In times of crisis, it’s more important than ever to check in on your friends and loved ones. Here at XPN, we’re Checking In With our extended musical family to see how they’re holding up during the Coronavirus quarantine…and what music has kept them grounded. Today, Dan Reed chats with John Easdale of Dramarama.

Today we caught up with Wayne, New Jersey native John Easdale of the long-running power pop band Dramarama, who checked in with us from his home in Whittier, California, where he’s lived since 1986. “It started out as a vacation and ended up as a residence,” he jokes, adding that during the pandemic downtime, “I’ve stepped up my guitar practice and mostly working on promoting the new album. But I’m really fortunate in having a good setup here at home.”

Dramarama’s new album, Color TV, came out last Friday. It’s their first release in 15 years, and it finds Easdale once again teaming of with his longtime bandmates, two of whom — guitarists Mark Englert and Peter Wood — have been with him since the very beginning. “We all graduated high school together, we’ve been playing together since the 70s,” Easdale says. “The new guys in the band, the bass player and drummer, have only been with us for 25 years, they’re just babies.”

In our conversation, we talk about writing and recording Color TV in California and New Jersey over the span of the past ten years, along with the songwriting prowess of Ray Davies, the uplifting power of childhood nostalgia, and more. Hear it all in the player below.

Checking In With John Easdale of Dramarama

Favorite Song of All Time: “Shangri-La” by The Kinks

“It kinda shows the happiness and the horror of life in the suburbs. I must say, I didn’t know about the horror – I grew up in the suburbs and thought it was the best of all possible worlds – but I really appreciate his viewpoint, and understand it, and as I grew older I could also understand the desperation of a person who’s reached the top and just can’t get any higher, as he says in the song. My top ten or top 100 might change every day, but number one is always going to be ‘Shangri-La’ by The Kinks.”

Song that Raises Your Spirits: “Deep Purple” by April Stevens and Nino Tempo

“It goes way back to when I was little, before I discovered The Monkees and The Beatles and that crazy rock and roll thing. It’s a song I’ve listened to since I was a mere baby. It sets a certain mood, and I’m not sure you play it on XPN every day — it’s so popular! [laughs] — but the blend of the harmonies and that harmonica still gives me goosebumps.”

Song You’re Most Proud of Working On: “You You You” by Dramarama

“I’m really proud of the new album. I’m proud we got to make another album, at one point I didn’t know if this would ever come out. Considering how long it’s taken, it’s mindblowing to me. This song in particular isn’t like our regular rock and roll records, it’s one of the most personal and honest songs I’ve written. When we started recording, it was a regular band song with every playing, and when we started mixing, we broke it down so its a moody keyboard and a little guitar. It captures the mood and atmosphere, and I’m still a little bit in awe of it. I can’t believe I did something like it. A lot of times, you make a record and you’re happy if you get 75 or 80% of what you’re going for, and in this case we nailed it.”