How do you usually write the lyrics of your songs?
Writing lyrics is always the hardest part for me. It forces the song to be about a certain thing, and it really determines whether the song is great or not. The music comes easily, and the words must be squeezed out of me with a great amount of effort. But really the song is good or bad based on how close I can get the lyrics to what the song is supposed to be about. Sometimes you miss and the song is worse for it.
In your opinion, what is the most important thing in songwriting?
I think the most important thing in songwriting is making sure that every decision is made with the goal of serving the song. There can be a fantastic chorus you love, and a fantastic verse, or some amazing line, but if they don’t work together, or if they distract from the overarching mission of the song, you must yield to the song. Great songwriters follow where the song leads.
Are you ever scared of revealing aspects of your personal life/experience to strangers through your music?
Yes and no. I am personally not scared, but I do worry about people I love feeling betrayed by me making public their personal business. I try to be careful but in general all things are on the table.
What is the best lyric that you ever wrote (the most meaningful for you)?
I have a song I haven’t released yet, called “Wish I Could Notice”, and I like the line “ I believe in sunshine, I believe in pain, you ask me if I love you, I don’t say that word in vain” Don’t know if it’s the best but it’s my favorite right now.
What inspired “Tell Your Mother”, your latest single?
As always, it was the music first. My wife and I were on a road trip in an old RV we bought, and she started humming this tune, and it struck me and I couldn’t get it out of my head. That ended up being the main prechorus/chorus line of Tell Your Mother. The words all came in a spit of fury thereafter.
Are you preparing the release of an EP/album?
Yes, am in the middle of recording, preparing for release this fall.
What is the best suggestion your producer gave you?
I’ve been lucky to work with some amazing producers with some fantastic advice, but Vance Powell had some really helpful sayings “Don’t bore us, get to the chorus”, that made me cut the intro of “Tell Your Mother” in half. Also he said you should be able to sing your solos. I am so often trying to play 500 million notes in my solos, and I know its an amateur move, but I just get so in the moment. So the solos are very thought out and “singable” in “Tell Your Mother” in contrast to what comes natural to me. Which is to play every note on the keyboard as fast as I can.
What are your plans for 2019?
Well I’m in the studio all week, I’m having a baby in April, we’re planning a tour in the summer, then headed to Europe in the fall, and releasing our first album as well in the fall. So I’m very hopeful that my music will connect with people in 2019!
To conclude the interview a short Q/A session, please answer the first thing that comes to your mind:
- Define in one word your song “Tell Your Mother”: Energy.
- The best show you ever played: Once played on a party boat in a thunderstorm where all of our gear was sliding and we had to literally chase our gear as we were playing with like 1000 people on this boat drinking keg beer as the boat swayed, lightning struck, and people puked. Was a hilarious awesome amazing nightmare.
- The one thing that you must have in your backstage: Topo Chico.
- The soundtrack of your childhood: The Band, Elton John, Leon Russell, Led Zeppelin, The Smashing Pumpkins, Frank Sinatra, many others.
- Your favourite song lyrically speaking, but not written by you: “Rice Birds” by Adam Carroll – really simple song but man it’s just a perfect love song. / “Angeles” by Elliott Smith – great abstract images. / “The Catfish Song” by Townes Van Zandt – every song he wrote is the best. / “Mad World” by Tears For Fears – nostalgia and pain are a good match.
- Last question is “unusual”, we want to know your best relationship advice: Life is short, be kind. Be good with yourself before you try to be with someone else, or else you won’t be good to them. Again, life is too short to be an asshole. Meditate.