Josh Berwanger is likely best known as the singer/guitarist of seminal early 2000s band The Anniversary, but in the years since the band’s sudden breakup, he’s never ceased writing and playing music. His latest efforts see him collaborating with longtime friend (and original drummer for The Anniversary) Michael Hutcherson to create honest, sunny, pop-tinged rock and roll.
Josh spent the past few years coaching high-school basketball in Lawrence, Kansas, while writing and recording the 11 tracks on Strange Stains. Although at times he was tempted to give up chasing his musical dreams, he ultimately realized that hanging up his guitar was something he was never meant to do.
Mixed and mastered by Paul Mahern (Blake Babies, Afghan Whigs, Okkervil River, Iggy Pop, The Fray), the record also features a slew of guest musicians including Jim McPherson (The Breeders), TK Webb (TK Webb and the Visions), Brandon Phillips (The Architects) and Heidi Gluck (Julianna Hatfield), Strange Stains will be released on Good Land Records on October 1.
Ghettoblaster recently caught up with Berwanger to discuss Strange Stains and Jim McPherson’s love of Zima. This is what he said.
When did you begin writing the material for your forthcoming record?
I started about two years ago and kept going back and forth, I was kinda struggling with what exactly I was wanting to do.
What was the most difficult song to take from the initial writing stage through recording and mixing? Why was it so troublesome?
“Spirit World”. Michael (Hutcherson – Josh’s bandmate and long-time musical collaborator) kept wanting to do double kick drum but after many long arguments I finally won out that battle.
Which of the songs on the record is most different from your original concept for the song?
“Time Traveler.” I originally thought it would be a very heavy percussion song with no drums. I sent it to Michael and he sent it back with drums and it turned into this really cool rock song.
Who produced the record? What input did that person have that changed the face of the record?
Michael and I produced nine of the 11 songs. Marc Benning produced the other two. Working with Marc is always amazing and he really wants you to get the feel and energy of the song down and he wants it live as possible. So we just tried to do that for the majority of the record.
Did you have any guest musicians play or sing on the record?
Yes, quite a few. I love having friends and guests play on songs. Jim MacPherson from the Breeders played on the record, although he was constantly drinking Zima. TK Webb, Heidi Gluck, Brandon Phillips, and we also got a real chimp that helped do vocals on “Bullets of Change”, it was kind of a bad idea.
Is there an overarching concept behind the album that ties the record together?
Yeah, it’s my perspective on all the highs and lows of life’s experiences and how fucking crazy it all is. Strange Stains to me is life in general, a stain is like a memory – some you can get out and others you can’t and are with you forever.
Have you begun playing these songs live and which songs have elicited the strongest reaction from your fans?
Yeah, “Baby Loses Her Mind” has been going over really well. People in the crowd are starting to clap during the breakdown part like it is on the album and that’s always great to have fan participation instead of fans looking at their cell phones while you are playing.
(Listen to Berwanger’s “Baby Loses Her Mind” here:
Fall touring plans including CMJ will be announced soon. Visit him on the web here: http://berwangermusic.com.)