By BRUCE DENNILL
“Influence” is a loaded, often misunderstood concept. An artist may sound similar to another but have no knowledge of them, or be a super-fan of someone whose output is completely different to their own. Who or what was the artist, album, song, era or scene that initially mapped out the road to you becoming a musician?
I was introduced to U2 and The Police at a very young age, who I took a huge liking to. Later on in life, in my teens, the Goo Goo Dolls became a huge influence on me as a writer and as somebody who wanted to become a musician.
Has that changed over the years? If so, how and why, and what are you currently exploring?
It’s amazing how things come full circle. It definitely changed in my early twenties, when I went to live in Nashville for a number of years. Then, I was influenced by country music and loved the storytelling that country music has ingrained in the genre. But in recent years, I’ve kind of come back to wanting to incorporate both the rock elements of U2 and The Goo Goo Dolls into the country music that we are creating today.
Name one song you wish you’d written or one you’d like to be known as the definitive interpreter of. What makes that song so important?
A song that I wish I’d written is Parallel Line, an Ed Sheeran song that Keith Urban recorded and put out. I honestly believe that Ed Sheeran is the greatest songwriter in the world right now – not of all time, but definitely in this era. And Keith Urban is one of the artists that I look up to, having the longevity and successes he’s had in his career.
In production and arrangement terms, what are facets of your music and the music you love most by others that you feel are crucially important in terms of creating the mood you’re after or supporting the message of your song?
I am a believer in the drums and bass setting the tone and the groove for the song. I feel that the groove will determine the emotion, while the guitars or pianos are colour and splashes of light and shade that invoke feelings in people, meeting them where they are at. As far as arrangements are concerned, I think the the song has to tell a story and hopefully come to some sort of resolution towards the end.
Which aspects of your music do you prioritise? For you, would you rather have that your lyrics, your melodies, or your vocals or instrumental work are the are the most memorable parts of your songs?
As a songwriter and lyricist first I would definitely say that the story and the lyrics are the priority, but I also think that everything goes hand in hand. Personally, I work hard to make sure that the music goes together with the lyrics to create a full picture, with emotion and feeling in the music as well as the cognitive idea in the lyrical content.
What’s your favourite piece of gear?
A really warm old Neve 1073 Preamp that makes my vocal sound more buttery.
What is the story behind Telling Your Heart – the genesis of the song, the people involved, the muse behind its creation?
I wrote a song about your head telling your heart to be careful. I am an eternal optimist and find myself on the forgiving end of situations, and that’s a good thing! Sometimes its necessary to be cautious. We can all relate to being caught up by people’s seductive charm at some point. This song is an energetic rock track that was produced by all four members of the band and it encompasses the overall sound we have as a band right now.