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Jeffrey Cain of Remy Zero/Dead Snares Romances The South
TIS: I know you recently moved back to Alabama after living in Los Angeles for quite some time. Can you tell me what led to this decision and how you are resetting it?
JC: I grew up in Alabama, and I think being in the South is in my blood. I love being in the south, I really love the humidity (laughs) and the romance of the deep south. This is quite a complicated area. I’ve always loved the South and thought I’d come back one day, but I never knew when. I never intended to be in LA for thirteen years, but it happened, and one day I had one of those moments where I realized, wait a minute, I can leave, I don’t belong here. So I decided to bring my family and recording equipment back south. I found an old house to put it in and decided to start recording all my music there.
TIS: Right now, and are you finding the difference between writing your new location Vs. LA, or does it not affect you?
JK: Not really, I can record in any small room with speakers, within four walls to be honest. I can be anywhere really, and music is a great way to travel, so I don’t care. That being said, it definitely affects you and your life because it’s outside of these four walls. Here in the south there are thunderstorms, thick air and heat. It will definitely put you in a different mindset. It brought me back to when I was a kid when I first started creating and writing. It’s good for me because it brings back memories of those days with thunderstorms and other weather that happens here.
TIS: Yes, Mother Nature may be with us. So Remy Zero played a series of shows in memory of your drummer, Gregory Slay, who sadly passed away in January of this year.
JC: Yeah, we played a few shows on the west coast.
TIS: And you released a new single a few months ago called Til The End. So, are there plans for a new album or tour for Remy Zero?
JC: What I try to tell people is that Remy Zero has never been a band that rehearses and goes on tour. We’ve always been separate artists coming together and making music, and that’s basically been our vehicle. For a while, we did it continuously for about ten years, and we stopped touring seven years ago, but that doesn’t mean we stopped making music. The CD we made is actually the songs we recorded during the seven years we technically “broke up” even though we were still writing music together. So I think it’s a lifelong commitment for us. We’ll probably be old people and still write songs. We haven’t committed to a new record or tour, but I think we’ll find an excuse to get in the same room and make music together. So while on this tour, we started automatically writing songs in the rehearsal room and on the road, and we’ve been streaming music back and forth since we’ve been on the road. So I think there will be more in the future.
TIS: Very nice. So I also wanted to ask about your tour with Radiohead on The Bends tour. I know this goes back a bit, but I stumbled across your album and this is what happened. What’s the story there?
JK: We signed to Capitol Records a long time ago. We made a record that never came out and Radiohead were our band mates at the time. Well, when you’re on the label, you can listen to what else that label is putting out, and they’ve got a CD from Alabama (Remy Teg). It’s funny because they had a Capital CD that was never released. So they contacted us because they really liked the music. We sent them more stuff than unreleased records. They liked it very much and said they would like to meet us when they come to the state. And they came and we met them and it made us want to go on the road, so it was just a cool thing. That’s when we formed an early friendship. We really enjoyed listening to their music and they enjoyed swapping music for a while. We did these shows and kept in touch with a good friend of the band, Nigel, their producer, but we didn’t have a deep personal relationship with the guys. They were another band we had our eyes on for a while. But yeah, they’re really cool guys and I’m very grateful at the time.
TIS: So while we’re back, I wanted to ask you about your 2003 Emmy nomination for the soundtrack to Nip/Tuck. I know you often work in different musical areas, but do you mostly work on soundtracks or theme songs?
JK: (Laughs) I think it’s because everyone who lives in LA and meets is working on something. So, over the years, I would go to our shows with actors, directors, writers, etc. I think Remy Zero just dropped it that week. We had just moved out of our rehearsal space and someone from Nip/Tuck called me. That show was due in a week and they said they weren’t happy with what they had written for the theme song and asked if they would send me a recording of the opening credits. So they sent me the music video and I had it down within a week and it’s been going ever since. It was so quick and so sudden and so strange. So getting nominated for an Emmy was even weirder, but really cool. It was a random thing for me, especially at the time.
It wasn’t on my radar, I wasn’t looking for a theme song like a TV show (laughs). I love working with any kind of music. I love making movies, and I see the music very clearly when I’m watching a movie, so if I’m going to do something visually, I’m very keen to do that. The possibilities don’t seem that great, or at least they don’t seem interesting to me. When they gave me the footage for Nip/Tuck, the first scene was a guy getting a butt implant, and I thought that was something to write about (laughs).
TIS: Haha, right now. So I wanted to talk a little bit about your current project, Dead Trap. To be honest, I didn’t know much about it, but Annissa (Aimee & Jeffrey’s mutual publicist) mentioned the album to me after doing an interview with Aimee Mann, and you know how that goes sometimes…
JC: Haha, yeah.
TIS: Yeah, but he said it was Jeffrey Kane from Remy Zero, and I was really interested at the time. Needless to say, he sent the album, I liked it, and here we are. So, tell us about your albums, starting with the release of Dead Snares.
JC: Yeah, I think that’s another thing after Remy Zero broke up, I really opened up to music, collaborating with other people and working on different records in the studio. At night, when everyone left, I started writing these songs when I was alone in the studio, and for a long time it was not just music. I like writing for singers, I like doing backgrounds for people, that’s where I feel most comfortable and that’s what I really like. So when these songs started coming out with lyrics, I was surprised, and I started documenting a few of them, but I guess I didn’t really plan anything.
I had two songs that came very quickly and were composed almost automatically. So I wrote them with my equipment, which I love, I have some really cool equipment. After these two songs, I felt like a kid, but I wasn’t sure what to do with them. So I decided to send them to anonymous radio stations. I didn’t want people to say they liked me because it was about something else. I didn’t know if I necessarily liked them. I knew I had created them and wondered why I was doing it. The name Dead Snares just came to me as a band name, so I recorded it on a CD and mailed it to several radio stations in LA. The CD only has the Dead Snares and the names of the songs, no who’s who, etc.
I heard it on the radio a week later, and I felt like a kid when I was 15 when I first heard it on the radio, because there wasn’t a whole car behind me. Labels, publicists, people are pushing me to do it. It was me sending my music in hopes of blindly connecting with someone. So I let some of my friends listen to it and they wanted to know where the rest of the footage was. And that’s when I put my energy into figuring out what the rest of the story was, and the songs basically evolved in the order of how the record was laid out. The post is pretty short. I cut exactly how many songs.
TIS: Wow, that’s amazing. So is there going to be a tour in support of the album?
JC: Yeah, I’ve always had this vision of going on stage and playing the album live, but in that vision I see my friend and drummer Gregory on stage with me. So I think his passing this year took me out of my comfort zone. I thought I knew what the future held and everything changed. So it took me a while to get back to that place where I felt confident, ready to go, or even wanted to go on stage. Although the last few months playing with Remy Zero has really rekindled the love of being with people and sharing music with people in a live setting. However, I want to do it.
TIS: Well, I hope you can do that, if you include the East Coast. Guitars and amps aside, can you name three of your go-to devices?
JC: Okay, so the guitar and the amp are already there?
TIS: Yes, you are fully responsible for these, so what else do you need?
JC: Well, I need a tape machine. I need a tape delay. These are tools for me. Because I slow things down, speed them up, and slow them down, I need a tape that I can handle, so I’m definitely going to need this. I’ll also need a piano and a tambourine (laughs).
TIS: Great, I’m sure you can do something with this lineup. To top it all off, I’m going to ask the cliché question, “What is one of the most important moments of your music career and why?”, because you’ve done so much. , musically in so many different ways, and it sounds like a cliché, but I’m really interested.
JS: Oh my god.
TIS: Haha, I know, sorry.
JC: Hey, it’s really hard, because honestly, I’ve been psyched every day and passed out for years. I just have to say my career is making music and being able to share it with people and get people into it. The first time I saw someone in the audience singing, I was probably moved. Along with our songs, I saw how powerful music is and what it means to people. But I don’t know.
TIS: Honestly, that’s probably the best and most non-trivial answer I could ask. Great.
JK: It’s true, you know? I never want to be boring and I don’t think I ever will. Anytime I play music and see how it affects people and know that we can share it with each other, what more can I ask for when I can do that with people?
TIS: That’s really cool. JC: Great. Well, thanks for calling me and looking at the album. Calling your site now An indie ghostwriter? I love it.
TIS: That’s right, thank you. It’s an eclectic mix of everything under the sun mixed with non-dogmatic spirituality.
JC: Yeah, that’s great. Amen.
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