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QRD #36 - Valentine's Special - February 2008
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xo #3 - first time
Brian Hearts Katherine
complaints about humans - part 3
Valentine's Interviews with:
All in the Golden Afternoon
The Backsliders
Book of Shadows
California Oranges
Grappling Hook
Here Comes Everybody
List of Likes
My Glass Beside Yours
Northern Valentine
Paris Luna
Something About Vampires&Sluts
Shiny Around the Edges
Silk Stocking
The Wades
Windy & Carl
The Winter Sounds
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Valentine's Interview with California Oranges
February 2008

QRD How do you turn music mode on & off in your relationship with each other?  Or do you find yourself pretty constantly collaborating on music even if its songs about cooking?

Verna Music is not as big of a factor in our relationship as youd think, even though its obviously a very important part of our lives.  We dont often work on music together outside of band practice.

John Our work schedules dont match up well.  I think when we do get time together, wed rather just hang out than work on music. 

QRD How has your music changed by having someone youre romantically involved with working with you?

Verna John really encouraged me to break out on my own as a songwriter & singer.  I dont know if I would have done Beanpole (my 4-track side project that I did in which I wrote, sang, & played all the instruments) without Johns encouragement.

John Verna has really helped me grow, first as a songwriter & now a singer & musician.  I tend to spend most of my time writing & working on songs.  Practicing guitar technique or singing has really interested me.  Over the last few years Ive gotten better at both.  My vocal skills have noticeably improved.  I think Im finally able to sing.

QRD How do you keep things professional rather than getting personal in the band?  Like not letting being upset that someones not doing their house chores spill into band practice?

Verna When we get to our band practice place, were both all about making the best use of the limited time we have there.  That means being focused on the music.

John We only practice with California Oranges one night a week, so we have to make the best use of that time.

QRD Do you think working musically together increases the strength of your relationship?

Verna I think that the fact that were both musicians helps a lot with understanding priorities.  For example, John didnt argue with me last year when I told him I just had to spend a ton of money on an upright bass. 

John I made sure she got a good one that shed play for a long time.  I did have to convince Verna that I needed a Mac Book.

QRD Do you think the music ever suffers because of your relationship?

John I think the music is stronger because of our relationship.  Vernas great at putting the finishing touches on my songs.  We recently finished a Christmas song Verna had started writing when we first started the Oranges.  She had the verses & I wrote the chorus. 

QRD Being in a romantic couple, do you try to curb lyrical content to or away from things in your relationship?

John After we ended Holiday Flyer, my lyrics started to become more abstract.  I try not to write songs about relationship issues.  Vernas lyrics are more like little short stories.

Verna I never even thought about taking Johns lyrics personally (maybe thats because I still dont know what they all are!). 

QRD A lot of families kind of look down on musicians as immature, do you find that going out with another musician has eased relationships with your parents or in-laws?

Verna Ive actually never dated a non-musician.  I bet it would be cool, though, to have a boyfriend who loved music but couldnt play anything.  Maybe that would create an extra air of mystique for me.  As far as my parents go, they love John.  I think that after some of my other musician boyfriends, John was a shining beacon of light for them.

John Having had non-musician girlfriends, yes there is an air of mystique at first.  Then they become annoyed that youre spending too much time with the band.  They can only see you play so many times.  Remember That Thing You Do?  Ive seen your band, Guy.  When I met Verna it was cool because she understood the need to play music.  Its like getting up & getting dressed.  Its just something you do.  My parents love Verna.

QRD Which came first the musical collaboration or the relationship & do you feel that at this point that you could have one without the other?

Verna The relationship happened first, but the musical collaboration started very soon after ? I started playing cello with Johns band Holiday Flyer within a month or so of dating.  Weve been together a long time, so at this point the personal relationship is definitely more important than musical collaboration. 

John We will always be doing some kind of music project together.  I dont think music defines our relationship, though.

QRD How do things work with band members besides the two of you to get the same level of connectivity while playing your music?

Verna I am so lucky to be playing in a band with four people that I am in love with (although I dont love the other three in exactly the same way that I love John!).  We all have been friends for a long time & work really well together. 

QRD Do you find music related gifts to be romantic or more like giving someone an appliance? 

Verna I wouldnt say they fit either category.  They are more like groceries ? we must have them, or else wed starve.  Unfortunately, having two musicians in one household means that all the extra money gets spent on music.  But at least we dont have to argue over that fact!  We both would rather invest in the band then fix our broken gate.

QRD The musician life style has an inherent lack of financial security & healthcare.  Do you find yourself thinking, How can we start a family & continue our musical careers?

Verna We both have full-time jobs outside of music, so the financial thing isnt so much a concern as the time thing.  Music takes up a lot of time, & so does raising a family.  This is actually a big concern of mine ? were both in our 30s & should probably get going on that family thing.  But Im very reluctant to get into a situation where Id have to drastically cut back on music. 

QRD Do you ever switch off instruments to give each other ideas?

Verna I switch off instruments to give myself ideas ? some songs are easier to write on piano, or on guitar, than on bass.  I try not to play Johns treasured Martin acoustic guitar, because Im afraid that I might put a scratch on it.

John I stick to that guitar for songwriting.  Usually by the time we show each other a new song its almost finished.  It just needs some fine tuning.

QRD A lot of people say they feel most spiritually connected to another person is when theyre on stage & the set is working.  Is this what you find & how does this energy flow into your romantic relationship?

Verna I cant say that this is true for me.  There are three other people on stage besides John & me, after all

John I think the whole band is spiritually connected to Rosss new snare drum.  Does that count?

QRD Some couples start to get seen as a unit with one member as dominant.  Do you ever want to get one of you more recognition?

Verna I dont really think were seen that way.  We were involved in the music scene separately before we were together.  & we both continue to play music because we love it.  Its not a recognition thing.

QRD Do you feel a need to have separate projects where you just work on your own?

Verna Its nice to have different projects, just to mix things up a bit.  John has another band called Desario, & I play in an orchestra for a musical theater group.  Its not so much as we feel the need to have separate projects ? its more like we have the desire to pursue additional musical endeavors.

John Desario wasnt about having my own project.  It was about being in a band with some guys Ive been friends with for a long time. 

QRD Musicians often run into fans with crushes, is there a secret to recognizing when something is getting inappropriate instead of being band promoting?

Verna Well, if youre both in the same band, you can keep an eye on each other! Actually, Im pretty clueless about that stuff.  But its never been a problem. 

John I may be a little clueless about that as well.  Im sure its for the best.

QRD Any advice for other musician couples?

Verna You have to be careful mixing two passions.  Its hard enough having to break up with a person or with a band, but having to lose both at once can be devastating.  But if it works out, it can be really great.  Just try to save a little money to fix a broken gate every once in a while!

John As with any relationship, resolve any disagreements right away.  & never take them to band practice or the studio.  Hey Verna, lets fix that gate. 

Official Desario Website
California Oranges on MySpace