Seattle Weekly: Your Sub Pop EP, The Sun Comes Through, pays homage to the Beatles, Bowie, and Pink Floyd. In particular, the title track sounds like something John Lennon stole from Sgt. Pepper to use on Imagine. Do these kinds of comparisons irritate you?
Kelley Stoltz: I'm equal parts musician and music fan, so influences pop out a lot in my stuff. Sometimes people say I take more than I give musically, but I don't know if they understand what I'm doing. I figure people said the Beatles or the Stones sounded just like Chuck Berry when they began.
You're a one-man band, and you self-record your stuff. Because of this, and because you use a mix of acoustic and electric instruments, it's difficult for me to guess which instrument you learned first or which instrument you write on.
I started by playing guitar. I had a band in eighth grade. Mostly I played bass lines on guitar because I didn't know any chords. Once I learned to play by listening to Leonard Cohen or Neil Young, I wrote a lot of songs that way. There was always a piano in the house, but I just played the black keys. For this new bunch of songs, I wanted to try and write with a different instrument, and thinking back to that piano from my childhood, I thought it'd be a good thing to learn properly. Lately I'm back to guitar, writing more rocking stuff.
I heard you recently got a phone call from Brian Wilson. What was that about?
Brian did this thing for victims of Hurricane Katrina: For a $100 donation, he would not only double whatever you sent in but would make a personal call to you and you [could] ask him a question. So I made the donation [and] a couple hours [later] the phone rings. He thanked me for the donation, then said, "Go ahead, ask me a question." My girlfriend [had just] gotten my piano tuned for me, so I said, "One of my favorite songs is 'Meant for You,' from [the Beach Boys'] Friends. Only now in the [proper] tuning, it doesn't sound right. Can you tell me the chords?" Brian says, "Oh, I wouldn't know that . . . sorry." I was a little bummed, but hey, I don't remember songs I wrote 30 years ago, either.
Then the phone rang: "Hey Kelley, it's Brian again. Hey, that song starts on A flat." As I played the note he said, "Go ahead, sing it." So I sang the first line, "As I sit and close my eyes . . . ," and in the phone, 400 miles away, Brian was singing along! Two calls for the price of one, and some folks down South get a little help.
Kelley Stoltz plays Neumo's on Fri., Nov. 18, at 6 p.m. $10 adv./$12.