“Just keep it simple, K, and strike an emotion.”
These are the words that Kurtis John, lead singer of The Last Goodnight, ponders every time he puts pen to paper and strikes a lyric. The advice is perfect, faultless. This counsel was passed along by John’s father, words that should be celebrated by any musician looking to write something that makes a difference in the lives of others.
The Last Goodnight’s debut album, “Poison Kiss,” not only puts Kurtis’ father’s words into practice, but does so in distinctive fashion, presenting a collection that ranges from one end of the spectrum to the other. The artists themselves put it best, “From the first single, ‘Pictures of You,’ a collage of poignant and vivid vignettes, to the strident title track, where the sounds of crackling vinyl meshes with a melancholy but buoyant, layered vibe, Poison Kiss takes an emotional journey.”
Most of you probably already know this – The Last Goodnight has been showing up everywhere. They were featured as iTunes “Single of the Week” and MTV’s “Discover and Download,” as well as on MTV2, AOL and MySpace. Their hit single, “Pictures of You,” has been garnering the most attention. John calls the tune a “collage of life, a landscape of lyrics that paints a picture of ‘what if?’ What if a different path was taken or someone was dealt the wrong set of cards?”
You’ve probably noticed that the band is dedicated to their lyrical work – they labor to produce words that wrap around your heart and squeeze; words that force stillness around you; words that take your thoughts to complex places so difficult to discover. Guitarist Anton Yurack hopes that audiences of all kinds can contemplate the ideas of The Last Goodnight. He’ll tell “it’s about how you allow the music to hit your soul.” I’m sure you’ve already allowed their music in, so get to know the band further by reading over their XXQ’s. By the way, keeping an eye out for their future work won’t be difficult – The Last Goodnight has already arrived.
XXQs: The Last Goodnight (Mike Nadeau – lead guitar)
(The following is a direct phone interview between PensEyeView.com President, Riche Frieman and lead guitarist for The Last Goodnight, Mike Nadeau)
PensEyeView.com (PEV): Hey, Mike, how are you doing?
Mike Nadeau (MN): Good man…pretty good.
PEV: Where’d I catch you today?
MN: We are in Cincinnati (Ohio) and I am in my hotel room right now.
PEV: Do you have a show tonight?
MN: No, we don’t. This is our first day off…we just did five shows in a row. We are going to Indianapolis next.
PEV: So, when you down time like today what do you like to do?
MN: Catch up on sleep, pretty much (laughs). Maybe do a little shopping. But I mean sleep is the big thing.
PEV: You are on the road now, so how do you like life on the road?
MN: It’s cool you know…it’s a lot of fun. I mean, you are living your dream out playing music, traveling…it’s cool.
PEV: How did The Last Goodnight (TLG) first form as a band?
MN: We all went to the same high school, four of us in the band. I was at a party and I saw Kurtis [John] (lead singer, piano), playing guitar and he was like playing some cool stuff. Then I grabbed a guitar and started playing some different stuff and we had like a friendly little competition going on. We went back and forth, back and forth, trying to win over the girls. We did for like a couple hours and he was like, “man, you’re pretty good, we should get together and write some songs”. And we started instantly writing songs. We just went from that moment on to where we are now. That was about eight, nine years ago.
PEV: You said you all went to the same high school. What kind of music where you listening to growing up?
MN: I was like a big Metallica, Motley Crue fan. And in like high school, I started to get into Pink Floyd, a lot of Dave Matthews when I was in high school. Hendrix, stuff like that.
PEV: You got a lot of attention from your original name Renata and then decided to change your name to The Last Goodnight? Why did you decide to change it after so much success?
MN: Renata was like a name that people couldn’t really pronounce all the time. We kept getting Recata, Regata…people were like “What is that, how do you say that?”. So, finally one day we were like, “let’s just change our name”. I personally never really liked Renata. Back in the way beginning of the band, Kurtis just came up with that. Then we were working on a name and the band could never really agree on much and then Kurtis again was the one who came up with the band names, he came up with The Last Goodnight. It’s kind of weird since it is a song on Poison Kiss and everyone was like “Wow, that’s pretty good” and that’s where we are today.
PEV: How have you changed since your earlier years as Renata?
MN: Well, we’ve added a keyboardist, a drummer…back in the Renata days we were more of an acoustic band. Kind of more ballad sounds….that was our strength. We added our keyboardist Eli and he opened up new avenues for Kurtis. The band changed, we changed our name, tried to get a fresh start.
PEV: Poison Kiss is out now, it’s getting rave reviews. What do you want people to take away from this album?
MN: I just want people to look at this record and be like, “Wow, that’s a really good record” . There are 12 really strong songs on it. It is lyrically strong, instrumentally strong, good melodies, hooks everywhere. That’s what we were going for when we made it, we wanted to make a really strong record; having a strong chorus and hooks and melodies. I don’t write the lyrics but Kurtis, who writes the lyrics, he really loves it. It gives you something to think about.
PEV: The single, Pictures Of You is one the top singles out today, where you surprised how fast it took off (at one time, iTunes #1 single download)?
MN: The only thing we were surprised with that song is we didn’t really know what was going to be the first single. I always thought it was going to be a single, you know but when we were talking with the label, they came back with Pictures Of You and that was like the first surprise. I think it is lyrically interesting and has a strong chorus and when we thought about it, we were like, that makes sense. It’s just crazy, it’s doing really well. It is more of a pleasant surprise (laughs) than anything.
PEV: When you guys sit down to write, what kind of environment do you surround yourselves in?
MN: It’s usually like, I’ll have an idea and bring it to Kurtis, maybe on piano and he’ll just come up with something…you know, like free-styling and we just go from there. It’s not usually a full band thing, maybe on the next record. But it comes from a lyrical idea and Kurtis will just take off with it.
PEV: You collaborate with a lot of top acts, Avril, Howie Day, Lifehouse, to name a few. Is there someone that you haven’t collaborated with that you would like to?
MN: Oh yeah! Personally, I would love to share the stage with U2, I’m a huge U2 fan. That is huge inspiration for me. That is the big one I think.
PEV: Is there a certain up and coming artist that you think we should all be listening to?
MN: (laughs) Yeah, The Last Goodnight (laughs)…Honestly I don’t really have an answer to that question. I am really absorbed in my own world right now. I only really listen to what’s on my iPod. I haven’t really seen or heard anything recently.
PEV: Who is on your iPod now?
MN: I have the new David Gilmore record. A lot of jazz, I have on my iPod…stuff like that.
PEV: Out of all the places you played, which city have you liked the best?
MN: I really liked Chicago…it’s a great city. Seattle is really cool. Of course Boston…Boston is pretty much my favorite city.
PEV: How have all your friends and family reacted to all your success?
MN: They are really happy for us. My family was hugely supportive from the beginning. So we are kind of doing this together. They are on top of every little bit of information before it even comes out, so I’ll get phone calls or emails all the time from them.
PEV: So, what is next for The Last Goodnight?
MN: Well, we’ll be on the road until November 26th and then hopefully keep playing shows and making new fans. Hopefully things will keep doing well. We are going over seas in 2008 and doing some UK shows.
PEV: Alright Mike, thanks again for taking time with us and we look forward to more in the future from The Last Goodnight.
MN: Awesome man, thanks.
For more information on The Last Goodnight, check out http://www.TheLastGoodnight.net