In 2021, when Goldmine spoke with Roses & Revolutions’ Matt Merritt and Alyssa Coco about their Midnight Monsters release, we discussed the mid-1990s duo Mazzy Star, known for the tender “Fade into You.” Roses & Revolutions are back with Keep a Little Light On and again we go back to the mid-1990s for another influence, Donna Lewis, known for the gold cassette single “I Love You Always Forever.”
GOLDMINE: Welcome back to Goldmine and congratulations on this gentle and soothing new release.
ALYSSA COCO: Thank you so much. Thank you for having us back.
GM: Let’s begin with an influence of yours, Donna Lewis and discuss “Silent World,” the flip side of “Without Love.” It is a piano and vocal recording, the second single from her Platinum album Now in a Minute, following her big hit “I Love You Always Forever.” I was reminded of this, along with Adele, when listening to your new song “Something Real.”
MATT MERRITT: We have covered “I Love You Always Forever” live many times and that song always felt magical to us with its steady beat. With “Silent World,” it is cool to hear just a piano ballad. The similarities of this with “Something Real” is mainly the piano ballad style but lyrically the songs are almost opposites where “Something Real” is about finding something again and “Silent World” is about loss. The songs are similar in emotion but lyrically Donna Lewis’ song is about an ending and ours is about a beginning.
Fabulous Flip Side: Silent World
A side: Without Love
Billboard Hot 100 debut: December 14, 1996
Peak position: No. 41
Atlantic 7567-87028-4 cassette single
AC: “Something Real” is very much about finding something tangible. We live in a world where people are looking at computer and phone screens. If you take that away, look at something real and tangible. Embrace the beauty around you. I know we have all been there before where we have forgotten our phone and have to actually look at the world with every little detail and it is beautiful.
GM: You live in snowy Rochester. Please tell me about the beauty where you are.
AC: We feel really lucky to live here. The Erie Canal is beautiful. It has the best pathway for biking and running that you can ask for, away from cars with beautiful scenery. I love all the trees. As we are talking right now, I am watching the wind blow through the trees. It is so peaceful.
GM: You bring those peaceful tones to your music. The opening of “Worry,” the song where Tom Speight joins you vocally, reminds me of Simon & Garfunkel with Matt’s acoustic guitar strumming. It is just enough and doesn’t get in the way.
AC: I love your Simon & Garfunkel comparison.
MM: A few years ago, Alyssa got to sing a Paul Simon song with Paul Simon in the audience. It was “Kodachrome.”
GM: Ooh, that was a potential double-ban in 1973. Some stations initially refused to play it is because the title and content sounded like a commercial, plus the opening line, “When I think back on all the crap I learned in high school,” put them over the edge with the word “crap” in a song. Ultimately it became one of his biggest Top 10 solo hits.
AC: It was a perfect connection for us as Kodak is based here. I sang the song at a ceremony to induct drummer Steve Gadd in our Rochester Hall of Fame, who began playing in Paul Simon’s band in the 1970s. I was surprised that Paul came to the ceremony. I was supposed to sing his biggest solo hit “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover,” but I ended up opening the ceremony with “Kodachrome” and Paul singing “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover.” I did not put up a fight. When I met Paul he said, “I’m sorry you had to sing ‘Kodachrome.’” I said, “Well, I’m not.” He said, “I bet you would have rather sung ’50 Ways.’” I said, “Well, no. They are both great songs.”
GM: “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” was from his 1975 album Still Crazy After All These Years, which my wife Donna bought while she was away at college, along with a lot of fans, helping to make the album hit No. 1. That brings us to another 1975 album which also reached No. 1, Fleetwood Mac’s self-titled release when Lindsay Buckingham and Stevie Nicks joined their lineup. “Landslide,” from that classic album, is what I am reminded of initially when listening to “Brightside of Me.”
MM: We play all different types of gigs and “Landslide” is probably the first cover we played together, and we still play it. Subconsciously it does climb down the chord progression like “Landslide.” Now that you pointed it out, I don’t think I can unhear that now.
GM: Like “Coffee” from your prior release, when you get up-tempo, it really catches my ear and that is the case with “Be Like You,” reminding me of a Kelly Clarkson or Katy Perry style that would have fit perfectly for a Glee show finale.
AC: Those are some cool references with more recent influences of mine. “Be Like You” is the oddball on the EP with a different approach, not the typical singer-songwriter vibe. It is one we put in a folder for our label and weren’t sure if they wanted to include it. “Be Like You” made it on the EP and is a fun song.
MM: I think there is always one or two songs that you include on a release for a label that the artists just sneak in there as favorites of the artists. Sometimes these songs do the best with listeners, too.
GM: You mentioned the label, Nettwerk Music in Canada. You are back with them again.
MM: The contract with Nettwerk was for two EPs and after the second EP is done, they can renew or not, and we just got renewed for another EP after this one.
AC: We are very happy to be part of the Nettwerk roster.
GM: Congratulations. Alyssa, it sounds like a beautiful choir on “Here with You.” I assume that is all you with several overdubs.
AC: You are correct. I have a technique that I learned from a producer on how to do that. At our home we have a set up where I can practice, using trial and error. I may create part of a chord, a 9th or a 7th or a dissonant chord, which is really fun for me to work on with my vocals. Sometimes I will sit at the piano and figure it out. Most times I will stack my vocals and if something doesn’t sound right, I will try something else. I will start with the melody, sing the lower harmonies and then work my way up. It is so much fun, one of my favorite things.
GM: “Moon Song” is a nice finale to your wonderful new EP.
AC: I am very excited about that one. Thank you for your always thoughtful interviews.
MM: Thank you and Goldmine for all your support again.
Fabulous Flip Sides now in its eighth year