DJ Ron Slomowicz (RS): Welcome to Nashville, is this your first time here?
Tony McGuinness: No, actually I was here a long, long time ago when I used to work for Warner Brothers. I came to witness the opening of the WEA Nashville building. I actually met up tonight with a dear friend of mine Bob Saporiti, who used to be the international director of WEA Nashville. He is sitting over there; he is actually a recording artist under the name of reckless Johnny Wales. So give him a big up. Paavo Siljamaki (PS): Tony’s background is in the old school music industry and we were just laughing over dinner. There are two guys here, proper music industry heavy weights who reformed themselves as artists. Tony is doing a little bit of arties and so is Bob.
RS: So the big story is that Group Therapy is coming out next week, at least here in the states. What’s the inspiration behind it and what was the move for another artist album?
Tony McGuinness: After we started doing remixes we realized that there was a lot more value and traction in doing our own material. So we put out a couple of singles. Then we thought we should do an album like a proper group. Since we are a group (there are three of us), we write our own songs and have even played live on occasion. In the old fashioned sense of the word, doing an old artist album felt like the best thing to do and that was what we really wanted to do forever. Each of us has music business album connotations. We did an Oceanlab album after our first album, but I think another artist album is kind of what we do.
Paavo Siljamäki: If we release a single they’re mainly for clubs. The thing about doing an album is it gives us more of a chance to go to the heart of the music; because we are all really interested in writing and storytelling and that kind of aspect of music. Doing an album gives us a lot more of a chance to do that than if we are solely doing something for the clubs.
RS: Talking about the songwriting, does each of you write songs? Does one of you build tracks? How does that work?
Tony McGuinness: We write songs together for the most part. Obviously, the songs that we write are from a man’s point of view, but we will occasionally lean on favored women to tell the other side of the story. It was just as it was with Oceanlab and Sally Johnson with Above & Beyond. We try to do as much of it as we can, but I think that our market has kind of broadened. I think that’s the thing with Above & Beyond. The nature of Group Therapy is it’s a much bigger thing than the three of us, so we try to encompass that with the song writing. Sally seems to add something that we can’t bring ourselves to the party.
RS: Did you sing one of the songs on the album “Black Room Boy”?
Tony McGuinness: Yeah, Paavo sings “Sun In Your Eyes” and I sing “Black Room Boy.” I jokingly said that I am the Ringo Star of the group because I get one song to sing on each album. I sung “All I Care’ on the last one. We are very lucky to have found Richard Bedford. He gives us a voice, which is like the voice that we would like to sing ourselves; if we could. I know that is very true of me. He manages to sing the words that we write in a way that makes him sound like he wrote them himself which is the beauty of Richard. He’s got that kind of expressive, soulful voice. He is obviously a man, but he has a feminine, beautiful voice and I think that kind of suits the area that we work in.
Paavo Siljamäki: I think that there are very few singers that have the ability to sing and make things sound very believable and really sound like they mean it. Richard is definitely one of those guys and it has been really cool doing stuff with him. I think it’s an amazing thing to witness a great singer at work and that’s what it’s like for us working with him.
RS: Do you find it difficult to work with your own voice versus working with someone else’s voice when you are doing your productions?
Tony McGuinness: Yeah, I know the amount of time Paavo spent recording. It can be difficult when you are working with your own voice, most people have problems when they hear their voice recording because it doesn’t sound like the voices they have in their head. It’s a lot higher generally and kind of reedier.
Paavo Siljamäki: Its much easier being objective about somebody else’s voice than your own and I think that is where the difficulties come when you are trying do something that would sound really great. It’s almost impossible to tell about your own thing, but it’s a lot easier telling what sounds good with somebody else’s.
Tony McGuinness: Yeah, I mean certainly with “Black Room Boy” we sort of thought long and hard about getting somebody else to do it. To be honest it was John and Pavvo who said “your version is as good as it’s going to be,” so we should just go with that. I can’t hear it, to me it sounds like a hair on the floors in it.
Paavo Siljamäki: The floors are quite often where the beauty of things are.
Tony McGuinness: Yeah, that may be true.