MigrateMusicNews.com recently caught up with Josh Klinghoffer to talk about Dot Hacker’s new album Inhibition, as well the musical influences that have made an impact on him through the years. Published April 25th, 2012.
Dot Hacker’s debut album can be pre-ordered on CD or Vinyl via ORG Music
Hey Josh, Congratulations on the new record coming out! It’s been a long time coming. Tell us a little bit about the journey Inhibition has taken since you started recording to now being released on May 1st.
Josh: The journey ‘Inhibition’ has taken, for me, or in my eyes, has been a very, very…very long one. It has ALWAYS been my dream to start a band with my mates. My close friends, people I love, respect, and trust, both musically and personally. I’d always been sort of looking for a situation to present itself. People to magically appear with the same goals and desire to make sounds. My path took me to many different musical situations, ALL wonderful, but I had never found that band of a few close people. I’ve made music with amazing people along the way so I don’t want it to sound like I was dissatisfied with my situation in any way, but the dream of finding a few people in a similar place in their lives, with the same burning desire to play with others had eluded me.
When I was on tour with Gnarls Barkley in 2006 (as the keyboardist) the guitar player, Clint Walsh and I became (very) fast friends and shared that undying love for the band dymamic and started plotting how to build it. Through him I met Eric, and through me they met Jonathan. It was sort of an instantaneous musical fit. We all got on really well, we loved playing together and we all wanted the same thing…to be in a band.
I feel like I could be very detailed about the journey but I’ll just touch upon the big points. Adam Samuels, our friend and very gifted engineer had always been very encouraging of me and we had discussed working together for quite some time. After the four of us started playing and writing songs, we set out to find an inspiring place to make a record. Adam found this great house in El Sereno, CA. and moved his studio in there. For a lot of 2009 we camped out up there. Wrote, recorded, laughed, drank coffee, and churned out what became ‘Inhibition.’ It was a wonderful process. Strange, strenuous, loving, fast, slow, and not as everyone had expected at certain times, but the result, I think, is a very honest documentation of where the four of us, and Adam were at the time, with each other, and with ourselves. Adam was in the room with us when we tracked. There was a lot of excitement and joy in the room.
We quote/unquote finished on my 30th birthday. It was the same day Adam and I swapped houses. I moved into the El Sereno place and he into place. It really, for all of us felt like a high accomplishment. Through thick and thin, absence and presence, we finished a record…together.
Things led us all in different directions for a bit after that, until the loving guidance of our dear friend Steve McDonald placed the then untitled record into the hands of Jeff Bower at ORG. Jeff’s reaction to it was amazing and we set out to release it as soon as it made sense. Thing were done, paintings were selected, titles chosen and on May 1st, ‘Inhibition’ will be released.
It’s a record I’m really proud of. I’m also extremely grateful it is being allowed to have a life. This band is a great group of people who love playing together and there will be more to come from us.
You are primarily known as a guitar player, but the piano sounds on the record are very interesting and tasteful. Who are some of your favorite pianists?
Pianists? Well, anyone who can play the piano amazes me. I love playing piano but do so like such an idiot. I learned by figuring out songs. I love Randy Newman’s piano playing. Brian Wilson’s chord structures and voicing are something I’ve paid a lot of attention to. Spoon and Jon Brion push a piano over at the end of one of their songs, that some wonderful playing as well. People like Thelonious Monk, McCoy Tyner, Bud Powell, and newer folks like Brad Mehldau (Dr. Mehldau’s boy) are incredible to me, but I’m nothing like them so, I feel funny even mentioning them. I played music for a little while with an amazing person called Aaron Embry. I always enjoyed watching him play the piano.
You describe your sound as “architectural, built on a foundation of bold, manipulated tones and supported by lush eclectic textures and angular rhythm.” For those who may not understand those terms, elaborate on your songwriting process and what listeners can expect from a Dot Hacker record.
Did I describe our music like that? It’s good, I just don’t recall saying it. Wow. The process has no set way. Songs are brought in in various shapes and forms. Jams are done, sometimes for incredibly long times, discussions have happened over dinner about sound and arrangements, it really depends on the song. I’m not sure what to expect from a Dot Hacker record so I couldn’t really tell anyone else. The only thing I can say is that the people making the music really enjoy doing it and doing it with each other. One can expect to hear that.
The YouTube Clip of you performing “Order/Disorder” at The Troubadour is awesome! In your opinion, what is the better venue – small club or arena?
Thank you for the kind words about the Troubadour performance and for any other sentiments you’ve expressed about the music!!! For me, having had lots of experience with big stages and little stages, I can honestly say, it’s all the same…if you let it be. I love playing anywhere I can.
You, as well as the other members of the band, have an extensive recording and touring background working with the likes of Gnarls Barkley, Beck, and Tom Morello to name a few. Now you are recording and touring with your own band. What lead you to working with those artists and then forming Dot Hacker?
I can’t speak for the other guys, but for me, my love of playing and desire to keep doing it led me to get out of bed every day. My desire to effect my life and others positively through music is what has led me to want to write and sing. My love for the guys I play with led me to form Dot Hacker.
How did your experience working with these artists influence or aid in writing and recording for Dot Hacker?
Working with such amazing people, which I’ve been very very fortunate to do, has helped me really focus on what I’m doing with music and why I’m doing it. It’s made me ask myself what I want to accomplish in music. With songs I write. Do I want to accomplish anything? Do I want anyone to hear it? How much am I always staying true to the most basic reasons I do this. Every situation, musical and non-musical informs the next and I’ve been lucky enough to have wonderful friends…some of them make great music, but I learn from everyone…everyday…all day.
What is the best advice you have been given by a fellow musician and who said it?
“Do it.” (myself)