Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The AGP Presents: An Interview with Brent Knopf of Ramona Falls and Menomena

As a long standing fan of Portland, OR's Menomena I was thrilled to hear that Brent Knopf had plans to not only release solo material under the name Ramona Falls, but that he would be taking the project on the road. Intuit, Brent's solo debut album is an excellent collection of off kilter pop that on first listen fits in nicely with his full time bands catalog, but over time reveals itself as something all it's own, a multi-layered opus. Thanks to Brent for taking the time to answer some questions from my little music blog. Here's how this interview came about. I sent Brent the questions via e-mail and he answered in front of his computer's camera and returned the answers via a quicktime video. I did my best with the transcription, I hope I did it justice. I'd also like to thank Grant McCallum at Barsuk for setting the whole thing up.

Ramona Falls
play Great Scott tonight with Brian Bonz and the Dot Hongs.

The Ash Gray Proclamation: Could you tell us how the recording of Intuit came about and how your many collaborators came to be on the album?

Brett Knopf: Well it became clear that the Menomena record was taking longer than we thought. So I began recording Intuit and I thought it was a good opportunity to ask some friends and people I respect, including my mom to make a guest appearance on the record. So I did that. I made two lists, one was things I thought the songs would benefit from in terms of different instruments. The other list was some people I wanted the excuse to ask to work with. I would look at the list and if I thought a song could use viola I'd e-mail my friend Lisa who plays viola and we went from there.

AGP:When you were writing these songs did you immediately know that you would end up releasing them as a solo artist and not with Menomena?

BK:Some of them yes and some of them no. A couple of the songs I sent to Menomena and never heard back, so assumed they weren't interested. A couple of the other songs I knew right from the get go that they wouldn't be interested.

AGP: Intuit seems to be an introspective record, especially the track Going Once, Going Twice. Did you feel any vulnerability releasing such a personal record?

BK: I'm not sure Going Once, Going Twice is about me. However I feel like there's a lot of personal stuff on the record. Yeah I definitely felt vulnerability, but if you're not be vulnerable what's the point, really. The records I respond to the most are the ones that are honest. I often feel vulnerable when I'm honest.

AGP: Now that you have a few dates under your belt with Ramona Falls, how have the shows been going so far?

BK: They've been great. I've been having a blast on the first leg of the tour and I'm excited for the second leg. The guys I'm touring with our excellent. The shows in San Francisco, LA, Portland, and Seattle have been really really fun. In the other cities too, but that's where we had a crowd, it felt bigger. We've played some smaller shows which have been fun as well.

AGP:What can fans expect from this tour opposed to your shows with Menomena?

BK: New music with a different feel, a different style, and me singing lead most of the time. It's a four piece in the U.S., Danny Seim the drummer of Menomena is playing bass, Paul Alcott is playing drums, and Matt Sheehy is playing guitar. It's really dynamic, lots of louds and quiets.

AGP: How has the process of writing and recording the new Menomena record been going?

BK: It's taken longer than I thought it would and I've been less able to move forward than I thought I was able to.

AGP: Can you explain the possible influence of Cher on the forthcoming Menomena album?

BK: Lets just say I believe in life after love.

AGP: What have you been listening to in the van on those long drives from city to city on the current Ramona Falls tour?

BK: A little bit of Mirah, D'Angelo, and Alice in Chains.

[MP3/Stream] Ramona Falls - Russia Live on KEXP
[MP3/Stream] Ramona Falls - I Say Fever

Brent Knopf explains the recording process which he used to record Intuit.

Buy Ramona Falls' Intuit via the Barsuk shop.

Ramona Falls/myspace

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