Published Oct 28, 2016It feels like just yesterday that Bay Area hardcore musician turned power-pop songwriter Tony Molina struck out solo for his breakout seven-inch Dissed and Dismissed, a record whose 12-minute run-time belied its endless playability and deep, unshakable catchiness. So it was quite a surprise when Molina lamented to us, over the phone from California's San Mateo County, that it took him "over four years" since then to finish his latest sonic concoction, the 11-minute Confront the Truth, out now on Slumberland.
The wait was worth it, though. Where Molina harnessed the power of Weezer and Dinosaur Jr. for Dissed and Dismissed, the eight-song Confront the Truth finds him tapping into the sound of his "life-long favourite band," the Beatles. Indeed, the Mellotron-laden "I Don't Want to Know" and "Hung Up on the Dream" sound sprung from the same rich soil that produced "Strawberry Fields Forever," while "See Me Fall" strongly evokes McCartney's unforgettable "Yesterday."
And yet the ever-humble Molina doubts he's got the prolificacy to make a career out of his talents: "That's not in the cards for me. It took me four years to do a fucking seven-inch, dude!"
Below, Molina explains to Exclaim! six of the reasons why Confront the Truth took so damn long.
Molina changed up his sound to reflect his old band, Ovens.
"For Confront the Truth, I just wanted to do something that was totally different than [Dissed and Dismissed]; I thought the last one was really one-dimensional. I don't really like it very much.
"I wanted to do something that was more in the style of my old band, Ovens, and Ovens had a lot of acoustic-based stuff. I wanted to get back to that, because I feel like ten years ago, we were touching on the same kind of stuff, but we were younger. It didn't occur to me to do any heavy songs this time around."
Molina hates his voice.
"That's a huge part — I hate my voice, so it takes me forever to do vocals when I record stuff. The less vocal lines I have to do, the better. If I had to do multiple verses all the time, that would suck. It takes me forever to get my vocals done, even if it's one line."
He's his own harshest critic…
"Every song, I was like, 'Man, this sucks!' I dunno, it's really easy to think that something is bad. For this seven-inch, I sent the rough mixes to a bunch of friends of mine, and I was like, 'What do you think, should I do another record?' And they were like, 'Dude, this is tight!'
"I'm just really unsure. If I record something, either I do a demo or a studio thing, once I take it out of the studio, I don't know how to look at it any more. Know what I mean?"
…but his friends are, too. He sent them Confront the Truth songs and…
"Most of my friends hate it, so they're harsh critics. They're like, 'I don't like a single one of these.'"
Writing short songs is hard!
"I practice guitar a lot, and then the songs just kind of show up, you know? Some chords will happen and then I'll be like, 'Oh, okay!' I don't put a lot of effort into them at all.
"Writing short songs isn't easy, though, 'cause you have no room for filler, know what I mean? If you're gonna have a song that's really short, you have to make sure that all the parts count, [especially if] there are only one or two parts."
Writing for an audience increased the pressure.
"I've been doing the exact same bullshit for about 15 years now, and this is the first time I went to the studio knowing I was making something that someone was gonna buy. Dissed and Dismissed was a demo, dude! I didn't know that anyone was gonna put that out; all the Ovens stuff, I didn't know anyone was gonna put that out. Everything I've recorded was just going and recording without plans to put it out.
"This is the first time I had to be like, 'Okay, someone's gonna buy it.' No one put me under pressure, but I'm very not used to that. I don't think I'll ever be used to that. That's why it took me so long. That's stressful to think about."