Arthur Alexander He never had the mainstream success of many other soul artists of his time but Arthur Alexander belongs on the list as one of the great R&B singers. A sultry and warm voice with a slight country twang, he has a slew of excellently crafted pop songs with timeless production to keep them sounding fresh today. The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and other famous acts covered his songs, yet Arthur is still relatively unknown in the world of music. I feel like his sound has influenced my singing style and recent songwriting in subtle ways and will continue to do so. I discovered Arthur by taking a chance on a great collection of Southern Soul music called Night Train To Nashville: Music City Rhythm & Blues. It features many incredible artists of the 50's/60's. But all in all this song stood out more than any other. The first time I heard it I sat in awe and wondered how I had never come across it before. The world should know this song.
Arthur Alexander - "Soldier of Love"
Stanley Kubrick Kubrick was at times stubborn and ruthless in his methods for creating brilliant films. He often used small crews and worked diligently to push his craft to greatness. Like many great film makers he took financial risks because he believed in his art. I admire his drive and find it incredibly inspirational in my career and role as music director and co-leader of this band. Kubrick also told a variety of stories and paced his films differently based on the subject matter and essence of the tale (the way we think about instrumentation and production for each individual song of ours). His work shows great eclecticism and diversity something we aspire to with this project. Stylistically and visually, Clockwork Orange is also very influential on my clothing and look within the band. His films unravel with layers of identity and continue to stand the test of time.
A Clockwork Orange trailer -
Monty Python Not long ago I bought a box set of Monty Python's Flying Circus. I grew up in England as a boy so they were a staple to my youth. The oddball, at times subversive and outrageous humor of this motley bunch of English comedians is unprecedented. They took chances, they pushed the envelope and used innovation to bring something exciting to audiences, all of which we aim to do with our music and performances. They introduced the world to the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band. Not to mention the whimsical and stunning animation of Terry Gilliam. You just don't see this kind of television or film-making today. Monty Python creates a world full of silliness and bizarre circumstance which still manage to criticize the system and make a social/political statement. Nothing can steer social evolution quite like the whit of good comedy.
Scene from Meaning of Life
With the technology apple has developed I can now record demos on my phone, create drum beats with an app, I can send song idea files to my sister in other cities, and record a professional sounding album on my laptop. It has changed the landscape for bands. It has allowed casual engineers to become full fledged producers. And bands to shape their careers more easily. Music can be shared and supplied with ease and less environmental impact. Independent artists have more power and opportunity than ever. The brilliance of Apple has been a propulsive part of this.
I read the biographies and autobiography of these four historical figures while recording the album and touring. They have certainly influenced by life and creative vision these past 15 or so months...
Benjamin Franklin The most badass of the founding fathers (and the name of my electro side project). Franklin was a leading author, printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, musician, inventor, satirist, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat. He was a lone ranger and contradictory and pretty hilarious. I question his sentiments regarding women, but who's perfect? Franklin was a musician himself playing the violin, harp & guitar. He also invented the glass harmonica! Something I would love to incorporate into our music and bring on tour so Aaron can play it in the van while I drive.
Who isn't inspired by the OG of modern physics? Einstein, like Franklin, was also a prankster and rebel. Being an artist you contemplate the separation and individuality of all things. We create independently but long to share our creations with the world. Einstein's search for the Unified Field Theory is reflective, to me, of that ongoing dynamic. Einstein loved to play the violin, he's quoted saying, “If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music. ... I get most joy in life out of music.” Again, questionable morals regarding women, but who's perfect?
Jobs is the greatest entrepreneur of all time. I consider him to be a warrior of intellectual freedom and a liberator of artists. He gave power back to the individual. Many people, after reading the biography found him to be an asshole, but I found him to be a most inspiring man. I never really considered myself much of a musician but more of a writer and visionary. I totally relate to Lee Scratch Perry's method of madness and intuition. Jobs created a tool that makes people like me able to recreate the music in my head and share it with the world. It also shows you that force is necessary for action...though too much of it sends you into an early grave.
Yogananda is a disciple of Kriya yoga. He is a spiritual descendant of Babaji. His autobiography demystifies what it means to be spiritual. The flaws he exposes become a beautiful part of what makes nature somehow perfect. I never consider my voice, both technically and theoretically, to be perfect. I've come to love that aspect of my creativity, my infinite imperfectness.