I always react strongly when I hear an indie bring something that I never heard an indie bring before. This was indeed the case when I first heard Have To Warn You Now by a guy named Joe Pops Bredow. Once the lead vocal kicked in I was practically open mouthed. Who is this, he's gotta be somebody famous, one of the Righteous Brothers or who the hell knows? What's funny is that while I was thinking that he was singing "I'm not an amateur". Another thing that really knocked me out is that it seemed to be a home recording, didn't have the kind of gloss a big studio recording would have. Yet what it did was pack an emotional punch. The arrangement built throughout and allowed his vocals to transcend space and time. What we had here was not only a natural vocal and songwriting talent, doing authentic soul music that is practically dead in this era, AND a musical craftsman who knows how to take a song and turn it into a memorable single. Uses harmonies and brass on his songs to great effect. This is the kind of record I would've picked up the first time I heard it when I was making my record run in downtown York PA in my youth. I hit the Bon Ton for albums, then went to a rotation of McCrory's 5 and 10 store, Woolworths where they had good cut-outs, and finally Murphy Mart which got the newest stuff first. I fucking love a great soul song, always have. I can picture the 45 in my hand, playing it again and again. I'd surely go around singing it, warning the girls with Joe Pops' voice, or as close as I could approximate it. Have to warn you ladies now, Joe Pops has a foreboding voice, it is warm like a piece of toast right out of the toaster - it will melt you, you are the butter. It melted me and people are always telling me I obviously like female singers better. and he is dead serious about love. Don't make promises to him you can't keep. and if you think you might love him, Don't Say It If It's Not True.
Scott: Do you go by Joe or Pops or Joe Pops? Where did the Pops come from?
Joe Pops: I really doesn't matter to me. "Joe Pops" has seemed to take over my musical career, which is kind of cool because it sets my apart from all the other Joe's out there. My kids and their friends gave me the name "Pops". Being in music, it was kind of cool to have your dad called "Pops".
But the name "Joe Pops" came from a interviewer I know, who has a radio show, by the name of Sheldon Snow. He started calling "Joe Pops" during an interview and it stuck.
Scott: Ok you obviously do a style of music that one doesn't hear that often in indie music or even on the mainstream these days, this sort of bluesy soul, tell us about your influences and about being an artist like this in these times. Also do you have a band and play live?
Joe Pops: Well let me give you a little bit of my musical background for this question. I grew up in Michigan, the home of Soul and Rock. You could not (and still can't) turn on a radio station that doesn't play these two styles of music. I also played in bands that played clubs and you had to play one of those music genres. So I was playing Rock songs by Def Leopard, Ozzy, Bob Seger and bands like those, working 3 to 6 nights a week. Well after awhile, when I was done playing those nights I did not want to listen to rock because it was too much like work (kind of like a auto mechanic going home and working on his wife's car). So I started listening to the Classic Soul stations. It was a welcome change to drive home and relax to. Don't get me wrong, I was not new to Soul, Funk and R&B, to me these are the cornerstones to great Rock music. It's just I was really enjoying it more. Hearing The Temptations and Motown (especially during their "Psychedelic Soul" phase) and Sly and the Family Stone, Rare Earth and of course James Brown. I can honestly say artists like those mentioned, along with Michael McDonald, Hall and Oates, Lou Rawls, David Clayton Thomas, Wilson Pickett and all the old school Soul and Funk singers are my influences.Years later, when I started seriously writing my own music, that's when I decided that I liked this genre the most and really enjoy writing and singing it.
I know it's not a "In Demand" style of music, but tell that to Michael Buble and others who do their own, out of date style. We do it because we like it, and sooner or later we find a following that enjoys something out of the norm too.
I do not have a band. It would take about 10 people to reproduce my music "live", and I'm not one to Karaoke my music (I have to have a show). When the time comes I'll put one together. I do play out with other musicians and do a lot of recording, songwriting and producing with other Artists.
Scott: I read on your page that you "wrote, sang, produced and played all the instruments" on all of your music. What is your background in music to be able to do all this, when did you get your first multi-track recorder or was it all done in a studio?
Joe Pops: I grew up in a musical family, so, whenever someone wanted to play a instrument my Mom would get them one, but soon their interest would vanish and that instrument would roll down to me. I just loved music! I started out playing snare drum in school, learned guitar (sister's) started playing piano (brother's) started playing flute (another sister's) and that was the start of my playing "hand me down" instruments. In school band you had to learn to read music, of which I sucked at (never caught on to that bass clef thing), so most of my learning was done by ear.
My recording experience started in high school. My parents bought a reel to reel (it came with a huge stereo system) that had a sound on sound option on it. Wow another "hand me down"! I started recording me singing and playing guitar and bumping it to another track to add drums and bumped it to another to add bass and so on. Doing this you had to learn the hard way about bumping tracks. Once bumped you could not go back.
I was in a many bands and we would record in many a basement, on many kinds of systems. Started out 4 track recorders, then 8 track and then the best of all Worlds at the time. 16 Tracks! I would watch and learn from these recording techs. Compression, EQ, mixing and such. But then (in the 2000'nd years) the recording world was moving fast. ADAT came out and then Roland had a 24 multi track console (and many copied them) that made it available so anyone, who could afford to buy it, could be their own recording studio. Then I went to a studio that was using a computer and this DAW system called Pro Tools. Everything changed. The recording industry went to hard drive.
Fast-forward a couple of years, and computers dropped in price, and there was about 20 different DAW systems to choose from at very reasonable prices. And best of all if you wanted, you did not have to pay for studio time ever again.
In 2012 I bought a super-fast computer and put a CakeWalk Sonar DAW system on it and built my own "Indie" recording studio with unlimited tracks. I watched (and still do) everything I can about recording and mixing.
Scott: Obviously your voice is very unique, love your vocals on Have To Warn You Now and Step Right Up, tell us about your background in singing.
Joe Pops: Wow thank you! Well, I've been singing all my life. In school I was in Band and Choir and in a lot of little garage style bands of which I was either a singing drummer or a singing guitarist. The good thing about performing for so many years is that you learn what is comfortable for you. I tell this to all my musician friends, "You have to find your voice, not the one you're trying to imitate". Now given that, there are times I have to imitate my voice and those times are when I have to do the girl background singers that are on my songs. Yes, that's me, singing in a smooth as I can, falsetto and taking all the bass and low mids off to "feminize" my voice. Another important part of singing is to sell the story. Other words make it believable to the listener. If it's a sad song sing it sad. If it's a sexy song sing it sexy. If it's happy make it happy. The listener is listening to that type of song to be put in that mood and it's up to you to put them there.
Scott: Let's get into some of the songs. Is Designated Brother based on a true story?
Joe Pops: Yes, unfortunately, it happens every 2 years here in the States. It's about politicians, on all sides, that will tell you anything they have to, to get elected. They all say the same thing, let them be your voice, you need their help, if you vote for me I'll help to make you better, you need me to be your "Designated Brother".
I've always loved protest songs. Not that I'm exactly that kind of person, but it's those kind of songs that makes a listener think. You can hear some great 70's protest songs on soundtracks in movies and TV still to this day. On this particular song I wanted to use a political vibe that was used on a song, by a Motown band called Rare Earth, called "Hey Big Brother".
I do have one more protest song which is "Level The Ground" and it's not about blowing things up, or a hurricane leveling everything. It's about the uphill climb that the middle and lower class wage earners have to struggle with. "They say life in this city's just an uphill climb - I just wish someone would level the ground".
Scott: You'll never be happy working 9 to 5. Do you make enough to live just doing music? What was the 9 to 5 job that turned you off the most?
Joe Pops: I'm just like about 90% of the rest of the starving Indie Musicians out there! (LOL). All my money comes from other work I do.. It's great that now, with the internet, we can make music and put it out there, but along with that great technology comes the downside of slacking record sales. Why pay for the music when you're getting it for free. Right? Music streaming only pays out 0.0017 cents (in US dollars) per play. At 1000 plays, you get $1.70 and then take away the fees that other companies get and you're lucky to get a hamburger off the dollar menu. But I love making music like all Indie musicians do. I would love to make bundles of dollars for my music. But making a lot of money was always last on my list. A want to make good music that I will be known for. If I wanted to make a lot of money, I would have been a investment banker.(LOL)!
Worst Job ever: US Postal Worker.
Scott: You do a really nice job with brass in your songs, I assume these are synths? You don't hear much brass on the radio anymore, what do you think about that?
Joe Pops: Yes, I'm using synths for the brass and string parts. I could play them live, but why? When it's so much quicker to use a synth.
I'm still hearing brass used on a lot of songs today. I guess it depends on what music you're listening to. They're in all the music that I like. They set a different mood to the songs. They make them sound bigger. I personally would like to hear more. Plus you know, there a lot of famous rock songs that also use horns on them too.
Scott: Don't Gimme That Sass really reminds me of Joe Tex. Was he an influence?
Joe Pops: You know you're the 2nd person to tell me that. Until about a year ago I didn't even know any of Joe Tex's songs. The only one I ever heard was on classic radio and it was "Skinny Legs And All" and I didn't know it was him until I looked him up. Now I like his songs very much. But that was not who I was thinking about when I wrote "Don't Gimme That Sass". It was Dr. John. I really liked his song "Right Place Wrong Time" with it's cool vibe. The other person who influenced me is Wilson Pickett. That guy could belt out a tune!
Scott: Your banner for You Ain't Seen Nothin' has 3D glasses on it, does that have any particular meaning to it?
Joe Pops: No, it's just a visual play on words for the title cut "You Ain't Seen Nothin' " till you've seen it with me.
Scott: I see you're from Flint Michigan, how's your water?
Joe Pops: I have the good fortune to live in one of the outskirts of Flint Michigan and one of the newer homes with a well. The occupants who live in the inner city of Flint are not so fortunate. Their homes are older, (built during Flint's profitable days for the auto workers), and whose municipal water supply was installed using lead pipe leading into their homes. Inside the homes lead solder was used. And because of the caustic character of the tainted water that was supplied to them, the lead that was present started started leaching into their water. My heart goes out to them.
Scott: "Gonna have to throw away all those girly magazines"? Did you? :)
Joe Pops: (LOL) I only read them for the articles. Hey, some are collectors items!
Scott: Sometimes I think that some of the great genres may fade away and die someday, do you think that's in the cards?
Joe Pops: No I really don't. I think people say that in every generation. But I have found that what comes around, goes around. It might switch up a little but it's the same as the old school tunes. Take Maroon 5's tune "Sugar". It could have come straight out of the 60's Motown. And wouldn't you like to have the career of Michael Buble and Harry Connick Jr. singing 1940's style music. And also take a look at the connection between Scat (Phil Harris's Smoke Smoke Smoke) and Rap.
I will say this though, Rock and Roll, Blues, Jazz and Soul have had a long run since the 50's . It's been over a sixty years and does not look like it's going away anytime soon. I read that 2 of the Top Ten Bands ever in the World, are The Beatles and Led Zeppelin and they have got 40 and 50 years on them. I hope that someday we can say that about some of the new bands out today.
Scott: I ask all spotlight interviewees if they ever had any experiences of high strangeness like UFOs or ghosts or the supernatural?
Joe Pops: Does finding an ant in my Cheerio's count?
Scott: Where are you in relation to your musical dream?
Joe Pops: I'm very happy to have achieved musically what I always wanted. To have my songs recorded and heard by listeners all around the World. And that brings a satisfaction that is indescribable. As I mentioned before, this would have not been possible 10 years ago, without having to have a major recording company to back you. But with this emergence of Indie Music and music distributors, (to put your music on iTunes and such), and Indie Radio sites like yours, the Indie Artist or Band, are being given a chance to be heard around the World just like the "Big" guys.
Thanks Indie Music People for helping give the Indie Artists everywhere a platform to help grow their music.
Joe Pops Bredow