Friday, April 18, 2014

Interview: Rob Cantor

Rob Cantor has been a musician and songwriter for many years now. As a member of the band Tally Hall he worked on two albums and since then he's been entertaining people with comedic tracks such as "Shia LeBeouf." Mr. Cantor also just released his debut solo album Not a Trampoline, and he was kind enough to share a few words with me about the album and his career in general.

Rob Cantor
No More Blood From a Clone: What are some of your biggest musical inspirations?

Rob Cantor: Like all of humanity, I love the Beatles. I also love the Beach Boys, Queen, Paul Simon, Elliott Smith, Dan Wilson, and many, many more. 

NMBFC: Most people will know you either from “Shia LaBeouf” or from Tally Hall. Are you alright with being known that way, or would you rather have started fresh with this album?

Rob Cantor: I don't think this album is incongruent with "Shia LaBeouf" or with anything Tally Hall released, and I'm proud to be "known" from either of those endeavors. Not a Trampoline has a bit more depth than "Shia LaBeouf," for instance, but it's also not afraid to be silly and stupid at times...I think there's plenty of overlap.

NMBFC: If you had to categorize Not a Trampoline as a particular genre, how would you describe it?

Rob Cantor: The album is pretty varied. Most of it could be called alternative rock, though there are certainly outliers. "In Memoriam," for example, would not work very well on KROQ.

NMBFC: Would you say the tone of this album is: comedic, serious, or whimsical?

Rob Cantor: Yes. All three, I hope.

NMBFC: How has it differed having mostly complete creative control over your work rather than having to share it with a band? Is it harder or easier or just different?

Rob Cantor: Good question. At first, it was terrifying. I was very used to funneling my ideas through a four-man quality control machine. I knew if an idea was approved by the rest of the Tally Hall guys, it must have some merit. When I started working with my producer Gregtronic on this album, there was no such safety net. It was paralyzing for a minute- I second-guessed everything. But after a while, I grew increasingly comfortable with autonomy, and now I really like it. It's a lot quicker, I'll say Tally Hall, ideas might be bandied about for months or years before any kind of execution ever came into being. The same is not true of making a solo album, and the ability to be decisive is quite nice.

NMBFC: Where does the title “Not a Trampoline” come from?

Rob Cantor: The title is factual- this is an album of songs, not a trampoline. Jumping on songs is not only impossible, it's unsafe. DON'T DO IT.

NMBFC: What’s your favorite track on Not a Trampoline?

Rob Cantor: favorite track seems to keep changing. Early on, it was "Flamingo"- I enjoy the simplicity and the absurdity. At the moment, it's "All I Need Is You." My friend Randall Maxwell and I made a music video for it, and it breathed new life into the song for me.

NMBFC: “Ghost” seems to come from a pretty personal place. Is there anything you can share about it?

Rob Cantor: Ghost is about regrets. We've all got 'em!

NMBFC: Was there any particular inspiration behind the distinct sound on “The Rendezvous”?

Rob Cantor: The sound of "The Rendezvous" was a collaborative effort between my producer Gregtronic and Andrew Horowitz, my bandmate in Tally Hall. Greg and I had an early version that was dancier and less distinctive. It wasn't really fitting with the rest of the songs, and we'd all but discarded it. Andrew heard that early version, and liked the song. He insisted we give it another go. He took the session file and tweaked our arrangement. He added new sounds and took some away- he revitalized the track. When he sent it back, we knew it belonged on the album.

NMBFC: I’m sure some people will recognize “I’m Gonna Win” from an early Tally Hall song. Can we discuss the creative process behind the development of this song into what it is now?

Rob Cantor: We were just trying to do justice to a wonderful song, written by my bandmate Joe Hawley.

NMBFC: What other contributions did you get from your previous bandmates?

Rob Cantor: Andrew Horowitz and I wrote "Perfect" together, and he co-produced the track. He also added production and keyboards on "The Rendezvous." Ross Federman helped write the drum part for "Old Bike," and Joe Hawley graciously let me record his song "I'm Gonna Win." All four of the guys gave me great feedback on the whole album throughout the recording process.

NMBFC: Who is the female vocalist featured on the album?

Rob Cantor: The female singer on "The Rendezvous" is called Madi Diaz. She's a very talented vocalist, and also a great songwriter. She has a new record coming out soon, and you should definitely take a listen. I've heard some of the tracks, and they are super cool.

NMBFC: Is music definitely your career at this point, or is there still a plan b?

Rob Cantor: Music is, and has been for many years, my sole career. There is no Plan B!

NMBFC: That's good to hear. What do you hope the response to this album will be?

Rob Cantor: I hope the response is "HOORAY."

If you'd like to check out Not a Trampoline, it can be previewed and purchased at Bandcamp.

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