by Dave Schwartz
Photos courtesy Dan Hille and www.no-address.net
There are a lot of ways to open an interview, but every so often you run across a detail in a band's bio that screams out to you. It forces you to ask the question immediately. If you donít, itís as if there is a big pink elephant sitting in the room that everyone is afraid to talk about. But I suspect that Ben Lauren, vocalist for No Address, has heard this question before. New Mexico? You went to New Mexico to record a rock album?
"Our producer lived out there and he wanted to record the album there," Lauren explained. "Plus we thought it would be, well you know, youíve got a choice. There are the obvious places where bands record, L.A. and New York. These are not only very expensive places, you know money is always an issue when youíre first starting out, but there are also a lot of distractions. Inspiration-wise, New Mexico was just very inspiring. So we didnít mind. He kind of suggested it and we went to check the place out and said, 'Yeah letís do this. We canít get into a lot of trouble here.' And we are you know, very passionate about our music; we wanted to make sure that we made the best record that we could. And this was an area that, unlike LA or NY where you can get yourself into a lot of trouble, this was a little bit more secluded and it allowed us to make the record we wanted to make. Itís a record that weíre proud of."
Lauren is the primary songwriter for the band. His lyrics tug at the heartstrings with an impassioned force. The band name, No Address, reportedly comes from the idea of things being neither here nor there, a sense of indifference, but the lyrics wonít let you off that easy. They are aggressive yet soulful; retro and still new.
Lauren states, "First and foremost, we are a rock band. And above all, we need to be inspired and moved. Life seems too painful when we are not inspired."
That sense of pain, along with healing is evident in their music. I asked about the origin of the songs.
"We didnít do any writing in the studio," Lauren explains. "We used the studio to record what was already there. We did a couple weeks of pre-production before we entered the studio, working on song arrangements and different things. The only thing that we wrote in the studio was lyrics. I donít force writing lyrics. They come when they come, thatís my attitude. If you force them then they wonít be right. I definitely left a song or two off the record because the lyrics werenít right yet. We are a band that writes a lot. I know some bands kind of have trouble generating material, but we have material for days! We wrote a hundred songs for the first record. For a very long time I wrote a new song pretty much every other day. I definitely had a good month that I just kept on kicking out song after song. I think we ended up recording 20 for the record and we used 13. So there are a lot of tracks didnít make it for whatever reason."
There is a story in the No Address bio that explains the band's first single: The first single, "When Iím Gone (Sadie)," nearly didnít make it onto the record. Audiences loved it, but the band ended up getting sick of playing it, so they took it out of their sets. But when they were tracking in the studio in New Mexico, their producer asked them to take some time out and just jam for a little while. "Okay," said Lauren, "letís play ĎWhen Iím Gone.í" The guys came back with a resounding, "No," but ended up doing it anyway. Once they heard the playback, they realized it had to be on the record. "Which turned out to be a good thing," Lauren says. "It taught us an important lesson: you have to trust your audience."
In that same context, I asked Lauren about "When Iím Gone (Sadie)," I was curious to find out if that wouldíve been his choice for the first single off the record.
Lauren quietly thought for a moment before answering, "Wow thatís a tough question. I should just say yes and leave it alone! I would say this; itís the most obvious single. You know what I mean? Is it my most favorite song on the record? No. The song wasnít even in contention to be on the record. The fact that itís even on the record is a huge mistake. Well, not a huge mistake but a mistake that it even made it on the record. If you read our bio you understand.
"I kind of just made the guys play it as a joke," Lauren continued. "But then the producers came back and said, 'Hey thatís a great song!' And when the record company heard it they were like, 'Hey thatís a great song!' We didnít mean for that to happen! I will say this, we were playing the old version of the song; if we did any writing in the studio this was it. We rewrote ĎWhen Iím Goneí to make it what it is today. We like the song a lot more today."
I commented on how grueling it wouldíve been to hit the road with a single that the band absolutely hates to play.
Lauren laughed, "We actually love the song now. Itís just funny how it all happened. Itís strange how a small turn of events, a mistake, can really change things. What if that song becomes a huge hit? I mean thatís what is really humbling about this industry. You can try and try to write a hit song. When someone asks us about writing I just tell them to write album tracks, let someone else decide what your hit is. It would just be hilarious if that song became a huge hit all because of a mistake. I mean, thatís the humbling part of all this. Itís not like we had some big design in our heads about how this all went down."
I asked Lauren about two other songs from the album that caught my ear, "Lasting Words" and "Perfect."
"ĎLasting Wordsí is the song that got us signed," Lauren said. "The president of Atlantic Records heard the song and loved it. He told them to sign the band. And thatís really how quickly it happened. He loved to song and wanted to sign us. We flew to New York, met with the label and signed a record deal. For every band, itís always tough in the very beginning; itís always about song writing. Thatís why we write a lot of songs. We wrote one that just sort of stuck for him. ĎLasting Wordsí was considered for a single. ĎPerfectí was in contention to be the very first single but ĎWhen Iím Goneí was eventually chosen."
I changed directions for a moment and asked about the tour-- No Address was just finishing up some dates with another band from Florida, Shinedown.
"We started about a month ago and I think we go to the first week in March" Lauren replied. "Then we will be taking a bit of a break to do our video. And then we are going back out."
I asked Lauren about the video and discovered they are taking the same methodical approach as they did with their music.
"Weíre still talking about video ideas, but the video will draw on a lot of the imagery that I call out in the song. We are trying very hard to not do a clichť modern rock video," Lauren explained. "Weíve been turning down a lot of the scripts that Iíve received simply because theyíre lame to be honest with you. Iím going to try as hard as I can to give the audience fresh new ideas and images. Iím trying to give them new things to consider and think about. I think the audience will respond to that. I think a lot of people underestimate their audience. They think that they just want a hot chick in the video who looks a certain way, wearing really skimpy clothes and as great as that is, thereís more. This is rock 'n' roll and, at least in the classic sense, it used to mean something, at least to me. Iím not saying the new album canít have a hot chick, Iím saying that thereís got to be more to it than just sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll. Decadence is cool, but where is the soul?"
After the video shoot, No Address will be back on the road playing many of the summer festivals. They have also booked dates with 3 Doors Down and Crossfade. In closing the interview I asked Lauren if he had anything else he wanted to share with the fans.
"Yes I do," Lauren replied. "Weíre not a jukebox. I want people to come see a show. We have several people that follow us show to show so we try to do different things every night. Iím kind of addicted to the feeling that everything could fall apart at any given moment. I like the chaos, so when playing live, I really try to push the band to the edge. Speeding up and slowing down and making the performance a very emotional experience. I want to have a very spontaneous overflow of emotion on stage. I know the crowd really reacts to that because they can see just how hard we are pushing. I want them to see our passion."
"Time Doesnít Notice" is in Stores April 26th, 2005.
Check out the Web site http://www.no-address.net.net
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