Coming from the release of their satirical single, Where’d You Put The Baby?, Friends To The End chat with Happy about the making of the track.
Friends To The End, the whimsical Texan rock group, recently released an eery, whimsical single named Where’d You Put The Baby? It came alongside a film clip that you won’t easily forget, and to say we had questions would be an understatement.
We caught up with frontman and founder of Friends To The End, Thom Kurtz, to dive deep into his musical influences, and to find out what we can expect from the group in the future.
HAPPY: Hello there Thom! Where do you find yourself today?
THOM: We live in the Hill Country of Central Texas very near the Austin city limit. We’ve been enjoying great weather this spring and summer and everything is still green.
HAPPY: Friends to the End… where did this name/concept come from?
THOM: Did you know Friends To The End’s style of modern soft rock is a singer-songwriter genre at its core? You see words are just so precious to me because I’m a singer-songwriter at my core. Friends To The End is a song I wrote when I was young, and it’s one of the oldest songs that I still play and promote. That helps explain where Friends To The End, the name and the concept, came from, in three major ways; it’s easy to pick a band name when you already have a killer theme song, I make sure Friends To The End is the kind of project where keeping good relationships is the number one goal, and that these songs of mine have been my friends for a long time. I’m happy to share the best of them with all my new listener friends.
HAPPY: Congratulations on the release of your single, Where’d You Put The Baby?, what’s the story behind the track?
THOM: This song was written and produced faster than ever before. I was inspired by the idea that in our times so many people seem willing to throw overboard all manner of precedent and tradition without considering the long term consequences. Which reminded me of the age-old aphorism, “Don’t throw out the baby with the bath water”. We have some interesting posts about it on our Instagram.
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HAPPY: Who have been your biggest influences that inspire you?
THOM: It’s hard to pinpoint influences because I have so many. For this song (Where’d You Put The Baby?) obviously there’s an homage to Talking Heads, but I think my vocals here are more inspired by Billie Holiday than David Byrne for Where’d You Put The Baby? Let’s mention Tim Dolbear and the great bass and guitar work he did on this track. Tim delivered everything I needed to build a great recording. But you can be sure in my catalog the songs and arrangements are influenced by legacy soft rock greats like Bowie, Paul McCartney, Steely Dan, Neil Young and those sorts of ’70s and ’80s sounds.
HAPPY: How do you avoid overworking a track?
THOM: That’s an interesting question because you have a built-in assumption. When I’m turning our recording into a masterpiece, I keep working the track until I love everything about it! Then I can listen to it constantly, and I don’t get sick of it. Maybe it’s a little weird, but once I can listen to it constantly with no issues, then it’s D-O-N-E done.
HAPPY: The video for Where’d You Put The Baby? is really entertaining! How did the visual concept come about?
THOM: Well, I wrote most of the script, but I had a great videographer and music video producer helping me. They made sure it looks great with lots of incredible shots, plus they invented some of the gags like putting a gardener down below when we throw out the bath water. Let’s give a shout out to Joshua Milligan of Rustic River Media in San Marcos, Texas, and free agent Andreina Byrne, whose music video productions you can find all over YouTube.
Thanks for your encouragement. I was hoping people would enjoy some of the special effect surprises that lead up to the surprise ending. The music is quite catchy – after a few listens for acclimation – so one goal is to hook you on the song by watching the music video a few times. I think there’s enough in there if you’re paying attention that you’ll want to watch it through a few times to consider what it’s all about, for you.
HAPPY: How would you describe your song producing process?
THOM: I’m a great believer in resourcefulness and finding inventive ways to bring a song to life, like imitating other catchy things I’ve heard. In my case it never comes out much like the original, but it gets us down a path to create a really one-of-a-kind sound. I don’t always remember the initial inspiration, but when I reimagine some other recording I’m crazy about, it just comes out in its own Friends To The End modern soft rock way. I do want every song to almost sound like a different band, like one of my favourite ’60s bands, the The Lovin’ Spoonful.
HAPPY: What’s to come for Friends to the End?
THOM: After we wind down the big push for Where’d You Put The Baby?, I’ve got several sync license opportunities I’m going to dive into. I’m also interested in exploring the music scene in the smaller communities north of Austin like Round Rock and Cedar Park and working on a band for that sector. Also I always have more songs to record and I have a decent catalog of unreleased singles to put out. It’s all just a matter of timing and financing. Finally, I’m also thinking about our follow-up to Where’d You Put The Baby? and it will likely be, Chinese Underground… I wonder how I’ll put a music video together for it?
HAPPY: Cheers Thom!
THOM: Cheers back to ya Jazz!
Where’d You Put The Baby? is out now.