You are getting ready to release your first album in 11 years, My Midnight Things… Was there a different connection you felt while you were writing this album more so than all of your previous work?
The closest comparison that I can think of is when I wrote Master of Disguise. We all had the same sensibility when I just was going to be taking feelings from my side and just start working it, I did it on Master of Disguise and I did it on this one. This one is a little different because I wanted to explain different territories that I never have, but I also wanted it to stay true so I was [inaudible] trying to do everything, so this one had a little bit more to it.
I like to view music as alive…What would you say are some of the most alive parts of My Midnight Things?
I think every song is alive. I mean I take it from the lyrics, the human condition really, the human reaction. So everything that I write is based on that. I try to write in poetry form. Realistically, I am digging down deep and am kind of just magnifying or exemplifying the human reaction on whatever subject I’m talking about.
How do you feel you have grown as an artist since your last album?
Oh, miles. I mean the last album, it was a mixed bag of a collection of different things and I hit the nail on the head with a couple of songs and this album, I didn’t want it even it resembling that kind of way of putting together an album. I really wanted to do this artistically and really go with each section of each song and kind of fine tune it until I had it where it was still–I didn’t strip anything away from it, but I did really work on it.
So, the music, the lyrics, the melodies; everybody had to say something for each section of each song. So, I’ve grown, my song writing has gotten better, I think. And my producing has gotten a lot better as well.
What are some of the most raw and honest parts of your music?
Well, if you look at the lyrics of all of the songs, they all are honest and raw. I mean, that’s the only thing– I can’t write surface stuff. I just can’t do it. It’s so– there’s nothing there.
So, I always try to write lyrics, but I also like them to be multidimensional. So, it’s not just my point of view. If you like something that I wrote, you might see a completely different thing than the way I wrote it. And that’s exactly the way I try to write.
So, it’s all honest, but at the same time it’s multidimensional and that’s what your striving for; you can’t write just surface music or surface lyrics anymore, I don’t think. I mean, I guess you can, but I’m not interested in that.
Well, I’m glad because I love your music, I’ve been listening to you for about 15-20 years! I am also doing this interview, representing Guitars For Vets, which is a non-profit organization that gives guitars and guitar lessons to our Veterans. How do you feel about a program like this?
I think it’s amazing. I love the fact that a lot of these things– it [inaudible] with technology and social media connecting all of those things when someone tries to do something, puts an organization together, especially involving music. I think that it’s a– for a second there, I thought it was going to be a lost art, as far as learning instruments, because all of let’s say North America, where the kids got into Hip Hop and Techno and all of that stuff and it really had nothing to do with playing an instrument. I’m seeing that change now and I’m seeing a lot of people playing.
So anything like that is amazing. I think technology is a great way to get awareness through anything like that.
Yes, this last week has been amazing with all of the media attention we’ve gotten. We truly believe in the power of music, how it helps heal the soul, the mind, body, etc. Do you have any experiences you would like to share, where even creating music or just listening to music, has healed or helped you through a difficult time?
Yeah, I mean..My whole childhood. [laughs] I couldn’t go to sleep without the radio on, I couldn’t… It was impossible. I had so much energy as a kid and my Mom would keep coming in and turning it off. And I’d say, “As soon as you leave, I’m turning it right back on, so you can’t stop this!” [laughs]
So, you know, it was one of those things where I just had to have music constantly happening. To me, the exploration of artists out there is just such an amazing thing. They all [artists] have their own vision and their own way of creating something and sometimes it touches people and sometimes it doesn’t. But when it does, it’s magic. I grew up on that magic. And I’m still involved in it to this day.
This brings me to a question that I had later on in the interview, but you just mentioned how music is magic and that you’re still in the magic… What have been some of the most magical moments for you? Whether it be writing, creating, or just being around music?
Hmm. Playing big shows where the audience is singing along. That’s such a powerful thing. It’s one thing if you’re playing a show and you get half the crowd or whatever, you know?
But my whole thing is to get them– get them all. And so, but when it happens and it locks in and you have that connection, you know, it’s just my voice and their voice, it IS magic. There’s no other word for it; it’s that connection. Yeah, I could be anywhere around the world getting that connection and it’s amazing.
And even another connection to writing this album; I wrote a lot of it really late at night in an industrial area where it was just dead silence and just me trying to connect my own brain, and my own experiences, and all [of] that, and try to put something out there that’s interesting.
And some of those moments when I’m writing were magic because I was like, “Oh wow. That’s really good! That worked!” And those moments are few and far between because you write a ton of stuff and some of it’s kind of good and needs work, but when you nail it…It’s like, “Wow, that came from somewhere else.”
Would you share what songs [while writing My Midnight Things] that you felt that way about?
Long May They Haunt Us. And it kind of happened [inaudible] at one point or another. But Long May They Haunt Us was the song that came together in my mind and it was almost complete.
Usually I come up with a riff or a melody line; I’ll go to the piano and I’ll try to work it out. But this song, I didn’t have to. It just came to me. Even the lyrics, even the [inaudible] lyrics came to me. And that almost never happens.
It’s usually, like I said, if I come up with a melody, I’ll go to a piano or get a guitar or something and work it out, but I didn’t have to with this song. It was almost–I went on a walk and when I came back from the walk, the song was written. I added a few more lyrics, but most of the lyrics were there and the whole song was really completed.
So, that almost never happens, but that was definitely one of those times where I was like, “Wow.” I think the last time that happened was when I wrote Me Against The World. That song came to me almost the exact same way.
Wow. That’s amazing. Aside from the magic you just described…How does everything start to materialize for you when you are writing?
For me, I like to have an umbrella of what the album’s going to be about, that’s really how it starts for me. Once I realize the scene that I want to work under, then it all comes– the pieces start to come together and it’s all a big puzzle. So for me, my scattered brain is just a big giant puzzle. [laughs] And I try to reach in for the pieces.
Usually there’s the starting catalyst for the whole thing where the theme that I’m working under and what kind of record I want to make. Sometimes it doesn’t unveil itself until I’m half way through the album. But when I kind of have the ideas, as far as, what I want this to say, how I want this record to sound, and how I want these songs to be perceived, then it starts to– like I said, I start reaching in for the pieces and start putting the puzzle together.
You have quite an on stage presence and quite the live energy, but when you’re recording in the studio you, you can be very isolated and closed in from everything and you don’t have that connection that you would have with the crowd… Is there a way that you incorporate your live energy that you have on stage while you’re in the studio recording?
On the last tour that we did across Russia and Europe and South Korea, every country reacted to certain songs, the same way. And it was pretty unique to be doing this for this long and I’m seeing these reactions to certain songs in the set and I’m like, “Wow, this has a lot of power to it.” And you know, when I wrote this stuff, I didn’t know what the reaction was going to be.
So, when I wrote this album, I kind of tried to channel that. How– you know, you can’t really manipulate it, like, “I know they’re going to cheer here!” because they don’t. They do whatever they want, you know? And sometimes you have no control over it.
But I did try to think about how the stuff would work live because I’ve done songs before where I didn’t think about that and then when we go to rehearsal for the show, it doesn’t work. It works on the album, but it doesn’t work in the live show.
So, I was aware of that, I wanted all of these songs to work in the live show and I didn’t want to not play something that didn’t work live. So, I was conscious of that.
What songs are you looking forward to playing live from My Midnight Things?
I’m looking forward to playing them all! If I didn’t have a big– if this was my first record, I’d be happy because I’d get to play them all. But I know I have to play a few of the older songs as well. But the new tour is going to be, My Midnight Things tour, I’m going to be playing at least seven of these songs. But yeah, I’m looking forward to playing [My] Midnight Things. On Monday, we released a new single, The Scar Across My Heart, which I’m excited to play live.
But each song has a [inaudible] that I could piece in the show and it would really round it out. We’ll see how the tour is going to shape up and how long the performance is going to be, but I’m going to try and stick in as many as I can. But each one of them, I picture myself singing on stage and I have a big smile on my face because I haven’t had a new album in so long! So, to be able to get up and sing new songs is just Heaven.
What have you missed the most about not being around the music industry for the last 11 years? Is that what you’ve missed the most [not singing new songs]?
You know, I got into this thing when I was a kid because I wanted to be a recording artist and then I knew that would translate into the live show. But in the last many years, I’ve just been putting shows together, doing these live shows, and these tours and I haven’t been a recording artist. I’ve missed that so much. And I didn’t realize how much I’ve missed it until I started, until I was about three-quarters of the way done with this album. I was like, “Wow, this is exciting.” [laughs]
There was one point where we released four records in fourteen months; that’s how much I loved it. I love writing and I love working so hard that I’d just finish something, put it out, then by the time that was out, we’d have the next one written and done. So, it feels great to be back into that side of what it is that I do. Now, it’s all come full circle for me and it’s kind of completed.
I have one more question… Music is a journey for everybody… What would you describe are some of your fondest, proudest moments, memories, experiences that you’ve had throughout your entire career and what are you looking forward to the most in the future?
The best part of my job is meeting people from all over the world. I mean, every time we go into a new country and usually these people are so happy to see us and we’re like, “Wow.”
Now even when we start to get to know people; now we have friends in different countries all over the world. And that’s the best part of the whole thing; that connection that you have with people you don’t know, you’ve never met, and you thought you would never know or meet them.
And all of a sudden now, you’re friends with people in countries half way around the world. So, I think that’s the best part of the job. And then performing in front of people who actually, if they love your songs that gratitude is shown in such a unique way.
And it’s something that’s actually a connection, so I always go back to that because I think that’s a– if I– yeah, doing a 9-5 job and doing this, these are two opposites, because I could never do this routinely. If I play 40 shows in a row without a break, every show is different and usually it’s in a different country every night, so that connection is different. So you think about it differently and everything’s different. So you’re doing the same show, but it’s completely different. That’s the best part about doing this job.
That’s amazing and it’s really nice to hear an artist with speak with so much passion.
Well, I mean, I never wanted to get into a job-type situation, so to do this and have that pay-off be even more than what I put into it, is amazing. I can’t wait for this album to come out and get it to everybody and then obviously can’t wait to bring the show around the world, so that’s a bonus. Making the record was one thing, but with what all is coming is so cool that I’m excited about it.