Can this be the next Marshall Crenshaw or Matthew Sweet? One reviewer on the internet says of Andy Goldberg's songs, "Even on his slower tracks, Goldberg can’t help but be bubbly." It is his infectious power pop that attracted music fan Ernie Clark, and which prompted him to contact the Melville, New York musician for an interview.

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On a quiet Sunday morning a couple of months ago I was listening to Little Steven's Underground Garage when suddenly I heard the most fantastic song I had heard in years. I rushed into the next room to see who was behind this amazing blast of power pop. The song was "Feel The Sun" by a band called The Goldbergs. I hadn't been this inspired by a song since the early Beatles so I headed to my computer to search out any information I could find on this band. I quickly found that they've had two CD releases, "Hooks, Lines, & Sinkers", and the latest entitled "Under The Radar". I also discovered that the man behind this incredible music also released a CD with his original band The Sun Kings called "Stupid Grin". All three of these CDs are available on the internet. I have played them every day since I received them and continue to be blown away by how original the songs are. Soaring harmonies, steller guitar work and  unforgettable hooks are alive and well on these CDs. So inspired was I that I contacted Andy to see if I could interview him to which he gladly agreed.

Ernie Clark: Hi Andy, thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. First of all, at what age did you seriously begin listening to music?

Andy Goldberg: As I remember it, I was around three years old (1968-ish) when I went on vacation with my parents to Florida. The hotel where we were staying had a rock 'n' roll band pool side. I was mesmerized by the whole thing... the music, the drums, the guitars, the wires, the buttons, the switches. When we got back to New York, my parents got a copy of "Meet The Beatles" (on vinyl of course) for the apartment. From then on I was hooked.

You don't look old enough to have experienced the British Invasion first hand. How did that sound, especially the Beatles, become so ingrained in your songs?

I did not experience the British Invasion first hand (I wasn't even born), but nonetheless, that was the first music I was exposed to so for me that is what rock 'n' roll or pop should sound like. The Beatles is all I listened to for a number of years until I started to soak up '70s AM radio. The point is The Beatles' music is so ingrained in my musical DNA that it unconsciously shows up in my songs. I can't escape it (but I guess I could have picked worse role models!).

Not that I really need to ask, but which bands influenced you the most?

As far as songwriting, my influences are pretty obvious... The Beatles, The Stones, The Who, Badfinger, Raspberries, Nick Lowe, Elvis Costello, Marshall Crenshaw. I should mention that my listening tastes are a bit more diverse. I love Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith, Queen, and most classic rock but you might not be able to tell judging from my own songs. I'm also a huge fan of The Mavericks, Louis Armstrong, and Django Reinhardt (how's that for diversity!).

When was it that you realized you had a gift for creating your own songs?

As I explained earlier, I've always been a tremendous music fan. I've always listened to A LOT of music. Listening so much has filled me with all these musicial templates. When I'm playing guitar and working on a song, I intuitively know when I've got something worthwhile. This intuition is not a "gift" but a result of being an avid music fan for so many years. When I'm writing, I'm comparing the song I'm working on at the moment with all the great rock and pop songs in my internal catalog. If the song isn't cutting it, I know it.

What was the first song that you wrote and recorded and when?

I started teaching myself guitar when I was around 15. I was trying to write songs almost immediately. One of the first titles I can remember is "It's Not As Hard As It Seems". Later, I recorded a version when I was around 18 on a Fostex four-track machine I borrowed from Dean Basil (who I would later join up with in The Sun Kings).

I see by the liner notes on your first CD from 2006 that The Sun Kings must still be around. Were you in any other bands before them?

The Sun Kings are indeed still intact but on a bit of a hiatus (day jobs, kids, logistics). Before that I was in a college band called "The Dubbsheim Rockers" doing covers at fraternity parties. In Junior High School and High School I played in various groups doing our best classic rock imitations.

Did The Sun Kings play live and do you play live now?

The Sun Kings did do a fair amount of live shows in and around NYC during the mid to late '90s. Now we play the occasional gig about once or twice a year. I do not play live on my own. I should explain that "The Goldbergs" is a solo project that I can use to put out studio recordings.

It amazes me how your songs sound nothing like any others I have ever heard but yet the melodies are so strong. Do you write the lyrics or the melodies first or do they come to you complete like "Yesterday" did with Paul McCartney?

I am a melody guy and that is usually what comes first. Generally, I'll playing guitar and a melody will come to me while I'm playing A bunch of chords. Most times the hook comes before the lyric. But having said that there are times when I'll have the lyric first. As with most songwriters, there is no set formula.

Do you have formal music training or do you come by it naturally?

I have no formal musical training and I can't read a stitch of music. I'm self taught using chord diagrams, guitar tabs, lots of listening, lots of time.

The first Goldbergs CD, "Hooks, Lines, & Sinkers", is a power pop classic. "Stars To Me" is a very touching tribute to your children. What does your family think of your music?

I'm very proud of "Stars To Me". Musically I was going for a Steve Earle kind of thing but the lyrics are obviously about my kids. It's very genuine and my kids love it... they like all of my music... they think Daddy's a rock star... what's better than that?

When I'm writing, I'm comparing the song I'm working on at the moment with all the great rock and pop songs in my internal catalog. If the song isn't cutting it, I know it.

Your demo of "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" on the "Blips & Bleeps bonus disc (available from Kool Kat Musik) is an upbeat Beatles style version. Did you record this for your children?

"Somewhere Over The Rainbow" came about as I was messing around on the guitar. I just thought it was a cool take on a "standard". I didn't record that demo especially for my kids... but they like it just the same.

Most bands would kill for the four other demos on the "Blips & Bleeps" EP. Will these end up on the next Goldbergs CD?

"Blips & Bleeps" are demos I did by myself in my basement. I play all the instruments. I liked the tracks so (with urging from Ray Gianchetti at Kool Kat Musik) I put 'em out as an EP CD. I've no plans to include those songs on my next release as I hope to come up with new material... (but having said that if I get stuck I may pull songs from "Blips").

"Feel The Sun" is the perfect summer song. What was your reaction when you learned it was being played nationally on Little Steven's Underground Garage?

I originally wrote "Feel The Sun" as a jingle for the breakfast drink "Tang". When it was rejected I liked the song so much I decided to put out a proper version. I'm thrilled that the track has been played on Little Steven's Underground Garage. I'm hoping that it gets into regular rotation everywhere but Little Steven's is a great start... It never gets old knowing your song is being played on the radio.

Your latest CD, "Under The Radar", on the Kool Kat Musik label out of New Jersey seems to have escaped the old "sophomore curse" as it's every bit as great as "Hooks, Lines, & Sinkers". I hear it's doing well overseas. What has the reaction been since it's getting national airplay?

It's gratifying to know people are enjoying "Radar" as well as "Hooks". Italy and Spain seem to have a contingency of Power Pop fans that are listening. While response to both my records has been favorable, it's been a bit frustrating trying to expand to the mainstream. (I need one of my tracks to become the theme to the next "Friends"). What would be ideal is more national radio exposure and maybe a review in Rolling Stone or becoming embraced by the college music scene. But realistically, I'm not sure if Indie Power Pop is considered hip enough to break out of its current niche. In the meantime, I'm perfectly content putting out records on my own.

Both Goldbergs CDs and The Sun Kings CD have spent many hours in repeat mode on my stereo system. It's rare in this day and age to find anything that is great from beginning to end. John lennon once said that there was "nothing new under the sun" regarding music. I wish he was around to hear yours. What do you consider to be the greatest album and single of the rock 'n' roll era?

I try to make albums that are solid beginning to end with no filler... I don't know if everyone would agree with your assessment but that is my goal. As far as greatest album and Single that is VERY difficult to answer. There are so many... but gun to my head I'm saying "Abbey Road" would be at the top of the list for LPs and (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction for the single.

Where did you grow up and what was the local music scene like at the time?

I grew up in Long Island. When I was in high school rock 'n' roll was morphing into the '80s thing with keyboards and "Flock Of Seagull" hair. Along with that Madonna and Michael Jackson were everywhere. I'm a rock 'n' roll guy... guitars and drums... and I was still listening to Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin and The Who. I was a bit of a throw back. When my high school band played gigs our set list was loaded with Lynyrd Skynyrd, Blue Oyster Cult, Bad Company, Led Zeppelin, The Who, The Stones and The Beatles. Our friends were receptive but I don't think we were considered cutting edge.

In this disposable "American Idol" society, what do you think of the contemporary music scene?

The contemporary music scene is pretty diverse and if you are willing to explore there is something for everyone. There are so many talented unsigned /indie artists out there. My personal tastes are certainly retro based but I do have an open mind. By the way, I have NEVER seen an episode of American Idol.

On the song "A Hand To Hold" from "Under The Radar" you make nice use of the ukulele. Do you play most of the instruments on your CDs?

On "The Goldbergs" records I play all guitars (acoustic, electric, slide) and sing all the parts. I also do all the piano and organ bits (although they are VERY basic parts). And yes, that is me showing off my ukulele skills.

Do you prefer particular brands of instruments on your recordings?

Although I'm pretty particular about my gear, I use lots of different brands and models. I'm partial to Gretsch guitars but when recording I use everything I have... Fender, Gibson, and Rickenbackers. For amps I use only tube driven combos... Vox, Fender and Marshall.

Which artists would we find in your personal music collection?

My personal music collection ranges from AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, The Who, The Stones, The Beatles, Queen… Elvis Costello, Dave Edmunds, Nick Lowe… Clapton, Hendrix... Elvis Presley, The Faces, Steve Earle, The Mavericks, Dwight Yoakam, Frank Sinatra, Count Basie, Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins, Louis Armstrong, Django Reinhardt, Badfinger, Beach Boys, Dylan, Fountains Of Wayne, Spoon, Shelby Lynne, Brian Setzer, Neil Finn, Dire Straits, ELO, Harry Nilsson, Randy Newman, The Kinks, Jim Lauderdale, Lewis Taylor, Ron Sexsmith, Tom Petty, Stevie Ray Vaughan... The list goes on and on and on and on...

Other than the five demos on the "Blips & Bleeps" bonus EP, do you have a backlog of tunes in the Goldberg vault?

I definitely have a backlog of tunes... some better than others... most of which should remain locked away!

If you could go back in time which band and event would you choose to see?

If I could go back in time I would most like to see The Beatles in Hamburg 1962 with Ringo on drums. At that point they had it down cold and probably were a fantastic rock 'n' roll band, perfectly suited for a bar room gig.

Lastly, when can we expect the next Goldbergs CD?

I have no immediate plans for my next album. I released "Hooks" and "Radar" one after the other and I'm tired! At this point I'll take my time and wait till I get together a good batch of songs.

Thank you for your time Andy and good luck with your music.

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July 22, 2008