Can you talk to us more about your latest single “How Many More?”?
It was written as a direct response to the murder of Alison Parker, the news reporter who was shot on live TV during an interview. It was the straw that broke the camel’s back, so to speak, for me. I remember I had my 12-string guitar in my had coming down my stairs after hearing about Alison’s death. Inspiration struck halfway down the stairs, and that’s where I sat. The song was written in about 25 minutes. I am thrilled that so many of my music friends came together to help record it. They did a great job of making the idea for the song real.
Any plans to release a video for the single?
You know, I’ve been asked about this, and I’m not sure. As mush as I like watching videos, I kind of don’t like their limitations. This is the same reasoning behind why I prefer books to movies. I think the somg has a lot of imagery in it that is very personal and unique for listeners. As soon as I impose images upon them, it tends to overshadow their own interpretations, and I’d rather not do that. Listeners should have that freedom to “see” their own images in their minds.
The single comes off your new album Providence – what’s the story behind the title?
The song “Providence” is about child abuse, but it carries an uplifting message and urges people who have been victims of child abuse to try and rise above their darkness to realize their full potential. That reflects what is in the theme for the entire record – the journey. Appreciating the journey and embracing life in the here and now while owning your roots is key to living with purpose.
How was the recording and writing process?
In a word: liberating. As a solo performer, I mostly hear my own vocals and guitar during performances. Recording allows me to breathe life into the other parts I hear in my head when I write. Watching the creative process unfold is something I treasure.
What was it like to work with Eric Troyer and how did that relationship develop?
I was introduced to Eric in 2013 by a mutual friend of ours. At the time, I had just assembled the songs for Welcome to the Past. Eric’s studio is fairly close to me, and he had some openings in his schedule, so things fell into place. I wouldn’t trade working with Eric for anything. His sense for mixing and production is incredible, and I trust him. That’s the big thing – trust. In the literary world, a writer needs to trust one’s editor. For the solo singer-songwriter like me, having someone who understands where I’m coming from and where I want to go with a song is crucially important. There are a number of times where Eric has suggested musical ideas that I had not considered, and they proved to be consistent with my vision. It’s an honor to work with him.
How much did he get to influence the album?
Eric and I are a good team. We start with my basic sketch for the song, and we work with a common vision of what the final version will be like. From a mixing standpoint, I give him total freedom. I may suggest using certain instrumentation. Some times it works, and other times it doesn’t panout. Those are actually the most exciting times because we’ll bounce ideas off of each other until we arrive at something that works better than what we had to start.
What role does New Jersey play in your music?
I’m a Jersey boy, ya know? I’ve written books about NJ history and have an deep interest in local events, folklore, ghost stories, etc. Many of these have fascinating stories to go with them that I’ve turned into songs. I guess it’s fair to say that New Jersey is in my blood, so it’s natural that it’s stories will find their way into songs. That being said, it’s important to incorporate other subjects into on’s writing, which I’m starting to do more and more.
Known for playing with different genres – how do you get to balance them together?
I don’t know how that happens. I don’t ever sit down to write a folk song, a country song, or one that is more rock infused. I write what comes to me. My tastes in music are diverse. Ever since I was a boy, I’ve always been as interested in listening to Dan Fogelberg, Neil Young, and Joni Mitchell as I have Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath and even classical composers like Bach and Mozart. It all gets shaken up on my unconscious like a musical cocktail. I’m always intrigued to see what will come out next. I’m not even sure where it comes from.
What aspect of providence and life did you get to explore on this record?
Each of us gets to a point where we realize that life has limitations, a starting point, and an end point. There is a richness in this pondering that is very inspiring. Looking back on life and tracing how and why one got to a certain point is humbling and rewarding. It’s also laced with tinges of sorrow, and I think that’s where I feel comfortable living as an artist. The push and pull of happiness, wonder, sorrow and mystery is an endless source of creativity for me.
Any plans to hit the road?
Yes, although I don’t do lengthy national tours. A week here and a week there is more palatable for me. I’ll be touring in Maine and the Finger Lakes region of New York this summer. We’ll see what autumn brings.
What else is happening next in Gordon Thomas Ward‘s world?
My wife and I are contemplating spending more time on the coast of Maine, so I’m sure that will give birth to some mew material. It’ll be exciting!
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