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The Like - The IndieLondon interview

The Like

Interview by Rob Carnevale

FINDING an exquisite balance between the ’60s girl group and British Invasion sounds they adore, hip LA-based quartet The Like have come into their own. Their long-awaited new album Release Me is due for release this summer and has been produced by Mark Ronson.

As they release the latest single, He’s Not A Boy and visit England, IndieLondon grabbed an exclusive chat with the beautiful Z Berg about what to expect from the LP, what it was like working with Ronson and why they love coming to England so much.

Q. This must be a very exciting new chapter for you?
Z Berg: Thank you! It is indeed!

Q. How was the experience of actually working with Mark Ronson? And what makes Mark so special in your opinion?
Z Berg: What makes Mark so special is his ability to hear a song in whatever form it may be in and know how to make it the best possible version of itself, and to see an artist and figure out how to make her the best version of herself. The experience was a whirlwind that was the most inspiring ever.

Q. What inspired the new single, He’s Not A Boy?
Z Berg: It’s about a… well …a bad boy. We’ve all known someone like him in our lives. The kind you think you can fix/save/change. This is more of an ode to the bad boy. An acceptance that you can’t change him, and really, if you changed him would there be anything left to love?

Q. And similarly, what inspired the songs on Release Me?
Z Berg: Sheer heartbreak, desperation, anger, ennui…. everything!

Q. Which songs are you most proud of?
Z Berg: All the ones on this record… :)

Q. A lot has changed for you since Are You Thinking What I’m Thinking. How much do you feel you’ve learned about yourself during that time (particularly Z Berg and Tennessee)?
Z Berg: So very much. I wrote most of those songs when I was…15! I had experienced very little. In the years since then I’ve really… well… been through enough to write a lifetime’s worth of records about. And it took us until now I think to really form our sound/identity as a band and know how we wanted to express the things we wanted to say. We grew up listening to ’60’s rock and roll and Motown and girl groups, and this is really a return to what we grew up loving.

Q. Tennessee has said you never intended to become a girl band… but are now rather pleased! Do you think there has previously been a stigma attached to ‘girl bands’?
Z Berg: Definitely! When we first started the band, I really didn’t want to be in a girl band! I hated them. But that’s terrible. I’m so excited to be in a band with young ladies who write their music and are serious musicians and hopefully this will inspire other young girls to do the same!

Q. Who are your favourite girl bands of all time?
Z Berg: The Beatles, The Stones, The Beach Boys, The Shangri Las, The Supremes, The Animals, The Zombies, Jackie DeShannon, Dusty Springfield, Ellie Greenwich, The Kinks, etc. etc.

Q. What do you like about the ‘60s sound in particular? Who are your biggest musical inspirations?
Z Berg: The fact that the recording process is honest, it’s a band in a room, who have to be good enough not to rely on the fancy newfangled editing tricks of today, who wrote great, well-crafted and heartbreaking pop songs that were both the best songs in the world AND the most popular.

Q. Being LA-based, what do you love about England and the UK music scene?
Z Berg: I love how much a part of going out music is. Club nights have bands play and people really care about music and going to see bands a lot! It’s super inspiring to be around.

Q. How was opening for bands like Muse and Kings of Leon? Did you get to hang out at all?
Z Berg: It was awesome. It’s been great to go on tour with so many awesome bands and to see how they do it. With a band like Muse, theyve been together for over 10 years, and yet after every show they went out and found a bar in town to hang out in and on their days off they went to the Grand Canyon and horse-back riding and did fun things and enjoyed being in a band and living life. That is awesome.

Q. What are your favourite live memories?
Z Berg: We just played a Fuck Yeah Fest fan appreciation show in Pomona where the kids moshed like crazy and crowd surfed. My boyfriend was standing in the corner going: “Uh… did I almost just get kicked in the head by a crowd surfer in the mosh pit at a Like show? What the HELL is going on?!”

The Like

Q. Once you’ve completed your current run of UK dates in London, will you be coming back for any festivals? Or adding any more UK shows to this year’s schedule?
Z Berg: We’ll definitely be back in the UK in August!

Q. How did Z Berg and Tennessee first meet at the age of 15?
Z Berg: I had been writing songs by myself, alone in my room, quite pathetically, for a long time, without any friends really! Tennessee and our old bass player sort of sought me out, having asked everyone they knew if they knew any singers they could play music with. Then they showed up at my doorsteps, I played them my songs, we baked a cake, and had a sleepover.

Q. When did you know you wanted to pursue a career within the music industry? Was it at 15, or before that?
Z Berg: I have been singing and playing music my whole life. I think I pretty much always knew.

Q. What advice would you give to people starting out?
Z Berg: Only make music your life if you can’t live without it. And if you can’t live without it, never give up on it.

Q. If you could cover any song, what would it be and why?
Z Berg: Well…. can’t I cover any song? Haha. I would love to cover the entire Beatles catalogue, but you really just can’t do it… You just can’t fuck with something that perfect.

Q. Finally, what are the tracks that are never far from your iPod player at the moment?
Z Berg: MGMT – Congratulations
Sharon Jones and the Dap-kings – I Learned the Hard Way
Martha Reeves and the Vandellas
The Supremes
Joe Meek Girls – Let’s Go
The Beatles – A Hard Day’s Night and Help!
Os Mutantes

The Like’s long awaited new album Release Me is released later this summer. The single, He’s Not A Boy is out on May 31.