April 7, 2021

Briston Maroney: Sunflower

Briston Maroney: Sunflower

Ryan talks with singer/songwriter Briston Maroney and plays tracks from his brand new album, Sunflower. Briston writes catchy songs with heart that are both fun and full of emotion.

Find Briston Maroney online: https://www.bristonmaroney.com/

Music  provided by Tyler Ramsey.  Find Tyler on Spotify, Apple Music, and his website

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Ryan Gregg  0:05  
Welcome to the Songs of Note Podcast, where we talk about the songs we love, and the stories behind them. I'm your host, Ryan Gregg.

Hey, this is Ryan. Thanks so much for joining me for the Songs of Note podcast today. This is a podcast where we're talking about the stories behind songs and albums and chat with artists and just talk all things music. So really appreciate you coming on today. If it's your first time here, be sure to subscribe so you don't miss future episodes. Whether you're new or you've been around before, don't forget, there's a ton of other episodes—we've recorded more than 50 episodes where you can go back and listen to hopefully great interviews with with some folks that you like in today's in today's episode, I'm chatting with Briston Maroney, who is an artist that I just really love. His new record is called "Sunflower." 

We're going to talk about that and we're gonna get to play some of the songs inside the podcast, which I think is super cool for a way to introduce an artist music to you without having to jump off to a different platform. So I'll ask him some questions about the songs, play the songs that come back and talk about it. He's the coolest guy this I can see hanging out with this guy I wish he was in Texas, but he's a Nashville guy. But he just wrote some really good songs. 

I'm somebody that's super critical on music ... to a fault. I can really just find that find the bad in music quickly. But hopefully, I think that I can also find the good music. And this this is an album full of great songs. A lot of times it's easy for one or two songs to be good and the rest of the songs just to be okay. But I mean, I just keep listening to this record. I was cranking it yesterday on the way home. And it was just great. This is a great record. Super cool guy. He also talks about how he wrote on the songs with Dan Wilson, who was somebody that we've had on the show. So after you listen to this episode, you might go back and check out the episode with Dan Wilson (https://www.thesongsofnote.com/dan-wilson-of-semisonic) where we revisit "All About Chemistry," the record that Semisonic put out that is so so good. I loved hearing that Briston's experience with Dan was was just high quality and he just has come across to me as a super great guy as well. So I loved hearing about Dan, but this episode is about Briston's record, "Sunflower." That's the new record. The artist is Briston Maroney, and let's head on over to the interview. 

Hey, this is Ryan. I've got Britta Maroney here. Brisson, thank you so much for taking time to come on the show in chat today.

Briston Maroney  2:38  
Oh, come on now. Thank you for having me. Very excited. Man. 

Ryan Gregg  2:42  
I'll tell you what I've been feeling, you were asking right before we started how I was feeling and I've been feeling good because I've been listening to this "Sunflower" record. It just makes me feel good. It's made me feel really good.

Briston Maroney  2:53  
Yeah, that made me blush. That was a big compliment. 

Ryan Gregg  3:02  
I listen to a lot of music. I listen a lot old music. I listen to a lot of new music. I just like to like to listen to a lot of stuff. And I just keep putting your record on and I'm grateful I had an advanced copy. But man, these are just really great songs. And I'm just excited to be able to tell the people listening about it. The album's called "Sunflower." I wonder for people for people listening. Can you can you tell us a little about yourself? I know you're living in Tennessee, I think in Nashville now, is that where you started?

Briston Maroney  3:33  
Yeah. So I'm I'm basically Tennessee, Tennessee raised. I was born in Georgia. But between Georgia, Tennessee, and this little island in Florida kind of have some like undeniable Southern roots. I can't really run from them. I've tried, but I can't really escape. No matter how, how far I've run or how long I grew up my hair. Still got some south in me. But yeah, I'm from Tennessee. I live in Nashville right now. It's a really awesome place to be right now. Especially as seasons are changing. And things are slowly starting to become more and more hopeful. It's a it's a very vibrant city, when people are able to interact more. It's just such a community based kind of place. So yeah, that's very important to me. So that's Yeah, a lot of places that I grew up were places that I thought that strong sense of community.

Ryan Gregg  4:37  
I mean, I spent a lot of time in Nashville myself, and I definitely feel that community and I feel that here where I live in Texas, and I think that I see on a phone. Do you have a Texas tattoo? Is that what I saw? 

Briston Maroney  4:50  
I'm so glad you saw that. I actually got that in Arizona. We were on tour and we would disband Liske Cooper in the stampede, and we had played in Texas the night before. And then we were in Arizona, getting a tattoo before that show. And we were all kind of bummed to leave Texas because we had such a good time. So I was like, dude, I like Miss Texas so much like I was out there, right now. Yeah, it was great. That's one of my favorite techniques.

Ryan Gregg  5:24  
That's great. Where were you playing? We're in Austin or Dallas, or?

Unknown Speaker  5:28  
We did a couple of days there. I think we had left Austin before we went to Arizona, but Yeah, dude, I mean, I love Texas there. I've always talked about moving moving out there at some point, like for a couple months and to give it a try.

Unknown Speaker  5:42  
You should come on out now don't come in the summer because it's a little unbearable, but the people and the BBQ are good. So that's those are reasons for staying, and family.

Unknown Speaker  5:52  
Yeah, that evens out with this, the scorching nature. 

Unknown Speaker  5:58  
I want to ask you a couple questions about music, obviously. My first question is your song, "Sinkin'" is the opener for this record, which I really love. I'm curious if you like Courtney Barnett at all? When I was hearing the song I was like, I can almost see her singing in that like in a super low energy way. I was like, man.

Unknown Speaker  6:17  
I love that. I actually, I literally just had the hair on my arms stand up. I feel excited but also found out. Burnett is like my favorite. She's one of the best artists of all time. So yeah, I like this lyrically and just attitude wise, I just I love that sincerity of it. It's like her stuff is just so punk but not in like an apathetic way, it's just so I don't know, just like inclusive but also really dislike gold.

Unknown Speaker  6:50  
I think it's really cool. That's exactly that nails it. Okay, so you like her? What are some other bands you were listening to when you were writing and recording this record? It just feels like such a fun. I say fun like in a great way like like Weezer came to mind. I was just trying to think what other bands might have been missing you.

Unknown Speaker  7:07  
Yeah, totally. I mean, some of my biggest influences when I I mean I grew up really heavily into like folk music and country music honestly and like us Americana stuff, like pride. And Townes Van Zandt and Blaze Foley were like, the big three like gunslingers for me. That stuff is what I really fell in love with and early on with music and then when I got to high school and like hit pure anger phase, I was really into like, it's really like, just the most like a pretentious thing in the world. But I was really into all the like, elephant six bands like he brings like pavement and apples in stereo and My Bloody Valentine. Like all these like 90s are like, kind of out there grunge bands and stuff. And then yeah, and then I kind of just like, I got to grow up in such a dope era of indie music. So like 2010 like 2008, 2010 was like MGMT and Phoenix and Passion Pit, Matt and Kim and he's really like, Sailor Moon major key. Yeah. Oh, yeah. major key, like melodic, just beautiful. Yeah. Like indie pop music. So blending all that together, I think, kind of, like I'm always thinking of those bands when I'm writing.

Unknown Speaker  8:34  
I'm a guy that grew up on on Nirvana and Pearl Jam, and a lot of those grunge bands and they was so heavy, like, not musically, but like it just so much of it is is in like you said, like an anchor. And, yeah, to me, it was so refreshing when those bands came out that you just mentioned, like MGMT, and some of those bands that are like, Oh, this is still rock. This is still upbeat. This isn't like our like old school rock music. This is new current, but it makes you feel good. You don't have to feel bad. Like you have a song so and i and i like the combo that you that you do with your record and the way that you write that it hits on that it's not so it's it's like upbeat but not too upbeat. And it's I really I really dig it. 

Ryan Gregg  9:20  
I want to ask you about one of the songs. So I always like like asking if there was an inciting incident when writing a song. So your song, "It's Still Cool If You Don't," they're playing it here in Dallas on the radio, great song. It's so catchy. I just love it and so I'm excited for people who are have heard it or who are gonna hear it. We're gonna play it here in a second. Was there a specific thing that like triggered you sit down and start to write that song? What what's the story on that?

Unknown Speaker  9:52  
That was actually the first song that I co-wrote for the record with John Congleton, the producer. I came in with and the only lyric I had was, "It's just a matter of time." And I was like, oh man, we're gonna like, write this like Manifesto, like gigantic, like, deep, incredible like, my like "Infinite Jest" on this. Then John's like, "What if this song was about ... like that feeling when you're in middle school and you don't know how to tell someone that you have a crush on them?" And I was like, "Yeah, that's probably what this song should be about." Like, I can't write, I can't do anything else. So it very quickly became this really funny thing and I think it was it was, yeah, it was a cool way to like get to know John to for us to kind of write because there's some I'm not like a huge irony person like I kind of like really dig when people are sincere. But this song was like, definitely want it to be balanced of like kind of be in a little bit silly just with like, yeah like you said some you know that when we really were heavily channeling some like Weezer stuff so like, the, the silliness of just like the lyric being so forward. And so like, you know, even just the phrase, "it's still cool if you don't," like kind of just an awkward stumbling phrase. I think just like getting to know John and writing that together. I lead with like humor a lot of times. So like combining trying to be silly and make us feel comfortable with him being like nah, dude, you can like actually maybe say something with this too. You know what I mean? That was kind of how it all came together. So yeah, I don't know if that made any sense.

Unknown Speaker  11:39  
That's perfect. That's awesome. And that's a great that's a great description All right, well, so for people listening let's play now this is this is the song, "It's Still Cool If You Don't."

Ryan Gregg  15:41  
All right, man I love that song and like I said, I've listened to it just on repeat and so it's just such a fun song. Another song on the record that I really enjoy is "Freeway," and I love the lyrics. It's very visual and I'm curious like what what that song was about? You're talking about actually walking down a highway what how did that come to be?

Unknown Speaker  16:07  
It sad that I took some some poetic liberty on that. I didn't actually run down the freeway at midnight. On "Freeway," there's a lot of I've exhausted like every word you can use to describe roads in my discography pretty early on so I don't know what I'm gonna do later on, but yeah, man I didn't. It was kind of that song I think it was I wrote it in my bedroom. We were having like a party and I think I was done with the party and went into my room and wrote I think I was just feeling really crazy that day and then was like kind of trying to make fun of myself for feeling so crazy in the midst of like a happy situation so kind of just like making the most bold like yeah, I want to run down the middle of the freeway at midnight and flip off all the roads signs that are about like just the most like silly thing, but it's like what I felt and I wanted to do it, but I knew that that was stupid. Yeah, that one was another one that was like kind of trying to be a little like tongue in cheek towards myself. Like, Hey, I know you feel like the world is falling apart right now but your problems may not even be problems right now. Yeah, no Yeah, that one I just Yeah, I was going for like some images that helped get across that I felt really wild but was also not in that crazy of a play in my room

Ryan Gregg  17:51  
I love the chord progression on it. Let's play that now. 

Unknown Speaker  17:54  
Yeah, well, I mean, that's another great song from this record and you talked about visuals and in the visual component of that song, something that was cool was are you doing a fully like, like video of some kind to accompany the record? Keep talking about that a little bit?

Unknown Speaker  22:03  
Dude, yeah, this this has been super fun to talk about we're there first. So like short film, I guess is how we're labeling it. We've, myself and Joey Brodnax, the director of all of our music videos have kind of compiled all 10 videos that we did for this record and edited them, edit them, edit it would cut them up, put them all together with a bunch of like, crazy, just like behind the scenes kind of footage that we took while we were making the videos along with some like, sort of like scripted monologue scenes and some, like just all sorts of stuff. And we've compiled them into this like, kind of 45 minute long, short film that we're just calling "Sunflower" that kind of really vaguely tells like a visual story to kind of run a thread through all of the record more. 

Unknown Speaker  23:04  
I want people to be able to watch this short film, and kind of answer any questions they had about the record. As far as like, what the feelings behind it were. Because like, you know, like I said, the storyline of this film is like, pretty vague. But I, I think that people even if you just tuned in for two seconds, I just it's really about the colors and the feelings. You know that these videos, give people to me. Like that. That's why it's important that we share this in my mind, like, I just want people to see into the world. It's like one of those things that you hold up to your eyes, and you click the little button and it like changes. The pictures, you know what I'm talking about? Yeah, I kind of wanted to be that man. Like, I just I want people to be able to skip around in this movie. If they don't want to watch 45 minutes of it. They'll be like, Oh, this is how these guys see the world. And like, this is what this is like a look inside their brain to accompany the record. 

Unknown Speaker  24:08  
I'm with you. Well, so I just watched the trailer of it. And I was pulled in. I was like, you just don't know when there's a video to go with an album, you don't know if it's gonna be behind the scenes, or if it's flat out music videos, and this was like, this was really compelling. And the quality was crazy. 

Ryan Gregg  24:26  
I can't wait to see the whole thing, man. I mean, I was I was like, Wow, that is really interesting, especially with "Sunflower." I thought the visuals are really a great complement to that. 

Briston Maroney  24:37  
Thank you so much. Really, really sweet to hear.

Unknown Speaker  24:40  
I saw that you wrote one of the songs with Dan Wilson from Semisonic, who I love. He's been on the podcast.

Unknown Speaker  24:51  
He's like my hero. Like literally my freakin role model. Like, that guy is so awesome. We just talked about music forever. I think I'm amazed that we wrote a song. I was asking that dude questions about his life and about, like life in general. He's just such a smart kind person and just like, genuinely made all of his decisions, like artistically, but also just as a person, like, with a lot of consideration to other people's feelings, and like how he was going to best serve the world. So yeah, I mean, just like, talk about a peaceful dude, it like, honestly, hang with him made me want to leave the period of my life. That was, you know, the, like, the chaotic early 20s vibe of everything falling apart, but it being cool that it was falling apart, like meeting meeting Dan and seeing how balanced his life was. Just like, how, how delicately he treated his passions made me made me see like, Oh, wait, I think it's actually a lot cooler, to not be falling apart and to like, want to be the best version of yourself. So yeah, dude, I mean, he is awesome. I love that guy so much.

Unknown Speaker  26:14  
That's a really cool way to put it because when you look at like, music and musicians  lifestyles, the lives that oftentimes are celebrated are the ones that have gone off the rails, those are the ones we talked about, because it's like, oh, man, there's a tragic story. There's a tragic, that's the thing that's easy to talk about. But there's so much more work put in, in a lot of ways on the people that are able to keep it together and on hold it down and keep it real, like in a lot of ways that I see from what I've seen the little that I that I know about it, but from from him. So that's cool that that was what came across to it as well.

Briston Maroney  26:48  
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah.

Unknown Speaker  26:49  
Let's talk about let's talk about COVID. Let's not about COVID. But I want to ask a question. Let's say COVID has another lockdown like tomorrow. And this is another version of Island question. You can only grab three albums, you can only grab three albums in their physical CDs because you're gonna grab them. What what ready three records you would actually take with you for some reason. You can only have three albums in lockdown.

Unknown Speaker  27:18  
What if I was like, three copies of my own album? Dude, I'm glad you said physical CDs. I'm like, actually love physical CDs. I've got a couple that like I always have in my car that like I'm always stumped. And one of them is Neil Young, "MTV Unplugged." That's like, that's like always okay, cruising record for me. I love that album so much. Yeah, dude, I love I love him stripped down because you can just tell how insane he is. Yeah, I probably snagged that one. I would probably could. So that's like, That's like my crazy music. So I probably want like, one happy record and then maybe one like emotional record. So I probably grabbed that one. It's like, it's kind of like springtime. So I probably want something I could be like, lifted up by as well. And honestly, I'd probably go for Okay, I have to actually for this category. I think it's called color theory. The last Soccer Mommy record. 

Ryan Gregg  28:40  
Oh, man. It's so good.

Briston Maroney  28:42  
Yeah, that's like such a springtime record. I really love that one or the last peachpit record. That john did that one. It's like so springtime summary to me. See, those two? And then. Wait, did you say three?

Ryan Gregg  29:03  
If you got one more?

Briston Maroney  29:04  
Okay, maybe one? One worse. I gotta be like one heavy one. Just in case I'm having a bad day. Probably. Dang. Oh, my roommates just got me in on the new or the most recent Apple record. Which I was really late to the game on, but I have really enjoyed that. So that would be my like, intense listening. Awesome. Okay, yeah. I love it.

Unknown Speaker  29:30  
I love it. All right, we're gonna play one more song. I love the visual of "Deep Sea Diver." What made you think of doing a whole song around the idea of deep sea dive?

Briston Maroney  29:42  
Man, thank you. That was the song that I got to write with Dan, so that's awesome. It probably makes sense because it's so like, laid back very California feeling song. But yeah, he had a painting That I believe his daughter had painted. Maybe I can't remember if I'm misremembering that but he had a painting of like a scuba diver in his studio that had had a story around it. But I came in with like, some of the lyrics, but no, no real like, punch line. And I remember seeing that. And we, but I can't remember if one of us said, said kind of the hook line, but I do remember, whoever said it, we both kind of looked at each other. And we're just like, laughing because it was just kind of such a silly like, just dramatic, but like kind of relatable blind to say like, I'm a deep sea diver, but I'm in too deep. I think that's a funny thing for like a 22 year old kid whose life was incredibly blessed. So yeah, yeah, yeah, that was very inspired by the California environment. 

Ryan Gregg  30:59  
That's awesome. All right, let's play the song now. This is "Deep Sea Diver."

Well, man, I personally just thank you so much for coming on the show. Being willing to share some stories about your songs and I'm just glad to connect with you and wish you the very best and just love the record.

Unknown Speaker  34:53  
You rock. Thank you so much for your time. This is super fun.