INTERVIEW: NYC based singer/songwriter David Gelman

Pic by Randy Hines

Can you talk to us more about your latest release “Last Surviving Son”? 

The writing of the songs, and the experience of recording the songs (guided by my producer Tim Hatfield and the talented musicians on the CD), was a transformative experience for me. Since releasing my CD “Undertow” in 2013, I continued to write songs that were based mostly on my life’s experience. When deciding on which we would record for “Last Surviving Son”, I sat down with Tim, and together we choose the songs we felt would work together from both a musical and lyrical standpoint. Tim decided it would be a great idea to record the CD out of the city in upstate New York over a relatively short time frame.  We were looking for something organic and not overly produced. Most of the tracks on the CD are, amazingly, live takes of the songs.

Did any event in particular inspired you to write the title song?

Actually, there were two particular events that inspired me to write the song. The first was when I visited Normandy around six years ago. It was a powerful and moving trip for me. It made me think about my father, who I lost in 1989, who served in the Army during World War II. Even though my father was stationed in New Guinea, it still provoked my memory of him, and for all of those who served and sacrificed for future generations.

The second event occurred during 2014 when my older brother passed away, in fact making me a last surviving son. Given the strong emotions I had while writing the song, I wrote it in the second person. The questions being asked in the song are being asked of me.

How was the filming process and experience behind the video?

The imagery of the video “Last Surviving Son” incorporates the military overtones of the song. The video depicts a young son who loses his father at war, and once he comes of age, being called to serve in the military like his father. The very talented Randy Hines, who also created the cover art and packaging of the CD created the videos.

Why naming the album after this song in particular?

It was the song that had the most profound effect on me. Also, the song challenges one to let go of the past and honor the people who came before. This has been a challenge for me throughout my life, and I am pleased to say that I have arrived at a place where I can mostly find peace with that.

Tell me about working with Tim Hatfield and how did that relationship develop?

That relationship started years before I recorded my first CD. Prior to recording “All Roads Lead Here” in 2011, Tim produced a few CD’s for the rock band that I have played in (and still play in) for the last 25 years. The name of the band is White Collar Crime. When I was thinking about making my first CD, Matt King, the founder of White Collar Crime, suggested that maybe I should use Tim to produce my first CD. Other than recording the White Collar Crime CDs, I didn’t know Tim that well. Once we made the first CD, Tim and I became great friends and also co-wrote some of the songs on my last two CDs.

How much did he get to influence the album? 

Tim grew up in Texarkana Texas. Need I say more? Even though Tim can capture the magic of recording any genre of music, I know he truly loves country music. In recent years, I have become more attracted and influenced by country music. When deciding to record “Last Surviving Son,” Tim and I consciously decided to move in that direction.

Would you call this a departure from your previous musical work?

Yes. Actually, I am to some degree, surprised that my music moved in this new direction. However, as I have learned to express myself through my lyrics, the country/folk genre of music works perfectly for me.

What role does NYC play in your music?

That’s an excellent question. I was born, raised, and continue to live in NYC to this day. While I tend to tap into my spirituality from being in nature, I have to say that the city drives and inspires me. I am lucky to take advantage of the culture and the arts that the city offers. I often find myself inspired by the arts, which then moves me to create my music.

What aspect of the past and present did you get to explore on this record?

The lyrics on the CD express the challenges and appreciation that I have experienced throughout the years. For example, on the song “The Roads We Didn’t Take”, I start the song with the lyric…”If I had to do it all over, would I find my way here again?” This particular lyric makes me explore my life’s past. In “Let It All Go,” I wrote, “If you’re not tied to outcome, that is the way to be found.” This lyric explores the challenges of letting go, which I believe ultimately one must do, to find peace and happiness.

What else is happening next in David Gelman’s world?

At this time, I am still very active being a member of White Collar Crime. I am also writing more material, and hopefully sometime soon I might consider recording and releasing either an EP or another complete CD. My music, much like my life, is a work in process.

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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