Like Trains & Taxis …

Stop by The Saint in Asbury Park, N.J., on June 17, and you’ll find a pair of emerging local rock bands: Cotton and Like Trains & Taxis.

Cotton will celebrate the release of the first single off their debut album In The Basement. They’re making a sample track available for free digital download on the day of the show. Physical copies of the single will be given as a free gift to everyone who attends. Jeanne Crump spoke with Brandon Broderick of Cotton about the band and the upcoming show.

COTTON

Pop-Break: After having the band Cotton for six years now, what was the recent motivation for going into the studio and recording your first album?

Cotton: Our motivation for recording this album was to change our focus to sincere songwriting. We knew we were a good live band but we wanted to take it to another level in the studio and make a solid album, which we believe is something that local and rising acts tend to push off or forget about.

PB: Asbury Park is definitely host to one of the best indie music scenes in the Northeast. What made you decide to release your single live at The Saint in Asbury versus in New York City or North Jersey?

C: Asbury has always been good to us since we’ve started. The Stone Pony had embraced us with open arms and the community feels more tight knit and very open to the arts. New York City is very hard to break into and it’s far too big to establish any kind of community and that’s a main focus for us now — to be able to connect with our fans at a personal and interactive level.

PB: I think it’s great how you recorded live footage in the studio and kept all your fans aware of your progress. Do you think it was worth it? What kind of feedback have you gotten around the in-studio footage?

C: We thought charting our progress in the studio gives fans a chance to see what we’re doing musically and creatively. In this day and age where Twitter and status updates are prominent, it’s good to let fans know what you’re doing because they feel more connected and involved.

PB: Are you planning any kind of tour around your debut album?

C: Yes, we are planning multiple dates to help support the release of our album. We’re focusing on fewer shows than normal but with the idea of maximizing each date to get the most amount of people out and to really help expand our buzz across the state. The album comes out in the fall, so the majority of dates will turn into a fall tour.

PB: And for the always-trusty cliche question: What bands have most influenced your songwriting and musical style?

C: We’re a weird band when it comes to influences. Each of us have really diverse tastes in music and we all tend to like different styles. We’ve been influenced by Dave Matthews, Springsteen, Tom Waits, Incubus, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and ’80s hair metal even. It really depends on who your asking and what day It is.

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LIKE TRAINS & TAXIS

Jeanne Crump speaks with Chris Harris of Like Trains & Taxis

PB: I read that you will be featuring a new production style at the Saint show June 17 that will be on your upcoming second album. Without spoiling the surprise, can you tell us a little about this new style and why you decided to change things up?

Like Trains And Taxis: From the very beginning, when the band was just me on piano and Owen on acoustic guitar, the goal has been to get to a point where we could confidently say that our songs had been fully realized. Whatever we do now is just a continuation of that pursuit. At the heart of it, we’re trying to shed the restrictions attached to being a three piece, especially when it comes to our live show, without having to actually go through the process of finding a new member of the band, or pay other musicians for one-off gigs. For a while now, we’ve been flirting with samples as a way to achieve this end with varying degrees of success. I think we’ve finally started to figure out how to make it work in a way that we all feel good about, but the learning process is ongoing.

PB: Your music has been described as everything from jazz, alternative pop, and indie soul. As a songwriter, what genre or style of music would you best describe your music to someone who’s never heard it?

LTAT: All of the above, and whatever other descriptions people can come up with. As far as I’m concerned, you can call it whatever you want. I don’t much care for labels, and at this point, I don’t even really care if people like our music. The most important thing is that people are listening; that what we do is part of a larger dialogue about what contemporary art and music is, or should be. In reality, we’re not even close to being a part of that dialogue, at least in any meaningful way. Hopefully, our next record can help change that.

PB: Like Trains And Taxis went on a national tour last year. What was one of the best moments the band had while on the road?

LTAT: I’m sure everyone has their own moment. Mike usually cites the run of three shows that took us from Burlington, Vt.; to College Park, Pa.; to Syracuse, N.Y., in 24 hours. Owen talks about the 19th century mansion we stayed at in Kentucky. The cool part about this place wasn’t really that it was an old mansion, but that the mansion had been used as a makeshift hospital during the civil war. For me, over a year later, everything is still kind of a blur, but I think the best moment actually took place in our van, with Simon & Garfunkel’s “America” playing in the background. In that instant, all the stresses of tour faded away, and I was able to recognize how special what we were doing was; not so much as a band, but as young people. The opportunity to travel around the country, to truly see and experience it with people that are important to you, is priceless. I will cherish it always.

PB: And for the always-trusty cliche question: What bands have most influenced your song writing and musical style?

LTAT: Too many to name, and even if I did, it’s doubtful that you’d actually hear much of a connection in our music. Some bands wear their influences on their sleeve, and that’s cool. I think ours are so wrapped up in who we are as people, that it’s a little harder to tell. I guess you could say that it’s part of what makes us unique, and, on the flip side, part of what makes our sound more difficult for people to relate to. I will tell you that on our upcoming record, the initial inspiration for some of the songs came from our attempt to imitate other styles in contemporary pop music. I’m eager to see if people pick up on the source material. My guess is probably not, and that’s just fine with me. Some things are better left a mystery.

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