[Q+A] Premiere: Alibi – “Parallel Existences (I Don’t Pray Like You)”

Mike Naideau / Alibi - Brooklyn, NY

When Mike Naideau first sent me the tracks from Become Your One, the debut release under the name Alibi, I had so many questions. I’ve known Mike for a few years through various other bands he’s played in- Giant Peach and Outta Gas are still favs of mine- but these songs are different. The most obvious reason for the pivot is that Mike is the primary writer in Alibi, a solo project of sorts. But a solo project in its own right doesn’t necessarily make for something great. It’s what the musician does with the space, like what Mike has done with Alibi, that determine the greatness of a record. I asked Mike some of those questions I mentioned earlier and you can read his answers below. 

As a bonus, you can also listen to “Parallel Existences (I Don’t Pray Like You)” a few days early. Become Your One will be available digitally this Friday (9/20) and will be released on tape via Reflective Tapes (Olypmia, WA) and CD via Epifo Music (Baltimore, MD). 

Q+A

Jane: Tell me about Alibi.

Mike Naideau: Alibi is, in many ways, a solo project. I wrote, recorded, produced and mixed the majority of the sounds on the record. Ryan J.E. recorded his parts in Ohio and sent them to me as audio files via email. So in a way we’re a disjointed band. I’ve released “solo” music before, but this time around it feels much more collaborative. There has been more input and involvement from other people than I’m used to. And I like that. But I guess at the end of the day it’s still pretty much me sitting in my bedroom with my guitar. Call it what you like.

This record will be the first release under the new name. The second record is conceptualized, awaiting execution…

Your new record is called “Become your One”. How did you decide on this title?

All of the lyrics of these songs came directly from journal entries. When I’m sitting and writing somewhere and the words feel like they naturally begin to take on a more poetic tone or format, it’s often the initial manifestation of a song.

The title came from the lyrics of a song that we all recorded but actually ended up scratching from the session for this record. The song is called “Nicki” and is a reference to a song of the same name by the band Priests. It is essentially a song about being inspired by other musicians. To “become your one”, to me, is to fully put yourself into something. To realize some potential that you have. To expend all your blood and tears into some passion. Music has the power to facilitate this, but it also takes a lot of self exploration to find out how to access that place in yourself. To find what and where your individual “one” is. It’s your art.

So yeah, the phrase was initially inspired by watching the drummer from Priests play that song. And then I wrote it down sometime, I think on a bus, in my notebook. It became a lyric in a song, but the song didn’t stick. Just the words. And that became the name of the record.

What is your writing process like? You recorded with other musicians (Ryan J. Eilbeck and Ryan Naideau) – Were they a part of the writing process as well?

The writing and recording processes for this record were completely new and explorative for me. So much of it was improvised, too. First I recorded/mixed all the guitars, keyboards, bass, and field recordings at my house, on a Tascam 4-track. That’s when a large bulk of the “writing” was done. After that my brother Ryan and I recorded the drums, also on cassette, at my practice space, with one mic in the kick drum and one above the kit. There were no vocals recorded yet at this point, and although I’m sure this made it annoying for him, I think it added a really unique, freeform element and experimental aesthetic to the structures of the songs. I don’t think we did more than one or two takes of each song. Again, capturing chance moments, like photographs. As much as they had been “written” up until this point, they were being “re-written”.

I then added vocals and sent the songs to Ryan JE. This was perhaps the most explorative element of the writing process of this project. We exchanged emails and text messages about the content of the songs, what they could use, what they meant, etc. One by one he sent me little pieces he had recorded at home, and I mixed them in on my end. He asked me to send him a poem to read over “Sunday In Mexico”. He ended up in a way “re-writing” the songs again, which I’m eternally grateful for, because I feel like the elements he added resonate so well with the mood and the energy of the record.

The songs off Become Your One feel very personal. What were you thinking about when writing these songs? What makes this record important to you?

This batch of songs grew slowly and naturally over a period of about a year of on and off solitary traveling. I went to Mexico and South America. I needed to get off the grid, impose change, movement and foreign stimulation in my life. All of the words of the songs were journal entries, and thus I feel like for the most part they speak for themselves, though perhaps a little abstractly. I was certainly channeling artists and specific works, and reference some. The book “After The Quake” by Haruki Murakami, the film “Personal Problems” by Bill Gunn, and the version of the song “I Get Along Without You Very Well (Except Sometimes)” by Nina Simone, to name a few.

This record is important to me, as are all pieces of art that I make, because it documents a specific time and a place and a feeling. It felt like it needed to come out, and here it is. I didn’t really plan any of it at all.

How do these songs differ from writing you did for past bands/projects?

For this record I wrote many of the songs on bass or keyboard, rather than guitar. There’s barely any guitar played by me on the record. I consciously invited negative space, and explored the ambient and the minimal more intently than I ever had before. Alien, intriguing terrain.

What formats is this record being released on? Where can people listen/buy?

This record will be available digitally on Friday, Sept. 20. Reflective Tapes, out of Olympia, WA., is releasing the cassette format. Epifo Music, out of Baltimore MD., is releasing the CD format. Both will be very limited edition releases, each with unique artwork. Buy from these independent labels!

Premiere: Alibi - “Parallel Existences (I Don’t Pray Like You)”

This song is one of two on “Become Your One” that feature Ryan J. Eilbeck on main vocals. It’s a song about loving simply and going easy on yourself and others through the day. And staying alive. It’s about praying, in some way, to these things. The title refers both to a sensation of resonance and of separation.

Words/vocals – Ryan J. Eilbeck
Guitar, keys – Mike Naideau
Percussion – Ryan Naideau

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