Interview by Avery Parrott
sr: How long have you been playing/making music?
alb: I’ve been playing music for almost four years now, I think. But I started playing seriously probably three years ago. So there was a solid year where I was just kind of messing around.
sr: What do you record with?
alb: The main thing I record with is an old 80s handheld tape recorder.
sr: Between Max Gardener, Bane’s World, and Mailmen, what prompted you to start making music of your own?
alb: Just the ability to kind of like, give myself my own freedom to express what I wanted to express… because everyone has different things that they want to get across. So I just thought it was kind of my turn to open myself up [laughs].
sr: How did you find the time to create your own stuff, between school and band practice?
alb: Yes and no, just because I definitely think about ideas for songs and stuff like that throughout the day. I always find time just because it’s something that’s important to me.
sr: The contrast between Mailmen and your own music is really startling. From punk rock to lo-fi love songs, is there a genre that you identify with more than others?
alb: I don’t know. I don’t really think that I could limit myself to one genre or one style, just because I think I draw from so many different artists. Maybe not directly, but just throughout listening and opening myself up to new music, it definitely gives you more ideas and different ways to think about songs and writing music in general.
sr: What/who is a big influence for you, musically? What sort of music do you normally listen to?
alb: Musically, definitely a lot of mopey, cheesy 90s alternative. I’m a sucker for the Pixies. Stuff like that, just songs that I can laugh off the daily existential dread to, so that’s pretty nice. Yeah and a lot of newer lo-fi artists, and just kind of lo-fi in general, going all the way back to Beat Happening, Guided by Voices, and Sebadoh, all the pioneers of that whole thing. I definitely don’t think that I sound like any of them, but I think that they’ve influenced me a lot.
sr: What was the first album you bought for yourself?
alb: I remember the first time I went to a record store I got a couple of albums. I got Cocteau Twins “Heaven or Las Vegas,” the BBC recording of Sonic Youth “Kill Yr Idols,” and I got a third that I can’t remember. It was probably something dumb that I found in a discount bin that I thought would be funny [laughs].
sr: Do you have a set creative process? Where do you start when you’re writing a song?
alb: It depends, there are a lot of my songs that start with playing something fun on guitar, and I think it’ll sound better with vocals but not really have anything, so I’ll just kind of throw some vocals on that don’t really mean anything. But other times, if I have a poem or a song written I’ll play around with it and see how I want it to feel, then I’ll base the music around that. Usually I write lyrics and the music completely separate, and just kind of see what fits together. It kind of comes out this amalgamation of sound, I guess.
sr: Would you say there’s a common theme to your music or a recurring motif that inspires you? Like a person or a feeling?
alb: Sadness. I don’t know, sort of self-pitying humor I guess? At this point I can’t really help to do anything but laugh at myself and laugh at my follies, just because I’m a melodramatic person and I definitely make things harder than they need to be. But if I can come up with some good music because of it, and I can get good music out there, then that’s pretty cool.
sr: The outro track to your latest album “this was supposed to be a full album but i’m not a motivated person” apologizes to the listener. Do you have any advice to musicians or artists that self-deprecate or have trouble finding confidence in what they make?
alb: Definitely never think about anyone else when you’re making music. Really, just make what you want to make and expect yourself to get zero likes and zero followers, and just kind of be happy with that. Create to create, not create to get that whole thrill of getting the attention from it. That’s what I did, I was making music for myself to kind of put that stuff down for me, compared to putting it out so that people can listen to it and empathize with me or anything. I definitely think you have to focus more on yourself.
sr: Does depression help or hurt your song- writing process?
alb: Damn, that’s an interesting question. I definitely think it plays a part, I don’t think that depression can make or break someone’s artistic expression of something but I definitely think it can play influence to it, especially on the inspirational side of it. But even just making music, depression is not a good thing and a lot of people kind of use that as their style or their je ne sais quoi to their music. I think that’s almost irresponsible. I’ve definitely used music as a sort of catharsis from my depression and something to help it, as a coping mechanism. But I wouldn’t say that I make music because of depression, because depression sucks and it’s not worth all of the music being made in the world. That’s just my opinion, I definitely deal with the cards that I’ve been dealt.
sr: Is it fair to say that self expression and song writing has helped you grow as a person?
alb: Oh, I think it for sure has. I mean, I’m not trying to hyper-intellectualize any of my music because I don’t think that anyone who doesn’t get out of bed before three in the afternoon should have a say in the intellectual world. But at the same time, it definitely has helped me personally grow and see how a lot of people think similarly just because I’ll write things sometimes that I won’t think anyone will understand, or anyone will sympathize with. But I get people that genuinely like it and can genuinely relate to it. Especially through people’s teenage years there’s definitely a sense of alienation that just naturally happens. I think it’s good to know that there’s a lot of other people that do think similarly because it helps you find a place in the world and find situations and people that make you comfortable.
sr: Can we expect anything from you or the Mailmen in the coming year?
alb: Yes, actually there’s a Mailmen album currently being recorded at an undisclosed location. That’s going to be out when it’s out, and that’s all I can really say about that. And with me, I’m almost always making music and I always have songs that I can post, it’s just a matter of whether or not I’m motivated to post them.
sr: You mentioned on Twitter the possibility of performing your own music and putting on a mellow show? Any set plans for that?
alb: Not yet, definitely not any set plans but I’ve been thinking about that a lot. I think that would be pretty cool, but I’m still debating whether or not I’m gonna play or not just because I’m still gaging the narcissism of playing at my own show. I definitely think that there are a lot of good, just really talented songwriters that live around the South Bay that don’t get a chance to play in front of people and play in a judgement-free atmosphere. I think that’s what a lot of it is, it’s really hard for people to go up and put themselves out there like that, on a solo format of just a musician and their audience. It would be really cool to put something together like that because there’s such a level of intimacy around that and I wanna bring that emotion and that connection back into music just because there’s such a separation in these times. Maybe someday.
sr: Any shout outs?
alb: Oh man, shout out to Iceberg Mike and Nugrats. Definitely shout out to Joaquin, because Joaquin’s the boy. Shout out .44 manson. Shout out Bane’s World. Shout out to the girl in the camo hat, Bella Bress. Shout out to the Mailmen. Shout out to my dog Lucy, not Rowdy, because Rowdy barks at me. I think that’s all that I can think of right now, I’m sure there are a lot of other people, beautiful people out there that I’d love to shout out, but they are gonna have to wait their turn I guess [laughs].
Check out Albert’s music on Soundcloud and Bandcamp: