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Anthony Cozzi of Chicago band Radar Eyes will be one of the performers taking the stage at Homeroom Chicago's Songwriter Showcase this Friday at Uncommon Ground to discuss his music and sonwriting process. Billie Howard had a chance to ask Anthony some questions beforehand...
Who were some of your earliest musical influences?
The earliest musical influences I can remember were the first 45's I had as a kid in the mid '80s. Theses included Tom Petty "Dont Do Me Like That," John Fogerty "Centerfield" and Micheal Jackson "Thriller" LP. I would stand on my head in my bedroom and listen to these records over and over. I soon "borrowed" a Beatles greatest hits tape from my Dad and that became a fast favorite. A little later in my early teenage years I traded a couple of my old Beatles/Stones tapes for three albums that I had never heard before but would change the way I listened to music from then on - Minor Threat - "Complete Discography", Jane's Addiction - "Self Titled"(XXX), and Fugazi "13 songs." The Minor Threat album took about ten listens just to understand what was even happening. The recording and performance on the album is so ferocious, I had never heard anything like it. Then I started to read the lyric sheet and discovered there was a community behind the music.
The Fugazi album was a continuation of what Ian started in Minor Threat but with more emotions than anger as well as dynamics in the instrumentation. The Jane's Addiction album was so weird to me at the time Perry's voice wrapped around the amazing rhythm section and Dave Navarro's spacey, melodic, but heavy guitar - it was like alien hippie punk. But, more importantly what this album did was to introduce me to Lou Reed and The Velvet Underground via the cover of "Rock n' Roll." One other album I bought around this time was Ramones "Loco Live," I basically learned to play guitar to this CD.
How has your songwriting changed over the years?
I wrote my first songs when I was about 15 they sounded a lot like Nirvana or the pop punk of the time. I would usually write the music first and then hum/scream out a melody and lyrics would come last. I spent most of my time in high school not paying attention to the teachers and writing thoughts/poems/slogans/drawings into a notebook(s) that I always carried with me. I usually pulled lyric ideas from this notebook. With Radar Eyes I wrote most of the early songs by myself in the same manner as above and would bring a mostly finished song to the band to flesh out. This has changed dramatically since Russ, Lucas, and now Nithin have joined the band. Usually Lucas or I will come in with a couple ideas musically and we will slowly form the song as a band. I still have a notebook of lyric ideas but I am taking a lot more time with them for this latest album, it's actually been a very difficult but enjoyable process for me.
Do you have a process for starting a new song or combating writer's block?
I have had writers block and what I usually do is change the instrument that I'm writing on. So, I'll write on bass or synth as opposed to guitar. This usually gives me a fresh perspective. For lyrical writers block I try to just write anything, however nonsensical, and hope that eventually my subconscious takes over and something usuable comes out.
What song or songs do you want played at your funeral?
I would really want my funeral to be a party so maybe something like AC/DC "Highway To Hell."
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