Five Questions with … Brian Cherchiglia of the Bottom Dollars
September 5th, 2012
(Photo: Ky DiGregorio)
With lush harmonies layered over a booming rhythm section, the Bottom Dollars play the kind of blues- and soul-infused rock that’s best experienced live. The Brooklyn five-piece’s second album, Good News, Everyone!, comes out on 9/18. (Listen to their new single, “Pieces” and its B-side, “Work,” below.) And in support of it, they’re getting ready to launch a cross-country tour, which kicks off on Saturday at Mercury Lounge with the Nuclears and the Naked Heroes. Ahead of the show, we caught up with Brian Cherchiglia (vocals, guitar), who answered Five Questions for The House List.
Which New York City musician—past or present—would you most like to play with?
Wow, that’s a pretty intense question. I’d love to collaborate with the guys from TV on the Radio, a cowrite with Tunde Adebimpe would be a dream come true. And then there’s the whole Bob Dylan thing. David Byrne, Method Man, Eugene Hütz … shit. I’m going Bob Dylan for the win with Tunde as a close second, so long as I can blaze with Method Man and Redman at some point in this fictional scenario.
When it comes to new songs, do you always work them out first in the studio? Or do they sometimes come together live onstage?
You know, we’ve been really fortunate to receive such great praise on our recordings but none of our songs are ever composed in a studio setting. They kind of teleport between my bedroom and our rehearsals. Normally, I’ll write these songs acoustically and just mess with them until I can present them to the band once they’ve evolved into more of a complete thought. That way, we can work on the arrangement as a group and let them take shape into something that’s more “big picture,” and that’s really where Evan [Berg, drums and vocals] shines as a composer. He’ll subconsciously understand where the song needs to go, and within one or two runs through it’s there.
And does new material ever continue to evolve when played live so that it becomes something different than the recorded version?
One of the best things about the Bottom Dollars is that we’re very much a “live band.” Each show is different. Set lists vary. The arrangements are fairly elastic and purposefully so, because when you’re performing, and a great transition or segue presents itself, it’s really important to capitalize on that and put yourself in that zone where it’s up to the collective rather than the individual. Improvisation is really important to accentuate a particular performance of a song (if the arrangement calls for it), and guitar solos are fucking badass. Plain and simple.
Do you have to be depressed to write a sad song? Do you have to be in love to write a love song? Is a song better when it really happened to you?
Wow. Every songwriter is different, so I can really only speak for myself here, but yes and no. I think it’s more important to be cognitive and pay attention to what’s actually happening around you (and to you), absorb what’s truly going down and then remember it in a way that makes you comfortable. I think it’s really important to just let yourself be happy, let yourself be sad and know what that’s actually like so when you write about it, it isn’t too abstract that someone can’t connect to it.
Does Good News, Everyone! differ from your previous work in tone or content? Or is it just a natural progression from one album to the next?
It’s definitely louder than The Halcyon Days, and I feel like it might be a bit riskier. It’s definitely a bigger sound, because now we have Shappy [Dan Shapiro, lead guitar] and Chris [Urriola, bass] to round out the sound. It’s definitely more intelligent, the production is cooler. So I’d say it’s definitely a natural progression. We’re growing, and Good News, Everyone! definitely shows that. —R. Zizmor