John Fedowitz On Ceremony’s ‘Distance’

CEREMONY - 'DISTANCE' (INTERVIEW)

Ceremony is a melting pot of noise rock, psych, shoegaze and 60s pop! It’s raw, personal and explosive (all of the good things rock n’ roll should be)! It’s now the solo act of Fredericksburg’s John Fedowitz (who cut his teeth in the 90s band Skywave with Paul Baker and Oliver Ackermann of A Place To Bury Strangers). As Ceremony approaches a decade of music making, the new album ‘Distance‘ is about to be released via Moon Sounds Records. This week John kindly took some time out to answer questions about the album. So grab a cup and enjoy the tunes…

 
The new album ‘Distance’ is out December 17 – how do you feel about the album? Are you happy with the result?

Yes, I’m very happy with this album!!!! It takes me back to when I first started writing songs for Skywave and being apart of that band. This is the first Ceremony album with live drums. We always use drum computers and the recording process was very easy just focusing on guitars and vocals. With ‘Distance’ I had to learn how to record drums again. I even stopped recording stuff direct into my recording machine. I wanted it to sound kinda shitty and raw. I love the way ‘Distance’ sounds. And all the songs on the album are so close to my heart. I’m writing love songs again. Not just being pissed at the world – ‘she broke my heart’ songs.

Tell us a little about the recording process. How did it all come together with your collaborators like Candy and Paul Baker?

Recording with Paul was always a great time! I loved hanging out with him in my studio. Sometimes it was just a drinking party with not much to show for the next day. I could tell he wasn’t much into recording with me at the end. I had to start learning how to play lead guitar and even Chris Carr the bass player at the time played some lead on a song. I would always start to write a song in my room and think of it for sometime, then have it in my mind while I played the drums. Then I learned how to play it on the bass while I recorded it. That’s how the recording process is every time for me. On ‘Distance’ it was a lot of first takes. And with Candy, I heard her humming and I could tell she had a beautiful voice. So I asked her if she would want to record with me on the song “The Summer The Sun”, I sent the demo to her in an email and she said she would do it.. It was so relaxed recording with her.

Ceremony – ‘The Summer The Sun’

‘I Want To Kiss’ and ‘Send Me Your Dreams’ cover a bunch of sonic territory – from shoegaze, to psych and noise. What inspired you?

As for ‘I Want To Kiss’, it was inspired by an oldies slow dance kinda song, I love the old girl groups like Phil Spector recorded. It would have been great if a song like that would have been played at my high school prom, and ‘Send Me Your Dreams’ yeah I was going for a shoegaze sounding song. I’ve never been good at channelling that shoegaze sound, I’m better at rock and roll, but at the time I wrote that song, almost two years ago I think… I remember Paul was doing a lot of different tunings on his guitar. You know, shoegazers always have different tunings *grin*. I wanted to try it out.. I tuned everything to E and B. Some strings were super loose and it sounded so cool!!! Then I came up with a drum pattern on the drum computer and I wrote it in one night.

Ceremony – ‘Send Me Your Dreams’

Am I right in saying the work on ‘Distance’ is primarily your own (as a solo artist)? How has this effected the sound and song writing?

Yeah, I guess I’m solo now. I never thought I would say that because I love how a band works together. Well 40% of the time:-D I miss being on stage and looking over to my band mates and giving a nod or a smile after we played an awesome show as we are taking our gear down. But ‘Distance’ started as a four piece band, then Paul left after two songs were recorded, after that Ben and Chris left to. I finished the album with me on drums, bass and guitar for almost all of it.. It never effected me in the music part. I like how it is now. It’s easy going and if I have anyone to blame I should just look in the mirror.

What have you been listening to this year? Any recommendations for SBWR readers?

Gosh – I’m not good for this question. People at work listen to your blog on their phones and I’m always loving what I hear!! But I guess other than that I bought Chad Vangaalen ‘Diaper Island’ this year and my wife turned me on to the band “I Break Horses’ – super cool!!! And I really like the last two Beach House albums. But always, always, always I’m listening to The Cure. It’s my deep dark secret, stuff like ‘Pornography’ or ‘Disintegration’. I have been listening to them since my sister showed them to me when I was 12 years old. But I won’t tell you how old I am now. Ha!!

JOHN FEDOWITZ

Ceremony – ‘Can’t Say Your Name’

You’ve teamed up with Moon Sounds Records for the release, how’s the experience been? Has releasing the record digitally been the best way to get your music out there? (This is a loaded question, if you’d like to rant about the state of the biz, please do).

Yes! It’s great to have Moon Sounds release ‘Distance’!!! We met online and have a great friendship. It’s been so cool to have a record label that is so into the artist. As for the biz, it’s been the same for years for me. With Skywave we only had our albums in a handful of stores and now with record shops almost all gone, digital is the only way. What is the biz now? And what is shoegaze? Don’t you think we should come up with a new name? Some kids weren’t even born in 1991 when the shoegaze thing was going on and they are shoegazers now… maybe call it “sounds better with reverb” ha!!! okay I will stop the rant about a question that wasn’t asked. Yeah, online sales are the only way now. It’s sad.

Your former Skywave band mate Oliver Ackermann (A Place To Bury Strangers) mastered the record. How much input did he have creatively? Are you planning on working together again in the future?

Oliver is the coolest mother fucker ever!!! He is always there for me and I have never been able to return the favor. I’m hoping someday he will ask me for something and I will be there for him. He mastered ‘Rocket Fire’ for Ceremony too but the record label didn’t want it. And it’s funny, okay, Oliver from APTBS, mastering ‘Distance’ for me, and I had to send it back to him two times saying it’s not crazy enough!!!!! I called him saying “make it fucked up!!!” I always have such a great time working with Oliver and yes I hope to work with him again!!!!

What’s next for Ceremony? Are you planning on doing any shows over the coming months? Or will it be primarily a recording project?

I’m planing on a tour in the UK in 2014. I cancelled a tour last year in the UK for different reasons but my management is working on a new tour and I’m always picking up shows (up and down the east coast). I never go that much south, and I have a label in Germany I’m talking with about an EP. I have 4 or 5 songs that I want to put out. So 2014, Ceremony will still be moving and always from time to time loading a video on youtube. Oh yeah, I’m working on a side thing now with candy called ‘Shotgun Postcards’ so look out for that in 2014 too.

**PRE-ORDER CEREMONY’S ‘DISTANCE’ VIA MOON SOUNDS RECORDS**

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