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On the Road with Radin: Singer/Songwriter Talks Music, Movies, and Blooming Late

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For over five years, Joshua Radin tried to get one of his screenplays produced in Hollywood. As a way to tone down the frustration, he taught himself guitar, and played through the aggravation. The hobby proved therapeutic for Radin, and surprisingly it turned into a career in 2004. That year, Radin's first ever composition "Winter" caught the ear of Zach Braff, who in turn, put in on his series "Scrubs."

Since then, Radin doesn't need any help being in films. As a matter of fact, whether it's the big or small screen, Radin's songs are regularly featured on their soundtracks. According to Wikipedia, Radin's clocked in at over 75 placements, including tunes on "Grey's Anatomy," "One Tree Hill," and even "The Bachelor." The latter show he even appeared in person. We'll get to that later.

I caught up with the singer/songwriter and former struggling screenwriter by phone as his tour bus -- as he stated -- was parked along the side of the road near Albuquerque. "We pulled over so we'd get decent reception," he said moments before the phone disconnected. (He called back.)

Radin's in the midst of a short headlining tour these days after filling some opening slots for Irish popsters The Script. I spoke with him about both tours, his recently released album The Rock and the Tide, and striking lightning in the bottle with his music.

You've had so many songs on so many shows, but I have to ask right off the bat - Do your friends ever give you crap about appearing on The Bachelor?

[Laughs] No, no one really ever has. Most of the people who watch that show are women. It's not like any of my guy friends have seen that show so no one knew.

Until now... Getting down to business -- you just finished up doing some gigs with The Script. What was that like opening up for that band as opposed to headlining?

I was really surprised. The label was like 'you should do this' - that it'd be a new fanbase, and I'd do new cities. I was actually surprised. Their fans were super sweet, and bought records. They really loved it.

I'm guessing a typical Joshua Radin concert audience is chicks with their boyfriends, right?

Women are definitely prevalent, but it depends on the region. In America, I'd say 70 percent are women, and 30 percent are guys. Out of that 30 percent, I'd say half are on a date or with their wife. Interesting in the UK, it's more guys than girls. But, more people come to see me in the UK.

Your new album has an interesting title -- Rock and the Tide -- how'd you get to that name?

One of the songs is titled that, and I really liked that song. It's my favorite on the record. I thought it was kind of cool, because for me, I'm referring to being patient and watching the tides wash over the rocks. When I thought of the title, I thought, well, half of the record is rock, and half is slow, so it's cool.

This album is a bit more upbeat and rocking. Was that a conscious decision?
Oh yeah. I realized -- especially playing [various] festivals, that I can't play songs like "Winter" and "Closer" to big audiences like that. They'd get swallowed up. So I bought an electric guitar. You know I didn't grow up playing music or anything. The first music I put out was the first music I began to play. At 30, most songwriters or performers had already made up their mind on how they wanted to be perceived as artists. I'm 36, but I'm like a 19-year-old kid still finding different sounds.

You're story is pretty nuts -- having released your first song ever and have it pop up on an episode of "Scrubs" just three weeks later...

It was a huge break. I didn't think I'd be a musician. I didn't record a demo and put it [on the Internet] like this was the start of my music career. It was a slow, slow build - not an overnight breakthrough but a slow burn. It started with emails on MySpace, and it just went crazy.
You were writing screenplays, even teaching -- were you content with your life career before the song changed your life?

Yeah. I was writing screenplays for six years. It was so frustrating, and I was just so broke. I had optioned a couple screenplays and they got shelved. They each took a year to write, and there was so much set up. I still enjoyed it, but it was frustrating. I just started playing guitar to blow off steam. It just quickly became something like you'd do it naturally to chill yourself out, and it becomes your career. I didn't try to make it a career.

Is it cool hearing your songs in film and television considering you worked so hard to try to get scripts sold?

Oh yeah. It's interesting when directors call you up and you know they'd never call you for a script.

Any shows out there you'd like for you songs to appear in?

If I get on "Eastbound & Down" then I will consider myself a success. They use great music. It's my favorite show on TV.

I'm not sure I can see Kenny Powers chilling out to "Star Mile."

[Laughs] You never know -- maybe it's a sensitive side to Kenny Powers.