Adam Goldberg Experiences Happiness on ‘HOME: A Nice Place To Visit’

Actor and musician Adam Goldberg (Saving Private Ryan, Dazed and Confused, Zodiac) has recorded a new psych pop album, HOME: A Nice Place To Visit, under his musical moniker The Goldberg Sisters.

While the album is out on May 4th, the record will feature a physical release paired with 14 of Goldberg’s photographs – one for each track on the record, expected for release later this summer.

This is the fourth Goldberg Sisters release, and has Adam teaming up once again with engineer Andrew Lynch. The LP was recorded over the course of two years during which Adam played almost every instrument on the album.

Culture Collide spoke to Adam Goldberg about his creative process, the relationship between his music and photography, his mortality and more.

How did the connection between song and photograph on HOME: A Nice Place To Visit come into being? How do the two play off of each other?
Adam Goldberg: I think it was while I was recording—or maybe just before. I just seem to find that these two worlds intersect. They scratch a similar itch, and the tools I use — old cameras and film, old instruments and effects—create a similar sort of wooziness that is present in both my music and photography. I’m not necessarily taking a photo for each song, so much as I am looking through my archives and deciding which photo thematically relates or relates in some aesthetic fashion to a corresponding song on the album. In one case (“When or Where or Why”) the photograph I plan to use to correspond to that song became a seed for the music video I’m going to make for it. It’s not at all what I imagined the song was about — the photograph is a large format tilt shifted Polaroid that gives the effect of two faceless woman — but one thing kind of informed the other and then seeded this entirely other concept. So the interplay is somewhat organic. 

What was the process/timeline like of writing and recording and taking these photos?
AG: The photos range from about 2010 until present day. The songs were culled, as they are in the case of all my albums, from scratch tracks, demos, loops, partial songs, that I record over a period of a few years—since my last album in 2013. Then my engineer and co producer, Andrew Lynch (Nav Attack), headed back into the garage where we made Stranger’s Morning, in late 2015, and then recorded the basic tracks over the first few months of 2016, but didn’t really finish until 2017.

The plan was to record all my vocals in my temp Brooklyn apartment while I was in NY doing a TV show, then send the files to Andrew who’d mix them and we’d master when I got home. This didn’t go quite as planned, though we did this with a couple songs, including “One Two Three Four Five Six”, which is a duet with one of my heroes, Bridget St. John, whose vocals I recorded in my in-law’s guest bedroom in Brooklyn. All of these photos and all the demos or seeds of pretty much all my songs since my second (eponymous Goldberg Sisters) album, can be found on my Tumblr blog, Home: A Nice Place to Visit. This project in many ways is a culmination or partial culmination and real world version of my blog, something I had been thinking about doing —on a much larger scale— for many years. 

How many instruments do you play total? Which one is your favorite?
AG: I play all the basic instruments with varying degrees of crudeness—I suppose some, harmonium, etc are slightly more obscure than others. While I played everything on my 3rd album (Stranger’s Morning ) my wife Roxanne Daner and good friend Merritt Lear play violins on this one, and Lynch plays trumpet and coronet. I played about one sax riff on this (which I conjured from the 3 weeks I tried to learn tenor sax as a jazz obsessed teenager). I’m a really fumbly musician, I suppose I’m arguably more adept at guitar which I’ve been playing since my early 20s.

I think of instruments more as song making tools, a necessary evil, and learn what I need to in order to produce the song. For instance, I am not a bass player, like really not, but I learn my songs on bass as a matter of continence. It’s just easier than putting a band together. Or I’m a control freak. Or it’s cheaper. I’m not sure. I do miss playing with people though. I often want to split up with myself.  I think I’m pretty facile with production and sound design, for lack of a better phrase, but I am not a schooled musician. My favorite? I guess guitar or keys. With lots of sauce. My pedals, ha, those are probably my favorite. (This interview is a trained musician’s worst nightmare.) Oh I played ammunition inside a Perrier bottle in lieu of shaker on the song “School.” The subject matter of the song is fairly disturbing to me, as was playing the ammo shaker. 

Are there others you want to learn to play?
AG: I’d love to play what I play better. But, horns, trumpet or saxophone. 

If you could be a fly on the wall anywhere – where would it be?
AG: The Oval Office. As horrifying and repugnant as that’d be.

Something you’ve been thinking about a lot lately?
AG: My death. But always that. I’m 47 now and have a kid. And a wife. And the reality of mortality is beginning to catch up with the existential dread that has pervaded my whole life. Only it’s not so cute and cool anymore. And my son. I want so badly for my son to be happy. See “My Boy Bud.” 

How many moods do you experience in an average day?
AG: One. Guess which. 

What’s inspiring you currently?
AG: I’m inspired by this project. I was wiped out this time around, and had yet to figure out a distribution strategy, felt overwhelmed by the prospect, both creatively and financially, of making this thing a vinyl/book package, and got really busy with acting work…then one day woke up and kicked my ass back into gear. Now I’m truly tickled by the idea of making this thing a thing, not just a bunch of numbers and bits on a hard drive. I nearly cried when I first listened to the vinyl test pressing. I felt what I think most people would describe as happiness. 

Last app you opened on your phone?
AG: Probably Instagram. Or Twitter. I have a problem. Well, I have a lot of them.