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INTERVIEW: Dru Cutler

Photo Credit by Vladimir Weinstein

1. How would you classify your music?

 Focused songwriting sprinkled with elements of classic rock. 

“Sounds like a mixture of Ryan Adams and Pink Floyd” – RARAs Music Blog.

2. Who are some of your top 5 musical influences? 

 The Beatles – Their harmonic choices 

The Beach Boys – Their melodies 

Igor Stravinsky – Rhythmic Ideas 

Sonic Youth – Their punk edge 

NOFX – Changed my life as a youngster

3. What do you want fans to take from your music?

My songs are like a score for your thoughts and memories. They take you someplace.

The line “Friends that used to warm me with a laugh, Nostalgia fits like dust on Google Maps” from my song “Familiar” sums it up. I want you to dig into a piece of your past, and smile.

4. Can you tell us a bit about your latest album? When will it be released and how does it differ from your previous work?

I recently re-visitors my Hometown (Tampa, FL). Everything has evolved: the drug store, the old parking lot where I used to smoke cigarette butts, the elementary school where I asked Samantha Burke to marry me with a plastic ring. It’s all different. It’s both sad and charming.

I’m fascinated with how time changes things, but Nostalgia – a complex emotion – lingers on.

“Hometown” is a warm hug to the places you came from.

It was released on my way down to perform at SXSW in April, 2017. It’s a little more “pop leaning” than my last record. Kinda has a Tom Petty vibe. You’ll dig.

5. What do you love and hate about the Music Business?

Love:

Technology has given all the creative power back to the DIY artist. ????

I come from a history of DIY ambition. When I was 11, I used my parents dusty VHS video camera to write, direct and shoot a horror film called “Shape Shifter” that enlisted all the neighborhood kids. In one memorable scene, we created a bedroom-like set that gave the illusion of a masked villain “walking on walls” to attack people.

All in all, it was a shit film.

But it was the beginning of me learning about being an artist, working collaboratively with people, managing egos, handling objections, dealing with deadlines and finishing projects.

Today, I live in a giant loft that we converted into a live music venue called Unit J. We host intimate house shows that have been mentioned in Bedford+Bowery, Bushwick Daily, Village Voice and more. It’s been an incredible exercise in community building.

I love seeing great shows in my living room.

Hate:

Musicians: Stop trying to “sound like your album”.

Everywhere I turn, the most important band member is becoming the laptop. I see bands with five or six folks on stage, and a MacBook playing a long list of backing tracks. Do you really need those 19 synth lines?

If I want to hear your album, I’ll just stay at home. I’m here cause I want to see YOU. I want to hear your mistakes, I want to see you work through them. I want you to take that extended pan flute solo that’s not on the record. I want to see you be you.

Most importantly, tying your ensemble up with backing tracks locks you into listening to the laptop, when you should be listening to the room, the crowd and your own musicians. ????

If you must use tracks, pick and choose your battles. Perhaps play a few with and a few without? Mix it up. Don’t be afraid to be raw.

6. What is the best concert you have been to? 

Flaming Lips – Central Park Summer Stage – My 27th Birthday.

My brain exploded that night (in a good way) and I’m still not completely healed. We ended up with our shoes off, pants rolled up, illegally walking through the Central Park fountains, helping a homeless dude find change in the dark. Good times.

7. What do you like most about playing live?

It took years, but I finally got to a place where o can perform in NYC and have folks – that I don’t personally know – sing along to my songs.

I recently playing a show in Brooklyn and we kicked into a song called “I Want the Moon, But That’s Not All” and a gal in the front let out a yelp. “OMG! This is my favorite song!”

That feels good. Fans are made one person at a time, ya know?

8. Is there a song on this latest CD that stands out as your personal favorite, and why? 

“Infinite Moons” was a slow burn on my part. I wrote the verse and chorus for the song in less than 5min, but then it sat in my voice memos for 5yrs.

Why? We’ll, it was about my ex-girlfriend moving across the country. We split up, and I felt kinda hollow, like I had to start all over.

It’s like I had to be in a better place in order to dig up that story again. I’m very proud of how the tune turned out.

9. How have you evolved as an artist over the last few years? 

I’ve been deeply inspired by my bushwick friends and roomies, who play a great deal of folk and blue grass music. That’s surprising for city folks, but they shred.

I’ve learned a lot about simple, yet powerful song forms and classic storytelling techniques.

If I can’t deliver a compelling song and story with my voice and a single instrument, it ain’t a good song. Back to the drawing board.

10. If you could meet, play a gig, co-write a song, have dinner, get drunk with any band or artist (dead or alive) who would it be? 

Play a gig – Wilco 🙂

Co-Write (in the studio) – David Byrne 

Co-Write (at a piano) – Pat Pattison

Have Dinner – Bjork 

Get Drunk – Kieth Richards

11. So tell us what’s next?    

I’m rocking Brooklyn’s Northside Festival on 6/9. We’ve assembled 20+ bands to rock across two stages and bring the heart of the folk and rock scenes to the masses. 

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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