Thursday, July 21, 2005

"New Affections & Old Standards"


Glad to be back from a tiring vacation a couple of days & last night chit chat talk til' morning with Allan Montero (Candyaudioline/Soft Pillow Kisses/Aspirin/Superminty) & Joey Santos (ex-Superminty/Candyaudioline/Judith).
I was also a bit tired after finishing my prelim examination's,Now back on track & i just love it when i heard a band which can i truly say "Indie",I want to hand it down to another great band,The Silly Pillows.

From their 60's pop leanings combined with twee oriented feel in their songs,The band which started to be a home recording project of Jonathan Caws-Elwitt (singer/songwriter/instruments) & wife Hilary Caws-Elwitt (vox/instruments) back in 1986.They released their demos/songs on their own Pillow Image Ltd. via cassettes who gained them a following,including Dj's,fanzine writers,listeners.Hilary left in 1992 just as they are on the verge of releasing an EP on the German label,Hoppel di Hoy Records.

After a year,The band was now joined by Jonathan's brother,Sam Elwitt.They now switch to full studio recordings & which now see's them releasing old home recordings & making records on different labels.They have released their debut LP "Strangest Of The Strange" (i love this one!) in '94."Up In The Air" released in '95 was also a great LP which compiled some of their earlier recordings & in 1996 saw the band reaching the japanese pop charts at #3 with their split single with the band Citrus.This year also saw them rehearse & perform as a live act & what a cool way to start with a big PILLOW on stage.

A retrospective was released by a major label in Japan in 1997 & the band still continue to tour & completing the new LP with the current line-up of Jonathan Caws-Elwitt & Belinda Miller on lead vocals,Sam Elwitt on guitar,Charlie Zayleskie on keyboards,Michael E. Fiato on bass & Dave Joachim on drums.A year after,"New Affections" was released to a wider audience in spite of an Import only release & charting on various college radio stations & even MTV.A series of gigs followed accompanied by a quirky video done by the band.

The band is on hiatus & not active as of now but head pillow Jonathan Caws-Elwitt has some new recordings done on his own which you could find Here & you can also download his "Black & White Bathroom" EP Here

I've also done an interview with Jonathan Caws-Elwitt last summer through e-mail:

Jun Eric:Hi Jonathan,Can i ask who are the influences of the band whether in writing or making music?

Jonathan Caws-Elwitt:My biggest influences were mid-60's pop/rock/psych bands like the Beatles,Kinks, Byrds, Hollies, Zombies, Who,Beach Boys, Turtles, early Jefferson Airplane,Chad & Jeremy and lots of obscure singles and albums by lessfamous 60's bands. Punk-pop sounds (especially the Buzzcocks) were alsoan important influence, and from what I was hearing in the '80s I was inspired by bands like the Three O'Clock and the Rain Parade.You might be interested in a web page I wrote that chronicles the historyof the Silly Pillows in more detail:

Jun Eric:Wow,What a slew of lists it was:) I love some of them,Im more of a Beach Boys/Byrds fan than The Fab Four but still like them though & in the 60's,Which my father can relate to cause he is the one who intoduced me to this kind of music,I loved The Shang-rilas,The Ronettes,The United States Of America,The Orchids,Etc.

Jun Eric:Can i count The Faces (way before Rod entered the relic)?I think The Small Faces (Steve Marriott era) had a great sound!?Should Syd Barrett era of Floyd counted or it was more of Roger Waters?

Jonathan Caws-Elwitt:Personally, I like the Barrett-era stuff.

Jun Eric:Wow,Buzzcocks is cooler in what i think than the hype that's been going out in todays music:)Though im more of an Echo,Wild Swans,Liverpool thing i still loved em...

Jonathan Caws-Elwitt:Hilary likes Echo and the Bunnymen a lot!

Jun Eric:Those two paisley bands are known here,specially Three O'Clock cause back in the day,their single "On Paper" became a hit & i love their "Jet Fighter","Arrived Without Travelling" days & i also liked Dave & Co.,I loved "What She's Done To Your Mind",a classic!How about Green On Red or Dumptruck,are they in?:)

Jonathan Caws-Elwitt:I never really got into those or knew a lot of their music, though I know we played some Green on Red on our radio show way back when and we had friends who knew the people in Dumptruck.

Jun Eric:I just finished reading the whole story/article of the band & i was astonished of how the story have worked with Dean Wareham on a radio show?

Jonathan Caws-Elwitt:Well . . . I have to tell you that we didn't exactly work with him. It was more like Dean had the radio show on Sunday nights and Hilary had it on Monday nights, or something. (:v>

Jun Eric:Can i still ask if your wife Hilary still sing/co-operate on your solo outing?

Jonathan Caws-Elwitt:Hilary decided in 1992 that she didn't want to sing anymore.But since then she's done a lot to support the music -Website help, Accounting . . . And most importantly, Enthusiasm!

Jun Eric: I just found out that it was her brother who is a member of Nada Surf,Thanks & You guys have been friends with so many people & how can u define music now & then?Do you miss the days of 4-track?

Jonathan Caws-Elwitt:I'll answer the last question first,I don't miss the 4-track because though it was at the time a precious key to being able to record multi-track music affordably at home, it was very unreliable and frustrating. I'm currently using a digital home-recording machine - which causes fewer problems and has fewer limitations, though it's not perfect - but my favorite way to record is in a professional studio with an expert engineer solving all my technical troubles. (:v> I really don't have a taste or a gift for engineering, and I'd rather be free to focus on the artistic/performance considerations and not get bogged down in technical messes.As for defining music now and then . . . I think now I have more perspective on where I fit in. In our home-cassette days, I was trying to make 60's-ish music or trying to make punk-pop music and not realizing that I was really part of a newer genre (lo-fi tweepop?) that was heavily influenced by but somewhat distinct from both those things. I more or less knew what I was doing artistically, song to song, but I didn't know that I was part of a trend. I loved the Television Personalities but, believe it or not, it never occurred to me at that time that my music was like theirs! I was too busy thinking about the Zombies and the Byrds to hear how what I was doing was unintentionally following in the footsteps of the TVP's. But by the mid '90s, once I was exposed to a lot of the bands that were liked by the same people who liked us, I had more of a sense of being part of a "scene".

Jun Eric:Wow,I mean you are practically one of those bands that achieve a cult following in recent years that maintain that profile yet still playing/making songs that most in the "scene" are not aware of,I really see in you guys the true essence of a musician rather than a pop star,I admit that sometimes i feel also that i belong to a certain community which never appreciate the efforts u contibute to others.Btw,Did u ever released a single in your new solo stuff Jonathan?

Jonathan Caws-Elwitt:A 7-inch almost came out a couple of years ago, but it never happened. So it's just been the downloads/CD-R's.

Jun Eric:How are u these days?Do you record new songs & any projects?

Jonathan Caws-Elwitt:Things are groovy at the Caws-Elwitt's house.I'm not doing any music at the moment,though I've been making some notes regarding song ideas.I'm guessing I might get back into it later this year (fall/winter?).Meanwhile, aside from being busy at my dayjob (at a textbook store), I've been doing some humor writing, and I'm also currently acting in a play (which I do from time to time with local community-theater groups).

Jun Eric:Btw,Today is Sunday & where do you usually stay or what do you do in a weekend,Any routines?

Jonathan Caws-Elwitt:Well,Sometimes Hilary and I go out of town to visit family and friends on weekends, and occasionally one or the other of us have to work on a Saturday or Sunday; sometimes we'll meet friends in town for dinner or go to see a play, or sometimes we're in a play ourselves . . . but a "normal" weekend just involves us staying at home together and working on our various personal projects -in my case that could be writing, recording music, working on my web pages, or doing publicity for the theater group I publicize. We also love to just relax together -read, watch old comedies, play a board game once in a while, sometimes dance to house music in our kitchen. (:v> We really like being at home -we've set up and decorated the house just the way we like it, we love to plan and cook interesting vegetarian meals, have a pale ale or a glass of some complex red wine in the evening, etc.We don't spend as much time on the phone with our friends as we did before the email age, but we still do some of that; we have two phones hooked up so we can both be on the phone at the same time.

Jun Eric:Your band (The Pillows) are one of the bands i inquired with & i found out as one of the twee/poppy sounding,In this case do you listen to a lot of Indiepop acts/records in the past?

Jonathan Caws-Elwitt:When I was in my teens and my twenties, I listened to tons of sixties pop/rock and a bunch of new music/punk-pop/postpunk etc. By the late 80's, though, I had stopped keeping up with new music, for the most part. So though I was recording new pop myself, my listening was largely limited to the same old sixties stuff I loved, plus more old sixties stuff I was discovering. And by the early 90's, I had begun listening mostly to modern jazz (late 40's to early 60's), and hardly even listened to sixties pop that much anymore. Jazz is still what I listen to more than anything else. But once I got wind of the other indiepop groups that were active in the mid-90's, I started listening to contemporary pop again - the bands and labels I was friendly with would send me their stuff, and I would find new favorite songs to enjoy. I don't hear as much indiepop now that I'm no longer as active in the music scene; on the other hand, we have a satellite radio and I've begun to listen to some kinds of music I didn't pay much attention to before -- chillout, bossa-lounge-electronica, house, bass & drums, etc.

Jun Eric:Thanks for all the answers & keep up!

Jonathan Caws-Elwitt:Thanks & Feel free to send more questions anytime!

More on the band to follow & some interviews also so stay tuned:)

You can hear & visit the band Here with some cool tunes you can download.

Buy their stuff Here

Thanks to Jonathan Caws-Elwitt for all the info bout the band & their respective music.

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