Interview: John Radzin and Brian Larney of Lines West

Thank goodness the fall breeze has made its lovely way to the city. Along with the well-needed cool weather, some great music is never too far behind. Come tomorrow night, September 17th, the musicians of Lines West, Kenny Cash, Brian Larney, Scott Logan and John Radzin, will be gracing the hallowed halls of Pianos for what is sure to be a wonderful night of music. To snag a little glimpse into the world of Lines West, John and Brian gave their thoughts on their musical journey to date.

As far as artistic ambitions go, they were always into the medium. “I think both Brian and I are compelled to play music, but especially to write it. There’s always some idea for a song spinning around in my head, and the ones that make it out and into the real world become songs for Lines West.” Brian went on to share more. “I agree with John on this. At this point, writing songs is definitely a compulsion or a need. Lines West is a great way to help them see the light of day. For me, they really come alive when they’re recorded. The hope is that whatever we create resonates with people and adds some beauty to the world.”

The men have a ton of worthwhile tunes to their credit, however they elaborated a bit on some of their favorites. John took it off first. “I kind of have a soft spot in my heart for the sad ones and the ones I like most are the ones with the deepest emotional connection. Honeybee from our second album is definitely one that brings out feelings when I hear or play it. Sometimes I think I’m still learning what that song is about. The title track of our upcoming record, The Ghost For You, is another one that’s very close to my heart. I’m sure it will mean something different to everyone who hears it, but to me it’s a little peek inside my soul.” Brian had another choice. “I’d have to say Simple Rain from the “Two of a Perfect Pair” album. I always thought that was one of the more unique songs we’ve done. I love the arrangement. There’s an extra beat in the chorus that kinda slips by unnoticed. I really like when songs have an interesting element like that.”

Performance-wise, the men have many ideal venues to choose from. “I think that my ideal performance so far has been at Infinity Hall in Norfolk, CT. It was one of the largest crowds we’ve played for, and also an attentive crowd that cares about the music. One of our favorite places to play in NYC is Upstairs at Pianos. It’s a cool space that is almost tailor made for what we do… Always a good show.” Brian gave his take. “Like John, I think the ideal performance for us would be in a listening room environment. I love playing clubs, but I think some of what we do gets lost there. We’re just not a party band! We’ve been fortunate to play some really cool places. Last month we opened for the country band Diamond Rio at the Ridgefield Playhouse in CT. What a venue! The sound was excellent and the crowd was fantastic! That show was a highlight for me.”

As artists, it is not always easy to do their job. “Some shows are more challenging than others. One that pops to mind is a show we played at a benefit in northern Connecticut where they accidentally booked us in the middle of a day [full] of metal bands. We’re obviously not at all metal, but to the crowd’s credit (and to ours) they gave us a fair listen and we won them over. The lesson there is just to do what you do, people will like it more than not if you’re true to yourself.” Brian probably gave the most heartbreaking story. “We were playing this club downtown. There was a band on before us and while they were playing the place was packed to the rafters! It was one of those nights where you just can’t wait to get up there and play. For some reason, while we were setting up, someone at the club announced that everyone had to clear the room and if they wanted to see us play they’d have to pay again to get back in.  Well you can imagine what happened next! Playing to that empty room after what promised to be a great evening was fairly depressing.”

John had plenty to say about the current music scene. “The music industry is so diffused these days, in good and bad ways. The old label system, while still there, doesn’t have the power that it once did. That’s a good thing in that anyone can create music pretty easily and there are some people who never would have been heard with labels in control. On the other hand, there’s a lot of chaff out there and it’s hard to get people’s attention. There aren’t the arbiters of taste that there used to be. I sometimes ask myself if someone like Tom Petty, who didn’t really blossom until his third album, would have stood a chance if the music industry then had it been like it is now. I also think that songcraft is a dying art these days. The fact that it’s so easy and cheap to record creates an environment where people seem to just sometimes lay anything down, rather than honing their songs over some time.”

Beyond the music, both John and Brian declared their interest in the video medium. “One of the frustrating things for us is the wealth of video ideas that we have, but without the money to make videos for every song we want to. We’d love to get more involved with the visual side of things, [with] film, whether working on a soundtrack or even just having a chance to work with filmmakers and learn from them. There’s something very satisfying about it. We’ve had a great amount of fun working up videos for some of our songs. We’ve become particularly fond of editing. It’s where you get to really shape the story. It is amazing how even small edit choices can have a great impact on the whole feel of a video.”

Within the music craft, musical exploration remains a solid piece of their work John gave his thoughts. “We’re pretty vocal-oriented already, and we have three people in this band who can sing and harmonize. On this album, we incorporated some strings and brass, and I think I would be cool to go even further in that direction. We try to push the envelope with every subsequent album, not necessarily because we think others expect that, but more because we expect it of ourselves.” As for Brian, he had different ideas. “For me, it’s difficult not to want to go back and re-track or remix certain songs. I sometimes think we could do more with space. Play around with ambiance: reverb, delay, etc. Our arrangements can get pretty full at times. If anything, I’d like to take take away certain elements, be less afraid and let the songs be a bit more naked.”

Musical inspirations are easy to come by for these musicians. John mentioned a few. “Radiohead never ceases to amaze me. They’re obviously never satisfied with what they’ve just done, and they certainly aren’t afraid of experimentation. That’s definitely inspirational.”  Brian, the song-oriented music man, went on to give a few of his favorites as well. “I tend to fixate on certain songs more than I do performers. A well crafted song can send me to the moon. Classic guys like Jimmy Webb or Burt Bacharach come to mind. Carole King is amazing too. They wrote incredible songs for a slew of disparate artists and the common thread? The songs themselves. To me that’s inspirational.”

Listeners who do not know about Lines West are sorely missing out. Not only is their music worthwhile, but the musicians who create these amazing tunes are well-versed in their craft. In celebration of the forthcoming release of their new album “The Ghost for You,” they will be featuring some of the new songs in the upstairs lounge of Pianos. Go catch them tomorrow night and join the crowd of fans. It will be quite a night!

Jam On.



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