JPG: It’s kind of funny that “Heavenly Light” is the last song you wrote and then it’s the first song on the album. Then, “One Last Mistake” led to recording “Night Like This” yet those two are switched on the tracklisting.
LP: It was very interesting to me. It was a really interesting experience making this record. It was stuff that I didn’t see coming or different things that I didn’t foresee happening.
JPG: You set me up for “One Last Mistake.” I don’t know if it is my ears but it reminded me of being in the style of a Stevie Nicks or Fleetwood Mac tune.
LP: Yeah, yeah, it’s funny because, me too, it reminded me as well. I wrote it with a guy, his moniker is Kid Harpoon, and he and I were writing it and we really loved it. We put a harmony on that line, the first line you hear where it’s like…I know what you’re talking about with that harmony and…”Oh, shit. That sounds so cool.”
I’m a huge Fleetwood Mac fan and Stevie Nicks. She’s one of those people I seldom try to emulate. There’s so many people that do that kind of thing and do it well. I never thought about going in that direction. So, when that song came out it was just like, “Oh, this is cool.” I thought this was nice, again, another flavor for the record. Keep the record exciting.
JPG: We keep going back and forth, talking about your writing as well the pop genre and how your songwriting has been used by others in the pop genre. Do you approach things differently when you know that something’s going to be pitched to someone versus working on songs that are going to be for you?
LP: Maybe. It’s like the difference between a one night stand and having sex with your wife…not me having sex with your wife but having sex with your wife.
JPG: (laughs) Why thank you for clarifying.
LP: (laughs) Usually, it’s more of a voyeuristic approach where I’m writing about them, and I’m guessing most of the time about where they are in their life or, sometimes, I’m writing a more universal emotional feeling that I feel like a lot of people would feel.
When I write for myself, sometimes, it proves to be difficult because I like universal themes in my own work as well but I do have to go a little deeper and go a little more intimate.
JPG: I guess in the end you could be writing the same type of song but what is done with it once it’s handed over versus what you do when you go in the studio is the difference.
LP: Yeah, totally. Most of the stuff that I’ve done, people don’t change at all, even “Cheers (Drink to That.” Rhianna did not change a thing except for one little lick at the end of one line. When I did a song for Cher, she lowered the key at first. I think she felt that it was too high and then she went back and put it up to the original key because it’s just scored in that key. It could be something as little as that that changes a song from being exciting to being ‘eh.’ [LP wrote two songs for Cher’s Closer to the Truth album: “Red” is on the record and “Pride” is a bonus track].
JPG: On the video trailer for Forever for Now you were talking about your songs as paintings. I’ve always wanted to get into painting but to me it’s always the idea of adding color, taking away color, adding shade etc. and knowing when to stop.
LP: On this particular record because I had Rob Cavallo and the means we didn’t stop at the normal place. We went a little farther. When you talk about strings, 99% of those strings are real and they’re like full-on 24-piece orchestras composed and directed by David Campbell. I have sheet music for every single song on that record. It’s pretty intense.
JPG: Is there a sense when you’re writing a song that you know when it is fully baked, “I’m taking it out of the oven.”
LP: You get demo-it is, too. That could be crippling, sometimes, and it’s just something you have to deal with because when you listen to it, when you go full on with the song and then you compare it to the demo, you’re like, “This really is better.” Sometimes, you’re like, “Yeah, the magic of the demo might have been lost,” but you try not to lose that.
I think it’s hard for producers too and also production…when you have a demo, 99% of the time, it’s done by whoever you wrote it with and next you give it to a producer, it’s always going to be their take on it instead of the other two.
JPG: I know that songwriting can be a lucrative career. I would hope that you’ve done well with the artists that have recorded your material. So, what drives you to move forward with your own recordings rather than just stay in the background and keep supplying hits to other people?
LP: I don’t know. I think other people like managers and stuff like that intervened, “You need to sing. That’s it.” I was like, “Okay.” And I think I do have a fairly decent instrument. So, I might as well use it. If people are willing to pay me to use it, I’ll use it.
JPG: Well, it is a very powerful instrument. That’s for sure. Do you take special care of your voice?
LP: Yeah. I do all kinds of…I trained for opera, which consisted of basically doing a shit ton of scales. I have to warm up because I sing very hard and very high. So, I do a lot of warming up, at least a half hour of warming up and then I do 15, 20 minutes of cool down after I sing. It’s a whole process. I’ve never gone onstage and never even sang for any gig, even if it’s a minor gig without warming up because I like to have my full instrument at my access. That’s to help you, and scales give you strength. When you isolate the chords and disengage those muscles around your throat, you’re not pulling up on your throat. That’s time and that’s skill and that’s long-term care. A cup of tea and a scarf, you can suck it. It’s not gonna help.
JPG: While much of the album is anthemic, you end the album on a very, very quiet intimate way.
LP: That’s the journey of this record. You go on a journey when you listen to this record. I don’t know if it’s really that much of a background music record. It’s not a chill out record. You’re not gonna have a dinner party to this record.
JPG: But you could have a party.
LP: You could have a party. You could have a road trip.
JPG: Finally, tell me about your interest in the ukulele and if its use has influenced your work?
LP: It started off as a songwriting tool before I had any intention of being an artist. I was using it as a songwriter to take to sessions because it was easy, subtle thing to take and work on lyrics or whatever. And then because I was falling in love with it so much and using it and using it at home, I started doing whistling melodies and started making up my own songs. I just really liked the sound of it with my voice.