Monday, October 2, 2017

Pheaturing Tom Odell

Hiya, kids, welcome to the Phile for a Monday. How are you? So, before we start I want to remind you to have someone besides everyone on Facebook examine your breasts. It is Breast Cancer Awareness Month after all.
This morning, Donald Trump tweeted his "warmest condolences" after a shooting at a Las Vegas music festival left at least 50 people dead and more than 400 injured, according to NBC News. "My warmest condolences and sympathies to the victims and families of the terrible Las Vegas shooting," wrote Trump. "God bless you!" Earlier, the White House reported that President Donald Trump had "been briefed on the horrific tragedy in Las Vegas." "We are monitoring the situation closely and offer our full support to state and local officials," went a statement by White House press secretary Sarah Sanders. Ivanka, Melania, Eric, and Donald Jr. also sent messages of support on Twitter. Each member of the Trump inner circle used a variation of the phrase "thoughts and prayers," if not the term exactly, to offer support for the victims. And as public figures struggle to find the right words to match the senseless tragedy, the phrase "thoughts and prayers" began trending on Twitter... but not entirely for the most obvious reason. Many were using it to offer support for victims of the horrible violence. But others called out the phrase as a simple response for politicians, too easy to roll off the tongue, and completely void of meaning. The saying has become a beacon for backlash against politicians who don't take political action to stop the next tragedy before condolences are necessary, but offer "thoughts and prayers" in the wake of violence. Meanwhile, if you're in the Las Vegas area, there is an immediate way for you to help, according to the Las Vegas Police...

It goes well with thoughts and prayers.
If you haven't heard, yesterday evening, at least 50 people were killed and over 200 were injured in a shooting on the Las Vegas Strip during the Route 91 Harvest country music festival. Country singer Jason Aldean was performing when the first shots rang out from the 32nd floor of Las Vegas' Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino just after 10 p.m. Aldean confirmed that he and his crew are uninjured, and took to Instagram to recount the horrific mass shooting. The shooting is the deadliest in American history, surpassing the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando back in June 2016. The gunman, 64-year-old Stephen Paddock, is thought to have acted alone and was killed by police.
Fashion week is all about introducing new styles into the cultural lexicon. In many cases, fashion week is all about revamping old looks with a new twist. To this end, Balenciaga modeled platform Crocs at Paris Fashion Week as part of their SS18 presentation. Unsurprisingly, a lot of people had a lot of feelings about the decision to elevate Crocs into high-fashion. The collaboration between Balenciaga and Crocs (how is this sentence real) has transformed the Classic Clogs into a 10-centimeter platform called the Foam.

The Foam sounds like the name of an unconvincing monster in a made for TV horror movie. Despite some kick-back to the garish look, some people are feeling ready to embrace the wind at their back, and the truly proud statuesque posture that only comes about through platform Crocs. For the most part, the world isn't ready to simultaneously embrace Spice Girls-level platforms AND the trademark shoes of gardening hermits. It's just, a LOT of different feelings to be wearing on your feet. But hey, if you're up for the challenge, do you. Suffice it to say, if you can pull off platform Crocs you can probably pull off anything.
Facebook has come under fire for refusing to censor some posts (cough election-hacking Russian trolls cough) but somehow, Mark Zuckerberg and company got it together to kick an ad for razors off the site. An ad by Friction Free Shaving, a subscription razor service, supposedly breaches Facebook's "rules on adult content," says BuzzFeed. The advertisement jokes about the concept of "shoga," combining shaving and yoga to mock the contorted positions it takes to shave your legs. The model is actually a real woman, filming in a real bathroom, as opposed to a model on a soundstage. To give the illusion that she's naked, blue modesty bars were edited on to her body during post-production. In fact, she wore a nude bikini while filming. Facebook defines adult content as anything "includ[ing] nudity, depictions of people in explicit or suggestive positions, or activities that are overly suggestive or sexually provocative." But the woman here isn't naked or sexually suggestive. The only thing being depicted here is a hint at a woman's naked body. Friction Free Shaving calls the ban "sexist." Even worse, the ad was shot explicitly for Facebook. "Facebook is a big marketing platform for us but we can't put any advertising spend behind it," Briar Keen, Friction Free Shaving co-founder, told BuzzFeed. "It's just ludicrous, really, when you think you can have young girl in lacy knickers and bra looking suggestively at the camera, and that's allowed, but we got rejected. We're trying to break taboos around shaving and it's not sexual in any way." For its part, Facebook says the ad contained "implied nudity."

What do you think is worse... implied nudity or, I'll say it again, Russian trolls?
After a private funeral in Los Angeles on Saturday, Hugh Hefner, founder of "Playboy," is in his final resting place. The spot? Right next to Marilyn Monroe. TMZ reports that Hugh Hefner bought the burial plot next to Marilyn Monroe all the way back in 1992 for $75 thousand. The choice is poignant: Monroe was the first "Playboy" cover girl in 1953, and much of the magazine's immediate success was owed to her. The gravesite is in L.A.'s Westwood Memorial Park. As the "Los Angeles Times" reported in 1999, the crypt originally belonged to Monroe's ex-husband Joe DiMaggio. A space occupied by Richard Poncher was sold by his wife Elsie to pay off her million-dollar mortgage. She originally listed the plot on Ebay for $500 thousand. Eventually, with a lowered price, it sold to Hefner. Advertising If Hefner's goal was to be buried next to an icon, he'll have plenty of celebrity company to choose from. The paper reports that Natalie Wood, Dean Martin, Rodney Dangerfield, Merv Griffin, Mel Torme, Truman Capote and Farrah Fawcett are all buried at Westwood. "I'm a believer in things symbolic," said Hefner of the plot. "Spending eternity next to Marilyn is too sweet to pass up."
So, yesterday I went to my first NFL game, seeing the Giants play the Bucs. As soon as the game ended this poster was released...

Ugh. That's all I can say. Hey, do you ever wonder what a toucan would look like if you took off his beak? No? Let me show you...

That's so stupid. That's as stupid as...

Hahahaha. That's really stupid. So, A few weeks ago I asked you to send me a pic of a dog in pajamas... and you guys have been so great in sending them. I have to show another...

Awe. So cute!!! So, it's October and a lot of stuff this month is pumpkin flavor. Yuck! Anyway, some companies are releasing pumpkin products that don't have to...

Crazy. Halloween is a few weeks away and you might be trying to figure out what to wear. Well, I can help. How about something sexy like this...

Take on the bill just won't die (and wants to kill people as much as zombies do) by bringing back healthcare from the dead. Alright, so, one thing I love and that is boobs, and there's nothing like a side boob shot with a tattoo so for Breast Cancer Awareness Month I will be showing you just that... side view boobs with tattoos. Enjoy, fellas.

You are welcome. Okay, and now from the home office in Port Jefferson, New York, here is...

Top Phive Groups Of People Who Wants A Super Nintendo Classic
5. Nintendo Switch Owners who've been disappointed by its advanced graphics and thrilling gameplay.
4. Folks who just want t kick back in their Doc Martens, put on a Color Me Badd CD and play today's hottest games.
3. Gullible dolts who've fallen for Nintendo's "undersupply" tactic for the 80th time.
2. Losers who couldn't get their hands on a NES Classic, and just want ANYTHING tiny that Nintendo will make.
And the number one group of people who want a Super Nintendo Classic is...
1. People merging from 26-year-long comas excited to finally play "Super Ghouls'n Ghosts."

If you spot the Mindphuck let me know. So, you know what is the best? Tooting. Hahaha. So, once again here's a pheature I call...

Bernie Sanders supporters tried to make a stink at the Democratic National Convention by staging a “fart-in," but officials smelled that something was up and denied them access. Organizer Cheri Honkala, who is the national coordinator for the Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign, was joined by no more than five people for the unprecedented protest. In preparation, Sanders' convention delegates scarfed down beans and other fiber-filled foods before arriving at the convention hall. They were intent on sending an olfactory message to Hillary Clinton and the Democrats that couldn't be ignored.

The 67th book to be pheatured in the Phile's Book Club is...

Phile Alum and author Jeremy Croston will be on the Phile in a few weeks.

Jameis Winston
Jameis Winston in a American NFL quarterback who's really going to have to step up his bad behavior if he wants to make it in the pros.

Today's guest is an English singer-songwriter whose latest CD "Wrong Crowd" is available on iTunes. Please welcome to the Phile... Tom Odell.

Me: Hello, Tom, welcome to the Phile, how are you?

Tom: It's a pleasure, thanks so much for inviting me.

Me: I have to say, you are one talented and good looking bastard, I hate you. Ha! Just kidding. Where are you from, Tom?

Tom: In Chichester, West Sussex, in England.

Me: You're just a kid, right? How old are you? 

Tom: I was born in 1990, so I am just 26-years-old.

Me: You're still just a kid. Ha! So, I have to say congratulations on the album "Wrong Crowd," it's such a good album. Was it an easy album to put together because you actually released two versions of it, so I am guessing you enjoyed making it so much.

Tom: It was actually like madly throwing paint at a canvas then at the end trying to make sense of it. I wrote lots and lots of songs for the album and then at the end of 2015 I had to decide which ones I wanted to record properly. What felt cohesive and what came together as an album.

Me: I love the title track, Tom, it's such a good story, is it true? Who are the wrong crowd? You sell out shows all over England so I can't imagine you ever has a wrong crowd.

Tom: Thanks. It was never the intention to have that as the first track, it just when all the songs were done it just had the right tone. I like to say I wrote each song knowing exactly that was the first song but it was more chaotic than that. It comes about more instinctively and chaotically I think. But I think it works as a nice start to the album. I was writing a lot of songs about that very thing... packing your bags in the car and your brother saying why do you want to be like them when you can be like me. That idea of abandoning the roots from which you came from. There was lots of songs I was writing at that time about that but only "Wrong Crowd" really was the best one.

Me: Did you write that song by yourself then, Tom?

Tom: No, I co-wrote it with Rick Nowels who is a veteran pop songwriter.

Me: How did that work? Did you take ideas to him, or vice versa?

Tom: I spent a long time writing the album on my own up to that point. Just before I started recording I went to Rick as I was in Los Angeles at the time and with him it was very much I have a song which is basically done, the lyric was pretty much all there and the bases of it was there but he helped to direct it in someway.

Me: Did you write with anybody else for the album?

Tom: I wrote two songs with Andy Burrows from scratch which was the first time I wrote like that ever. The co-writing thing has always happened when I was never able to finish something, but with Andy on "Constellations" we sat there together and wrote the song together.

Me: What was the other song you wrote with him?

Tom: "Here I Am."

Me: So, who did most of the work?

Tom: It was very much an equal contribution. With co-writing I have always shied away from co-writing 'cause I often felt the song was so there already, then with coming in and giving someone 50% of credit it was always like I was giving myself a misdeed, but with Andy we very much started the song from scratch.

Me: So, why Andy then and why not just write a song yourself?

Tom: The reason I was able to do that with him is because he's one of my best friends and lives down the road from me, I'm godfather to his daughter. We're so close, I was able to do that. But I don't think I could do that with another songwriter.

Me: Do you make all the decisions about the production because the production on your music is a lot?

Tom: Um, a bit, yeah. It's always good to have an idea but it's good not to premeditate it to much. One of the mistakes I made with this album was doing to many demos before I recorded them. I have a little studio set up where I live in east London. When I hit writers block I think why don't I go and demo that song and see if I get any other ideas out of it. Doing that you tend to exhaust the magic so when you get to the studio its been suffocated a bit much. All of those ideas it was confining them... in the studio we were using a lot of bits from my demo, a lot of production we started from my demo. Pretty much every song we were drawing from the demos. The drums and the bass we were really doing again in the studio. A lot of the vocals were from the demos as well.

Me: One of my favorite songs on the album is "Somehow," which doesn't have a lot of piano, which is weird, as you are a piano player. How was it when you wrote that song?

Tom: Thanks. I'm really proud of that song and that's one I probably enjoy playing the most live. I wrote it pretty much the same weekend I wrote "Concrete" a really long time ago. It was in 2014 and wrote them both in the beginning on acoustic guitar and wrote both of them extremely quickly. It only took about twenty minutes for each of them. They are the two songs I wrote like that.

Me: Both "Somehow" and "Silhouette" both have strings... is that something you planned in advance?

Tom: It was weird with "Silhouette," that was a song that took me so long to write it and then it took so long to record it. I really have limited experiences with strings. So it was a lot of imagination was required. I got this wonderful man called Daffyd Rossey over from Coppenhagen... he does all Coldplay strings and lots of other bands, like I think the Verve. He's an incredibly talented guy but we got him down to Wales and tried to layer up with his violin... he did it all. We got it somewhere but it didn't massively work out which is a regret, but we got the bases of it there. I always knew I wanted to have an overture at the start, I wanted those to follow the chords from midway. Then we got this guy Chris Elliott in who is a brilliant string arranger and him and I worked on the strings quote heavily in the course of a few days. Then we recorded them at Abbey Road but it was a difficult track to do because the strings were a big part of it. So we did the strings at the end... trying to imagine the track without strings was difficult. Jim Abbiss, the producer and I took a long time to do that one. It was very painful but I think I'm pleased with the result.

Me: The chorus in it is really good though. The few songs I wrote for my music Strawberry Blondes Forever the chorus was always the easiest part. Is that the same for you?

Tom: No, the chorus was very quick. That was written at the studio at my house. I had that chorus for ages. When you got a chorus like that it's annoying, it's very good but how do I match to to the rest of the song? With "Silhouette" the melody relies on the rhythm so trying to find the right rhythm to it is very difficult as well.

Me: I read there's a theme, a narrative that ties this record together but I have no idea what this is. What is it, Tom?

Tom: There are themes with a loss of innocence. Trying to sort of like desperately search for that innocence that you've lost. Where that loss of innocence is I don't know. It looks a lot back to childhood in a sentimental way. I think it was because I was becoming an adult and I was suddenly realized I was an adult... it was a realization I was saying good-bye to my youth. When you listen to a lot of 24 or 25-year-old's albums I think they cover that a lot. I can often relate to it.

Me: Was the theme planned in advance?

Tom: No, it revealed itself.

Me: So, you might not include a song if it doesn't fit with that theme?

Tom: The songs I cast aside are the ones repeat something else but in a slightly weaker way. There's a song I had for this album called "Parties" which I loved and it went "I don't know why I come to these parties anyway, the only things that happens is I wind up saying things I shouldn't say" or something like that. It was very self depreciating, self-loathing but it lacked depth the song "Wrong Crowd" managed to fill. The richer, more ambiguous lyric that "Parties" didn't quite fulfill so "Wrong Crowd" was a better song to go on.

Me: There's whistling on that song... there's not enough whistling in pop music. Hahaha. You're fighting a good fight there. Hahaha.

Tom: There's whistling on "Sparrow" as well... it's weird, I don't know why there's so much whistling. Maybe because I can't play harmonica.

Me: Ha! What you need is a good kazoo player... and I'm your man, Tom. Do you write a lot of songs to chose for the album?

Tom: Yeah.

Me: How many songs did you write for this album or any album?

Tom: I've only done two albums, but this one was a ridiculous amount. Way over a hundred. When I was writing my first album there was a point where I realized, when my publisher came down to the studio, and I was trying to finish the first album and I hand't finished a song in six months. The publisher came down and said, "You gotta start finishing things." When you're sat in a bed with 60 unfinished ideas, with each one you think could be genius, it's very difficult to actually finish I think. Something clicked in me, I swore to myself, every idea, every decent idea I will have I will always finish. And I sort of lived to that mentally ever since to be honest with you. Particularly when it came to write the second album it was good housekeeping to use every good idea I had... finish it, draft it through. At least that song is there and I could judge it against another song. Judging unfinished ideas against each other is not good. Times I might the magic of a song is not how good the lyric, the melody, or the chorus is, it's the acclimation together. It's like the sax solo in "Baker Street"... with that song I don't know, then the sax solo comes in and it's perfect. It's like following something through because you never know what's going to be the thing that has the emotional feeling. Like in Procol Harum's "Whiter Shade of Pale," that organ line. To me that organ line makes the song, but like if that idea had been unfinished... for me that's one of the most heartbroken songs ever written. I don't know why.

Me: Have you been writing a long time, Tom?

Tom: I'm writing more now than I ever have. I'm finding I'm able to fit it into a busier life style. I used to have to be in a quiet room, but now able to just sit there. That's the thing about the Beatles or Elton John, putting out two or three records a year... you find the time to do these things.

Me: So, when did you start to play piano, Tom?

Tom: My grandmother had a pianola... It's what they had before the gramophone. You pump these pedals and you put a script in it, it moves the script around and the piano plays itself. That was before the record player, everyone had a piano in their house.

Me: Was your family musical?

Tom: Indirectly musical because my parents didn't play, nor did my sister but both of my grandmothers on each side of the family both played. I think my great grandmother was a concert pianist so she was very into it. It was all sort of present but it wasn't overbearing.

Me: I grew up around music as my dad was a professional musician but I got screwed out of any musical ability...

Tom: Except you play the kazoo...

Me: True. So, who are your main influences?

Tom: Randy Newman. I have covered some of his work. And I grew up listening to Ben Folds. People will put in the first two lines of a song they'll try not to cut too much in order in the third and fourth line cuts harder. It's like holding back on a lyric so that you can really cut. It's almost like an elastic band where you keep pulling it back... When you listen to Bob Dylan he's a master of it. What I grew up to listening to very much that Bernie Taupin, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen where they constantly contradicted the previous thing and constantly twisting things. I think I'm saying that more as a fan than as a songwriter observing what other people do.

Me: That's cool. I want to interview those guys so bad, but I don't know if I will ever be able to. Who do you think I should interview?

Tom: Eg White, who I wrote a few tracks on "Long Way Down" with. He's a true gentlemen, but I haven't seen him in a long time. He has the enthusiasm of a 22-year-old. It doesn't matter how into something he is, when it's 7 o'clock he knows his wife says he has to be upstairs, or whatever time. That sort of structure makes it very exciting because in the last hour you have to finish. What's so exciting about pop music I think, are the rules and regulations you work within are what makes it a challenge and what gets the best out of people. Billy Joel is such a master, he can make an avant grade, neo, classical, electronic album if he wants to. The reason those albums are so genius is because he's working to such stringent regulations that to write something that has depth and speaks to people in those walls is really great. When you listen to "Piano Man," that song is such a masterpiece. Real genius.

Me: Tom, thank you very much for your time. Go ahead and mention your website, continued success and please come back on the Phile again soon. I hop this was fun.

Tom: Thanks. Good questions, Jason, you didn't ask me what I had for dinner.

 Me: Hahaha. Take care.

 Tom: Cheers.

That about does it for this entry of the Phile. Thanks to Tom for a great interview. The Phile will be back this Thursday with the great Robyn Hitchcock. Spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye.

Not if it pleases me. No, you can't stop me, not if it pleases me. - Graham Parker

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