How did this new album and overall concept for it come about, and what are your ultimate goals with it?
Typically for me an album concept evolves over time through life experience. Being a lyricist, as well as a musician it’s important for me to have a meaningful story to tell. On “Life & the Romantic”, the theme became navigating the realities and responsibilities of life and love while not losing a sense of the beauty in the simplicity of things, an appreciation of the time we’re given, the people around us, of all the blessings we enjoy and especially that one person you’re most intimate with.
How would you describe what inspires you to do what you do?
I’ve been a musician since I was a child; I started with accordion lessons at the age of four. I’ve been writing songs and playing in groups since I was in my teens, so at some point what I do is a natural instinct, second nature, a big part of who I am and what occupies my mind and time. It’s my inner-home. When your mind is bent that way you tend to view the world through the lens of a song, a tempo, a lyric, an arrangement. One time in my life, I became disillusioned with my career and went to a bagel seminar. I immediately realized the people there were completely passionate about bagels! I didn’t care about bagels so there was no way I could compete. I recognized music is my passion and in life that’s what you have to go with.
What elements do you look for in a song that makes it especially satisfying for you to perform?
In a live setting songs have different functions. They always have to connect with the audience on some level, rhythmically, musically or lyrically. When you get all three aspects working it’s a beautiful thing but there’s an art in putting a set together that keeps people engaged in the performance so that they’re receptive to hearing and feeling what the particular song brings at the point it’s performed.
What in your life outside of your music drives you in a creative sense?
I have a very full life that gets divided into separate aspects of diversion? I learned early on that if I focus on the music solely I quickly start running into myself. So the responsibilities of life, being a husband, father, manager, publisher, floor sweeper, dishwasher, meatball maker, taking calls, answering emails, friend, world traveler etc. all take time but I’ve learned to embrace the change of head space and approach writing and recording in shorter spurts. I find it helps keep my perspective fresh, I like to chip away at things so the ongoing stepping away and sneaking back up on it works to my advantage. I see it as a chance for a new spark of creativity every time. Of course, this doesn’t mean I don’t need to set aside blocks of uninterrupted time to work because I have to do that as well.
At what point in your life did you make the decision to become a professional musician and actually record your own albums?
I grew up in a Brooklyn neighborhood that had a lot of musicians, so from my early teens I played in bands and worked my way through high school and college playing clubs in and around New York. I was very comfortable in that group setting and for a good part of my career found success there, first with Alive N’ Kickin and later with Brooklyn Dreams but I’d have to say it was co-writing a hit song for Tommy James and the Shondells while still in college that set me on my “professional” course. In the early eighties right after Brooklyn Dreams broke up I got a deal to record my first solo album, “Fugitive Kind”. Then I started having children, life was changing and I focused on writing songs for other artists, movies etc. Then, 20 years went by, the kids left home and I recorded my second solo record “Rainy Day Soul” in 2005 and that takes us to the current “Life & the Romantic”.
Who would you say has been the single biggest influence in your life in getting you to where you are now in your career?
This may seem to be an odd answer to the question but I’d have to say the Holy Spirit. As far back as I can remember I’ve been blessed with the gift of faith, which has allowed me to recognize and follow that voice which has led me every day of my life. I realize it’s all the “grace of God” which has given me the ability to understand and believe in the gifts I’ve been blessed with and to remain steadfast in following the course regardless of the odds, my feelings or opinion. I learn to trust in that more and more every day.