Scott Reynolds Gets Real: "Everybody Has a Band, And Most Suck"
Like many musical stalwarts from the late '80s, early '90s, Scott Reynolds' fans are fervent and diverse, their common thread is a deep connection to his particular fusion of pop-punk fundamentals, traditional jazz arrangements, folk balladry, a little bit of cowboy twang, and a conservative dose of art house quirk. Their affinity for his unique work is what fueled a successful Kickstarter campaign last August that raised more than $17,000, in one month, toward recording a new album.
Since then, Reynolds -- a severely deft and prolific multi-instrumentalist who previously played with ALL, Goodbye Harry, The Pavers, and Bonesaw Romance -- has been rather mum. He's released a YouTube video here and there, and ventured out on brief tour stints, but aside from that, however: Nada. Where's the album?!
We tracked him down between tour dates to ask how this mysterious album was progressing. He told us about his beef with the Miami Heat, a new project in the works with Florida native Sam Williams of Down by Law, and what he'd name his dream band.
New Times: Can you describe a typical day for you nowadays?
Scott Reynolds: I spend most of my day scrambling around, worried, trying to figure out how I'm gonna get everything done that I should be getting done.
Then, at some point, I calm down and play my guitar. Some nights, I go to work at one of the bars that employs me. Other nights, I lock myself in my room and work on any number of projects to which I am currently committed. I'm generally a scatterbrained mess, and it's a wonder I get anything accomplished at all.
So how far are you into the new album? How close is it to being done, and do you have a name for it yet?
I've had quite a bit done. But I decided that I didn't really like what was going on. I had a number of musicians lined up to help me, but now I'm thinking that I really kinda want to play almost everything myself, and record it in my room. So I've taken a couple steps backwards as of late, but I feel like it will really start rolling now. With every record I've been a part of so far, I've made compromises with the others involved.
Money, time constraints, people who are smarter than me, people who play better than me, things like that have always caused me to simplify or adjust my own creative vision. Sometimes it's been for the better. Other times, not so much.
But this time, for better or worse, I want this record to sound as much like what I hear in my head as possible. So I took a step back, and pretty much started over. So, in answer to your question, I'm not sure when it will be done, but I'm really excited about what's happening. And I don't know the title yet. I've got several ideas.
Scott isn't a southpaw, however he appears as one in this video which preceded his successful Kickstarter bid.
What's going on with Bonesaw Romance, the Steaming Beast, and 40Engine?
The Bonesaw Romance is defunct. We made one record. Then I had some family struggles that kind of took me away from music for a period of time, and it killed the momentum. I'd actually like to maybe do another record with them. I loved that record, but I don't think that will happen. I blew it pretty bad. Jay, the drummer, pretty much hates me and he kinda started the band.
The Steaming Beast is just a clever way for me to have a band and never have any set musicians. It's really just me, and whoever I can sucker into participating. So, as far as this "band" goes, the sky is the limit. We (I) have nothing currently planned though. And 40Engine is pretty much the Little Engine Who Couldn't. It was an idea that Stephen Egerton (Descendents/ALL guitar monster) and I got all gassed about a few years ago. But it sputtered out. I wouldn't hold my breath for that one, but you never know.
You've remained pretty active during time between projects, with a library of videos on YouTube and daily updates on social media sites like Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter. How have those tools helped you, and in what ways do you miss how things used to be?
I honestly don't know how much they've helped. I'm not shrewd enough to sufficiently manipulate the system to get my brand out there. I think, if I was more clever, they probably would be an asset. But mostly, I think I just waste my time making stupid videos, and getting a good laugh.
My friend Jeff Perlmutter makes videos for some of my songs. He's very clever, and I have some hope that, one day, people will find him, catapult him to internet stardom, and I'll ride his coattails. You should check out his stuff. Go to YouTube and look up Fissure Films.
There are so many things I miss about the pre-internet days, that I scarcely know where to start. I think mostly I miss being able to find good music. When I was young, there were very few places to go for music. You had a couple labels you trusted, and a favorite record store. It was easy to find what you wanted. Now, you can't see the forest for the trees. Everybody has a band, and every band puts out a record. And most suck. So exceptional musicians get buried under the huge pile of insipid rock star wannabes that are all over the internet. I think that's what bugs me the most. Many, many, many untalented people getting in the way of the very few exceptional ones.
You're pretty vocal about it -- what's your beef with the Miami Heat, dude?!
I can't stand the way that team came into being. I hate that they created their own mega-team. It just bugs me. Professional athletes feel so little loyalty to their home cities as it is. It's pretty much a joke to consider any team a product of the city it represents because free agency has made the whole system so mercenary.
Then, when the athletes themselves buck that system, and create their own teams not only to get paid, but also to design their own dynasties, the entire league seems like a joke. The Heat are only Miami's team in the sense that the "Big 3" happened to hang their hats there. If they could have found a more equitable situation in another city, that's where they'd be. And I think that sucks. Plus I'm sick of hearing about LeBron.
OK, that was honestly in jest. Back to the real questions: What have you been listening to lately? More specifically, what three albums are currently on your iPOD, CD player, turntable, tape deck, etc.?
I don't really listen to whole albums. I can only think of a few records that I like front to back. I listen to such an eclectic array of stuff that it's hard to answer this question.
Lately, I've been listening to the Paul McCartney Ram a lot. On that record, he kind of accomplishes what I wish I could accomplish on my new record. His vocals, and instrumentation, and recording techniques are all over the place. It's pretty brave the way he does things. Really interesting record. Also, been listening to Dave Brubeck a bit. He has always soothed me, and I'm a pretty nervous person. So I find myself wandering back to him a lot. There's a british band called the Mummers that I really like lately. And Black Flag has come up. I also listened to the Ricky Skaggs Live In London a couple times last week. And the Band, and Queen (I'm not a huge Queen fan, but I love a few of their songs a lot). And (believe it or not) Hall and Oats has come up. Mostly for the song writing. Brian Eno, The Fall, the Beatles, and Frank Zappa are all on my ipod right now. I could go on forever. Tough question.
I read somewhere that you played in a band -- two separate bands, actually -- with Tony Lombardo and Frank Navetta (the original bassist and guitarist of the Descendents) prior to joining ALL. In addition to projects with Stephen Egerton and your upcoming project with Sam Williams (Down By Law band mate of previous ALL singer Dave Smalley), does this make you the most confusing leaf on the Descendents/ALL family tree?
I don't know. Does it? It helps that the Frank, Tony, and Stephen stuff never came out on any record. I think my "leaf" would be a whole lot more confusing if we had all released stuff. I'm not sure a band from so long ago is worth mentioning if you can't listen to them anywhere. I'd say Bill is the most confusing, except that he is the only cog in the Descendents/ALL machine that's been there all along. I think this answer might make me more confusing than him.
Although you started Steaming Beast as a way to perpetuate your music without having to use the same members all the time, it looks like you may not use that name for your upcoming album. Why?
Because I'm gonna play most everything. It's kind of not the same thing. Plus, I'm indecisive, unorganized, and completely right-brained. So I can't stick to a plan.
Your music has always struck me as being naturally inclined toward a more quirky style of punk rock. How much of this is a deliberate decision for you and is it distressing how homogenized a lot of music has become?
It is zero percent deliberate. I don't even consider what I do punk rock really. I think I always end up in a "punk rock" type band because I'm a product of my generation, and the musicians with whom I've surrounded myself have played loud guitars and don't have good equipment.
Well, maybe that's not a hundred percent honest. I do like me some punk rock. I guess my point is, if my stuff is quirky, it's only because I'm artistically indecisive, not because I'm legitimately eccentric. I know that I write far too many words when I'm writing lyrics, because I'm not clever enough to get my point across without them. I'm not intellectually efficient, and that sometimes comes across as deliberate and quirky.
Unfortunately, I also think when I overcomplicate my songs they become less catchy, and therefore more forgettable. Gotta work on that.
As for the second part of your question: absolutely. It amazes me that we live in an era where all the information collected over all the years of man's existence is right there at our fingertips via the internet; yet our art and music and even our discourse has become more unidirectional than at any time I can remember. How does that work? Maybe we're overwhelmed by our choices, so we choose not to choose. Maybe this is a conversation for another time. In answer to your question: Yeah, it sucks that music mostly sucks now.
If you could assemble a dream band with anyone, living or dead, who would be in it and what would you call it?
Um... Wow, I'm really not sure. I really can't answer this one. There are too many people. But I think I would call it Lumpy.
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