Interview with Alternative Press

1. Which ONE member of the band can I attribute all of these quotes to?

Paul Foreman

2. List full names for every member of your band, what they play and their age

Joseph Daley (drums – 35)

Blair Douglass (electric bass – 28)

Paul Foreman (guitar, organ, voice – 34)

Nicholas Rocchio (guitar, organ, voice – 27)

3. What city does your band call home?

Chicago, Illinois.

4. What’s the name of your latest release (and is an EP or a full-length)?

I’ll Tend Your Garden (full-length)

5. What is your MySpace page URL?


6. Exactly when (year) and how did this band come together? (Please say more than, “We were all in other bands that broke up and decided to play together.”)

This is the second incarnation, if you will, of  Soft Speaker.  The following is the band’s official bio, which explains its history in detail:

Under duress from the USM (Unified Society of Milkmen), Joe Daley, Blair Douglass, Paul Foreman and Nick Rocchio shut down their independent milk delivery service in 1929. A smattering of unsuccessful business endeavors followed, until they discovered an undeniable chemistry blending fuzz guitars with lutes and clarinets. Although initially less lucrative than the milk business, the band, who settled on the name Sanftsprecher (English trans. “Soft Speaker”), were championed by Austria’s Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss in 1932 and subsequently enjoyed a period of massive popularity in their newly-adopted home country. The band split following Dollfuss’s assassination in 1934. Their only official recording, the 78rpm single,“I’ll Tend Your Garden,” is highly sought after by record collectors. In 2008, enthusiasts of the band purchased sheet music for a number of unrecorded Sanftsprecher songs that were discovered in Rocchio’s safe deposit box in UniCredit Bankengruppe.  Austria’s Tonkünstler-Orchester Niederösterreich has been recording interpretations of these songs and releasing them for the public’s listening pleasure.  A quartet of Chicago-based musicians has also taken it upon themselves to perform these songs live in a more rudimentary manner with crude electric instruments, much to the dismay of purist fans who prefer the orchestral versions.

7. WHY did this band come together? (To just play local shows for friends, to change the world, to get rich?)

We fully intend to exploit our situation to our advantage as much as possible, sexually-speaking.  However, we are primarily interested in exposing American audiences to the music of Soft Speaker.  We are fully aware that we do not possess the skills to best or even equal the original compositions from the 1930s, so we decided to simply record those old songs with a more modern approach (but not too modern… we prefer analog to digital).  Since the dawn of rock n’ roll, it’s been clear that it takes very little technical skill on an instrument to achieve success.  This is also something else we intend to exploit.  Have you listened, for example, to The Stooges?  Would it be preferable to ingest Fun House or some-“thing” by Stevie Ray Vaughan?  That’s right, you choose The Stooges every time, despite the fact that they are very nearly incapable of playing their instruments!  Luckily, most of the old Soft Speaker material is simple enough for us to perform, although we have run across a few anomalies that are over our collective head.

8. How did you get from the earliest days to where you are now? (Did you play a lot of local shows and build up a following? Were you befriended by a hugely popular band who took you on tour? Did you have a song played during an MTV reality show?)

As you might have read, Joseph Daley made a large sum of money selling stray cats to lonely dancehall girls prior to the formation of the band.  However, being in a band is sexier than selling cats.  I won’t lie, it was hard work learning ten Soft Speaker songs, which was approximately enough material to allow us to begin performing in front of audiences, but we managed and our first show took place in St. Louis, Missouri in the fall of 2008.  We were greeted with consternation and methodical elbow-rubbing.  There were no physical altercations.  Back in Chicago, we were able to harness the dreamy features of guitarist/vocalist Nicholas Rocchio to corral a number of confused weirdos, hangers-on and women into attending our concerts.  Although few can actually name any of the songs we play, they know what we look like and can recognize us from a distance or (more easily) up close.  We have done what can only be described as miniature bandstands, or small tours, of portions of the state of Ohio with our friends, Astro Fang.  Their fans will not hesitate to ignite fireworks inside the venue while the band is performing, which initially took us by surprise.  We have no interest in MTV.

9. How would you describe your band’s sound? (Please say more than just “pop” or “metalcore.” Try to really explain it.)

Over the past year or two we have become increasingly infatuated with what we refer to as “relentless melody.”  This is essentially a combination of the unwavering rhythmic approach found in Kosmische musik (Can and Harmonia are favorites) and the irrepressible melodies of bands like The Raspberries.  This is the basis behind our interpretations of the Soft Speaker material, of which we only have one original recording (as previously referenced, the “I’ll Tend Your Garden” 78rpm single).

10. What separates your band from others? (Please don’t say, “We all have very different musical tastes” or “We go out of our way to talk with all our fans.”)

We share many similarities with Dr. Steve Brule (we have instructed our manager to reach out to John C. Reilly, but do not believe he has been successful so far).  Although we may say, “we don’t care, who cares?” we don’t really mean it.  We are utterly oblivious to our surroundings.  When approached in public, we may be loveable/squeezable or vile and unbearably coarse.  It’s a crap-shoot.  Might as well.  Who cares?  In addition, the songs we have acquired, legally or illegally (this has yet to be resolved), are undeniably brilliant.  We are one of two bands in Chicago that can make audiences both dance and weep simultaneously (I shan’t reveal the other).

10. Why should people listen to you?

As much as I’d like to think that the public at large has no choice but to listen to us, they, in fact, do.  However, it’s difficult for us to fathom how celebrities who spend the majority of their time hawking cable television and lipgloss can make any real connection with the common man or woman in the year 2011.  The most famous “musicians” of our time are not musicians at all.  They are hucksters and thieves, of which we are neither.  We offer an undiluted form of entertainment, although it may require that the listener trod through several levels of muck to reach the creamy centre.

11. What other interesting tidbits can you tell us about this band?

We do not, under any circumstances, allow guest musicians to appear on our recordings.  It is true that pedal steel-player Gabriel Stutz features on the song “Barbershop Quintet,” but that recording was done before the rule was in place.  We do not operate under the misguided belief that being in a band can be an environmentally friendly endeavor.  It is very much the opposite.  However, this is offset by the physical and mental pleasures that we provide for our audience.

12. What does the future hold?

We have recorded the follow-up album to I’ll Tend Your Garden and are currently mixing it at Gallery of Carpet Recording Studio, Inc. It is our hope that the album will be released in the fall on Forty Acres Records.  Soft Speaker is not a not-for-profit corporation, but it does not profit in any monetary way.  This may change following the release of this interview, but it is unlikely.

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