Adam Merrin of the 88 Gives Good Advice: Stay True to Your Music, Don't Try to Fit into a Scene
You could say that the 88 is the ultimate indie pop act, a shining example of a band making a living playing shiny, happy pop music (read: no day jobs needed) without skyrocketing to fame, pandering to crowds or being a household name. They release their own albums, tour at their leisure, are full time musicians who make a living by making music. Last September, they released their eponymous album; they're performing at the Coach House on Saturday to support it. How do they do they make it seem so easy? Read our interview with keyboardist Adam Merrin.
OC Weekly: It's interesting that you're all working musicians while not necessarily touring 24/7. How did you successfully pull that off?
I'm inspired by the guys in the band. When we all get in a room together, something great happens, and we have a lot of fun playing music and making up songs. Either that, or we're all just wired out of our minds from our morning coffee. Some of the songs on this record came very spontaneously out of improvisational jams that lasted over 30 minutes. We record every rehearsal and then make CDs for everyone to listen to. After doing this a bunch of times, purely for the fun of just getting together, we realized we had enough songs to record an album. We booked some studio time at Grandmaster Recorders in Hollywood, and finished it in nine days, then mixed it in a week. Between going in to the studio very prepared, and having a great engineer (Andrew Alekel), we were able to pull it off that quickly.
We have stayed true to the music that we love, and have never tried to change it to try to fit into any particular scene... if you don't count our major label release... which actually was us half-trying to hold on to our sound and beliefs, and half-saying yes to other people's ideas. So you have this confusing mix that doesn't fully go one direction or another. So besides that brief experiment in time, which I'm so thankful for, because we came out of it stronger and more confident than we ever have been, we continue to make the music that feels good to us.
I think that each individual needs to decide what makes them happy, and then go with that. Keith and I have been playing music together for almost 20 years, and we know each other so well. So when we were making the major label album, I could see that he was unhappy. So even if we started making money from that album, it wouldn't have been worth it. It feels so good to be recording and writing how we want, and there is a joy that comes from that experience that is priceless to us. You can't top that with anything.
The 88 perform at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano on Nov. 20.