- Fri, 2010-05-28 12:31
The brainchild of singer Elizabeth Berg and drummer Tennessee Thomas, The Like have been playing their own brand of ‘60s-inspired pop-rock since the turn of the millennium. With a successful debut album under their collective belts, as well as numerous tours with big names such as Muse and Arctic Monkeys, they are now preparing to release their Mark Ronson-produced second album in August 2010.
I Like Music spoke with singer Elizabeth Berg about working with Mark Ronson, a traumatic four years that inspired the new album, the genius of the ‘60s and their extremely busy touring schedule.
“I Like Music because…like all art, it serves to define order from chaos. It reminds you how beautiful life could be and should be.” Elizabeth Berg
ILM: How has your time in London been?
Elizabeth Berg: It’s been so great! We’ve been here for a week, and we’ve played a show pretty much every day or two. Every show has been packed and everyone has been nice. It’s so fun I can’t even believe it!
ILM: What’s the current live show like?
Elizabeth Berg: The line up of this band is different to what it was before. We have a new bass player and keyboardist. Our record was recorded live, so when we play live it’s exactly what’s on the record. We’re fun and energetic. The songs are short. We don’t stop, pause or dilly-dally! We play and we dance, and it’s just really fun. I enjoy doing it!
ILM: What have been some of your most memorable live experiences?
Elizabeth Berg: We played a show in Tokyo that was really insane! It was a super-packed club show, all the kids were on each other’s shoulders. It was really amazing. We also played a festival in Germany when loads of drunk men were crowd-surfing and freaking out! It’s often the weird ones that you remember, you know? Since we’ve got this new line-up, every show we’ve played has been better than the last. I feel like every time I’ve grown as an artist and musician, which is a really nice thing to have.
ILM: How do you approach your song-writing, from day one to putting together the final product of the album?
Elizabeth Berg: Writing songs is the way I process the world. If I can’t do that then I just go crazy! This record spans about four years, in those four years I experienced everything possible. I had the best and the darkest most desperate times. I had my heart broken a million times. I did pretty much everything you can write a record about! So that's what I did! Most of the songs were written on tour in corridors in the middle of the night in my underwear sobbing. Some of them were written at home in bed, sobbing. It was an intense few years. But every bit of it was worth it if it brings a song I’m happy with.
ILM: At what stage did Mark Ronson become involved?
Elizabeth Berg: It was difficult finding the right people to record it. We tried recording for a long time, figuring out how to make this record. Then we ran into Mark Ronson and told him what we wanted to sound like. He just knew how to do it, how to get that out of us. All in all it took us about two weeks to record it, including mixing and mastering. We recorded it all live, some days doing about three songs a day. Lots of the vocals are one take, many of the mixes are just rough mixes…it’s very old-school! We were so prepared by the time we got into the studio that we just did it.
ILM: What was your relationship with Mark Ronson like as musician to producer?
Elizabeth Berg: It was a really weird thing when I got into a room with him and started to work on the songs. He just knew how to get the best from them. Mark is a producer through and through, and he’s one of the purest producers I’ve ever met. He’s one of those people that can just sit down with an artist and a song and know how to make you the best artist and it the best song that you and it can be. He sat down with songs that I had re-worked and over-thought and that people had changed and went back intuitively to its original inception. He’d listen to a song and immediately his instincts were exactly how I wrote it. It was a crazy experience to feel that understood as an artist by your producer. That’s exactly what makes him so good and effective. Combined with that, Tommy engineered the whole thing and co-produced four of the tracks, and Alex Greenwald, who is one of the best musicians I’ve met in my life and has been one of my best friends for ten years, worked on it. To have all of those incredibly talented people working with you is inspiring. It’s definitely changed me forever as a musician and as a person.
ILM: What music have you been listening to recently?
Elizabeth Berg: Until I was ten, I’d pretty much only heard The Beatles! That was how I learnt to write songs, how I learnt what music was. The girls and I put the Beatles on a lot! Singing four part harmonies is how we’ve been warming up. At the end of the day that’s my number one check point. But I also remember being ten years old, lying on my bed listening to the Supremes and being like “this is it! This is what I want to do and sound like!” And then female writers of that time like Ellie Greenwich, or Jackie DeShannon, who’s one of my favourite writers and musicians of all time. Dusty Springfield’s voice always reminds me why I love singing. Also the Beach Boys, the Zombies, the Stones or the Kinks…it’s just music that came from the real birth-place of this genre of music. For me it’s pretty hard to beat.
ILM: You can’t really go wrong with the ultimate combination of fantastic voice and incredible melody…
Elizabeth Berg: That’s the thing. This record definitely has a ‘60s and Motown vibe, I think that’s mostly because during that time-period all of the hit songs were great, well-written pop songs that were about craft, ingenuity and true artistry. That’s what we’re really trying to achieve with this record. I love songs that are both simple and complex, both heartbreaking and fun. I don’t know if we achieved it, but it’s what we’re trying to do!
ILM: How about within the live context; who have you seen play that has really made an impression on you?
Elizabeth Berg: I gotta say the Zombies. They are insane! Tennessee and Laena saw Iggy pop and the Stooges play the other night and said it was the best show they’ve ever seen in their lives. Primal Scream is one of my favourite shows I’ve ever seen. We toured with the Arctic Monkeys for about a month, and those guys are a sick live band. I dunno, we’ve seen a lot of cool stuff in our time!
ILM: What’s next for The Like?
Elizabeth Berg: Our record comes out in England in August and America in June, so we go back home in a couple of days and we’ll be in LA playing a residency, which will be really fun. We’re going to tour with The Futureheads in June, then our record comes out here, then we’re going to Australia and playing with the Strokes, which will be really cool. We plan on spending the next couple of years touring, then making a record really quickly and then touring again.