1.0 As an artist, what’s important to you? Love, truth, soul.
2.0 Tell us about recording your new CD, “Something New.” I worked on it for a couple of years. Most of the time was spent thinking about it rather than doing it. In that time, I spent maybe 40 days in the studio. I wouldn’t change a thing about the CD, and I’ve never been able to say that about any of my previous recordings. This may have a lot to do with taking that time to sit with the tracks and play with them until I was satisfied. I worked through lots of material before settling on the twelve songs on “Something New.” Also, I have a great band, and I played with some really talented guest musicians. That helped a lot.
3.0 What is the title song about? Boredom, stagnation, lack of motivation. The demand for overstimulation. The need to be entertained. The feeling of being left out. My distain for pop culture. Also one of my common themes—the search for something more. I wanted it to be like “Satisfaction” for the 21st century.
4.0 What is your favorite track on the cd? My wife kept asking me to write a song about her. I avoided it for a long time because, in past relationships, this hasn’t worked out so well for me. I try for brutal honesty in my lyrics, and that can create problems. And of course, you’re measured against “Layla” or “Alison,” or “Maybe I’m Amazed.” Anyway, I gave it a shot. The result is “Lucky Guy.” I tried to explore the light and dark sides of our (or perhaps any) relationship, and I felt like lyrically, I really got to the heart of it. I think it’s a fun, but also soulful song. I love the chunky rhythm section. I love the horn section. And my wife likes it, so I am a lucky guy.
5.0 What comes first for you when writing, a lyric, a melody, a riff? Since lyrics are important to me, the first thing I get is a concept or phrase, most likely the song title or the words to the chorus. Then I build a set of changes for choruses and verses. Next I flesh out the lyrics and maybe write a bridge. I’m slow and methodical, and I might revisit the lyrics many times. I love having written a song, but I hate actually doing it. It’s painful for me and requires huge amounts of concentration and introspection. Some guys write a song in an hour. That will never happen to me. For me, it’s a grind.
6.0 How did Ed Stasium’s involvement with the project come about? Ed had worked on a project for a friend of mine and he introduced us. Ed was obviously a big time engineer/producer in the eighties and nineties, and he sort of dropped out of the New York scene, moving to Colorado and setting up a studio out there. I sent him a few songs and he liked them, so he accepted the project. Ed brought a lot to my record, and it was a privilege to work with him. I had been very close with the songs, and it was really great to let someone with objectivity (and talent) step in at that point.
7.0 Do you have a philosophy when it comes to entering the studio? Just to make sure everyone is working towards realizing the song as opposed to making a personal statement. It’s common to work with players who view verses and choruses as things to tolerate or riff through on the way to a solo. It takes maturity to look at the bigger picture, play in the spaces, and choose just the right parts to make the song work. After that, I just go for a rhythm track that’s right in the pocket. It doesn’t make much sense to build on a foundation that’s not solid.
8.0 Any secrets to nailing good lead vocal tracks for you? Whiskey. And when I record a vocal, I think of it as a journey with no road map and no set destination. I don’t think too much, I just try to dig as deep as possible, looking for raw emotion. It’s hard to describe, but I’m sort of in a low-level trance. This can be a hit or miss process. It helps to have a good engineer or producer to guide you through it, because loss of perspective is part of the trip. That may also have something to do with the whiskey.
9.0 Growing up, what artists were your biggest influences? Can you still hear them today on “Something New?”I always liked the soul singers—Otis Redding, Sam Cooke, Marvin Gaye, Van Morrison and I tried to channel them even though I’m not in their league as a vocalist. I love 60’s music for its freedom and creativity. Love the Stones. Love Punk. I’d imagine you can hear those influences, but I could’nt tell you where. When I’m writing or recording, I don’t listen to other people’s music because it confuses me. And I’m confused enough already.
10.0 How do you react to criticism of your music? I’m sure what I’m doing isn’t for everyone, and I don’t care. It’s obvious that these days successful pop music is generally disposable, catchy shit. I try to be more than that, possibly to my own detriment. Baring your soul takes balls, and you can’t be afraid to look like a fool. I like what I’ve done. If you like it, great. If you don’t, I can live with that.