I had the honor of interviewing poet, writer, and musician Scott Laudati, check out all his awesome stuff-
Me: So my first question is, for those that aren’t familiar with you, tell us some about you and your writing
SL: I grew up in Staten Island, and then the New Jersey suburbs, which are all about the same if you’re within an hour or so radius of Manhattan. New Jersey produces an unbelievable amount of talent, though I’m not sure how. We seem to all just hang out and drink in 7-11 parking lots. When I was growing up, it wasn’t cool to be into books or punk rock and also football, though that seems to have changed, so all we did was hang out at 7-11. Then eventually, the cops would come and throw us out. We’d end up in somebody’s basement or garage and pick up our notebooks and guitars and try to find interesting ways to sing about hanging out at 7-11. I realized early I was a much better lyricist than guitar player, so focusing on writing was the move.
I had a book of poems published about a year ago called Hawaiian Shirts In The Electric Chair (Kuboa Press). The guy Pablo, who runs Kuboa is the man. The experience went so well with that book they’re going to put out my novel. It’s called PLAY THE DEVIL. I locked down an amazing editor, so whenever she’s done, it’ll be out.
The poems are mainly about a girl, though there are other things like pizza, my dog, aliens, etc, but mainly a girl. PLAY THE DEVIL is about work, and love, and New Jersey, I guess, but the slow drowning of having to ask a boss you want to kill how his days are, and then, pretending you’re interested in his answer. That sort of thing that builds up the anger and takes years off of your life. That’s what the book is mainly about.
Me: So you write alot of poems about everyday things?, what got you started in poetry?
SL: The poems in Hawaiian Shirts In The Electric Chair are all very terrestrial, even the one’s about extra-terrestrials. They’re short and they tend to be about one topic. Most of those I wrote in my mid-twenties about things that dominated those years, like confusion, women, drugs, but also this feeling that it’s not going to all work out, and we aren’t all going to end up OK. I started following politics very closely right after 9-11. My father was a NYC firefighter (he survived). The evil seemed to creep in from all sides after that day, especially from our team. That, coupled with all my friends and family getting addicted to oxycontins, really cemented this feeling of doom.
I started writing poems in college because I never slept, and on my college’s cable, we only got, like, one HBO channel. For two semesters, they endlessly played Schindler’s List. I’d sort of pass out and wake up each day and night to the horror of that movie. For whatever reason, that really facilitated poetry. I never wrote poems before that.
If you see my poems, they’re formatted in a certain way. That’s because I had to slide my textbook over my notebook to keep it hidden from my teachers. That allowed space for one or two words on each line. I’d thought about going back and “correcting” them, but that’s the way they came out, so why mess with it?
Me: Very awesome!, and professional poetry was a couple years after college?, and how’d that come about?
SL: After college, I started submitting everything I wrote to every publication on earth. I would get these massive lists of magazines/zines/websites that ran poems/stories and mailed my work to every single one. Even the ones that had nothing to do with my writing. Like, say they were focused on “all things Appalachian”, I would send them poems/stories anyway. I’ve been rejected by every magazine at least once, I would say.
It all changed when I got a hand written rejection letter from an editor at The New Yorker. He was very encouraging and pushed me in the right direction. I got my first poem and short story published at 24. I still get rejected 9/10 times, but that’s the hustle.
An editor at Thought Catalog, Stephanie Georgopulous, was also very encouraging and published a lot of my early stuff. I probably would have quit or gotten really depressed if I hadn’t ended up finding her.
Me: Very awesome!, so your advice to those wanting to make it, would be, just keep pushing?
SL: Yes. Keep pushing, but for the right reasons. I never agree with the people who say “if you can picture yourself doing anything else, do that”, because nobody’s ever pictured themselves holding open doors in hotels or cleaning pools in 100 degrees for $9 an hour, but everyone has to do some version of that work. You should do it because you’ve got about 80 years to prove that you matter, and then you’re gone. If you have that feeling, that there’s something in you that you don’t see in anyone else, then it’s your obligation to keep fighting. At the end, you’re either a legend or forgotten, but it’s only 80 years, why not give it your best shot?
Me: Awesome!, so we talked about your poetry, but you’re also a musician?
SL: I play guitar and sing in a band called American Inc. We’re currently in the studio, down here in Maryland, recording our second record.
Me: Oh nice!, can you tell us some about your musical and lyrical styles?, and where can we find your first CD?
SL: The first record can be downloaded off our Facebook page. http://www.Facebook.com/AmericanIncMusic .
We were much younger during the first record and pretty insane. We all drank like crazy, we recorded the entire record in 5 straight days with zero sleep, which is pretty amazing now that I think about it. We played, like, 40 shows around Baltimore in the following two weeks. We never had a bass player. Someone just filled in or we played live without one. Then we drove out to Covington, KY to open up for a band called Pumpkin Slut. Our drummer got arrested on the way home because he wasn’t allowed to leave the state. He had double digits drunk driving arrests, so when we got pulled over, he went to jail. We played the show in KY, there were only 5 people there and Pumpkin Slut played completely naked. We called it quits on the way home.
We’re a rock and roll band. We love the Kinks and the Rolling Stones. My favorite band is Bright Eyes, but besides them, I only started listening to music other than punk a few years ago. Our first record is pretty punk. We’re a little more grown up now, I guess, or less angry maybe.
Me: Sounds like a pretty wild time!, naked reminds me of red hot chili peppers, how does this album differ from the first one?
SL: Haha, yea, too bad it was nothing like that. It was just a couple sweaty dudes in gross clubs and half of them were naked.
The first album was all about a moment in time. There was this energy that was happening across the world the last time. It was right after the Arab Spring. #Occupy was in full effect. There was this feeling that the good guys were going to win, and we were right in the middle of all of that. We were protesting. Our other guitarist even officially registered as a communist because he was so sick of everything the government was doing. Some of our friends were getting shipped to Iraq, telling us they didn’t believe in what they were doing, but still going. So the first album reflected a lot of that, lies, consumerism, anger, etc.
Everyone has gotten really in to gear. So we’ve crafted a lot of parts of the new songs around what kind of pedals we can get our hands on, and vintage/boutique toys. It just sounds like the right progression from your early 20s to late 20s.
Me: So a more mature and progressed version of your previous album?
SL: Yes. We turned the power chords into bar chords. It is definitely more mature, bigger choruses. My mom will probably still want me to write pop music, but I think she’ll like this one better. Haha.
Me: That’s definitely a plus!, so alot of poetry and music to check out!, is there anything else your fans would be interested in knowing?
SL: Lots of stuff on the horizon! I have a website- http://www.ScottLaudati.com and I’m on instagram more than anything else @scottlaudati. So if anyone is interested in my poetry or the novel that’s coming out, all the links are in those places. Thank you!
Me: One last question, what all can we expect from you in the future?
SL: As long as Kuboa will keep publishing my books, I will keep writing them. The publisher, Pablo, has become sort of a mentor. This whole thing would’ve stopped being fun a lot time ago if it wasn’t for him.
Play The Devil will be out by summer. The new American Inc. record will be out before then. After that, I don’t know
Me: Definitely alot to look forward!, thank you so much for this interview!
SL: Hey Bryan, thank you so much! you ask the right questions to get people rolling, so much fun!