Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Lonely Night”?
Of course, I would love to.
Did any event, in particular, inspire you to write this song?
At first, the song had different (funny lyrics). I wrote it in Iraq while deployed. The guys had asked me to write a song about one of the other guys who had a bad attitude. It was so catchy, they were singing it for two months. So I figured I would put some real lyrics to it. For a couple of weeks, I tried a lot of different ideas but none of them worked. One night we went on a mission and unfortunately one of our helicopters crashed. Seven of our brothers died. As you can imagine the rest of our time there was not easy by any means. We were sad and angry. Our loved ones at home were scared. I had a very hard time sleeping after this horrible event. A few weeks went by, I got out of bed in the middle of the night, sat outside my CHU (container housing unit) and starred at the stars while I chain-smoked. I missed my family, I missed my brothers who had passed and their families. I was thinking about all the things we take for granted and all the things I wanted to do with my life. As this was all going on in my head and I saw a shooting star. Within minutes the lyrics came to me. I was having a lonely night. I just wanted to go home and hug the people I loved.
Any plans to release a video for the single?
Yes! We actually shot a video the other day with the great Tom Flynn. He does a lot of work with a lot of bands. We worked together before on the video for “ Tell Me That You Love Me”. The video is a young boy’s journey through time and space (maybe a bad dream), to get back to his mother.
How were the recording and writing process?
I write a lot of songs and most of them happen the same way. They start with a melody and a few words that I put to acoustic guitar. Usually, once I have a concept they write themselves. Other times I decide that I want to write a song about something very specific and write all the lyrics first.
For me, the recording process is my favorite part. I start with what I have, acoustic guitar and the vocals. Then the song takes over. It gets a bass, electric guitar, maybe synth, maybe drum loops, maybe piano, back-up vocals, harmonies, then real drums, sometimes extra percussion. It all depends on what the song requires to fill the emotion.
What was it like to work with Frank Mitaritonna and how did that relationship develop?
Tom Flynn suggested I call Frank when we were shooting our first video together. It was one of the best suggestions I ever received. Frank is a very talented engineer, but he also has a great musical ear. He helps out a lot when it comes to particular sounds. Like which guitar to use, or which effect to use. He is also great with helping me with vocal harmonies and really just getting the best out of my voice.
How much did he get to influence the song?
This song was written and arranged a long time before I went to the studio. I had what I wanted it to sound like in my head since I wrote it. But he did help with guitar sounds and he found me a great studio drummer.
What role does NYC play in your music?
I live out in Eastern Long Island. I used to spend a lot of time in the city playing shows with bands from the past. I think living in NY, in general, makes you different. I travel all over the country for work and I always stand out as a New Yorker. We have an edge to us.
What made you want to tackle such dark themes?
We live in a dark world, and life isn’t easy. I have always been attracted to sadness and misery. I am overall a happy person (most of the time) but I think true art comes from hard times. There will always be party music and love songs on the radio, but there is nothing like a song that makes you feel…..something…..anything.
How did you get to balance the dark aspects with the much uplifting tone?
My favorite bands are the Beatles, Nirvana, Sublime, and many others. But what stands out about those bands is the ability to bring light to sad times through song. My favorite songs are the ones that hide a sad or messed up theme in a happy melody. Just because the content is sad it doesn’t mean the song has to be.
Does the new single mean we can expect a new material – how’s that coming along?
Yes, I am in the studio working on a five-song EP. Every song will be different than the last. I thought this one was a good representation of the content to come. So far two and a half songs are complete. I hope to finish by fall but my job has a tendency of sending me places for long periods of time.
Any tentative release date or title in mind?
Hopefully Fall 2019.
Any plans to hit the road?
I wish. Right now that would be impossible. The band consists of me playing 80% of the instruments in the studio and singing and Jared Julian who plays all the piano. It would not be easy to find a band. I would love to. I can’t wait to. But…..
What else is happening next in Teach Me Human’s world?
My wife just gave birth to our daughter Ruby June on June 12th. So that’s been a huge source of inspiration and a lot of fun. Balancing writing music, recording music, raising a baby working two jobs and being a husband is an adjustment but I am loving being busy, I think it shows in my music.