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Progressive Rock Interviews

The Simple Things

Interviewed by Gary Hill
Interview with Kaitlin McGaw and Michael Gallant of The Simple Things From 2009
MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2009  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Who is in your ultimate super group?
Michael Gallant: Chad Smith from Red Hot Chili Peppers on Drums, McCoy Tyner on dual pianos, and Chris Cornell, Buckethead, and Yo-Yo Ma.
MSJ: What's the greatest thing that's ever been said about your music?
Kaitlin McGaw: There’s a very cool writer who reviewed our CD and then put us on his top 10 list for 2008. Wildy’s World wrote, “This artsy, minimalist jazz/pop trio has made one of the most eclectic and starkly beautiful albums of 2008.”
MSJ: How would you describe your music?
Michael Gallant: Feist, Joni Mitchell, and Janis Joplin meet Led Zeppelin with minimalist, dreamy arrangements of piano, bass and female vocals.

Kaitlin McGaw: Then there’s a cool bit from an engineer at an early recording session… “This music makes me feel like I’m sitting on the porch at sunset, waiting for my girlfriend to come home.”
MSJ: Who are your main musical influences?
Kaitlin McGaw: We each come from pretty different musical backgrounds, crossing over classical, jazz, funk, and folk music. Sorry Gary! That question just daunted us momentarily…
MSJ: What's your favorite iPod track this week?
Kaitlin McGaw: Right now it’s The Weepies: Can’t Go Back Now - really beautiful lyrics about the release you have to give yourself when your life changes. 
MSJ: What's the last album you bought that you're enjoying?
Kaitlin McGaw: My top two: Estelle’s Shine which led me through a great summer, and Rachael Yamagata’s Elephants… Teeth Sinking into Heart which helped me through a challenging fall. 
MSJ: Have you seen any great live shows lately?
Michael Gallant: I took my fiancé for her birthday to see Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, singing Christmas carols. Words fail me.
MSJ: What's the last huge outdoor music festival you attended?
Kaitlin McGaw: I’m personally a bit timid around crowds, so mine would be the Oakland Art and Soul Festival, on the streets of Oakland listening to Rickie Lee Jones. She can wail…

Michael Gallant:  “The Tibetan Freedom Festival… in high school.”
MSJ: What is your guilty pleasure band?
Kaitlin McGaw: Oh dear, I’m gonna be flat out honest and say that for me lately it has been P!nk. I think she’s got a great voice and I like the way she produced a few of the songs on her latest album with a raw unscripted feel (while being oh-so-well-arranged-and-scripted). 
MSJ: What was the first album you ever bought?
Kaitlin McGaw: My first CD purchase Boys II Men, Motownphilly. On cassette though, it was Madonna, Like a Virgin.

Michael Gallant: Kris Kross

Kaitlin McGaw: Wow, were we teeny-boppers or what? And yet look at the music we’ve made together.
MSJ: What about the first concert you ever attended?
Kaitlin McGaw: The Drifters! I loved the amazing harmonies… I was probably 4 and got up on stage with them.

Michael Gallant: Oh boy. I’ve been going to shows since I was a baby. The first one I remember? The National Symphony Orchestra performing Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture. “
MSJ: What's your favorite artist and album?
Kaitlin McGaw: I have albums I come back to year after year. Kid A, Radiohead, still takes me to a really amazing place. Share My World, Mary J. Blige – love it to pieces. Annie Lennox is an artist that I connect to and admire on many levels.

Michael Gallant: Pearl Jam’s Vs.; the greatest rock album ever. 
MSJ: If you could create your own fantasy music festival, who would the top 6 headliners be?
Kaitlin McGaw: Check this combo: Rage Against the Machine, Metallica, Phish, Simon and Garfunkel, Heart, and Sarah McLachlan.

Now I bet you can guess who chose which bands, between Mike and I…Hint is that we split it three each!
MSJ: Keith or Mick?
Kaitlin McGaw and Michael Gallant: Who?
MSJ: The Grateful Dead or Phish?
Kaitlin McGaw: Umm… I’ll let Mike take that one.

Michael Gallant: Phish.
MSJ: Have you ever been inspired by an author or a book to write a song, if so, which one?
Kaitlin McGaw: I read voraciously and take notes on characters and images that leave an impression on me. Not on a book, but our song “It is What it Is” was inspired by a cover story in the newspaper about a female soldier who had lost her arm in Iraq. It stood out even more as a bold contrast to the Hollywood stories of beauty perfected…
MSJ: If you were a superhero what famous musician would be your arch-nemesis and why?
Kaitlin McGaw and Michael Gallant: Mick and Keith
MSJ: Have you ever illegally downloaded music?
Kaitlin McGaw: Regrettably I did a bit way back in the day, before I really knew what was going on… and definitely haven’t done it since. It was at a time when I was basically discovering the computer’s non-work functions – such as IM-ing was (and how it could waste a whole lot of your day). Now I buy songs on iTunes, though Rhapsody is an amazing way to keep your music collection fresh! Sometimes if I can’t find my CD for a song I’ll just buy the download. That’s pretty lazy, actually, now that I think about it.
MSJ: Illegal downloading has been pegged by the major labels as the leading cause for poor sales. How do you feel about this form of file sharing and would you agree with the labels?
Kaitlin McGaw: I don’t know if it’s illegal downloading as much as the shift to the digital format for music. There is a less pressing feeling to buy the album when you can just buy the one song you know… or if you’re mostly listening while on the computer, just streaming it from the artist’s site. I think that the biggest competitor for music consumption is the growth in all other media as entertainment. And that issue does not seem to be going anywhere! 
MSJ: In a related question how do you feel about fans recording and trading live shows?
Kaitlin McGaw: I personally think that’s cool. There is something amazing and unique about live performances. It’s a moment in time – why not share it.
MSJ: What has been your biggest Spinal Tap moment?
Kaitlin McGaw: That would have to be our recent performance at the Harvard Club holiday party in the old San Francisco Mint Building. We moved our set-up three times before settling into the performance spot. Mike got a $75 parking ticket, the sound system was broken, and I ended up belting in lieu of amplification. It actually was pretty fun. But… we are still waiting for the bass player to break out of the pod!
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