GLU | Credit: Will Norbury

Love Letter to a Record: GLU and QOTSA’s Michael Shuman on ‘A Love Extreme’ by Benji Hughes

Music Feeds’ Love Letter to a Record series asks artists to reflect on their relationship with the music they love and share stories about how it has influenced their lives. Here, Michael Shuman, the brains behind GLU, raises a glass to Benji Hughes’ 2008 album, ‘A Love Extreme’.

Michael Shuman is best known as a group player. He became the bass player in Queens of the Stone Age in 2007, and in 2009, he co-founded Mini Mansions with fellow LA musicians Zach Dawes, Tyler Parkford. On MY DEMONS, Shuman’s debut EP under the alias GLU, he embraces hip hop, pop and new wave production, collaborating with Sarah Barthel of New York duo Phantogram on the title track.

GLU’s Love Letter to Benji Hughes’ A Love Extreme

Michael Shuman (GLU): There are a lot of records that never got the attention they deserved, and this is one of them. I can’t believe it’s been 15 years since its release, but A Love Extreme still holds up and demonstrates great pop songwriting and production that, for some reason, slips through the mainstream cracks.

I see Benji Hughes in line with someone like Harry Nilsson. But Nilsson made music in a time when the market wasn’t over saturated. My bandmate from Mini Mansions, Tyler Parkford, first played me this album on the road somewhere in the middle of the US. He said his voice reminded him of mine. I totally heard the resemblance and it instantly connected with me. It actually changed my outlook on my delivery and how you could get away with singing pop songs a couple octaves down from what you would think is the norm.

The record continues to connect with me as I often wonder why some of my records don’t connect with a bigger audience. Yet, the people who love the record, truly love it.

The feat of doing a double LP for your debut record seems wild. And in most cases, it shouldn’t work. But I truly believe there were just too many good songs to leave off the record. And maybe a couple could have been kept off, but there are too many dimensions of Benji to explore for one record. Piano ballads, mid-tempo grooves and a few party bangers fill out this 25-song record.

The album was produced mainly by my friend and brilliant artist, Keefus Green. I didn’t know him at the time I heard the record, but it turned out we had mutual friends and he would end up producing a few songs on the Flashbacks record by Mini Mansions. He told us some stories about the making of the record, mostly recorded and written in his modest garage studio in Los Feliz, CA.

From what I was told, they spent about a month together, long days and late nights, piecing the record together. Although the songwriting comes directly from Benji’s brain, I think Keefus is equally important to the sound of the record.

On a side note, I almost got in a fist fight with Benji on stage when Mini Mansions were asked to play a Keefus-curated night at The Virgil, a small club in Los Angeles. We did a cover of one of his songs out of respect. He argued with me on stage about how it “really goes”. I’ll leave it at that. I still love his music.

GLU – ‘MY DEMONS’ ft. Sarah Barthel

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