More and more singles or EPs are being released these days. Releasing a full record is really a labor of love?
Originally I planned on the new album being just an EP but my record company said: “what am I going to do with an EP?”
Jem Records is my label, and they pretty much just release LPs. To release an EP it would have just been digital, and more easily ignored. And albums seem to have more impact and lasting power. Plus this way we get to have pretty bright red vinyl.
When do you think a story is good enough to be told in 3 minutes?
I like to tell a story in one minute. That’s what it usually takes to get through the first verse and chorus. The second verse usually goes more into detail or takes a twist. Most of my songs are initially written with one verse and chorus and if it stands up I’ll come back later to finish it and write a bridge when needed.
This time you chose to use a band name. What has changed?
I’ve always had others play on my records. Donny Brown was the drummer on my last four records and Andy Reed played. bass on the last three. I love those guys, but I was hoping to have more live shows and to have a band that lived closer and was more available to get together and make noise more often. Jeff Hupp (bass) approached me saying he was available to play bass if I was looking. He brought in Ron Vensko (drums) and Kevin Darnall (keyboards) and for a short time, Ryan Allen was one of the Complicated Men as well. Ryan has been involved in all of my past four albums, either performing or co-writing, so he was there for the beginning of the band. He recorded on the first 4 songs we had for the album. We carried on was a 4 piece with the addition of Chris Plum on harmony vocals, keys, percussion for the second batch of songs. The basic tracks for the album were recorded in two separate weekends last winter and spring.
When you sing you sound like a young Bryan Adams. Do you often hear that? Do you think that is a weird compliment?
I have heard the Bryan Adams comparison before, and I take it as a compliment. He’s a great singer, not one of my biggest influences but I’m sure its the gravel in my voice that makes people think of him. Not sure where that comes from, never been a smoker. Tom Petty and Paul Westerberg are more of what inspired me in my late teens, early 20’s. But so many influences. Probably several dozen bands have been my favorite at one time or another. My singing voice doesn’t really sound like my speaking voice, so maybe intentionally I tried for something different and it stuck.
The urge to challenge yourself creatively is unstoppable?
To me, the challenge is to write another album that is on par with what I’ve done before and hopefully better in some ways. I’m not trying to necessarily be different, I just want to record a bunch of songs that don’t steal too much from what I’ve already released. And for this album, with new players, maybe a slight detour for me. As always, I don’t dictate what the other guys play. I let them come up with their own magic. It helps that we’re pretty like-minded. Geoff Michael has produced 5 albums with me now. He’s a big part of what the records sound like, so that part remains the same. But he’s always challenging himself to approach things differently with each record.
And it was fun having the whole band tracking at the same time. I haven’t done that in a long time.
Record release date is May 22.