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Remembering Jesse Winchester with Mac McAnally, Plus Walter Salas-Humara, Joe Rathbone, Mikey Wax & Eddy Faulkner

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THE DELTA RIGGS' "THE RECORD'S FLAWED"

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photo credit: Fiona Garden

This Delta Riggs exclusive video was shot around the streets of London during the band's UK & European tour earlier this year and features original artwork and animation from drummer Simon McConnell.

According to Simon...

"We wanted to keep some elements of the classic Beastie-Boys/'90s rap clip format but also inject a bunch more colour and fun into it."

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A Conversation with Mac McAnally on Jesse Winchester

Mike Ragogna: Mac, let's talk about Jesse Winchester. You produced his album A Reasonable Amount Of Trouble that are his final recordings. How did you get through it? It must have hit you in a much different way than producing any other album in your life.

Mac McAnally: Well, certainly. The whole premise initially was that Jesse had been sick, we did the tribute album during the time that he was sick, and right before we began this final project he was actually given a clean bill of health. The prognosis at that point was good, but he had these songs that were written during the feeling of imminent death. There was sort of a heavy overtone to the songs he had written. He was concerned because he was generally not a heavy, morose guy; he always had a sense of humor about everything. If you know his work, you know there's always some pathos and always some humor and always some real life in any Jesse Winchester song. That's why he's one of my heroes. He can make you laugh and cry in the same song.

MR: Were there any songs on this album that particularly hit you hard?

MM: When we agreed to do the record, I hadn't heard any songs. It's not like I doubt whether Jesse's going to bring any good songs to the table, but I was not aware, musically, of anything other than that we were going to cut some Jesse Winchester songs. We played a little show together, and literally the way that I heard the beginning of this pile of material was sitting there on the stage with him in a regular Nashville guitar pool sense of the word, "Here, play a solo over this little thing called "Just So Much The Lord Can Do,'" and it hit me like a big iron skillet, because I know what he's been through. "Every Day I Get The Blues" is that, "Ghosts" is that. I'm always a fan of his lighthearted stuff, "Never Forget To Boogie," "She Makes It Easy Now," that's sort of classic, right-down-the-middle fastball Jesse Winchester. He was as good at the end of his life as he was at the beginning. He has a quality record across his body of work that you wouldn't bring up a lot of peers in the same category. Everybody's best work is pretty good, but whatever you would deem to be Jesse's least significant work is really good.

MR: Was he simply able to say things in a way that resonated better than other artists?

MM: He was verbally economic. He didn't use a lot of words. He took great care in saying the right ones. I don't know if you saw the liner notes, but his little quote from our songwriting seminar down there will stick with me forever. Somebody asked him what he thought was the secret to songwriting and he just said, "Say what needs saying and then try not to say anything else."

MR: That's a great line.

MM: You can pick any chart on Billboard and if all of the songwriters on that chart paid attention to that one little thing, it would be an infinitely better chart.

MR: [laughs] Nice.

MM: And I'm not throwing down anybody! I'm throwing myself in the same fire. How many of us go past what needs saying to keep talking?

MR: The economy of words is not something everybody has.

MM: It's true. At any rate, I'm elaborating past what you've asked me. He's influenced me in that way. I'm a fan of all of his work, and this particular body of work because how it went down will stick with me just like how one special song would stick with me otherwise. In the beginning we were recording this because it was a happy time and he had the good diagnosis. He was still weak from the chemo and all that, he was saying, "Let's wait a little while until I get stronger, I'll come back and I'll beat some of these vocals that I've sang live on the tracks and I'll feel stronger and I'll sing better." Even though he was weak, he was Jesse Winchester. No one was disappointed with his vocals on the tracks, but he was. He wanted to sing stronger. So we waited around for him to get stronger, he played a few shows, but he just didn't ever get stronger. His back started getting worse. So we went from waiting on him to get stronger to really hurrying to get finished. He came down to Mussel Shoals in January and we started doing backgrounds together. We did a couple of days together and he was just getting weaker and weaker. He drove himself down there. He didn't like to fly.

Two days into singing backgrounds he was like, "Mac, I don't have it. We're going to have to go with the vocals we've got." They were a lot better than he remembered them being anyway, but he said, "You're going to have to finish the backgrounds. You're going to have to finish the project, I'm just giving you the baton. You go." He said, "I feel like it's in good hands." I took that very seriously because I'm only a record producer if somebody asks me to do that. I don't think of myself in those terms. I've worn all the other hats; I've played guitar and produced and written and sang backgrounds and arranged and been the guy that goes and gets the cheeseburgers while better people do all those things. For somebody that I respect that much to say, "Here, I'm giving it to you, do it like I would do it," that's as serious as I've ever taken record production. We worked and hurried to get finished as his health declined and it really became a race for him to get to hear it, which we did. By the time we sent him the final mixed and mastered version he was so weak that he had to keep it for about a week and a half before he could even listen to it. He did a little listening party with his family, he set up speakers--he wanted to do all that by himself so he waited until he was strong enough--and he sent me a letter, an email letter that I will keep all my life, that's as nice of a thing that anybody's ever said to me about any work that I ever did.

MR: What did he say?

MM: He said, "I don't talk in these terms, but we killed this thing. I wouldn't change a single note. You're a blessing to help get this done." He said it was the most he'd ever enjoyed the recording process. Traditionally recording has not been an enjoyable thing for Jesse. He was a performer more than a studio guy, but anyway all those things mean the world to me because I did take very seriously being the stand-in Jesse at the end of the run. It's not like I'm singing lead vocals, I didn't write any songs, but I was trying to take care of them as if they were my own. It was obvious at that point that they were the final thing he was going to say to the world.

MR: That's a lot of weight on everybody's shoulders. I guess the mission is what got you through it, right?

MM: That was it. I wanted his approval, and if I didn't have it I wanted to know what I needed to do to have it. All these final decisions were me, so I wanted him to be able to hear it and I wanted there to be enough time to make whatever changes he thought there would need to be. He's a very particular guy so I was actually assuming that there was going to be stuff. "Move this mix, I don't like this guitar you played," whatever. I was ready for all of that. But it was a race, because he was going down fast. To get that at the end is a high-five unlike other high-fives that I've ever gotten in my life. I've been a very blessed guy. The amount of rejection that most guys my age have run into in show business--that's been a particular blessing for me because I'm such a bashful kid, if anybody had told me to go home really anywhere along the way I would have. Almost everybody here has heard, "Hey son, you're not good enough to do this; you should go home and do something else." I would've done it. I wasn't very ambitious myself; I always wanted to make music but I never considered myself somebody who was going to make a living at it. It was just something I loved to do, and it still is. I've been very blessed that way, and for Jesse to give me zero demerits on it is pretty great. I looked at it honestly like a junior high school kid, trying to impress his teachers and his girlfriend and his parents all at the same time.

MR: [laughs] I imagine you and Jesse got along well musically because neither of you are nailed to a specific genre as singer-songwriters. And you produce, write songs, play guitar on sessions...

MM: If somebody hires me as a guitar player, I do my best, but I'm working for the singer who hired me. When you're a producer you are responsible to a record label and you're responsible to the artist whose name is going to be on the front of the record, and I care about both of those things because I've been both of those things. Honestly as a producer I feel like I'm working for the music. That's who I'm responsible to. In the case of Jesse, I loved him and I revered him but it still doesn't change the job. If I look at "Just So Much The Lord Can Do," even though that is kind of a right cross to the nose, I'm working for that song and I want it to be as big of a right cross to the nose as it can possibly be. It's Jessie's real life and he's a brilliant writer and that's a brilliant song. I take that responsibility to that song pretty seriously, as he did obviously, and as you say, I'm a writer too, so I value the song and I appreciate who it was that wrote it and how they did it.

MR: That's beautiful. What was your first reaction when you listened to this album as a finished project?

MM: One of the decisions that he left on me was to sequence it. He a lot of doo-wop stuff when he was a kid, and those songs meant a lot to him. He wrote a lot of songs like that. He wanted to lighten the heavy tone of songs that he'd written during his treatment, so we sang a couple of these doo-wop songs. Honestly, if you go top to bottom in this album and you look at the pile of songs, you could've sequenced it a lot of different ways and made it more serious or more light, but that was the trickiest thing about it, and I had no help doing it. That was the main thing that I was worried the most about; whether it would have a flow to it. We had been so down in between the hi hat cymbals and the strings of the guitar making sure everything was as good as we could make it that in the final analysis, listening to the album all the way across it's a little bit of a celebration of a great American artist, and I hear that. Honestly I don't take any credit for that, but I'm glad to have been around as it happened. I do hear that in that sequence. It doesn't play to me like a morose guy who was sick. I'm close to him, so I can have a little different perspective than a first listener like yourself has been, but that's the main thing that I've been proud of. It plays like it's got some joy and some sadness and some compassion for both of those things along the way.

MR: Beautiful. What else are you working on?

MM: Well, I'm always ongoing with [Jimmy] Buffett because we're old buds. It's been a long time coming out, but this brand new Lee Ann Womack album is brilliant. I got to play and sing on that. I've got a pile of Mac songs that I've been ready to record for three years now but my normal method is to do my stuff after I've done everybody else's and the last three years I've just been so busy I've never gotten finished with everybody. I'm sitting on a pile of songs that need out--I don't mean releasing, I mean they need out of me. Free up some storage memory. They're not demoed and they're not recorded so I have to carry them around like a backpack every day. I'm ready to download these guys, that's the next thing for me. But honestly, Michael, I look forward to every day. I get to play with great musicians, I'm a session guy sometimes here in town with new kids and with George Strait and Kenny Chesney, some days I'm a singer and some days I'm a writer. I've never been bored once and I'm the luckiest guy that I now.

MR: Lee Ann Womack, huh?

MM: I'm just a musician and a singer on it, but I love it so much that I've got to tout it. She was at the end of her deal with Universal and they were sort of giving her the A&R, "You should match this, you should match this," and she said, "No, it's my last album, and if I'm going down I'm going to go down singing good songs and giving it everything I've got," and that's kind of what we did. It's a fine piece of work.

MR: What advice do you have for those new artists?

MM: Don't be so concerned with fitting in with what's happening right now. That's a legitimate concern, but don't overly concern yourself with it. Good work is good work, and time ticks every day. I have people who come up and say, "I spent all this work trying to sound like this that was out last year and now I've got it out and this thing's not there anymore." You should base what you're doing on something that's going to be around longer than a weekly calendar. The charts are different every week and good work is always good work. Do good work and the urgency of things will take care of itself.

MR: Beautiful. Some of your songs have stayed with me for years, like "It's My Job" that Buffett covered and your own hit "Minimum Love." But man, "Like Your Mother"? What a great song. I don't know how much better it gets than that.

MM: Wow. We were just talking about that song this week. I haven't played it in a while, but that one is a best of mine. It's almost a verbatim conversation I had. I'm glad A) to have had the conversation and B) to have been fool enough to cram it into a song that you remember all of these years.

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MR: [laughs] I love that album, Nothing But The Truth. Knowing I was going to talk to you today, I played it again this morning.

MM: Thank you, Mike.

MR: I wish Geffen had focused a bit more on you, you know?

MM: In David's defense, when I met him, he said, "I've got nothing but high respect for you, I think you're a true artist in the old sense of the word and I would like to be a patron of the arts in the old sense of the word and just fund what you do. I won't tell you what to do, I won't tell you how to do it, I just want to be connected to it. You go do what you do and we'll figure it out. He said, "I think you may be above people's heads, but I just want to be associated with it." That's really one of the most wonderful things anybody's ever said to me so I can't throw down in any way on David Geffen. He's been a great supporter over the years in a couple of different ways. I actually took that as a license to go forth and do my best. I'm not unhappy with what I did before that but I did it with a little more confidence after he said that to me.

MR: I have great respect for him, he's introduced the world to many great artists.

MM: Absolutely.

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A Conversation with Walter Salas-Humara

Mike Ragogna: Walter, you have a new solo album, Curve and Shake. How could you possibly have left your band The Silos out of the mix?

Walter Salas-Humara: I wanted to make a more intimate album. I started with Latin percussion and guitar and built it up from there. I recorded my nephew Charlie Salas-Humara and his buddy Marius Libman playing what I would call "free music" on synths and effected guitars and stirred that in. I had been writing songs with a wonderful young band from Ontario, California called GrooveSession, so I had GrooveSesion do a couple tracks and invited their guitar player Sarven Manguiat to play quite a bit of guitar on the album. I had also been writing and recording with Jerry Joseph and the Jackmormons. We both ended up using songs from that session on our respective new albums. I've been working with a very talented keyboard player here in Flagstaff, Ryan Williams. He's all over the album. And finally fellow Silo Jason Victor came in and layered guitar and he and Sarven play an exceptionally fine interweaving guitar solo on "What We Can Bring."

MR: What are the main differences when approaching a Walter Salas-Humara album compared to creating a Silos album?

WSH: The Silos albums, especially the early ones, are classic band albums. My solo albums tend to be more personal, a little more eccentric, and the case of Curve and Shake very intimate yet also very inclusive. It draws you in like a warm bath.

MR: If you had to define what you do, what that be?

WSH: Firstly, I am a songwriter. That's the root of the work. That's what defines the work. On top of that I have a unique singing voice that is very recognizable. It's not exactly pretty and it's not exactly dirty, but it's very real, and my delivery is very real. The songs range from stories to simply images and poetry, but the overall effect is one of honesty and
integrity.

MR: What are some of your personal highlights of the album? Got any behind the scenes stories?

WSH: The recording of this album has been one the more rewarding experiences in my career. It has felt like a family affair - from tracking with the GrooveSession in a barn in Joshua Tree and enjoying family dinners prepared by their parents, to tracking in Portland with the Jackmormons and my nephew Charlie, hanging out in bars and going to shows after a days work in the studio. My nephew is an awesome cocktail maker, from the exotic to the classic--if you are visiting Portland you must go to the Bunk Bar while he is working. The writing of the songs was a joy also. I am very fortunate to have the opportunity to work with mature writers like Jonathan Lethem and Jerry Joseph as well as young talents like Sarven Manguiat, Aaron English, and Amy Daggett.

MR: The Silos are considered a seminal alternative band. Does living up to that rep end up being a bit daunting when you're creating your solo projects?

WSH: It's all simply part of my life, this is just the next chapter. I am truly humbled and thankful that I've been able to pursue a career and make a living at something that I enjoy so much. I don't have any anxiety or thoughts of failure or disappointment, I am honestly exuberant at my great fortune.

MR: What bands or artists do you listen to for enjoyment?

WSH: I have a lot of friends who are at the top of their game. Tom Freund is making great music. He's a great songwriter--very intuitive and smart, both lyrically and musically. His albums are always great. Jerry Joseph is making the best music of his long career--very passionate and exciting. A friend of mine who is not well know but equally exceptional is Pete Galub. His album Candy Tears is phenomenal. I listen to it on repeat.

MR: Curve and Shake is your third solo album. Why haven't you recorded more solo projects?

WSH: I was on a long journey building up the band and trying to keep it going and keep everyone working and involved, so I put all my time and effort into that project. The passing of our beloved bassist Drew Glackin in 2008 was the end of that era for me. The current version of The Silos came together for all the tribute shows we did for Drew's family and friends and we made the album "Florizona" together. Once that album was completed and released, I felt like I had been released from a great responsibility. Thankfully, all the members of the band are involved in lots of other projects and bands, many of which are far more successful than The Silos, so I am free now to do more solo albums and tours.

MR: Tell me about your career as a visual artist and why you paint dogs?

WSH: I graduated University with a Fine Arts degree and went to NYC to pursue a career as a visual artist when I was 22. I made large expressionist paintings. This was the 80s--painting was at its height and the New York art scene was incredibly exciting. Warhol was still alive and active, Jean-Michel Basquiat was come coming into his own, Julian Schnabel was a bona fide rock star, and Keith Haring's chalk drawings were all over the subway system. I was painting, try to get noticed, and found work driving an art delivery truck - picking up from artist's studios, galleries, museums and auction houses in New York and delivering to galleries, museums and collectors in the Eastern States. I later worked at Leo Castelli Gallery installing work by all my heroes--Rauschenburg, Stella, Johns, Warhol, Ruscha, Oldenburg, Lichtenstein, etc, etc. I was never able to get arrested as a painter, but I learned so much and have so many great memories. I got involved in music as part of the original Indy Scene, making and releasing albums on our own and playing the new network of alternative clubs, and spent the next 20 years making only music. I started painting again as a way of gift giving. I have a large family, lots of birthdays and holidays, and wanted to give them something personal. It's difficult to give art, not everyone has the same taste, so I chose dogs as a subject because everyone everywhere loves dogs. I began making very primitive paintings of dogs on wood, people started seeing them and asking for them, and then of course people began asking me to make portraits of their dogs. It's been a great ride and a wonderful counterpoint to my work as a songwriter.

MR: What advice do you have for new artists?

WSH: Try not to take yourself to seriously. Enjoy it. Share your talents freely, collaborate with other artists across the entire spectrum of the arts, not just within the scope of your particular strength. Be a good listener, there is always something to learn.

MR: Is there any advice given to you that helped and was there any you wish you had taken?

WSH: My parents were very supportive. I was encouraged to trust my instincts. They were forced to leave their country, Cuba, and all their possessions at the height of their lives and careers and rebuilt their lives in middle age. I learned confidence and humility and most of all perseverance from them. In my 30s I had several good friends advise me not to party so hard. Advice I ignored and had all the usual problems associated with too much partying. Of course I had some unforgettable adventures as well.

MR: What's next?

WSH: I'm going to perform as much as possible. I've been taking a break--doing a lot of skiing, hiking, biking, and generally enjoying the great outdoors for the last couple years--so I'm anxious and very excited to get out there and perform the new material as well as the old favorites. I've got shows booked in both the US and Europe all the way through February 2015.

MR: If the readers want to find out more about your music and art, what websites should they visit?

WSH: https://www.waltersalashumara.com, https://www.waltersdogs.com, and https://www.thesilos.net

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A Conversation with The Mercy Alliance's Joe Rathbone

Mike Ragogna: Joe, The Mercy Alliance has a new album, Some Kind Of Beautiful, but first let's get caught up. What has the band been up to since the last release, Waking Up The Sun?

Joe Rathbone: I reconstitued the band with a new bass player Mike Durham and returned to playing with drummer David Lopez and we met producer Thomas Johansen.

MR: How did you approach Some Kind Of Beautiful differently than Waking Up The Sun?

JR: The sound centered around drummer, ex-Counting Crow Steve Bowman and bassist Brad Jones from Nashville and a great producer with pages of accolades. Thomas put much more care into creating great rhythmic grooves with Steve and UI handled all the singing and guitar playing.

MR: Can you take us on a tour of the songs, such as how they were created and the topics they cover?

JR: Songs range from "Washington" which is about the haves and the have nots in a city like DC. Lots of young people trying to figure out their lives alongside the older regime who have lived their whole lives here. "All for the Love of You" about a long "adventurous" night where I slept "on the hospital grounds...in the town, where I was born" all true. "Angel of Mercy" kinda like a John Lennon meets Paul Westerberg tune with some shoegaze thrown in. "I Can't do It" is a tune that has a lot to do with my young daughter. She can do just about anything she sets her mind to but likes to pretend she can't. "Driftin In" is kind of influenced by Joe Henry and his very dark dreamlike lyricism. "This is How they Know" is about people who appear to have reached a contented place in their lives and how they know it. "Save Me" about the confusion of our culture "no place left where I can be myself" and a plea to "save me." "Libertine" how I feel about naysayers who to me are "creeps" who sicken us all. "Movin in Time" my attempt at a euro dreamlike vibe where you are in trance mode and floating in time.

MR: What is the personal alliance of The Mercy Alliance like these days?

JR: The alliance centers around DC drummer David Lopez and Thomas Johansen on keys with a new bassist as I mentioned. On the record we used my contacts from Nashville Steve and Brad. We often play as a trio locally and all is well on the personal side, I must say Dave and Mike are simply two of the best players and kindest souls you'd ever want to meet, both more personable than myself!

MR: Do you tend to work out the musical arrangements live or in the studio?

JR: For this record Thomas and I really started with very "rough" roughs. If I could get a verse and chorus recorded Thomas would chop it up different ways so we could hear how the puzzle pieces fit together, from there we would set a good tempo and start the recording of the "real" sounds we wanted.

MR: What is the best experience the band has ever had together, personal or musically?

JR: We have had some great recent shows locally in DC playing the new material and sounding great as a simple trio or quartet. There are many tracks on the record as we intended and it's always daunting figuring out how to deliver your song paired down live but this has been my favorite experience going through this process for these songs. I think it says something about the batch of tunes we chose that they are feeling so fun to play.

MR: What advice do you have for new artists?

JR: My best advice is to make great records no matter what it takes, no matter how rough the business is being to you, no one can take that product away and you owe it to yourself to make excellent music and not settle. Nothing can happen for you ever if you don't make great records

MR: What was the best advice given to you and did you follow it?

JR: I had a teacher years ago who told me, "Joe, sometimes you just have to know when to shake it loose and move on to new territory." I would say that I have started finally after many years to follow his advice.

MR: Beyond the album and the tour behind it, what's in the near future for the band?

JR: We are in the process of "thinking about" a next record. I hope we get a chance based on how this one is received, to start this process which I love. I am hopeful so far...

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A Conversation with Mikey Wax

Mike Ragogna: Mikey, what's the story here? No really, what's your history, you know, what got you into music, training, support, previous incarnations...?

Mikey Wax: I was in fifth grade, and there was a show and tell. I didn't have anything cool to show off, but I really wanted to impress the girls and all the kids at school. The only thing I knew how to do well was play piano, thanks to my dad who was also a player. After getting up and performing "Wild Thing," which is a simple three-chord song, I saw the impressed look on everyone's face and I was instantly hooked. I started taking lessons every week and writing my own songs.

MR: How would you describe growing up in Oyster Bay, Long Island?

MW: I enjoyed my childhood, even though it was a pretty suburban town. School was very clicky, and while I had a lot of friends, I never knew exactly where I fit in. I think that's part of the reason I enjoyed playing the piano and writing music from a young age. It was always there, and I could express all my thoughts without being judged. My house was also surrounded by tall trees and a lot of grass, so it was an inspiring place to write music.

MR: Dude, your song "In Case I Go Again" sounds EXACTLY like a piece NBC played during 2012's Summer Olympics and was on the ABC show Pretty Little Liars. Come to think of it, the same thing happened with your song "Counting On You" with the FOX show So You Think You Can Dance and the trailer for the movie Playing For Keeps. Mikey, it's pretty clear that someone out there is ripping you off, man! So I know this good lawyer...

MW: Hah! Is your lawyer Saul Goodman from Breaking Bad? Yeah, those features were pretty incredible, it's always such a thrill hearing my music played on a TV show or movie. I hadn't been given the heads up about the Olympics placement, and when it aired, I received more texts and phone calls in five minutes than I have in possibly my entire life. I remember my mom was watching at home, and when the song came on, she thought for sure it was my dad in the other room playing my CD, not that it was actually coming through her TV. The So You Think You Can Dance placement was very cool cause they aired it weekly as their elimination montage song. I don't think the dancers being kicked off the show liked hearing it though.

MR: Who were your creative inspirations growing up?

MW: Okay, here's one I've never given, but it's true. My dad. He is an amazing piano player and composer, but never released anything professionally. My entire childhood, I remember his music filling up the house. It was a touch jazzy, but very cinematic and melodic. I think that definitely rubbed off on me. Along with The Beatles and Billy!

MR: Nice. So when you were singing in the mirror with a hairbrush or Mr. Microphone when you were nine or ten, who were you pretending to be?

MW: As a kid, I was too scared to sing! Keep in mind, I was the middle child of three brothers. I couldn't let anyone hear me singing in the bathroom. I didn't really start feeling comfortable in my own skin 'til high school, and at that time I wanted to be Dave Matthews or John Mayer. I really didn't expand my musical horizon until college when I got into bands like Wilco, Radiohead, Phish, and even more classic rock like Zeppelin, Yes, Neil Young and James Taylor.

MR: What kind of printable hell did you raise while attending Nashville's Vanderbilt University?

MW: Being from NY, making my way to the South for college was definitely not common. I think I was the first or second person from my high school to go there. I definitely did a few fun things that I shouldn't share publicly, but I had a great time being out of my element and meeting a lot of new people - especially the beautiful southern women. Nashville turned out to be an incredibly inspiring place too, I wrote hundreds of songs in college.

MR: Mikey, rumor has it that at a Young Hollywood party, you spilled a drink on and had an altercation with Superbowl MVP Aaron Rodgers. How quickly did the broken bones heal and how big was the hospital bill, you know, for Aaron?

MW: Hah, and I got out of it with no broken fingers! Aaron is the man, it's so awesome to have someone I look up to be a fan of my music as well. A buddy of his had randomly sent him some songs of mine a few years ago, and he's been a big supporter since. His favorite song on my new album happens to be my favorite one to sing live, "Bottle Of Jack."

MR: Your single "You Lift Me Up" was featured on iTunes and titled "Ahead of the Curve." Just how ahead of the curve is this recording and how big a change will it bring to music as we know it?

MW: It just passed three million streams on Spotify which is pretty surreal! My label and I truly believe it's a big song for me. It has an anthemic quality to it, so we're picturing 20,000 people in a stadium belting it out! It's a special song, written as a thank you to all my fans, friends and family who have stood by me the past few years as I've gotten my feet off the ground with my music. The music business has a ton of ups and down, and having their constant support really keeps me going. Only time will tell how "ahead of the curve" it is, but the song holds a lot of meaning to me and I'll sing it for 20 people or 20,000.

MR: Do you think the third time will be the charm with this self-titled album that's coming through Toucan Cove/Universal?

MW: I certainly hope so. I know I gave my all to this record and think the songs are my best work to date.

MR: Since it's self-titled, does that mean THIS album is truly you, unlike 2009's Change Again and 2011's Constant Motion?

MW: I think all my albums were truly me at that point in time when they were written and recorded and released. The label and I decided a self-titled release made sense since were hopefully introducing myself and my music to a larger audience than I've ever reached before. The album also has a new and updated version of a song from the first album I ever recorded, called "Last Great Song", which I think brings the whole thing full circle.

MR: Care to take us on a little tour of this alleged self-titled album?

MW: The album is perfectly designed to make your brain think, make your heart feel, make you dance slow and fast, and perhaps make you want to do something with someone else while naked in a dimly lit room. The album has a few different flavors on it, from electric pop/rock in "You Lift Me Up" to pop/funk in "Bottle Of Jack" to country-ish in "Baby Don't You Let Me Down". However, I think it all blends together nice and keeps the album musically interesting.

MR: What's one secret you would never want to be revealed?

MW: I ___ when I ____, but for some reason, it looks _____.

MR: What is your advice for new artists?

MW: An older, wiser musician once gave me this comparison, and as much as I hated hearing it, it's still true for me and pretty much every musician trying to reach new levels. If you wanna go on a diet you have to eat well and exercise. If you want to be a songwriter/musician, you have to practice hard and keep writing. It all comes down to how much effort you want to put into it.

MR: From your perspective, why is Graham Colton's Pacific Coast Eyes one of the great pop albums of our time?

MW: Hah, because Graham is a great talented dude and when you're touring with him, he's really good at sweet talking receptionists at hotel lobbies into giving us the nicest room in the hotel. Graham actually started an awesome company for artists looking to do house concerts. I teamed up with him for it and played a bunch of private house shows for my fans. I will be doing more of those over the upcoming months, so if you want to host a "Mikey Wax House Show," head to https://fanswell.fm/tour/44/mikeywax.

2014-09-03-WontGiveUpCover.jpg

A Conversation with Eddy Faulkner

Mike Ragogna: Eddy, you seem to have just started. What's all this about how "I Won't Give Up"?

Eddy Faulkner: Mike, yeah, so I started four years ago in 2010. Since then, I've played numerous shows around the northern Virginia/DC area at places such as Jammin' Java [Vienna, VA], The Ramshead [Annapolis, MD], IOTA Club & Cafe [Arlington, VA], and many other places. I've recorded at a number of different studios with different producers such as Cue Recording Studios [Falls Church, VA] and Studio V Recording [Herndon, VA]. I got a record deal in 2013 and I graduated from college earlier this year. As you can see, it's been a crazy roller coaster ride the past few years, especially this past year since the record deal. Anyway, also earlier this year, my record label released a song I wrote called "I Won't Give Up." This song has been doing big things on radio and has been topping the national radio airplay charts on several different charts. Thanks to its success on radio it has opened doors now to video. My record label Star One Records is partnered with Viacom. Thanks to that partnership all of the artists including myself are now on Viacom.TV and MTV.com. I have over now 2,000+ views on my Viacom page after only 5-6 days of it being up. It is such a blessing being in the position I am in right now. Looking towards the future, I'll be doing a music video for this song and when it is released it'll be streamed on Viacom.TV, MTV.com, VEVO, and many other places. It'll be placed into consideration for airplay on MTV, MTV2, MTVU, and many other live TV major networks as well. Now, I just can't wait to see what happens next.

MR: Were you surprised by the response to your recording and how many people it touched?

EF: When I wrote "I Won't Give Up" during the Summer of '13, I knew at that moment that it could potentially touch a lot of people around the world. With all of the songs I write they derive from personal experiences, life, and just love in general. In some songs, I write there are certain messages I'm trying to convey, some have multiple meanings, and some are just very direct and simple. In the case of "I Won't Give Up," it was about a girl I liked a lot at the time and I just really wanted her to notice me. I'm a bit more shy and soft spoken so it's a bit harder for me to convey how I'm feeling towards someone face to face. But through a song I can say anything I want, and in this case how I really feel inside. That's the amazing thing about a song though. It can tell a story, or many different stories in just a few minutes, and in return can relate to so many people around the world. Anyways, so after I wrote the song I looked back at the lyrics and said to myself, "Wow, this song can relate on so many different levels, and has the potential to relate to so many people around the world." I chose this song to be my first single for 2014 and I was very surprised at the response that everyone gave to it from around the world. People said it changed their lives, inspired them, and even saved their lives in some cases. It shocks me how I even have the power to do that with a song I wrote in around ten minutes about a girl I liked. But I'm glad in the end that I can change peoples lives (in a good way), inspire them, and save lives. It's amazing. The power of music is really amazing.

MR: What's your musical history?

EF: I started in music at a very young age. I was introduced to the trumpet in fourth grade by my Aunt. She played it in her marching/concert bands when she was younger in school. My parents wanted me to get involved in music so I was like okay, might as well. I played trumpet for a number of years in various marching/concert bands. Many years later though, in 2008, I played a video game called "Rock Band." This game really introduced me to a whole new realm of music I never experienced before. This led to me convincing my parents to buy me a drum set, which then eventually led to me writing songs a couple months later which completely came out of the blue. This then also eventually led to me picking up the guitar, piano, bass guitar, and singing after. I'm entirely self-taught.

MR: Who most influenced your style and approach?

EF: My style and approach were greatly influenced by John Mayer and Enrique Iglesias. I know you may be asking yourself in the case of Enrique, wait what? Eddy's not Latino! Yes, but it's just the way John and Enrique sing, the way John plays his guitar, the stage presence of Enrique, and how most if not all of the songs that they write can relate to so many people around the world. That's what inspired me. Besides those artist though, I listen to literally everything. My friends always are surprised when I turn on some Metallica and listen to their songs, and then right after that, I turn on Boys Like Girls. Then after that I turn on some Taylor Swift. It's quite funny seeing their reactions. But my policy is, as a songwriter, musician, and singer. Always be open and willing to try new things, listen to as much music as you can, and constantly evolve. You have to do this if you want to be successful, and stay relevant. Just look at all of the great artists who have done that and still play to this day such as Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones, and etc. I want to be like them one day. I never want to stop doing music, ever.

MR: You already have amassed not only a sizable following but also chart recognition. How do you get the new single even more recognition and a bigger audience?

EF: My next step is to get my music video out for "I Won't Give Up" in early September which is the plan. I'll be filming the video starting on August 23rd with a local media company called OZ Productions. Video is a great way of promotion especially with my label's partnership with Viacom. We can get it streamed right after its released on VEVO, Viacom.TV, MTV.com, and many other places. It's going to be a very exciting time next month once my label releases it. It'll be placed into consideration for live TV as well on MTV, MTV2, MTVU, and many other live TV major networks as well like I said before. So I hope we can get it on TV that'd be great.

MR: Other than your pal Mikey Wax, who do you consider some of your other contemporaries?

EF: I consider my other contemporaries to be John Mayer, Enrique Iglesias, and Taylor Swift. There are so many others that I consider contemporaries, but those are the main three that come to mind. They all three have unique amazing voices, incredible songwriting skills, and are all fantastic musicians.

MR: What advice do you have for new artists?

EF: My main advice is ask yourself first, if you really love what you do. Then I would ask, what's your goal with your passion, what do you want to do with it, why do you do it, and where do you see yourself in a few years? Very basic questions, but often ones that I've seen many artists overlook. Since they are either to focused on becoming famous, or whatever it may be. That's not what it's all about though. It's about loving what you do, because that's where success is born and comes from. The love for what you do. It is in your soul, your heart, and your emotions. You just have to reach in there, believe it, and follow it. Speaking of "believing in it," you should always believe in yourself, and surround yourself with people who will always be there no matter what happens as well. That's something that is even more often overlooked in my opinion. I know a number of artists personally who don't believe fully in themselves for whatever reason, or surround themselves with people who really lead them down a path or multiple paths that don't benefit them. You have to remember though that in the end people are always going to put you down, say a lot of things that will hurt you, but just simply believing in yourself, and surrounding yourself with great people can keep you on a good track in life. It can even change others in return for the better.

MR: What else are you currently working on and what's the plan for the future? How do you see yourself five years from now?

EF: In a couple weeks, I'll be working on my music video and in the meantime, I'm doing shows around the northern Virginia/DC area. Five years from now, I see myself doing the same things I'm doing now. I don't really care if I become the next big thing, it'd be nice. But I want to do music the rest of my life no matter what happens. Music is an amazing thing.

MR: Finally, what's your favorite animal?

EF: Mike, I love this last question. What's my favorite animal? Well, I'll have to say my favorite animal are dogs. They are cuddly, cute, and cool. I mean what is there not to like. Plus, I'm not allergic to them. Dogs rule dude. Man's best friend. Woof.