Black Cat : Chatting With Never Shout Never's Christofer Drew, Plus Dawn & Hawkes and Geoff deBree Exclusives

DAWN & HAWKES' "YOURS AND MINE" EXCLUSIVE

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photo courtesy of Dawn & Hawkes

According to Chris Hawkes...

"A year ago, we took a spontaneous road trip to Big Sur and fell in love with a little hidden trail off the highway that lead down through woods to the Partington Cove. Miranda Dawn found a four leaf clover there and I think we both agreed this spot felt lucky."

Miranda Dawn adds...

"We didn't know then just how special it would become or that a year later we would elope in that very same spot and release video of the romantic journey with our song Yours and Mine. This video embodies everything that we feel grateful for and want to share- this adventure, this music, this love, this human experience."

An instant download of "Yours And Mine" will be available with album pre-order Friday August 21st.

For more information...

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A Conversation with Never Shout Never's Christofer Drew

Mike Ragogna: Chris, Black Cat is Never Shout Never's sixth album, depending how you're counting, since 2007. That's a lot of output in a relatively short period of time. What's driving that?

Christofer Drew: I guess, really, it's just songwriting. I'm always doing it because it's like a hobby. I've been doing this since I was just a teenager. Back in the day, I made this goal where I wanted to write a song every day and I just did that for a while and I ended up with a bunch of frickin' songs lying around so I wanted to record them and get it over with.

MR: Are you still reaching back to some of those very early songs and re-working them up?

CD: Yeah. Some of our better new material is old ideas that have been revamped and made into something more together.

MR: How has the group evolved?

CD: Well, the lineup is pretty awesome right now, we're a four piece and we've got two other guys that play live with us, so that's going really good. I feel like we're headed in a direction where we're growing into a sound right now. We made a pop record with Black Cat, but that was because we hadn't really tried to make a pop album in years and we just wanted to try to do it. But moving forward from here, I feel like it's going to be getting even more jammy and more musical as time goes on.

MR: More musical meaning there'll be more emphasis on what you guys create without an agenda?

CD: I mean like doing a lot of stuff live. That's definitely where we're headed. We're not trying to go more pop after this record, we're trying to just keep it more artistic and experimental at times.

MR: What was the change like from being an indie band to getting signed in 2009?

CD: What I've noticed is it just opened up opportunities. I've been able to work with a handful of great producers over the years and learned a bunch from them. I feel like that along probably wouldn't have been able to happen independently. Also just having a big team of people has made a huge difference. I've released some stuff independently while I've been with Warner and I've noticed that without the Warner team it just truly doesn't reach as many people.

MR: What was it like in the early days back in Joplin, Missouri, and what has the band's evolution been like?

CD: Back in the day, it was pretty acoustic starting out. We would just do two guitars and then some percussion and keep it really minimal, and then as time went on we started putting a band together, just friends from around and then whenever we hit the first tour was when we had the band together. Back then, we didn't know what we were doing exactly, we were just writing songs and trying to relate with people and make music that connected. I'd really say from then to now we've just gotten a lot better at our instruments and had a lot of experience to get better. I just feel like at this point we just want to roll into the second half of this band and write some really good tunes and try to do it right. We just added a new guitar player, this guy Ian Crawford. He's played in a couple great bands. He's like a shredder guitarist and a great writer. He helped write with me and there was a good connection there. We've been writing some great stuff now, too. I feel like that alone, just having another great songwriter in the band has really opened up a new horizon for us. For all the earlier stuff it was just me writing stuff and then we'd put the music together.

MR: How do you approach songwriting these days?

CD: At this point, it really all depends on the situation. If I'm writing by myself I'll usually read some poetry, look through a songbook, just kind of feed my brain a little bit of info. The way I see it, the more you feed your brain the more you're gonna shit out. I feel like doing that helps. Whenever we're writing with a band it really just turns into more of a jam sesh than a songwriting kind of thing. It's really fun and you can write some cool parts that way. Whenever it's me and Ian writing it's usually him on a guitar and me on another one and we just kind of fumble around any ideas we have. It's honestly become more fun because now we know what we're doing, so it's not as much stress trying to write it.

MR: Where do yours and Ian's collaborative writing go versus when you write alone?

CD: Usually, if somebody gets in a relationship, there's some love songs floating around. We just did this tour over the summer that was really long and intense so we were just trying to have fun and act like it was summer camp. We just wrote some fun hangout kind of songs, which was cool. I feel like we've been writing a lot of love songs still, which is just kind of a classic mood.

MR: Does having a summer camp atmosphere on your tour lead to more bonding with the band? Maybe the trust factor grows and more members easily bring more ideas to the table?

CD: Yeah, exactly. A lot of nights we don't know what to do but we've got a guitar on the bus so we just play with that, play some covers or whatever. I think that is necessary, to keep everybody having fun with it. It can get a little redundant sometimes, especially on a long one, so it's like having those moments when everybody can let loose and chill and bond.

MR: Are you looking at some of your contemporaries and getting inspired?

CD: Recently I've liked listening to more pop music and just trying to keep up with it a little bit. It definitely inspired a lot of Black Cat's production. Just trying to make something that sounded contemporary, because usually we're trying to make something that sounds older, but we just decided on this one to just go for it. Hopefully on the next one it opens up a door for us to do something more fun and experimental.

MR: Where do you see this going?

CD: That's a good question. I plan on making music. I've got a little indie label that I want to put out records with. Other than that, I see myself getting into a lot more songwriting for other people and things like that in my off time. And beyond that, just waiting for a nice lady to hang out with, especially if she wants to do some traveling. I'm just trying to hang out and enjoy life. I just want to keep this band going and then work on some side projects and then work on the label thing. I feel like that will be more than enough to keep me busy.

MR: Chris, what advice do you have for new artists?

CD: I would say the number one thing is to feed your brain. Feed your brain music all the time, read poetry, flip through philosophy or whatever. That's what all the great artists have done for forever. That's probably the best thing.

MR: What was the best advice you ever got?

CD: Follow the honey. That's from Winnie The Pooh. My mom gave me a book that said that in that. I try to live by the Tao Te Ching, because my grandpa was a tai chi instructor and a taoist master, so I try to make that live on.

MR: Is there anything on Black Cat where you feel you're especially following the honey?

CD: Yeah, I feel like the lyrics of "Red Balloon" are kind of like that. It's just trying to show that you can rise above your worries. That's what following the honey is for me, rising above all your doubts and insecurities and enjoying life.

MR: By the way, what is the honey to you?

CD: Good food. [laughs] Good food and marijuana and alcohol sometimes. That pretty much does it for me.

MR: What song on Black Cat shows off the band the best?

CD: I really think the title track is pretty cool. It's got a cool piano thing in it and it's kind of spooky and the lyrics tell a great story, too. It's the darkest track on the album but I feel like it just shows a different side of us than the rest of the album.

MR: Nice. Do you have any parting words of wisdom?

CD: I don't know, I think I've probably said enough. [laughs]

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GEOFF DEBREE'S "OPEN YOUR DOORS" EXCLUSIVE

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photo credit: Herman Mantis

According to Geoff deBree...

"Back in 2013, I was laid up in bed following surgery for a completely ruptured Achilles tendon. Precisely six days after the surgery, I decided to pick up my guitar and write. The first thing that I played was the opening chord progression to 'Open Your Doors' and a half an hour later, I had finished roughly 75% of the song. It was one of those effortless experiences where the floodgates opened. I waited several agonizing months for the studio time with Jonathan Wyman. The resulting EP, Bodies and Minds, is the culmination of my musical career thus far, with songs that date back as early as 2007.

"'Open Your Doors' doesn't re-invent the wheel, and it doesn't need to. You've heard the pitter-patter of the classic Americana train-beat, the unrelenting strum of the acoustic guitar, and the simple brilliance of handclaps, but that doesn't matter. The main theme is universally relatable: an obsessive relationship, where one side is extremely guarded, never really letting you in. It's about the blinding denial that fuels the pursuit, the realization that it's over, and that it was never going to happen in the first place."