“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I — I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.” ― Robert Frost
“He who joyfully marches to music rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would surely suffice.” — Albert Einstein
“If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer.” ― Henry David Thoreau
Here’s to those dreamers who hear a different beat — keep dreaming on...
On June 25, on KTUH 90.1 FM in Hawaii, one-time bluesman Solomon King chats with “Somethin’ Else” host Steve Stoddard about a life-changing swim in Hawaii, the wonders of serendipity and expanding his musical vistas for his gorgeous upcoming LP.
The new LP from this former Grammy entrant nominee in contemporary blues, is appropriately called Against the Current. And, King is jazzed about the talented musicians and engineer/sound mixer involved — David Banta whose legendary engineering credits include Bone Thugs N Harmony, Tupac, Michael Jackson, Sting, and “Marky Mark” Wahlberg. King’s also jazzed that when recently asked to describe it in a chance meeting with a big label A&R rep, he simply suggested, “Spectacular!” The A&R man wanted to hear it right away.
A “lucky seven” combination of eclectic love songs and superb musicianship, Against the Current leans on many vibrant influences, including: Roy Orbison’s raw emotional passion (“Come Home Soon”); Pink Floyd’s conceptual soundscapes where every sound has a musical quality (“57 Octaves”); Lou Reed’s bristling tough sound (“Shadowland”); Jim Morrison’s grit and blues (“Pussycat”); churning Stravinsky-like rhythms; and, a Bowie-like breezy, gorgeous title song that has a heroic “Heroes”-like vibe.
It’s synchronous that King is previewing Against the Current on a Hawaii radio station as the title song was inspired by the songwriter’s serendipitous visit to Honolulu:
I was staying at a ‘surfer’s shack’ and swimming in Anahola Bay. A sun-tanned, surfer dude said ‘You were swimming against the current, most people don’t. You should write a song about that. It’ll be a big hit for you.’ At first, I thought it’d be a tough topic, but I let it sit with me after writing some lyrics and music ideas. Later, I realized it’s a theme everybody feels — ‘We were swimming against the current/Swimming in the sea.’ It just turned out that the song feels like one of Bowie’s most inspirational pieces.
King, who previously had a deal with a major label with his Hollywood Underground rock project, then began playing with some of the great blues and R&B musicians and proceeded to carve a career out of the blues, earning that Grammy entrant nomination with Under the Sun. But now he needed to create a different experience, so he felt it was “necessary to depart from the blues, which was limiting my ambitions, and I didn’t want to be defined by being called a blues artist.”
He explains how that swimming against the current incident in the waters off Hawaii played into prepping for this new record:
Let’s face it, life is challenging and most people go with the flow and that’s their life experience — it’s the road more traveled, and people often take the easy route. But there’s a small percent who maybe don’t have the sense to take the easy route, and they’re driven to go against the current trend. I had to break out of my blues mold. I needed to challenge the norm and what’s accepted and create something new for me. I picked up my notes from the swimming incident and that inspired me to include other facets in my music — embracing Rock, R&B, Americana, Classical, Country and Blues. If you do anything that creates change, you’re going against the current.
His new record, which is officially dropping on July 15, will be previewed by radio host Steve Stoddard, who’s a musicophile with an outrageous collection of 16,000 CDs of blues, rock, soul, jazz, country, folk, and more — he’s heard it all, but reached out to King to appear on his show on June 25.
So, how does King feel about his upcoming record:
I’ve lived through the whole rock era. As a kid I was fascinated by Elvis, and was transfixed by the first notes of rock and roll in the mid-50s. I humbly feel that I’ve achieved everything I set out to do from age 12. In another life, I had a record deal with a big label and was going out on big promo blitzes in Hollywood. I was even asked to meet the ‘Devil’ but I took a pass — but that’s another story. Previously, I also worked with other producers, and with all due respect, they were unable to show me a path where I wanted to go. But I didn’t have the knowledge, skill or experience to produce a record myself. Now, having written and produced Swimming Against the Current, I truly feel that I’ve achieved what I set out to do way back, as a child with dreams.
He also quips, “Like Paul McCartney with his ‘Silly Love Songs,’ I’m not afraid to admit that despite the types of music I incorporate, all I really write is love songs.”