A Conversation with AJR – HuffPost 3.3.15

Mike Ragogna: Hey, Met brothers! Your debut album Living Room is finally out. Kinda excited?

Ryan Met: We’re incredibly excited for this release! The album was actually written, recorded, produced and mixed by the three of us in our living room — hence the name. It’s hard work, but it’s definitely worth it to see our precise vision come to fruition on the record.

MR: Okay, what your part in the band is, what are your interests?

Jack Met: Adam plays bass, Ryan plays keys and ukulele and I play sample-machine and guitar. We all sing as well. I play a lot of tennis, Ryan is pretty interested in film, and Adam is an avid reader of philosophy.

MR: How did making music together come together? Who were your musical influences?

Adam Met: We’re such fans of the music of the 1950s and ’60s. Bands like The Beach Boys and Simon and Garfunkel truly sparked our love of those classic songwriting techniques. Recently, we started getting into contemporary music with artists like Imagine Dragons and Lorde. There’s a lot of innovation happening right now in the alt-pop scene. We love to take influence from that sort of creativity.

MR: How do you come up with the topics you write about? Are they from personal experiences, writing objectively, all of the above?

RM: It differs from song to song. On this record, it was important for us to showcase different perspectives. We have anthemic party jams like “I’m Ready” and “Thirsty,” juxtaposed to more profound deep cuts like “The Green and The Town” and “Growing Old On Bleecker Street.” “The Green And The Town” was actually inspired by a book I read while I was at Columbia, Virgils’s Aeneid. A lot of the imagery from the epic poem inspired coming-of-age lyrics on top of a Mumford-esque pirate beat.

MR: How have you grown so far from where you first started playing together until now? Are there any musical contemporaries that you admire?

AM: Ten years ago, we got our start street performing in the parks of New York City. We would busk out in Washington Square Park playing covers and originals, and ended up making enough money to buy a microphone, ukulele, and Pro Tools. After that, we brought it all back to the living room and began recording from there. The single microphone that we used to record this album was the same SM-58 that we bought for $90 all those years ago.

We admire many of the hip-hop-influenced producers who branch out into other genres like Jeff Bhasker, Alex da Kid, and even Kanye West. These are the guys that are elevating mainstream pop instead of avoiding it.

MR: What are your favorite performances and songs on the album?

RM: Right now, my favorite on the album is a song called “Thirsty.” It’s one of our more bizarre songs, but it came out catchy enough to resonate with a lot of people.

AM: My favorite track on the album is the “Overture.” We took the classical structure of an overture and modernized it; we layered the themes of every song on the album on top of one another to create a quasi album sampler.

JM: Mine keeps changing, but at the moment, my favorite song on the album is “Big White Bed.” We wanted to create something that sounded more traditional from the 1960s but throw it into a synth heavy reverb landscape.

MR: What are you planning for the Webster Hall show?

JM: We’ve come to see that our fans are really cool and down to earth. We revamped a lot of our live show to incorporate our most loyal fans and give them experiences that are unique to our album release. Our whole image for this band is a no-bullshit, authentic project where we can be exactly who we are, and we want the show to reflect that.

MR: How do you see the band’s sound and recordings evolving?

RM: Our sound has gone through many different stages because we have been doing this for so long. We started out a more folky retro sound and then turned in a hip-hop direction, and settled on this indie-pop sound that we felt best translated what we wanted to say as a band.

MR: In what ways do you think being brothers and around each other all the time help with the creativity?

JM: Being brothers allows us to be completely honest with each other. We all have a very similar vision for the direction of the music and it is a more productive process when you have a comfortability and mutual respect for the other musicians.

MR: What advice do you have for new artists?

AM: We live in a great time in the world of music where the best ideas win. In the 80s, throwing a million dollars at an artist lead to success, but not anymore. In an oversaturated, Internet based market, only the most creative ideas will bubble up and make it to the top. Our advice to new artists would be: think hard about what makes you unique and expand upon it.

MR: Does AJR have a flight plan?

RM: We are very excited for the world to hear our album. We will be touring to support it and be sure to check out our new single, “Infinity!” This has been a very long journey and we are excited to see where it takes us. We are writing for a bunch of other artists and even remixing other songs. Our path is diverse and we hope to continue spreading our message.

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