Jim Styring Interview: It’s Karma It’s Cool, Thrift Store Troubadors

Thrift Store Troubadors is available from Bandcamp.

1). The album opens with “How Be You Be Blue?” The instruments all have
a clean, crisp, ringing presence, and there’s plenty of space around the
vocals. How much of this happens as you go about the process of
producing the song, as opposed to your having a fully-formed vision of
the finished result before you start recording?

We wanted a big pop rock song to open the album, it’s a deliberate nod to the psychedelic 60s, The Beatles etc. Martyn had the initial guitar ideas, I added melody and lyrics. As well as being our guitarist, Martyn is also the producer of our records, so he always has a clear vision of how he wants the songs to sound. We threw a lot into that song, but managed to keep it sounding surprisingly simple.

2). Listening to the song “Old Bones”…and It’s Karma It’s Cool’s music
in general…it’s clear that your drummer, Danny, plays a key role in
your sound. Tell us about him, and why you feel he’s such a good fit for
your band.

He’s such a great drummer. He’s very versatile in his playing, always plays for the song, knows when to hit them hard and when to hold back. He listens to a wide range of music and drummers, so brings all those influences and styles to the band. We’re very lucky to have such a great rhythm section in IKIC, both Mikey, our bass player, and Danny hold it all together, they’re the foundations to the IKIC sound.

3). Once again, you’ve done a great job of sequencing the tracks on the
album. The opener is a powerhouse, and in the middle, you have “Jenni,
We’re All Fighting Wars,’ which is a much more gentle, wistful, and
melodic track. Do you plan ahead for this? Do you know you want “X”
amount of rockers and “X” amount of ballads?

The sequencing of an album is vital. If you don’t get it right a record can lack energy, no matter how good the songs are. We don’t really plan, but we like a good mix of songs, you’re taking the listener on a journey, so you need to keep things interesting. We always try and put a couple of surprises in there, too. ‘Jenni’ came from a guitar idea our bass player Mikey had sent me. We kept it simple until the ending, when all the voices come in.

4). “Ghosts Wear Jeans” has a very interesting feel to it. Throughout
the album, you have flourishes of twangy alt-country / cosmic cowboy
guitars, some new wave, and your own unique sound. What was your
inspiration for this track?

It’s basically a tribute to Bowie, Ziggy Stardust and that whole Glam Rock thing. Martyn plays some great guitar on this one. It’s kind of looking at how the music industry has changed over the years, how all the larger-than-life rock stars have all but gone. It’s asking Ziggy to come back one last time and show us all how it’s done.

5). You have harmony vocals on most tracks, but “The Terms Of Letting
Go” features a really nice blend of direct harmonies to your lead vocal
as well as some nice, airy, “aaaaaaaaaahs”…what inspired you to take
this approach?

We experiment a lot in the studio, I layer up harmonies and we just bounce ideas around till we get to where the song needs to be. I think the song just lent itself to putting those harmonies on there; the lyrics are kind of bitter sweet, and I think those backing vocals just reinforce that feeling of missing someone.

6). “Roll The Credits” implies the album drawing to a close, and it
certainly would have been an appropriate closer, but you come back with
one more rave-up, “City Kids,” which works equally well as a closing
track. Was this a coincidence as you began recording the tracks, or did
you have this planned in advance?

It was kind of planned. We wanted a slower song to lead in to the big album closer; there’s nowhere left to go after ‘City Kids’ We wanted to wind things down with ‘Roll The Credits’ then hit hard with the last track, the calm before the storm. It’s all about sequencing again, you can make the journey far more interesting if you take some time to get it right. And ‘City Kids’ is a celebration song; we’ve all made it this far, but never forget where you came from.

Jim – Vocals / Backing Vocals
Martyn – Guitar / Backing Vocals / Additional Instrumentation
Mikey – Bass
Danny – Drums

Special Guests:

Peter Holsapple – Mandolin on ‘ Winter Coats’
– Keyboards on ‘ A Gentle Reminder’ and ‘City Kids’

Gabby Porter – Additional Backing Vocals on ‘Winter Coats’

Recorded, Produced, Mixed & Mastered by Martyn @ Playing Aloud Studios, Lincoln UK