Interviews: Left Coast Interview
Posted on Tuesday, April 15 @ 18:13:46 EDT by Koggie
Interviews Mysterious Music: Left Coast’s Neal Hedegard and Roger Nigg Speak by Jedd Beaudoin

Left Coast’s Worlds of Mystery is available directly from the band at this very moment. What follows is an interview conducted with guitarist Neal Hedegard (supreme Brit-based guitars) and (solid-as-hell) drummer Roger Nigg.

JB: Can you talk about the challenges you’ve faced, being an independent band? For instance, releasing a CD today must be easier than it used to be but it’s not that easy.

NH: What you do is, you set a goal, then you set out to accomplish that. Some things are simple: take, for example, sharpening a pencil: you grab the pencil, you go to the sharpener, and you’re done. Other things, building aircraft or making a CD, require many intricate steps and involve a lot of processes where you’re not really involved. But you have to stay focused. You truly have to understand where you are and where you want to be. But if you can keep that game plan, then you should meet with success. The problem a lot of people have, I think, is that people start in and they lose their interest or if they’re not familiar with recording ... a lot of people think you go into a studio and two days later you’ve produced an album. Maybe they’re not aware of the steps it takes to put things together. Then, and this is probably of equal importance: it’s one thing to go out and make a CD but then what? Are you going to stand in front of your house and say, “Look what I did?” You have to actually be forward-thinking and as you approach completion of a CD, you have to say, “What are we going to do? How are we going to market this?”

JB: Do you think that, in some ways, the technology we currently have at our disposal is in some ways as much a curse as it is a blessing? That some people put things out when they’re not really ready to?

NH: I guess you could look at it that way. But I’m a person who believes in the laws of physics and that everything’s in a state of balance. Nature takes its course. If you do something that’s not right for the time, you’re going to find out very quick. If you’re baking a cake and pull it out of the oven too soon, it may look good because the outside is cooked but as soon as you bite into it, [you learn otherwise]. So, computers and the other technologies have allowed people to go from $200-an-hour studios to $45-$50-an-hour studios, to literally recording in their bedrooms. I do a lot of business with people who want to come in and do just the drums because they can’t bang away in their bedroom: they come in here, do the drums, go home and drop the drum tracks onto their computer. I think that’s a blessing. That is doing more good than it is harm. Before we had this stuff, in all honesty, you were condemned to listen to whatever some guy in an office was convinced you wanted.

JB: There’s a strong gut-level feel to your music, somewhat older sensibilities, though the music’s not dated. Who were some of the bands that you looked to for inspiration along the way?

RN: I would say that growing up in the late ’70s and early ’80s it was Rush and now, even to this day, Yes. I think that even though they’ve changed, they’ve kept their edge and a very melodic approach to music. That’s something we’ve always tried to do: to keep a melodic edge to our music while incorporating more a rhythmic-type approach, versus just playing something pop-ish.

NH: I play a Les Paul through Marshalls, so there’s an inherent sound there, the sound of rock: you can trace it back to Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page and [the Marshalls, at least] to Jimi Hendrix, guys who seemed to know what they were doing, so to speak [laughs]. Plus, just growing up listening to rock, you know what it takes to put drive in music. I think a lot of music today is just organized chaos, garbage. There’s no real purpose or meaning: you put a bunch of chords together and smack out a song. What we do, not to say that it’s dated, but I think it hits you in the head, heart, and hips: the three things that motivate all people.

JB: You’ve both played in cover bands over the years. Can you talk a little bit about the importance of learning other people’s songs in the sense where you learn it, make it your own and then transfer it into your own craft?

RN: I played in a lot of bands throughout my life, from jazz bands to marching bands to symphonic bands. I’ve been exposed to a lot of things and going into my 20s, I was still new to creating music. I think the technical background that I had from all that playing, allowed me to come up with a style that allowed me to feel good in my heart and I was probably also influenced by the progressive bands that were big back in the ’80s. A lot of times, when we write, Neal will be playing certain phrases that strike a chord with me, although he might not realize at first how they hit someone else. I look for something that has substance.

NH: A baseball pitcher has to have a repertoire of four pitches. So, playing in cover bands means paying your dues but it also means you’re picking up these standard chops that will stand the test of time. So, what you do is collect a lot of information; later on, you figure out how it fits together, then you put your own sound to it and away you go.

JB: Can you talk a little bit about the role that trust plays in writing songs and in a band in general?

NH: A variety of things will bust up a band: lack of inspiration, lack of motivation, drugs,and ego. What it comes down to is that you have to feel comfortable with the people you’re working with. You have to be so comfortable that you can tell somebody, “Boy, that part is just not going to happen.” In the making of Worlds Of Mystery, for instance, there were a lot guitar parts that didn’t make it and I had to accept it. You have to be able to accept it and you can’t doubt t [your bandmates]. You have to give them the same room to question that you’d like to have.

JB: Can you talk about having a thick skin, or self-trust?

RN: There’s actually a song we’re working on now that everybody’s stoked about. Except me. Now, we haven’t put lyrics to it but it really hasn’t hit me. I do feel we should give it time and that once the lyrics are there it will work. There have been other times like that. If there’s somebody in the band that’s against a song for whatever reason, so be it. We’ll move on and create something that everyone’s into.

NH: As the old saying goes, you manage time, money and materials but you lead men. You can’t have management by committee. You can’t all sit down and vote on every little thing. It’ll get you nowhere. We’re very fortunate in that we’re open-minded and that, having a studio, we can try different ideas, record them. In all honesty, you lay it down, play it back and you know right away whether it works or not.

JB: How vital is striking a mood and maintaining it to the artistic success of an album?

RN: I usually feel it. I can’t explain it, it’s just an uplifting feeling. Sometimes, that feeling is instantaneous.

NH: If we have a strong suit, it’s our sense of feeling. Mood is feeling and I think it’s critical that music has some feeling, otherwise you’re just standing in an elevator, waiting for your floor to come up.