Exclusive Interview with John Hampson of Nine Days- John talks Retouched Edition of “Snapshots”, past albums, and more

Do you remember that huge hit in 2000 with the lyrics “This Is The Story of a Girl” called “Absolutely (Story of a Girl)?”  You probably do because of how big that and their album “The Madding Crowd” was.  The band kept going on after that and followed it up with “So Happily Unsatisfied.”  They had a fallout with their record label at the time Epic Records at the time and wasn’t able to get it released until recently.  They released a few other albums after that but didn’t get released to Spotify and some other major outlets until recently.

The band also went on hiatus for a while to pursue other musical projects and other jobs.  They reunited since then and put out two albums called “Something Out of Nothing” and “Snapshots.”  They are now releasing a Retouched Edition of “Snapshots” due out April 20th featuring three new songs and three demos.  You can pre-order the album HERE.

Interview with John Hampson of Nine Days

Congratulations on releasing your new song “The Song” as part of your re-release for “Snapshots.”  The song has kind a raw sound in some parts and sounds somewhat like a folk rock song having your classic Nine Days pop/rock sound while also striking some resemblances to “Something Out of Nothing.”  Can you tell us what direction you guys were going for that song.  Also are you going to release that song to radio stations as a single?

Definitely not releasing this as a single to radio! First of all, releasing a single to radio require spending a ton of money, which we don’t have.  Brian and I wrote this song with Joe West in Nashville, and I really love it. We just didn’t quite nail it in the studio.  The version that we added to this re-release is essentially a rough mix that is missing some overdubs. But at least I liked the raw quality of it. Hopefully, we will try this one again somewhere down the road and really capture the vibe correctly.

“Bottle of Wine” is another new song making it onto the “Snapshots” re-release.  That seems to have a different vibe than “The Song” and other songs on “Snapshots.”  I think it also bears some resemblances to “Something Out of Nothing.”  Do you remember what kind of direction you guys wanted to go with that song?

I wrote the chorus to the song and it was one of those “aha” moments.  I got together with Jerry Flowers in Nashville and we finished the rest of the song.  I was going for an Eric Clapton “wonderful tonight” vibe.  I don’t know why, but I always hear Darius Rucker singing this song in my head!

What made you choose these songs and “Happy, Too” to be included on the re-release?  I remember you guys had “The Song” for a while because you almost played it when I saw you guys at The Paramount with Dishwalla I think in 2014 before “Snapshots” was released.  What about “Bottle of Wine” and “Happy, Too?”  Were they originally recorded for “Snapshots?”

“The song“ and “bottle of wine” were recorded for the Snapshots album, but they just didn’t really seem to fit. As I said earlier, “the song“ just didn’t come together in a way that made the hairs on my arms stand up. So we put it aside.  “Happy, Too” is a song that Brian and I wrote with Zac Maloy. It’s a great pop tune, but for some reason we didn’t record it for the album.  I wrote the song “Snapshot” with Zac, and I did love the demo for “Happy, Too”, so, we decided to put it on the re-release.

Also on the new re-release are demos/remixes of “Green Light” “Obsolete,” and “So Called Perfect Life.”  Do you think your fans will enjoy hearing these songs in this raw and different form? Also, “Green Light” makes a smart choice to release as demo since it was a single, but why did you also choose “Obsolete” and “So Called Perfect Life” to release as a demo?

I actually really, really LOVE the demo for “obsolete”! In some ways, I like it better than the version we put on the album.  Had we decided to go in that direction with the whole album, “obsolete” would’ve been the single. But we went for a more organic sound, and that version of “Obsolete” would not have fit.  “So-called perfect life“ is a song that Brian and I wrote with Joe West.  We recorded this demo In Joe’s barn studio outside of Nashville, and he just gets such an awesome, huge and exciting sound. We really loved the demo, and actually almost put it on the album. I’m glad this one is out there for people to hear!   The “greenlight“ demo is more in line with the demo for “obsolete “. Both of those were produced by Zac Maloy in mixed by Derek Taylor.  Definitely different in the album versions, but I love them!

Talking about “Obsolete,” that is one of my favorites on “Snapshots.”  I love the guitar in the song and I think the combination of your voice and Brian’s in the chorus.  You guys did that in the past and I think you guys really succeeded with using both your vocals in this song.  What can you say about the recording of that song?  By the way, I also love the Counting Crows reference.

The guitar part is all Brian- very cool part.  The vocals are basically our normal thing- 2 part harmony.  Our voices are very different, but after 25 years of singing together we know how to blend well.  That Counting Crows reference was a funyric, but “getting married in a powder blue velvet tux” is my favorite line.

Some of the “Snapshots” album seems like a return to the early 2000s sound like what you had on “The Madding Crowd” and I think I remember you or Brian saying you guys were going for that.   What made you guys want to return to that sound and why do you think that sound of the late 90s/early 2000s is so prominent.  Why do you think so many artists from that era seem to always return to that type of sound for their songs?

There wasn’t so much of a conscious decision to go in any particular direction, but we just wrote some big and fat make songs and it felt like the right way to go was more of a madding crowd vibe.

We’ve always had 1 foot in an Americana acoustic singer-songwriter vibe, so that is always going to be there. It’s the way we choose to produce the albums in the sonic qualities that make the difference.

“The Madding Crowd” did really well for you guys.  One album that didn’t get that much attention though is still really good is “So Happily Unsatisfied.”  I know you guys weren’t allowed to release it until 2006 because you had issues with your record label at the time when it was supposed to be released.  Can you give the back story behind that?

This would require a very long response – but I will try to simplify… We are an unfortunate cliché when it comes to our major label experience. After the madding crowd album, and the success of story of a girl, epic essentially cleaned house and the new regime was not really interested in us. They kept pushing back the release of so happily unsatisfied to the point where we knew we were dead in the water over there. We left because we knew we had no future at Epic. So happily unsatisfied was released by epic sometime in the last year or so, but with zero input from us. We didn’t even know it was out there until we stumbled across it on iTunes. Weird. I am happy that people can access the record, even though we leaked it out ages and ages ago.

That album “So Happily Unsatisfied” was similar to the “The Madding Crowd” but had more of a raw rock sound.  Were you happy with that result and did you enjoy recording it?

I will just focus on the positives here – it was great to record out in California. Ron Aniello produced the album, and Eric Sarafin with the engineer, and they were both great to work with.  Eric was especially funny and such a great guy to work with- and great sounds. We had Chris lord alge mix the entire record, and he is simply amazing. So that part of the experience was very cool.  We were definitely trying to make more of a rock record, and that was probably a mistake in hindsight. Some songs probably should have been treated differently, and not so BIG.  But, we were mostly happy.  It was a weird time.  We knew we had to deliver another hit, and I don’t think we really had any idea how to do that.  We also really never wanted to be that kind of band, so we were really conforming to expectations.  Mistake.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I read that you co wrote “Ocean” from “So Happily Unsatisfied” with Jason Wade of Lifehouse.  First off, I love how that song starts off slowing and then builds up to a rock song.  How was it working with Jason and what made you want to work with him?  Were you a fan of Lifehouse?

Our producer,Ron Aniello, produced the first Lifehouse album and was about to work on their second. We got to know Jason and he was a great guy. Brian needed a little help finishing up that song, and Jason happen to come by the studio and lend a hand.  Big fan of Jason and Lifehouse!

Recently I think all your albums finally got released to the streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music.  I think before all that was there was “The Madding Crowd,” “Snapshots,” and “So Happily Unsatisfied.”  How do you like finally having all these releases released to these platforms now?  Do you think this exposure is increasing your fanbase?

I have no idea if this exposure will increase our “fan base“. We were just happy to finally get our entire catalog up. We have tons of stuff that was never released – demos and live recordings – so this was a great opportunity to get some of those out there for the hard-core fans.

I was happy “Slow Motion Life Part One” got released there.  I had the cd on iTunes but couldn’t find it.  I really like “Brand New Me” and think it is very underrated.  Can you give the story behind that song and what it was like recording that one?

Slow-motion life should be out on all digital platforms at this point. “Brand new me“ was a song I wrote with call him back. Paul has been a friend of the band forever, and he is recorded and produced a bunch a records with us. Monday songs, something to listen to, slow-motion life.  The version of the song that appears on slow-motion life was actually recorded with Brian Malouf at a great studio on Long Island, Cove City Studios. Brian is an amazing engineer and producer himself, so this one came out great.

Four of your songs were played in Film and TV and two of them were not on any of your albums.  What do you think draws your music to these outlets?  Do you think the drama in some of the songs makes these music supervisors want your music in their projects?

I wish more music supervisors would use our music! I think our songs address the big themes and are (sometimes!) very smartly written. The lyrics tell a story, which works as a soundtrack.

You guys performed at the Inaugural Ball for President George W. Bush which must have got you a lot of exposure.  Were you happy about playing at that President’s ball.  Some band’s received backlash from their fans for playing for a certain president like how 3 Doors Down got a bad reputation among its fans for playing Donald Trump’s ball.  Now Bush wasn’t as hated as much as Trump, but he wasn’t the most well liked President.  Did anything like that like what happened with 3 Doors Down happen to you guys?

I think we felt at the time that it was an honor that we were not going to turn down. Seems almost quaint to hate on Bush at this point, doesn’t it?  It was a great experience, and we didn’t get any backlash for it.

 

You toured with a lot of cool bands from the 90s and early 2000s.  With all this resurgence of this sound of music, do you think it influence younger bands to make similar music to that era.  A lot of the new music seemed to drift far from that type of music.

I think you hear that late 90s sound in a lot of modern country. I don’t know if a lot of new rock bands are influenced by what we did, whether specifically us or just our time period.  It will come around eventually, because all things are circular. I think story of a girl is an undeniable pop song that has probably inspired a lot of other pop songs. And I love that.

Besides the re-release of “Snapshots”, is there anything else going on with you guys?  Any chance you guys are working on another full studio album, live album, or anything like that?

We are definitely going to play some more shows this summer, and there is always new music going on. We are not planning anything just yet, but I’m sure we will release more music in the near future.

Thank you for your time.

Thank you!!!!

Two of the three new songs are released called “The Song” and “Bottle of Wine.”  You can check them out on SPOTIFY.

The band is also celebrating the re release of the album with a show in their hometown of Long Island, NY at the Boulton Center.  They are doing a regular show and a pre show with a set full of rarities as a VIP party.  You can get tickets and find out more details HERE.

 

 

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