On November 6th, this Long Beach, California-based musician will be releasing his second full-length album titled Strangest Things via Forged Artifacts and Yellow K Records. What The Sound had the opportunity to chat with William Alexander about this new album, some overwhelming influences, his local music scene, and much more. Four of Strangest Things’ eight tracks have already been released and you can stream them and read our interview with this lo-fi psychedelic rocker below.
What The Sound: WTS is super excited for the release of Strangest Things. From your perspective, how does this album differ from Come Find Me EP & Girls Basketball?
William Alexander: Thanks, me too! Well, Strangest Things is actually the predecessor to those releases. It was originally supposed to come out about 5 years ago but the label behind it kind of fell apart so it got shelved. So that being said, I think it influenced those two a lot in my production aesthetic but differs because it's a bit more raw.
WTS: What’s your favorite lyric from the new album?
"when you smile I never know the truth"
WTS: Thanks for releasing a few tracks early from the album, we dig them all. “Big Mistakes” seems a little bit more upbeat than “Giant Fade” but still has that psychedelic vibe. More so Mamas & Papas, equally so Brian Wilson & The Beach Boys. Yeah?
I love that that's your take. The best part about music is that each listener gets to form their own interpretation of a song, hears different influences. To me "Giant Fade" is much more upbeat than "Big Mistakes" but I definitely have been influenced by that golden California sound.
WTS: When did you make the transition from The Meanest Boys to using your real name, William Alexander? Was TMB a solo project? Is William Alexander a solo project?
Yeah, both are solo projects. I dumped The Meanest Boys name after the initial release of Strangest Things fell apart. I wanted a fresh start and decided I would keep it simple and use my given name. William Alexander is actually my first and middle names but I liked the way it sounded. Voila!
WTS: How do you go about your songwriting?
I take it however I can get it. Sometimes I'll write on guitar but lately I've been starting with the drum track. I'll hit the drum machine or fruity loops and try to build a cool back beat. Then I start messing with the guitars and keys until I come up with an interesting part. After that I'll start layering other instruments and see where it takes me. Sometimes the end result is nowhere near what I thought it would sound like in the beginning. I like that though. I'll let the song dictate where it wants to go.
WTS: Which instruments do you play and what one is your favorite?
I play a bit of everything, but none of them well. Honestly, my favorite thing to play with right now is my sampler. I can sit around for hours chopping loops or trying to create cool textures. I have a huge rap / hip hop influence as well so I think my love of sampling comes from that.
WTS: From your Come Find Me EP, you covered The Troggs’ “With A Girl Like You” and it’s magnificent. Best cover I’ve heard of that particular song. Then you’ve also covered Clinic’s “Distortions”. That one is rad too. Any other song that you’ve been trying to put your own spin on recently?
Thanks so much, those were really fun to do. I don't have any new ones on the list right now but I'm sure I'll stumble across one soon. Covers are usually my slump buster. If I'm suffering from writers block or lack of creativity I'll find a song I want to cover. Going through the motions of learning all the parts to a song and recording it usually gets me inspired again.
WTS: We think you sound like a grown-up Youth Lagoon, or a zoned out Portugal. The Man. Have you heard those comparisons before?
I haven't, but I'll take 'em! Good company to be in.
WTS: Are there any overwhelming influences in your life that have affected your music either lyrically or musically that the general listener may not pick up on right away?
Hmmm. Probably my love of soul music. I grew up listening to all of the Motown greats and it has really stayed with me and influenced my writing. When you hear the title track Strangest Things there's definitely a throwback vibe but I think it carries over into the other songs quite a bit as well.
WTS: What’s happening in Long Beach, CA. Is there a rising local music scene over there and are there other notable townie musicians that you would like to give a shout-out to? Any certain one that we should keep our eye on?
Long Beach is killing it right now. There's a ton of great bands and venues. Everyone is pretty charged up right now and motivating each other, it's really cool to see. Porch Party Records has taken hold as local label to keep an eye on for sure. My personal favorites are Rufrano, Rudy De Anda and The Boogie Mamas.
WTS: How’d you get connected to Yellow K Records and Forged Artifacts? Both rule. Do you have any favorite labelmates?
Josh from Yellow K contacted me after hearing some of my tunes that my buddy Ryan (Los Angeles Police Department) had shared on his facebook page. Josh is a great guy so we connected right away and thought it would be awesome to work together. When I hit Ryan back to thank him he asked if he could connect me with Matt at Forged Artifacts and the rest is history. I got super lucky. Two absolutely incredible labels supporting me. I don't like to pick favorites but in terms of the music I vibe most with, it would have to be LAPD and New God. If we weren't labelmates I would still be a huge fan or their work. Shit, all of it's great though. That's what is so cool about being on two badass labels.
WTS: Do you surf, skateboard, or both?
I used to skate religiously. As you get older it hurts a lot more to hit the ground but I still pick it up every once in a while.
WTS: It looks like you probably had a blast making your “Come Find Me” music video. Was it fun? We love your TV vision “Giant Fade” music video too. What else can we expect in the near future in terms of music videos?
The "Come Find Me" video was a lot of fun to shoot. The Storm Trooper is my nephew Jack so it was awesome spending time with him getting dirty. He's just about my favorite person on earth. I have another video coming up for the song "I Won't Bite" and I can't wait to share it. My friend Brooke shot it and she did and incredible job. It's pretty racy but I love it so much.