Uncle Pizza - Sound In The Signals Interview

I recently had the opportunity to interview Uncle Pizza. We discussed the band’s writing process, how their new album is about growth and change, releasing it on cassettes via Sleepy Clown Records, and more. Check it out below. 

First, thanks for the interview.

Of course!! Thanks for being interested in what we're up to.

You have plans to release your upcoming album ‘frog era’ on February 24th. It’s your first one as a band rather than a solo project. How has this changed the process?

It's changed it a lot honestly. I used to mostly write on the computer just experimenting and playing around but at a certain point I started feeling really claustrophobic. I went on this long road trip when I moved from California to New York and while I was on the road I started trying to write on the guitar again and recommit myself to just writing good songs instead of making cool sounds. 

Once I got to NY and started working with Cam and Juan and OB the whole thing just started making sense. I had all these songs I was working on and they were excited to work on them with me and really dig in in a way that I never could by myself with a computer. I think working alone I got stuck in the same loops and ideas sort of jamming with myself but never developing. Playing with everybody, the songs develop way more naturally because we have really different tastes and backgrounds and can bring different stuff to the table in real time.   

The theme of your upcoming album is growth and change. Can you tell us more about this and your lyrical inspiration?

This also kinda goes back to my big road trip haha! The end of 2021 and early 2022 were full of changes. I had just moved to New York after living on the west coast my whole life, I'd started playing guitar music with a band instead of computer music by myself, Cam and I were living with like 6 other people and I'd just started hormone replacement therapy. It felt like everything was kinda up in the air and unstable but I was also really excited about the future for the first time in a really long time. The lyrics on frog era are definitely responding to all that. I think you can really hear me trying to re-understand myself and how I exist in the world. 

What’s your favorite part of writing songs? What can be the most challenging aspect of writing?

I love being about 2/3s of the way through a song. Initial ideas are always really hard and knowing that a song is finished can be kinda tricky too but, there's a sweet spot about 2/3s of the way through that's just so excellent. You already kinda get what the song is supposed to be and you're allowed to just play around. You have a lot of freedom to try things and even if they suck it doesn't matter bc most of the song is still good. It's the second most creative part of the process I think, because you have to be really creative to have a good idea for a song in the first place but when you're in that middle space creativity is uninhibited and you can throw every conceivable idea at the wall till something sticks. 

Can you tell us more about the recording process? What came easiest in the process and what took more time? 

The easiest parts were probably the quietest ones. The intro for mush, for example, was super super fun to record. It was me and Cam and Juan in the studio. I had the finger picked guitar part already and Juan came up with the bassline pretty quickly and then we just started jamming and trying stuff. Juan has this super freaky bitcrush pedal that we ran my omnichord through while he and Cam played with all the knobs which was a super fun group improv type game. Then when we listened back Cam started singing that main guitar melody and we all freaked out because it was just so perfect. 

The harder moments were the ones that we'd gotten used to playing live. iowa skyz, for example, was the first song I'd written for the album so we really knew how it was supposed to feel and translating that to the computer was super super tricky. There were a couple nights I remember OB and I staying really late recording drums then realizing it didn't sync with the guitar then rerecording the drums so they'd fit then deciding it was actually the guitar that was off so we'd rerecord that and we went back and forth like that for a while just trying to capture the pocket we fall into live. 

You released new song “iowa skyz” in December. What are your thoughts looking back at it now? What have you thought of the reaction so far? 

Like I said, iowa skyz  was the first song I wrote for the album. I wrote it in the Loess Hills in Iowa and was really excited because it was like "omg I can still write a song without a computer and it's actually pretty good!!" I'm still a big fan. I LOVE how it came together on the album. It feels like the best bridge between where Uncle Pizza has been and where we're going. It's also cool bc since we dropped it I've noticed a couple people at every show singing along which is so nuts; that's never happened with a song I wrote. 

You’re releasing the album via Sleepy Clown Records. Is there a chance you’ll release physical products or merch as well? How important is having a physical products such as cassettes or vinyl to your band? 

Yeah, we're gonna do some insanely sick tapes! I was really excited when Sleepy Clown said they wanted to work together because they've released music by some of my favorite current bands like truly distinguished company. And these tapes are gonna rule. I really wanted to make sure they felt like an extension of the album so we're throwing in some cool goodies and a cool color palette and I'm kind of obsessed with how they're turning out. 

I love physical media. As great as it is to everything ever available online there's still something really special about holding a piece of art you love in your own hands. I remember in high school I got a copy of Plastic Beach by Gorillaz on vinyl and it was so magical to hold the music I'd loved for so long in my hands and look at the art and feel the actual physical weight of this album that I'd spent so much time listening to and obsessing over. Obviously we're not Gorillaz, but I want people to love what we do and I hope when they buy these tapes they get a similar feeling of magic.

Thanks for taking the time to answer the questions. Is there anything else that you’d like to add?

Of course; my pleasure! Cam wanted me to mention that Uncle Pizza is the best and sexiest band in Brooklyn. :)

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