For a while now, I’ve been putting together some new songs for my third record. To me, writing songs is serious business as they each have a piece of me within their notes and lyrics. I was just talking with Sally Browder, the producer of my second record, Trip To Horizon a few days ago and we were having a blast coming up with ideas for the direction this record will take. I am so inspired right now by the White Stripes and Jack White’s new solo record, Blunderbuss. There is a simple, honest, raw feel, with a touch of punk to the writing and how these records are produced. It really allows you to understand where he is coming from as a writer. I just love the vocal feel and the inspired guitar sounds in all their music.
After spending some time with Sally discussing the approach for this record, she suggested doing a more acoustic, singer-songwriter type of project so that the songs can be really stripped down and simple, but still have an edge and unpredictability that will keep them driving. That really fits with some of my current writing influences like Jack White and Lucinda Williams. By focusing on the simplicity of the songs, we will be able to let the songs breathe and still let ‘em rock. It’s gonna be fun to see what happens.
I have been fortunate to be involved with a few great non-profit groups and participate as an artist in contributing to these amazing causes. The benefit shows that I perform are always very different, exciting and seem to bring out the best in everyone involved. I think it’s because there is a heightened sense of purpose and contribution. On my first record, I had such a great time doing all the photos for the CD layout because we had the Nature of Wildworks bring some adult and baby possums for the shoot in Topanga Canyon, CA that day. They were all so wonderful, but I really fell in love with one particular possum named Beauty. I was sad to learn that a possum’s life span is only about three years. A while later, I was able to do an on-site visit at Wildworks and Beauty was about three when we were reunited. I was able to hold her and spend quite a while with her that day, which was magical, but I knew that would probably be our last time together. All of the animals at Nature of Wildworks, from mountain lions, skunks, a wolf and many birds of prey are so awesome to be up close with. It really is an experience of a lifetime.
I knew that I wanted to raise some awareness and resources for Nature of Wildworks because this group gives kids and people of all ages an incredible up close experience with these beautiful animals. We held the benefit at Froggy’s in Topanga Canyon and the founder, Molly, brought some of the animals for a cool demo and then my band played. It was a great celebration and I was so honored to be a part of helping any way I possibly could. To be able to combine my music with such a worthy cause truly gave me a different perspective about what I do and how art can play a part in helping.
My favorite thing about great songwriters is that they can tell an entire story in a few minutes and it’s all set to music. That is so cool. It’s hard not to want to know when you hear a great story in a song, what the writer was writing about. And it’s easy to ask, ‘wow, I wonder who this song is about’ or ‘do you think that this really happened’? For me, I have always been interested in all the life that’s going on around me. It draws me in, but not just how people interact and their stories intermingle. The way each day ends, the changing of the seasons, the quiet and coolness of the autumn night air. These kinds of things inspire songwriting and every art form. It’s these circumstances that somehow come together and make me, as a writer, want to capture them in a story and put music to it.
No matter how many times I’ve seen them, it always amazes me when I see the work of artists like Van Gogh, Monet, Picasso and Rodin because they have this amazing ability to look at an object, person or even the wind and capture it in a totally different way, yet still manage to keep the essence of the life that’s in it. Amazing. I’m not a painter or sculptor, but I guess that’s what I try to do when I’m writing a song. If you get a chance, let me know your thoughts on how you create.