Jay Gonzalez: Drive-By Trucker, Bay City Roller. Sure, Gonzalez is guitarist and keyboard player for the Truckers. But his solo stuff sounds nothing like his Truckers work. Gonzalez is an unabashed fan of 70s power pop, bands like The Sweet and The Bay City Rollers. In his own words, "I possess the attention span of a goldfish. I’m a sucker for short pop songs filled with hooks and devoid of filler." The defining element of 70s power pop is the melody. It reigns supreme. Lyrics exist merely to enhance the melody, not to tell a story. According to Gonzalez, "I think the ideal situation is to have a song that if it were an instrumental or if it were a Muzak song, you would recognize the melody. It’s strong enough to stand on its own without the lyrics."
Gonzalez has released one solo album called The Mess of Happiness. His latest work is called Bitter Suite. For this, he took 5 songs with a similar lyrical theme and linked them musically. According to Gonzalez, "The Bitter Suite is my take on the classic form used from Bach to Bernstein to the Beatles. The medley, or suite, is a grouping of songs or song sections linked together into one piece, put together in a way to make it arc like a longer piece would, but with the benefit of having each song section be its own entity." He says that Bitter Suite varies stylistically and makes some dramatic jumps in tempo and texture, and that "the continuity is provided by the core band lineup of electric guitar, electric piano, bass and drums. Each individual song has a different coloring instrument to keep it varied. It was important to me that it could be played live by a 4 person standard rock lineup and not need the London Symphony Orchestra or a marching band."
And because Gonzalez is pure old-school, he wants to put Bitter Suite on high quality vinyl. He started a Kickstarter campaign that you can get behind to support his project. In the meantime, read my interview with Jay Gonzalez about his songwriting process after the video.