Eggs on Mars is Kansas City's contribution to the glories of underground indie pop, combining the stripped-down melodic jangle of bands like The Bats, Cub and The Clean with the 60s garage rock sounds of bands like The Creation. Led by guitarist Brad Smith, bassist Justin Longmeyer and Mason Potter on drums, the band recently released its fifth album, Mama Pancake, a ten track album that definitely shoes a band playing to its strengths. We are fortunate to share an interview with Smith about the album's creation, songwriting and what's ahead for the band in 2019.
Please introduce yourself and the band. Describe your sound for new listeners.
I am Brad Smith and I play guitar and sing lead vocals. Justin Longmeyer plays bass and sings backup vocals, and Mason Potter plays the drums. We play a surfy/poppy/psychedelic blend of garage rock. WE ARE EGGS ON MARS!
What was the recording process like for your new album “Mama Pancake”? What did you learn that you’ll take to future projects?
This was the first time we ever recorded with our good friend, Rodd Fenton, who has a degree in audio engineering. He was a huge help in making this album sound so good. In the past we usually just put an eight track recorder in the middle of the room and played it all live. This time Rodd helped us to more professionally mic, record, mix, and master the songs. It made a big difference and changed my outlet and philosophy of recording. I didn’t realize how good our music could sound until Rodd helped us do this record, and I hope to work with him on our future albums. We are looking to put out another next year!
How does songwriting work with Eggs on Mars? Who brings what to the table?
I’ll usually bring a semi-formed song to the band and we’ll all work it out until its right. Sometimes we’ll change parts or throw out others. I may need to rewrite a part or something if we deem it necessary. I really love how we work as a unit and we all have input on the songs. Even though I write the chords or whatever, they are very much all our songs because everyone adds a little something to the song. Very rarely will the final song sound exactly like my original blueprint; it always sounds better after the whole band has put their special touch on it.
Delve into your creative process. How often do you work on new songs?
I am always working on new songs, it’s something I’m always doing. It’s like brushing my teeth or taking out the trash. Working on songs is just part of my routine. When I’m home I usually have a guitar in hand to mess around with and I’ll record little riffs, ideas, and melodies on my phone. Songs come in a couple different ways. Sometimes after I’ve accumulated a good amount of decent little ideas and chord progressions, I’ll try and flesh them out or in some cases put two ideas together. Other times, I’ll just be playing guitar and a whole song while come to me: chords, melody, chorus, and verses all in one sitting. These usually end up being my most favorite songs and those kind of feel like a gift. After working on other songs and bending, tweaking them; it’s so nice to just get a full song all at once! The last thing to come is usually the words. I have to have a nice strong chord progression and good melody to put the words overtop of it all. I’ve got another album’s worth of songs stockpiled at the moment that I’m ready to take to the band.
Who are the main musical influences on Eggs on Mars?
Built to Spill, Neil Young, the Ventures, and lots of 60s garage pop bands like the Zombies, Buffalo Springfield, and the Creation. I’m predominately influenced by a lot guitar-driven bands.
What music are you currently raving about?
Chris Cohen. He’s a really chill psych-pop, singer-songwriter artist on Captured Tracks. He’s got two really good albums that I’ve been playing nearly non-stop as of late.
Our local heroes Shy Boys released their second record, Bell House, pretty recently and has been getting a lot of my listening time. Their first record was so inspiring and important to our band, and this new one has grown on me quite a bit.
The Creation, who I mentioned earlier, is a severely underrated 60s garage rock band that has some great songs. Highly recommended.
The Monkees have an album called The Birds, The Bees & the Monkees that is very good and I’ve been listening to a lot as of late.
Eggs on Mars Recommendations from the Johnson County Public Library Catalogue:
Underground by Thelonious Monk
This is my favorite album of his. He was just a great jazz pianist. One of his best albums. I’d highly recommend it!
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
This is my all-time favorite book. Not just because of the source material, but the mythos surrounding it. Capote’s infatuation with Perry Smith, one of the murderers, is very interesting, and the extent of their friendship has been questioned and debated extensively. I also love how Philip Seymour Hoffman and Craig Collins Jr. portray this unique relationship in the movie Capote.
Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters (directed by Paul Schrader)
I’ve read a lot of Yukio Mishima’s and found him to be a really interesting guy. He formed a militia and took over a Japanese military base and performed a seppuku the same day he sent his books off to his publisher! I thought it was pretty cool the library had a copy of this DVD.
All Eternals Deck by Mountain Goats
The Mountain Goats are my absolute favorite band, and this is the first album I listened to by then. The band has been a huge influence on me and I’m really indebted to the library for it since it is where I first borrowed this cd. I recommend it to everyone, but especially if you like music with a literary bent.
The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz (book)
I recently checked this book out from the library, and I can’t put it down. It’s a great primer for a huge number of projects; kimchi, mead, yogurt, etc. The author communicates just how essential and nourishing fermented food has been to society and it’s changed a lot of my ideas about cooking and food in general.
Persona (directed by Ingmar Bergman)
My favorite movie by this great Swedish director. The movie has only two characters and one of them doesn’t speak the entire time. On paper it’s a ludicrous pitch, but the dialogue and acting make this movie incredibly beautiful and intense.
As I mentioned, Neil Young is my biggest inspiration. This is my favorite album of his and possibly one of my favorite albums ever. It isn’t as highly accolated as Harvest, but it’s brilliant in its own right. It’s a great combination of solo songs and full band songs that showcase Neil’s folky side and his full band rocking side better than just about any of his albums.. I really like that template and used it a little for Mama Pancake. I first time I heard this album was from a copy borrowed from the library!
The Wrong Man (directed by Alfred Hitchcock)
A couple of summer ago I went on a Hitchcock kick and watched a whole bunch of his movies. This is one of my favorites. It’s a really great film noir and is based on true events, which makes it even eerier. The lead character is a musician too which is fun.
Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
Vonnegut is one of my favorite authors. Great satirist and Cat’s Cradle is a nice entry point into his work and one that I think everyone should read. If this isn’t nice what is?