Hi Rob, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?
Good to be with you, I’ve been good. Maybe you’re familiar with the old sayings ‘beware of interesting times” and it’s opposite “may you live in interesting times”, and either phrase on it’s own feels hollow and incomplete, but together I can feel the wisdom. Despite the fact that much of this has been dislocating, I’ve also been able to thrive in ways. I’ve utilized the down time and the isolation to write, compose, learn new skills – I wrote my next album during the quarantine, and although it doesn’t feel like the right time to record it, it’s written and ready to go as soon as the right circumstances arise. Right now though, I’m focused on getting this one right here into the ears of people, I’m really proud of it and excited to share it with others
Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Little Black Book”?
I’ve always had an attraction to the cad, the rake, the ladies man, the player, whatever you want to call it, and I’ve played that role at various times in my life. And it’s a very attractive archetype to both men and women, but the downside is that it is harder to earn the full trust of your romantic partners, who may feel like you’re incapable of giving up your old ways. And maybe even you doubt that you can give up all of your old ways. But here you have someone standing in front of you who you believe is of greater value and meaning – and let’s not forget fun – than all of the adventuring and novelty in the world, and I’m choosing her, even though I’m also scared of the possibility that she might leave me one day.
Did any event, in particular, inspire you to write this song?
Not one event in particular, although I guess you can say the event has recurred throughout my life. It’s more an ongoing theme based on the life I’ve led, and continue to lead, and based on the profession I’ve chosen. I’ve gotten much better at communicating over the years and doing and saying all of the little things that earn and build trust, and as my situation changes I’ll definitely have to recalibrate and make adjustments. I am, however, determined to put at ease the mind of any future lover/romantic partner as to my behavior when I’m on tour or in any other situation. A little jealousy here and there isn’t a bad thing though.
Any plans to release any sort of video for the track?
Yes absolutely! And this music video is going to be over the top fun and sexy, much like many chapters of my life. I want to make sure everyone is safe though, so it may have to wait until Covid has left the building.
How was the recording and writing process?
Well the writing came from what I was going through at the time, facing parental disapproval from her side and getting in a lot of trouble for acting out intimate scenes with a model/actress in one of my music videos, even though the nature of it was communicated beforehand and there was no kissing or anything like that involved. We also had plenty of discussions of what our life together would be like if my audience grew and I began touring more extensively, and those conversations didn’t always go well either. The song, as I had written and composed it, came across to the guys in the band as a ballad, but I said no, I want to play against type. Make it jump. And make it uplifting. I brought up Elvis’ “Now or Never” for an example, for reference. How those guys took what could have been a weeper and turned it into something you can dance to. I also felt like the song called out for a bouncy piano part that moved and travelled along throughout the spaces of the song, like in “Rock the Casbah” by the Clash. The guys in this band are aces, and comfortable in so many styles, their versatility is astounding, which is a great fit for me because I write in a lot of different styles.
What role does NYC play in your music?
Well one of the things that makes NYC stand out amongst the major music cities is it’s musical diversity and variety. While musical diversity and variety exist everywhere, it is especially pronounced here. Whereas Nashville predominantly specializes in country music, and Austin in roots music, LA in pop and rock, and New Orleans in Jazz, NYC has got a great balance and mixture of it all, it suits my artistic temperament in many ways, and you can definitely expect that diversity and eclecticism from me on this and all of my future albums. I’m hard to peg down, and I’m going to get harder to peg down. It makes it a little bit more difficult to gain traction at first because I don’t have a built in sub-culture or genre, but I always appreciated musicians and artists who took chances and followed their own intuition and attraction wherever it leads. NYC is also one of the style capitals of the world and I embrace that. I’m into the style icons, and fashion is something I appreciate and put effort into. There is a tremendous amount of aesthetic inspiration here and the downtown NYC rock clubs really fire my imagination as much as any venue in the world. There’s something sexier about them than even Madison Square Garden, although playing MSG is certainly near the top of my bucket list.
How do you go on balancing your classic roots with your much modern sensibilities?
It’s easy for me. Some people might assume because of the music I make that I don’t like pop music, or R&B, or any of the music that’s popular right now, but that’s not true. I mean, a lot of it is absolute crap, and it’s popularity points to a real crisis in the American psyche, but some of it I really like. One of the reasons people think this is because for so long rock/rock ‘n’ roll pitted itself against these forms, philosophically and creatively. That’s not me, and I can see the things they are doing that rock/rock “n’ roll should be doing, sensual danceability and glamour are the first 2 that come to mind. So just because I have a preference for making music the way I do and presenting music in the way I do, doesn’t mean I don’t really love a lot of that music too. But, I love American roots music, rock ‘n’ roll, blues, country, folk, rockabilly, funk, soul, gospel, etc… and that will always be a big part of what I do and what I listen to. However, I’m not afraid of synth sounds or modern production techniques, or bump and grind at the club or dancehall kind of music. Along with that though, I am also interested in highlighting and showcasing musical virtuosity and craftsmanship in addition to songwriting and storytelling, and I am interested in mining the more noble emotions and the more vulnerable emotions. And I am into pulling the music out of thin air, myself, with what my own heart, mind, and sense of rhythm creates.
Does the new single mean we can expect a new material – how’s that coming along?
“Little Black Book” was recorded as part of an album, ‘Life on the Edges’ which will be released sometime in the fall. I’m still a big believer in the concept of the album, if for no other reason then it is a tremendous money and time saver. Recording songs one at a time is a colossal waste of money and people’s time, I mean that is if you’re using real musicians and real instruments in a real studio, if you’re just singing or rapping over recycled or manufactured beats it’s much less of an issue. But, I do like the modern way of giving way more attention to each single. So i’m going to release 6 or 7 stand alone singles before releasing the 12 song album. I will then focus on promoting the remaining 5 or 6 singles, along with the album as a whole for the people, like myself, who still care about such things.
Any tentative release date or title in mind?
The next single after “Little Black Book” is “You fill Me Up” and it actually came out today, July 29th, as I’m writing this. I do my best to release a single a month. The full album will be out sometime in the fall although no exact date has been set yet.
What else is happening next in Gideon’s Army’s world?
Well right now I’m focused on promoting “Little Black Book” and “You Fill Me Up”, I’m also looking for the right music video directors to collaborate with on music videos for these singles and, optimally, all of the upcoming singles on this album. I’m also paying attention to the facts of this virus. As soon as it’s completely safe, I’m going to plan a tour. Regionally at first, in the north east, and then we’ll head out across the country, and then internationally. And of course we’re always open to invitations from festivals.