Drew Andrews: 'All the Silly Genre Names…Chillwave, for Example, Seem Passing and Crappy to Me.'

When Drew Andrews isn't busy being a part of various musical acts he spends his time… well, being Drew Andrews.

As a contributing member of acts like Via Satellite and the ongoing music project The Album Leaf, Andrews has played a role in the creation of numerous albums. But with a solo EP just on the horizon (Playing Birthday Games available on iTunes on October 26th), and a sophomore full-length slated for early 2011, Andrews is stepping away from other outfits for awhile and getting back to the basics for a bit.

a show tomorrow at Gypsy Lounge in Lake Forest (playing
alongside Mphase and Paul Layton) Andrews is looking forward to his new material… and some quality Mexican food.

Heard Mentality
caught up with Andrews while on the road for a Quickie.

OC Weekly (Justin Shady): You're at the
end of another tour. Do you fall
into the routine of touring easily?

Drew Andrews: I love touring, but after enough years I don't think it's
necessarily easier. I'm back to crashing on floors and hustling PBR
again, which
is pretty rad. Touring takes a certain person who loves it and wants
more of it
to succeed as a growing type of band. This particular tour has
incredibly refreshing and fun for me, and I believe the band has really
both in performance and just plain having adventures together. We were
out of a hotel by frantic conspiring tweakers; stood under the clear,
and expansive night sky of West Texas; placed bets on tables, bought mix
off of street hustlers, and played some pretty sweet shows along the

When you tried your hand at going solo a couple
years back, especially after playing with other musicians for awhile, was that
an easy transition to make? Was it a bit lonely at

It was definitely a shift. And maybe not quite lonely, but certainly a
solitary act. Writing songs in a room on my own without any pretenses of what
something should sound like began a very solitary, yet very freeing, time in my
life. I actually really enjoyed treasuring these songs I had for awhile in my
own way, not sharing them as long as I could. It gave me the chance to focus on
how I want my art to be tossed out into the world. Now, having my band Spectral
Cities, it is truly great being able to continually actualize new and odd types
of songs.

What does working solo allow you to do that
working with a group doesn't, and vice versa?

I hear a lot of hooks and parts and arrangements in songs. It sucks
when I listen to the radio, I end up throwing out alternate melodies all the
time, wishing the song did something different. I thrive best having an
unrestricted space, to throw shit around in and see what sticks and what
doesn't, try to make odd unorthodox instrumentation frame a pop song. Challenging myself to develop in my knowledge of other instruments helps to
inform me in the discipline of songwriting; “discipline” sounds so awful and serious, but I do take it all sort of

You've done a fair amount of international
touring over the years. Do you feel your music is embraced differently by
fans overseas?

I definitely do think music is received differently in various parts of
the world, for sure! In the U.S., most people like hot and heavy and pulsating
rock or dance or hip hop. Flashing pans. Some kid singing who jumped right off
the cover of the checkstand magazine. That's how it is! But I don't do that. 
In my opinion, in the States, it can be a fight to convince people your art is
valid and relevant and entertaining, when everybody is flipping screens on their
phone while talking to you. In Asia and across Europe, there is a wide and
respecting audience across the continent for songwriters of all kinds, which
has been doing pretty well for me! I would like to live in Europe someday for a

You were involved in the music project The Album
Leaf in the past. How did you first become involved with the project's lead, Jimmy LaValle? Also, The Album Leaf released a new album earlier this year but you didn't appear on it. Do
you have any plans to continue contributing to the project in the future or is
your departure final?

Jimmy and I have a long history which is much more of a friendship than
it is a professional relationship. I met him right when he was preparing to
leave Tristeza and finding a new groove in life, much before Sub Pop, when the
nights were full of Miller High Life, cigarettes, cutting beats at the home
computer and trying to record without neighbors being bitchy. I was already a
songwriter when I first met Jimmy, and I only planned to stay on with Album Leaf
for one or two years to help him out to start a band for the “In A Safe Place”
cycle… but it got to be so much fun that I stayed for seven more! I am focused on
my own art stuff totally for now, but if it could work out to do shows in Album
Leaf, I would certainly play some songs with some of my best friends

You're following up your solo debut (“Only
Mirrors”) with an EP (“Playing Birthday Games”) at the end of the month. How is
the EP different from the material on your solo? Also, why go
the route of an EP rather than making it a part of your upcoming full-length
sophomore release?

When I make an EP, it is pretty rough and DIY, while still going
towards good production value. I record all the parts myself in various
locations and make it happen. When I made Only Mirrors there was no band
yet; just me figuring it out, through patchwork, seeing what kind of sounds
might work weirdly in these kind of songs. I was starting over. Playing
Birthday Games
gave more of an informed idea of the possibilities of songs
working together as one. I really love recording records. I always am
working on a giant soup-pot of tunes where some seem to work together for
certain albums, and others need to marinate a bit longer to draw out the goods. I am a purchaser of, but ultimately dislike, the culture that buys singles or
another few songs but shuns the album for, usually, financial reasons. I still
like bundles of songs together, LPs and EPs, it seems like still a fitting and
coherent way to share your art by. I try to make albums that sound different
from each other and occupy contradicting worlds.

Along those lines, your next full-length is reportedly
slated for an early 2011 release. Is that still accurate and, if so, what can
fans expect to hear on the album that they haven't heard from you

Well, for one, this unreleased album is very personal to me and I am
very happy with it! I think the new album is much more driving and dynamic than
anything I've recorded yet. As a Southern California native, I went deeper back
into a lot of old “California Sound” records from the early to mid-seventies. I
leapt into the new record with a sort of focus on a more classic feel, and I
think we got it! It feels nice, to me, to continue parts of older traditions of
the culture you come from. All the silly genre names thrown around for what's
hot these days, like “chillwave” for example, seem passing and crappy to me. I'd rather get wise from older folks and older albums, I suppose.
You've been on the road for almost three weeks
now. What are you looking most forward to doing when you get
I am going to destroy some Mexican food as soon as I get back home! 
Mexican food is pretty much no good anywhere else in America except in Southern
California. When people say there are places in other towns that are authentic they are either reaching for it and/or lying! There is a little Mariscos taco
truck in my neighborhood in San Diego that has killer ceviche. I think I
might try to get that together right… about… now.

Who: Drew Andrews w/ Mphase and
Paul Layton

Where: The Gypsy Lounge
When: Saturday, October 16th

Visit TheGypsyLounge.com
for more info.

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