It was sometime last winter when I was first introduced to the music of Michael Sweeney, who would soon be adopting the Loser moniker to release his pastoral and understated brand of indie pop, I was immediately bowled over by the songs that he had been writing and recording in his apartment in my former hometown of Marshfield. MA. There is something instantly familiar about the material that Loser has shared thus far, but at the same time Sweeney manages to pull off the arduous task of taking on heavy weight influences like Elliott Smith and George Harrison and turning out something wholly unique and all his own. I recently sat down with Michael to discuss his songwriting process, playing out, and becoming Loser.
The Ash Gray Proclamation: Initially you were recording under your birth name, Michael Sweeney, what precipitated the name change to Loser?
Michael Sweeney: I had always played in bands growing up. So, naturally when I started writing and recording songs on my own, I used my name. But after playing some shows, I realized that my name was white noise in the singer/songwriter scene in Boston. Loser came naturally when I decided to put a name on it. I think it reflects a lot of the things I write about and I think it is fitting for a solo project.
The AGP: What is your approach to writing and recording songs
like Home or Friends (What You Have)?
Michael: Both of those songs came out of things that I was going through. I usually write all the time and then will write some guitar parts separately.
Those two things usually find each other over a few weeks. But, with these two songs in particular, they were written from such an honest and natural place that they were written and arranged very quickly.
The AGP: Do you feel that the environment of where your songs were created contributes to Loser’s overall aesthetic?
Michael: I think it totally does. I was kicked out of a band almost ten years ago because I didn’t hang out with them enough. So, hanging at home with a guitar and a few other instruments around, alone really made the songs what they are. I liked developing these thoughts and parts myself instead of having to compromise with anyone. Loser was the end result of writing songs in a tiny apartment .
The AGP: How do you feel the songs which you recorded at home
translate to the Live setting?
Michael: I think they are better live. I really like playing them for people. For some reason the vocals never come out right. Probably because I record all of them in a living room with very cheap, basic equipment. But, playing shows is really great. I like getting people into the songs.
The AGP: What’s can we expect from Loser in the coming months and 2016?
Michael: I’m working
on a bunch of new songs. Possibly working with some friends in a new band on some different sounding stuff for me. Hopefully a mini tour around the northeast.2015 was a great year for me. 2016 should be pretty awesome too.
Loser will play The Ash Gray Proclamation Presented Harvest Home Benefit along with Cameron Kieber of Eldridge Rodriguez, Philosophical Zombie, and Burglary Years at Nosh Tavern in historic Plymouth this Sunday. Check the event page for further details.