For my circle of friends and acquaintances, Brian Karscig needs no introduction. The immensely talented and very charming San Diego-based rocker has been an omnipresent tour de force in my life since I met him in my late teens after a stop he’d made in Boston with his former band- Louis XIV- and throughout sporadic run-ins and encounters at various gigs in California or Las Vegas (usually when the planets would align just right) that span over the course of a little over a decade.
I could probably write a novel about how sweet Brian is, or how his sense of humor is refreshingly razor sharp- but his undeniable talent and his drive as a musician and songwriter need to be addressed properly- especially with the recent release of the first half of a two-part EP, “The Nervous Wreckord: Part I” (available on iTunes now!)
Brian was kind enough (as always!) to recently answer a few of my questions about the album, his songwriting process, and the challenges that come with being one of the hardest working musicians in SoCal.
LR: Every time I’ve seen you or spoken to you, you’ve always been immersed in a project- and sometimes more than one at a time. How do you multi-task all that creativity without burning yourself out? (I’m a multi-tasker, but you’ve got me feeling like an amateur over here.)
BK: Well, honestly, its hit or miss. I would love to say everything i do turns out AMAZING or “the way i want it too”, but that wouldn’t be entirely true. There have been cases where i bite off more than i can chew, or miss the mark. I love recording and writing music. Everything i do for TNW or any of my music, i tend to search for a connection or a ‘sound’ during the process and put out what really works for me musically. I have done records for other people where the expectation from the artist is high because they may have heard something that i did that caught a moment of greatness. Doesn’t always mean that it will happen with other peoples music or sound. Its always hard to want to do things a certain way, but also keeping the opinions of the artist your working with considered. No matter what tho, there is always something to be learned when recording and writing. Whether it be my music or someone else’s.
LR: When it comes to songwriting, and particularly for this EP- what was/is the process like for you? Are you the type of person that keeps a notebook within reach whenever inspiration hits you? Do you immediately retreat into the studio when you’ve got a sound you want to create and stay until it’s finished? Have the songs on this EP been on your mind for a while? How do you get from point A to point B? (that was like, twenty questions in one. Sorry!)
BK: There is no formula really for writing for me personally. I wish there was, but sometimes its a guitar riff. A lot of times its a beat in my head. I can sometimes think of a line or a phrase that speaks to me, and make that a chorus, then write a song around it. For The Nervous Wreckord (Part I), it all happened really fast. I just moved to a new house and was setting up Studio Bee for like 2 months. Just tweaking and trying to get sounds. I literally would hit record and mess around with pianos, bass lines, delays, until i stumbled upon something unique. Or something that at least captured my interest, and led me to believe i was on to something new. All 5 songs were written while they were recorded, then i laid vocals at the very end. I do have notepads and pieces of napkin with ideas, eq settings, and lyrics on them, but most things happen spontaneously, and thats what i really tried to capture in this record. When it feels fresh and real, i convince myself that the listener can hear it the way i heard it when coming up with it. I know that sounds like a stoned response…..it probably is.
LR: This EP is split up into two parts, and you had mentioned the second part would be released early next year. I’m sure with new music you want to put your best foot forward, so was it tricky having to sort of pick which songs people hear now as opposed to later on?
BK: Yes it is. Songs are like your children. Its really hard to decide which ones you ‘like’ more than others, because you love all of them in different ways equally. Part I and II were broken up based on their sound. Part I songs all seem to go to the same party so to speak. Part II will feel like a party as well….but maybe the after party.
LR: Here’s the cliche “so what types of music are you listening to right now?” question- but I’m genuinely curious and I need some recommendations! What’s been on your playlists lately?
BK: I really love my friends old band called The Deathray Davies. The return of the Drunken Ventriloquist is my favorite record by them at the moment. i listen to them a lot, but i also listen to the Strokes “Comedown Machine” album lately. i like listening to classical music for string ideas, but my musical taste is all over the place from pop music, rock music and classical.
LR: On the first half of this EP, what song do you feel was possibly the most challenging to create?
BK: They were all challenging in the beginning since i had no idea where they were going to go. “This won’t be the same” was the toughest. I had a 4 piece string section over to the house one day, and they were different players than i usually use on my records. We spent like 3 hours coming up with string ideas, and in the end, i just wasn’t happy with any of it. So i took the string arrangement they laid, and flipped it backwards. It created this weird moody, dark weird movement that i was obsessed with for weeks. My girlfriend would always ask me, “How are you ever going to make this a song”? That was the challenge i needed. So i put a beat to it, a cool bass line and guitar riff and its one of my favorites on the EP.
LR: And finally- are we gonna’ get a tour in 2016? (you know you want to!)
BK: I do want to! I need to assemble a band (with people who aren’t in 5 other bands) and start to seriously consider that option. I miss touring so much.
I really want to thank Brian for letting me pick at his brilliant brain and taking the time to give me some insight on what it was like creating the EP. It goes without saying that I’m looking forward to the second part of “The Nervous Wreckord” and crossing paths with him again (hopefully!) sooner than later.
Be sure to check out Part I of the EP on iTunes, and to follow Brian and his work as ‘The Nervous Wreckord’, click and like THIS PAGE RIGHT HERE.