Thanks! Good to be here. I’ve been doing well, very excited about the album.
Can you talk to us more about your song “Road by the River”?
“Road by the River” is the opener and title track. It’s a driving song inspired by a very peaceful road that runs parallel to a river and canal near where I grew up. It’s about seven miles long, and I’ve always found driving on that particular road has a calming effect on me, no matter what I’m going through, good or bad.
Did any event inspire you to write this song?
Well, it’s a breakup song of sorts. It’s the sort of thing that happens to everyone. The narrator wants to move forward and he’s hoping that driving and the movement of the river can help him with that.
Any plans to release a video for the track?
I’ve thought about it, but I don’t have any concrete plans yet. We’ll see.
Why naming the album after this track in particular?
I really struggled to come up with a name for the album. Then it dawned on me that I was probably trying to hard. The producer suggested keeping it simple with “Road by the River.” It’s simple and evocative. It’s a good image.
How was the recording and writing process?
“Road by the River” was a song I had on the shelf for a while. I started playing it in an open tuning, and it felt like it really came to life. I usually open my live sets with it. The other songs were written pretty quickly. The recording process was a lot of fun. I worked with a producer named Kurt Reil in Highland Park NJ. We built most of the tracks piece by piece. Kurt played the drums, percussion, some keys and handled the backing vocals. I played everything else. It was a very organic process. We just tried different ideas until something worked.
What role does NJ play in your writing?
“Road by the River”, as I mentioned, is about a specific place in NJ that’s special to me. “Last Train” is about a well-used train line that runs between New York City and South NJ called the Northeast Corridor line. Growing up, it was how I got to NYC. I have memories of taking the train back home very late at night, or early in the morning. There were always a lot of memorable characters on board. So, I guess you could say there are a few New Jersey geographical landmarks on the album.
What aspect of life did you get to explore on this record?
The album has only five songs, but I feel like I covered a lot of ground. Travel is a big theme. I mentioned “Road by the River” and “Last Train” earlier. “Nashville” is a song inspired by a trip I took a couple of years ago. It’s basically about my observations of a unique, well-known place, warts and all, as a stranger in a strange land. “Hard to Make a Living” is about how it feels to be a struggling singer-songwriter—playing to half-empty rooms, struggling with day jobs.
Any plans to hit the road?
Nothing concrete. I’m working on building a following in my backyard. Then, we’ll see.
What else is happening next in Michael Askin’s world?
I’ve got a few local shows coming up. I may go back into the studio early next year. Stay tuned.