The Pinx’s “Other Side” pairs infectious choruses with introspective lyrics. At times the band suggests early Foo Fighters, and at others they are a 70s throwback to the vanguards of hard rock. “Other Side” has a bit of it all—fuzzed out guitars, thick snares, and fist-pumping choruses—all tied along with Adam McIntyre’s devil-may-care-croon. McIntyre sings of the dissolution of a relationship as something that frees him “I’m running / after something / I’m missing / and I’ll find it on the other side”. Adam joined me for a brief chat about influence, destruction, and the necessity of joy.
Buy Freedom by The Pinx here.
SC: “Other Side” has a fascinating tension between its celebratory music and it’s lyrical content. Can you tell me a little about that choice?
AM: The song IS totally joyous— but about a fiery, chaotic, volcanic time in my life. My best plans were awful and led to pain—for myself, and others—repeatedly. As a result I was finally starting to work on myself as a person but the more I worked, the more there was to work on. I got divorced, finished producing three albums at once, played a show with The Pinx, bade goodbye to that lineup (Joe moved to LA, Jim stopped playing) and got on a plane to Hawaii. I didn’t exactly know why I was going except I needed to go meditate on the beach of a distant planet. Hawaii was the closest I could get to that.
When I tried to capture that moment of giving up and starting over and learning about myself, I went to a place in my heart that Matthew Sweet captured on his Brendan O’Brien-produced albums in the 90s. The chords and drums were chunky and sunny, while the lyrics held some pain and confusion.
SC: Can you tell me about these lyrics “I want to be an island / in the middle of your sea / I’m in the eye of a hurricane / looking for a moment of peace”?
AM: Everything in my life felt like it had been destroyed so I was going to this island in the middle of the Pacific to get that moment of peace and introspection before rebuilding.
SC: Tell me about your writing process. Do you wait for inspiration? Or do you write on a schedule?
AM: It comes in waves depending on where we are in the album cycle and if we “need” songs but when I need to work, I go and I sit down and I work. If I don’t have anything in my head already, I’ll have dozens of voice notes of me beatboxing and humming into my phone, loads of notes for lyric ideas that have maybe occurred to me over the last several months. I’m always writing but not always sitting down and paying attention to it. I am always receptive to any inspiration that drifts past my attention because songwriting is like any skill; you have to do it a lot. If I’m going to be messing around on my phone, I could at least be using that device to get ideas down.
SC: How does your community of songwriters inspire you?
AM:Not a ton on the front end. My peers are far from my mind when I’m starting a song. I’m amusing myself, getting my own personality out, baring my weirdness as much as I can and trying to make sure I’ve said what I need to say.When I’m finishing arrangements it will sometimes occur to me “oh, so and so from that band will LOVE this.” When it comes to fine tuning things, it’s an opportunity to look at your stuff through the eyes of your peers and see if it checks out, see if it makes the cut.
Ali Enlow's songs are pop song operettas told at a whispered pace. “Hush” off her debut EP Rough Drafts places her powerful vocal up-front-and-center alongside the intermittent coos of Rhodes keyboard suggesting a kinetic combination of Ingrid Michaelson and Regina Spector. The song’s power comes a restrained accompaniment that allows for Enlow’s clear-eyed lyricism to dazzle the listener. Enlow joined me for a brief chat about her inspiration, repetition and the importance of flow.
Listen to “Hush” here.
SC: I love the different ways you use the word “breathe” in this song. Can you tell me a little bit about the repetition?
AE: Using the word so many times, I like to think of it as me telling myself to do it. I needed to take a step back and just breathe and think things through.
SC: There’s a tension in this song between keeping a secret and not being able to breathe. Can you talk about that tension?
AE: I've only ever told two people about who this song is about. At the time I was falling for a friend of mine who wasn't the best person. I knew it, our friends knew it, and I knew that it wouldn't work. We were very different people and I had to tell myself no.
SC: Tell me a little about writing “Hush”
AE: A lot of the time when I write something extremely personal, the process is really simple. The words just kind of flow and I don't think too hard about them; they just fit. Writing “Hush” was a big relief on how I was feeling since I couldn't really tell anyone about the situation.
SC: What’s your writing process like? Do you write daily? Or do you wait for inspiration?
AE: I typically try to write as often as I can, but there are times when I can't write anything. I start with my instruments, because I'm not a big fan of writing lyrics first. I'm not the most technically skilled on any one instrument. I'm self-taught in pretty much everything and learning new chords and how to use them in my music is probably my biggest struggle. But even though I get frustrated about it, I try to improve at least a little on each song I write. Whether that be a new strumming pattern, plucking, learning how to flick my hand a certain way, etc.
SC: How does your community of songwriters inspire you?
AE: I'm not actually that involved with the songwriting community around Columbia. I'm one of those people that sits alone in their bedroom and writes and writes. I used to go to a bunch of open mics, but they would be with the same people and I'd play the same songs and I wasn't learning anything. After a while I just stopped going.
The Sound Connector is an online magazine for songwriters. We feature songwriting challenges, monthly interviews, and the opportunity to discover new songwriters. We are interested in all things related to the craft of songwriting.
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