April 2010 Script
Interviews with Christopher Dallman, Mike Rickard, Brett Every, Dylan Rice, Richard Cortez and Jeff Heiskell
Christopher Dallman - Anthem (2009)
Christopher Dallman: "Anthem" is a song that I wrote really shortly after Prop 8 passed in Los Angeles, in California rather I live in Los Angeles with my partner, my husband, and I've never really been an activist per se, I've always been really open in my music career about my sexuality, but I've never really taken on a political issue or anything. I think I was rather lazy in the weeks leading up to the election and really just assumed that it wouldn't pass. I believe in, I want to say, the goodness of people, I just really believed that it wouldn't pass and was really stunned when it did, and was moved to action. So I wrote that's the best thing that I can do to contribute to the movement.
That was Christopher Dallman, talking about his song from last year called "Anthem," and this is JD Doyle welcoming you to Queer Music Heritage. I'm pleased to bring you this month six interviews with young artists talking about their new music. In the first part you'll hear from Christopher Dallman and Mike Rickard, and in Part 2 from Brett Every and Dylan Rice. And Part 3 brings us Richard Cortez and Jeff Heiskell. Each of these artists is of the type that you love their first release and eagerly await their next, and in the case of Christopher Dallman that took about five years. His debut CD from 2004 was called "Race the Light" and it became one of my favorites of that year. So I've been chomping at the bit for new material, and he delivered. In addition to the CD single "Anthem," he took the unusual step of releasing two EPs at the same time, one called "Never Was," and the other called "Sad Britney," which is something you would probably not expect, covers of Britney Spears songs. So I had to hear about the release of the two EPs.
How did you happen to release two EPs at the same time?
CD: Well, I went into the studio intending really just to record my EP of original songs, "Never Was," and then what happened was, there was a scheduling snafu where the studio kind of bumped us around a bunch, and they felt bad so they gave us a free day at the very, very beginning of the project. And I hadn't been in the studio in five years, you know, so the thought was why don't we take a day and kind of play around a bit and have fun before we dive into this intense project. And we were just really psyched by the results of this "Sad Britney" EP of Britney Spears covers so we finished it, and the coolest part about it was that it set a really playful tone that I think carried over into "Never Was" and I think really elevated it.
How did you get the idea to do the Britney Spears EP?
CD: I got the idea to do "Sad Britney" because I've always done "Gimme More," every since that song came out and I stumbled upon that cover, and I've played that live many, many times. So when we had this free day we just did that song, and then we were just kind of like, what else do we have, and we just ended up with these four awesome songs.
Christopher Dallman - Gimme More (2009)
What song from "Sad Britney" has been getting the most attention?
CD: The song that has been getting the most attention has been "Toxic," which is exactly what I expected.
I love the gay spin "Toxic" gets.
CD: I know. It's cool. That's the first one that we finished and when we came up with the harmonies for that I was like, I love this. I had no idea how awesome it could have been.
Christopher Dallman - Toxic (2009)
Well, I have an advantage or disadvantage in that I don't follow the music of Britney Spears, so these are kind of new songs to me. I mean, I only know her song "Womanizer" because the guy in the video is so hot. I guess you didn't consider doing that song?
CD: No. Well, you know, it's funny. When I did my recording of "Gimme More" in the bridge we just have this triangle solo but when I'm just playing solo acoustic live I don't have that, so what I usually do is just transition into just one chorus of "Womanizer," and then back into "Gimme More." So I did consider it, but no, only as a joke, because the challenge was to be quality if you happen to not be in on the joke and I think that we succeeded in that department.
Tell me about your take on "Baby One More Time"
CD: "Baby One More Time" is interesting. For me that one is mostly just comedy, I mean, because the only real ironic spin on that that I could hear is abuse, which is not particularly amusing and which isn't anything I wanted to put out. So that song was actually my least favorite, when we just had the guitar and vocal. I was intending to not include it on the release, but then what we did is we had George Stanford, who is the fellow who produced "Anthem" and my upcoming EP, he is a really incredible horn player. He, I believe, is actually playing trombone on the Jonas Brothers TV show theme song, but he came in and just laid down those horn parts and it just was so lovely that that's really inspired me to love and release it.
Christopher Dallman - Baby One More Time (2009)
Any word from the Britney people about your recording?
CD: Nothing official. I've heard a couple of rumors, and who knows, I mean, I don't know if she would ever hear it or if she's exposed enough to the outside world to ever hear it, but I would be really curious of her take, that's for sure. And you know I would hope that she would take it in the proper spirit. I mean, some people have taken it as me making fun of Britney Spears and it's really not that at all. It's some sort of, you know, some sort of twisted homage, with a lot of love and respect.
I know many people sometimes get impatient with an artist, if they are waiting for that next release and it seems to take too long. Maybe you could comment on the process for an indie artist and how difficult it is.
CD: Well, you know, there's a number of factors, one of them is just purely financial. I was really blessed to have a lot of money to make my first record, and I did not have that same experience when I went into the studio to record these new EPs, so it's a whole different ballpark when you've got to raise money. As far as songwriting goes everybody works at a different, everybody has their own creative clock. You know I tend to make my way organically through my life, whatever aspect of my life it is. If it's my personal life or my music career or you know, it really took me this long to have the body of songs and to really organically find the people to work with, that I felt would really do my follow-up justice.
I interviewed you when your first album came out and you told me you considered your CD as a journey. What are your thoughts on that regarding your music five years later?
CD: You know, I still feel the same way, and I think that is part of why I didn't do a full album as my follow-up, because I had so many songs that I could have made an album, but the truth was that I didn't feel that they hung together in a way that really communicated some sort of common thread or anything like that. I think that by doing the EPs I managed to the arcs are smaller, but I think no less powerful. So I still feel that way. When you put in either of those EPs, "Sad Britney" or "Never Was," I think that there's a journey that you take, even if it's a shorter one.
At that time I asked you of what song on your "Race the Light" album you were most proud, and you told me ("Over My Head") and I wonder what you would say today.
CD: Oh, goodness, well, I think that I would still say I think that I would say "Over My Head." I'm not sure what I answered five years ago, but "Over My Head" is, to me, at least in terms of songwriting, the closest I've gotten to great.
Christopher Dallman - Over My Head (2004)
Where did the title of the EP, "Never Was," come from?
CD: The title of the EP "Never Was" came from the song "Has Been," which is the last song on the EP and it initially I was going to call the CD "The Has Been Who Never Was," which is the whole line of the chorus of that song, but I was kind of thinking of it sort of like a fable, like a short, short story, which is what I intended from the EP format. But then, you know, that sounded a little bit too heavy handed for me and a little bit too dark, and so, I really liked "Never Was," because there's a bit of a twinkle to it, and there's something a little bit hopeful, and it also sounds a little bit like a fairy tale.
Tell me more about the song "Has Been."
CD: "Has Been" is a song that I wrote actually in my head while I was driving back from a gig in San Diego one night a few years back. It was a really, really rough show. I got there and the booker had changed my time to accommodate a friend of his, and so the people who had come out to see me in San Diego, a town that I don't live in, either had to wait or didn't get to see me at all, and then the show was frustrating, and I was just feeling lost on my path and I'm driving back late at night from this gig and just feeling like giving up before you ever even got what you were going for.
Christopher Dallman - Has Been (2009)
What's the overall message to "Never Was"?
CD: "Never Was" is really a journey about your dreams. It's about becoming so overwhelmed by your dreams that you have to wander away in order to find your way back to them. I'm really psyched, I mean, I love these two EPs, and I love the one that I'm about to finish, that I'm going to put out in the Spring, and then we'll see what's up after that
It changes thinking from our point of view too, like many albums are only online now, they're only on iTunes, and I'm not sure what I think about that.
CD: Yeah, "Sad Britney" is only on iTunes, but that was that's a financial choice, because paying for the licensing of the songs licensing them digitally I pay as I go. If I manufacture it I have to pay the royalties for the amount that I manufacture, not the amount that I sell. So it's about having more money upfront. But it's very important for me to have physical copies of "Never Was" to sell at shows, I mean, digital online sales are probably more, and even with "Race the Light," I've sold way more digitally than I have physically.
That goes back to the short attention span. If someone's watching you live and they're ready to buy the album, are they going to remember to go home and download it, maybe not.
CD: Yes, oh yes, nine out of ten times they're not, definitely. I think that CDs and digital music will co-exist on some level, because there's always going to be people who want, who cherish just the memento.
Well, I'm a collector. I want to hold it in my hand. It's more real to me if I can hold it in my hand.
CD: Sure, and as an artist, it's less real to me not having the physical CD. You know, I want to look at it. But again, I think that they'll co-exist. I don't think that the CD is in real danger.
On Audiofile I don't think that we've done yet an album that's only been available digitally, but I can see it happening.
CD: Sure, I think a lot of them will, just because you're also just saving so much money. I mean, manufacturing is so expensive, and it only costs like $30 to slap it up on every single digital distribution place available. I uploaded "Never Was" through a site called Reverb nation. That's $35 a year, but they don't take any cut of your royalties. If you upload it through CDbaby you pay a one-time $35 fee but they take 9 percent of your earnings. So it's really a tossup of what works best for you.
Which have you found to be the most lucrative of the digital sites?
CD: Oh, iTunes, far and away.
A while back Christopher sent me a demo he had recorded, which I really liked, and although he's not yet found the project he wanted to use it with, he gave me permission to include it on this show, kind of like an exclusive, and I thank him for that. It's a natural for me. It's called "Music on the Radio."
Christopher Dallman - Music on the Radio (2006)
Closing this segment on Christopher Dallman is one more song from his EP "Never Was," called "Coming Around," and you can find out more about his music at www.chrisdallman.com.
Christopher Dallman - Coming Around (2009)
And this is a good time to invite you to check out my website. If you visit it while you're listening you can see the playlist and follow along, while looking at photos of the artists and recordings. I've always considered our music history as a visual as well as an audio experience. Again, that's at www.queermusicheritage.com, Also, for more very queer programming, please listen to After Hours with Jimmy Carper, every Friday night/Saturday morning from 1 to 4 am, on KPFT, it's Queer Radio, with attitude.
My next artist's first CD also came out in 2004. He's from the Atlanta area and his name is Mike Rickard, and that CD was called "Stirred Not Shaken." He's got a new one now, called "Sweat," which I think is terrific, and I asked him for a quick summary of it.
Mike Rickard: When I was writing the songs for "Sweat," there were some themes that came out, all about just living my life to the fullest, getting the most out of every moment, to keep my relationship with my partner fresh and exciting, and just to balance that with all the pressures that come from work and everything else. And it takes a lot of effort and sweat to balance those things and do them successfully, and I think that those are themes that everybody can relate to.
I love the album overall, not only musically, but that the lyrics have so much meat to them.
MR: Well, thank you, I would say that I tend to be one who's a bit analytical and always questioning and searching and trying to grow, and I think that probably just comes out in the lyrics. But I did want to balance where I felt that the last CD some of the content might have been a little darker, a little more introspective, I wanted this to still be be more in the moment but still really have something to say. So, thank you.
I do want to get back to the first album, "Stirred Not Shaken," and ask about the song "Natural."
MR: Okay, "Natural" when we were writing and recording this CD I was at a point that we were getting near the end of the recording process and I was trying to decide, did I want to come out as a gay artist, or did I just want to, you know, come out as a musician, just put a CD out as a musician. Ultimately I felt that if I did not include, outwardly acknowledge that I'm a gay man, that the CD would really be more just a collection of songs as opposed to something that really reflected my life. When I wrote the lyrics I tested it out on several of my friends, and I let them read it, and then at the end when it says "it's only natural that I would fall in love with a guy like you," the eyebrows would go up and I got the exact reaction that I wanted, that people were just picturing a normal loving relationship, and then at the end there's a little bit of a hook. And I also thought that it was a fun way to be a little bit subversive in saying that's it's natural that I would fall in love with a guy, where there's all these people that say that it's unnatural and all that stupid stuff but I didn't want it to be a confrontational song. I just wanted it to be a song where anybody could picture their own relationship, and then at the end throw in the guy-on-guy element to it.
Mike Rickard - Natural (2004)
Mike Rickard's 2004 album "Stirred Not Shaken," that was "Natural."
MR: I would say that was much more of an introspective record, and it was really reflecting on everything leading up to that point, of which I had a whole lot to kind of cull through, which basically kind of basically came into self-acceptance, learning to love myself, growing up in church and going to bible college and then realizing I was a gay man, I had a number of things to figure out I think that is where a lot of the introspection came from on that record.
And what is the overall message of the album "Sweat"?
MR: You know, "Sweat" is about I would say more about living in the moment. The songs and stories talk a lot about being in a particular situation at that moment and what you feel about it, and just living life to the fullest. There's a definition of "sweat" that I really like, that says "to labor or exert oneself so as to cause perspiration." And I think you can just either go through the motions in life and it kind of runs you, or you can run your life and accomplish some of the things you want to and have fun while doing it, and that's some of the thought process behind the CD.
Didn't you have a quote somewhere, "life is not a noun, it's a verb"?
MR: Exactly, that's from a song called "Anything of Nothing," and I spent a part of my life being afraid to try things, and at one point I was thinking: am I afraid of failing or am I afraid of succeeding? And I think the expression "nothing ventured nothing gained" is pretty true. You can't wait for anything to happen. You're going to have to make it happen yourself. So the quote from "Anything of Nothing" is basically exactly that, taking charge and doing it, because the end result anything of nothing is nothing.
Mike Richard - Anything of Nothing (2009)
What is your writing process?
MR: When I write songs I usually start with lyrics first, and a lot of times I can be inspired by something that I read, or just see a quote or maybe something will come to my head and I keep kind of a journal of all of those thoughts and ideas and sometimes those will just stew in my brain and I kind of know when it's time to sit down and try to flesh everything out, and I usually just kind of brain dump on anything related to a particular topic and by doing that that really kind of helps tell me what kind of story I want to convey, and at that point I'll sit down and write the verses and the choruses and the bridge and that kind of thing. And sometimes the music somewhat simultaneously, sometimes it can come quite a while after. But I usually always start with the lyrics.
Well, I love that you write about things that other people don't, like the fact that a relationship takes work.
MR: Well, I would say where that kind of comes from is just I'm writing about things in my own life and what I'm experiencing, and my partner and I have been together for a good while and, you know, I think every relationship goes through the honeymoon phase, the more settling in phase, and then once you get past that you're really at the point where you try to not take each other for granted, that you keep the relationship fresh and new, and if you don't do that, it just can become a bit boring, and so I think that's where I'm at in my life and just doing the small simple things that keep things interesting.
You know I'm going to ask about "Stupid Stuff Like That."
MR: That is I've always said that looking at my relationship with my partner is, that we had a lot of the big things in common, and a lot of times when you get together with somebody it's because of the things that you have in common. Those are what probably brings you together but that's not necessarily what keeps you together. I've always said that a relationship is built on the small things, the little simple things that you do, the thoughtful things that you do. So that has always stuck in my head, and the idea of stupid stuff like that came from a story that I read, and I just decided to write about all the little things that you can do to be fun and surprising and keep things fresh, and I thought it was a fun song, and probably one of the happiest songs that I've ever written, so I was really, really pleased with it. But that's the whole thing behind it, is just the stupid stuff like that, there's nothing better, and that's what really keeps a relationship fresh.
Mike Rickard - Stupid Stuff Like That (2009)
Tell me about "When the Hot Cools Down."
MR: Ah, now that came from a story that I was reading, and I can't even remember what story it was, but the quote the person said was, well, you know, I'm still going to be here when the hot cools down. And I thought that was such a cool expression and statement, and really as we go through relationships, and you kind of get past the get-to-know-you phase and get into the normal everyday life, that hot really does start cooling down a little bit, but a relationship just isn't about infatuation or these feelings of love. It is actually about commitment, so that's what I chose to write about, is that when the hot starts cooling down you take the things you need to do to heat them up again.
Mike Rickard - When the Hot Cools Down (2009)
Tell me about the song "Just Like New"
MR: Well, we live in a house that was built in the 20's. it's a bungalow and it's a really awesome house, but when we bought that house and started doing work there's always so many surprises that come in an old house. For example when we the downstairs bathroom, we thought we were just going to do a little bit of minor work to give it a little bit of an update, and ended up having to strip the walls down to the studs and just completely redo so many things. It seems like every project we've done in that house we think is going to take a certain amount of time, and cost a certain amount of money, always takes more time and more money, more effort than we initially thought. And I remember thinking about that house as a metaphor for relationships or opening your life to someone, that there's always surprises, there's always work, or a little more work, a little more effort, and I just thought that it was a kind of a fun way to kind of spoof, you know, talk about my relationship with my partner saying, I'd like you better if I ever get you just like new, and I said that about the house, all the time. I think I'd really like this house if it was new. But of course people aren't new, so I just thought it was a fun way to use the house as an analogy for a relationship.
Mike Rickard - Just Like New (2009)
That was called "Just Like New," from Mike Rickard's new CD "Sweat."
This is JD Doyle and again I want to thank Christopher Dallman and Mike Rickard for the interviews and you for joining me on Queer Music Heritage. Mike's website is at www.MikeRickard.com, and Rickard is spelled r-i-c-k-a-r-d. And don't forget to check out Part 2 of this show for interviews with an Australian artist named Brett Every, and Dylan Rice, from Chicago. And, I just can't stop myself, there's also Part 3, with interviews with singer/songwriter Richard Cortez, and Jeff Heiskell, who'll talk about his own music and of when he was front man of the popular 90s band The Judybats. You can find all that at my site, at www.queermusicheritage.com. The closing song by Mike Rickard is called "Sweat" and I asked him why he made it the title track.
MR: Because I think overall I think the theme of the entire CD is really about living life in the moment, just for me to get the absolute most out of my existence, and you can't do it by sitting on your duff, you have to make those kind of things happen, and it takes effort, so that's why I called it "Sweat," plus I thought "Sweat" was kind of a fun song to highlight cause it will definitely get you moving.
Mike Rickard - Sweat (2009)
This is JD Doyle and welcome to Queer Music Heritage, and Part 2 of this month's show brings you interviews with Chicago artist Dylan Rice, and this Australian artist, Brett Every.
Brett Every - Sailor (2008)
That was a bit of the song "Sailor," from the 2008 album by Brett Every, called "Camping Out," and there is a bit of a camp element to this artist's music. His bluesy lounge-singer style might remind you of Tom Waits, but this time from a gay perspective. I quite liked the first album, and when he released another last year, called "Fairy Godmother's Gone to Vegas," well, I just had to contact him for an interview, and I started by asking for a quick overview of the new album.
Every: This second album really tries to approach relationships and
gay relationships and friendships from an angle that's often not told,
or from a unique or different viewpoint. The situations or stories that
unfold hopefully are new or refreshing to hear about and keep the listener
thinking and guessing and wondering what might happen next.
Your style is very interesting, could you talk a little about that.
BE: In terms of writing style I guess I've been influenced by many people, and mostly in ways that I don't think are very obvious. I mean, I think I learned to play guitar by just listening to the Indigo Girls, and I learned my way around a piano from listening to Tori Amos, but I don't think we sound anything alike. You couldn't spot that one. Great singer/songwriters have influenced me and mostly female artists: Ani Difranco, Maria McKee, Joni Mitchell, Stevie Nicks, kd lang, Patty Griffin, Emmylou Harris and I know I sound nothing like any of them, but their influence is in there somewhere it's in the blood, I think and so I guess I start out with them but with my throat it ends up sounding more like Tom Waits or Leonard Cohen, and I've really grown to love their writing, too, so it's a mix. I used to write these labored, intense, earnest real singer-songwriter kind of songs but I've loosened it up a bit lately, and I'm having a bit more fun with the lyrics, with the stories and with the music itself. There's more of a swing to my stuff now and I describe it a bit like Norah Jones drinking with Tom Waits in some smoky bar somewhere with Dusty Springfield on the jukebox, or something like that.
Before we get to the songs on the new album, there is one from the last one that I just can't not ask about. It's called "Devereaux."
BE: It's a little duet with a lovely Sydney vocalist, Justin J Bear, who can just sing anything. He reaches notes that I'll never get near, and he came in on this song and just worked. It's a slightly quirky duet, cause it's not a love duet. It's just, these two guys are neighbors, probably have never met. They're just both at home, wasting time in their own ways. One's listening to Tom Waits. One's listening to Bette Midler. One's watching reruns of "The Golden Girls," which may in part be autobiographical. And I always knew watching that show growing up that Blanche Devereaux was just fabulous, so I wanted to write a theme song for her, and sometimes when we play it live we end it by breaking into "The Golden Girls" theme song, "Thank You For Being a Friend," and inevitably it turns out to be a sing along, because there is just no one who doesn't know that song.
Brett Every - Devereaux (2008)
Brett Every's new album, as I said earlier, is called "Fairy Godmother's Gone to Vegas." And the song that contains that lyric is called "Prince Charming."
BE: "Prince Charming" is a funny one. I had some people almost killing me over this one. We had this song ready all along, but for some reason I just didn't include it on the first album, "Camping Out." So once I brought that CD out to friends who knew the song they really went to town on why the hell wasn't "Prince Charming" on the album. So this time around, for the second CD, we were sure to include it, and when you've been playing a song live for a while, you get extra worried when going into the studio because you want to make sure that you capture the energy that you've had when you've been playing it live. So we knew it inside out, as a song, but had to make sure that we captured it right, once we were in there.
Brett Every - Prince Charming (2009)
That was "Prince Charming." I really like the gay pride element of the song "Mr. Smith"
BE: I was really excited when the song "Mr. Smith" came round. The fun part of being a songwriter is that you never really know what songs are going to magically appear next. So when I wrote this one I was really happy. It just seemed to work straight away. It's one of those songs that's simple and straight-forward but there's also a complexity to it, especially in its story. It's great when a lyric is both really specific it's a small, specific story but at the same time it's bigger and more general and more universal. And with this one our young man, who is being found out, or caught with is boyfriend, by his boyfriend's father, Mr. Smith. And it reads like a letter, him apologizing to Mr. Smith, you know, for slamming the door, for raising his voice, and for all these things, but the crux of the song is that he says "Mr. Smith, I'm not going to apologize for the fact that we're in love" and I like that our man is very specific about what he's sorry for and what he's not sorry for.
Brett Every - Mr. Smith (2009)
Almost all of the songs on these two albums are Brett Every originals, with only two covers on each CD, and he picks those songs carefully.
BE: This album has nine songs that I wrote and two songs that I didn't write, and one of those is a cover of one of the handful of songs that Bette Midler has actually had a hand in writing. It's an old Bette Midler song called "Come Back Jimmy Dean," and it's from her "No Frills" album from the early 80's. And I first heard it on YouTube. There's a wonderful clip of Miss Midler performing it back then on Carson and straightaway I just knew it was a classic song. There's a real old time feeling to it and her performance is brilliant. And I really wanted to record a male version of the song. I mean, I know she's recorded a few Tom Waits songs back in the 70's, and I guess I just wanted to record one of her own songs, in a Tom Waits kind of way. It's perfect for that kind of feeling. And I sent a version of what I wanted to the wonderful Lance Horne, who I'd met when he was out in Australia last year. He was playing for Justin Bond, at the Sydney Opera House. And yes, he's wonderful, an amazing piano player and a great singer/songwriter and arranger as well, so I was just so thrilled when I heard what he was bringing to the song. He plays piano on it and sings wonderful backing vocals. And it was just a great experience. And it would be brilliant if some day Bette Midler ever ends up hearing this actual recording. I really hope that she would like it. And in terms of songwriting it must makes me it's such a great song it makes me wonder what other songs she might have for us up her sleeve.
Brett Every - Come Back Jimmy Dean (2009)
Very nice, "Come Back Jimmy Dean." I've got one more song to ask him about. It's called "The Fire That Was Never Lit."
BE: I'm so glad you asked about this song. It's one of the songs from the CD that I'm most proud of. It came out exactly how I'd hoped it would and that's a great feeling. Basically it's a song about unrequited love, about that kind of crucial, horrible moment when you realize that the feelings that you've got for someone are not mutual. In the song I'm realizing that the guy doesn't feel the same way that I do, and I get that, and I'm kind of resigning myself to it, but at the same time I'm kind of asking him to just let me linger a bit longer in the dream that maybe it could work, even though it can't work, just don't let me wake up from that dream yet. And all of that sounds very sad, but it's a bit lighter than that. It's more bittersweet, especially the line that I say that out there there's a lucky girl who's going to be lucky enough to have you, cause I know it's not going to be me who gets you, and I know unrequited love has been written about before. It's nothing new. But for a guy it's usually because the girl is in love with another guy but the twist here is that the object of my affection is a guy and that the reason it's unrequited is that he's not going to fall for a guy. He's straight. So yeah, it's a new angle on an old concept in love songs, I guess, and what I was most happy about with how this turned out is that I think we got the atmosphere that we were going for. There's a real kind of mystery or intrigue to the sound of the song and the instruments and the way it's played. And it really matches the lyrics and the story and that's a great feeling when that happens, when it matches.
Brett Every - The Fire That Was Never Lit (2009)
Again I've been featuring the music of Brett Every, and you can learn more about him at www.BrettEvery.com.
Dylan Rice - Just Like You (2004)
My favorite song from the first album is "Just Like You." Could you talk about it?
Dylan Rice: Sure, "Just Like You" is about the dangers of having a conversation about religion when you're having drinks at a bar. I look back on the lyrics and I think in some ways the speaker is a little bit too righteous, almost saying, "well, kiss off if you don't like the fact that I'm not a Christian." It is a very defensive voice, and when I wrote the song, which was probably about eight years ago, I think in some ways I needed to defend myself. I guess if you look at the song as a moment in time, a slice of time of an artist's career, it's fair to say this song was brash and punky and rebellious, and I had to get that out of my system.
The second artist I want to cover in Part 2 of the show is Dylan Rice. He's a Chicago artist who got a lot of attention with his debut album in 2004, which made The Advocate's "Top 10 Indie CD's" list. It was called "Wandering Eyes," and to use the description from his website, it's a playful homage to the world of scorned lovers. You just heard him talk about one of my favorites from that album called "Just Like You." But we're going to talk mostly about his brand new album, and I had to ask him about its interesting title, "Electric Grids & Concrete Towers."
DR: The title for me evokes a sense of being dwarfed by the largeness of my surroundings, and in some sense a feeling of loneliness but also a sense of awe of these giant structures that basically create sort of a weird natural world, when you live in the city, as I do.
How would you describe your music?
DR: Ah, my music is a cross between nostalgic Brit-pop from the 80's and folk Americana, so it's sort of like if the Cowboy Junkies had a love child with Morrissey maybe strange bedfellows, but I'm definitely intrigues by story-telling but also the pure unadulterated tones that you can create with your voice, without even saying the word. A simple ooo and oh can say almost so much more than the lyrics, in some ways.
In 2004 I asked you to describe your music and you said it was "rootsy rock & roll, for crooners"
DR: Ah, interesting. Yeah, I mean I think that I was trying to package it a certain way and this new CD, to me I'm exploring different directions and I'm kind of proud of the fact that it can't be neatly put in a genre. I mean, it is pop rock but there's elements of jazz in there, there's elements of blues, there's elements of folk, and I have to keep things interesting for me creatively, cause I need to grow and change as an artist. But as far as subject matter, I think that there's a lot more explicated gay subject matter in these songs, than the first CD that I put out, and I also think that I'm closer to finding my writing voice, and I'm not writing so many depressed love songs anymore branching out.
It may be a little early, but what song from the new album is getting the most attention?
DR: Ooo, there's a duet that I do with a Polish jazz singer. Her name is Grazyna Auguscik, and she's Chicago-based, and the song is called "Eggshells and Landmines." Everyone I've talked to who's heard an advance copy of the CD has said that that is their favorite song. The song itself is basically a call for peace between two friends or two lovers or two members of a family. It's about a dynamic where one person is always walking on eggshells around someone else's temper, and for many years the person walking on eggshells was sort of held hostage by this person's temper. So this is song is like, you know what, I love you but I can no longer walk so gingerly and in such a costly and stressed out way. So it's, how do you approach someone you love who sees red and who scares you? It could be interpreted all sorts of ways. It could be like I said, between friends, between lovers. There's also in the title it's a little bit tongue in cheek I was trying to think of what's the opposite extreme of eggshells? Probably landmines, and eggshells seem a very harmless kind of metaphor, whereas landmines is warzone I wanted to create tension between the two metaphors.
Dylan Rice - Eggshells and Landmines (2009)
You probably knew I would ask you about "Homewrecker's Lament"
DR: Yes, "Homewrecker's Lament" is not, believe it or not, is not autobiographical. It is a gay straight love triangle. It is a very sarcastic song, I will give you that, I probably wouldn't have written it now, cause I wrote that song about four years ago, but at the time I was kind of angry about the double standard of, well, "he's a homewrecker" or "she's a homewrecker" for the obvious reason of the other person was a willing participant, and why do gay men, who come into a situation where there is maybe a heterosexual marriage why does the gay man become the homewrecker? So, I was playing around with that, framing it in kind of a Morrissey style, a sardonic way, and the voice of the homewrecker who's singing the lyrics, the voice of the song, is disingenuous. He's sending a mixed message. He's talking to the man he's in love with, he's talking to the wife, who's in the middle of it. He's saying, "if you see him, if you see her, tell him I love him, tell her he loves her," sort of this mock regret, if you will. A lot of my songs have these characters that come in and out, and I find the most fun and most mystery in trying to write these monologues, these voices.
Which of the songs on the new album is the most out of the closet?
DR: Interesting well probably "Homewrecker's Lament," even though I'm taking on the voice of a character, but as far as explicit gay content, in "Homewrecker's Lament" I talk about being caught on the couch, our legs entwined, you know, a glistening heap we were finished, you know, a little more explicit sexually.
Dylan Rice - Homewrecker's Lament (2009)
Rice QMH ID
Could you talk about the song "Rome"
DR: Oh, yes. "Rome" was written when I was doing a study abroad program in Rome. I was there for six weeks, and I got to see the gay Roman underground, and got to live and breathe it, and it was becoming less and less underground, and more mainstream. At that time there was a gay couple that was arrested for kissing, like making out, on the street, and I was there right when they were arrested and right when there were protests about it, so it was very exciting to be in Rome, in the summer of 2007. There's a image in the song where I say "and we kissed like priests in metro stations." I wanted to demonstrate how there's still this double standard where two men in plain clothes can kiss romantically on the street, and get arrested or get a ticket or whatever, but two priests will kiss romantically in a train station they'll kiss goodbye or kiss hello, and it's acceptable. And I thought that was fascinating, the priests can get away with it, so my advice for all gay men in Rome is to put on priest collars when you want to make out in public, cause you'll be fine.
Dylan Rice - Rome (2009)
That was called "Rome," and I've got one more song I want to cover from Dylan's new album, but I want to slip in hearing about another song from "Wandering Eyes," the first CD, and I asked him about the song "The Lie."
DR: "The Lie" is a speaker who is in denial that the relationship that he's in basically over. It's sort of a hypocrisy that people fall into when they're in a really bad relationship but they're afraid to end it. And so they project the frustrations and the anger at the other person, like, how dare you lie to me? At the same time, I'm accepting it and why the hell am I accepting it, accepting this lie from you. Yeah, that song's actually gotten a lot of airplay.
That appeared on the "Music With a Twist: Resolutions" CD, right?
Your first CD came out in 2004, and "The Lie" appeared on that compilation in 2007. Could you gauge the impact of that inclusion?
DR: Being included on that compilation opened up a lot of doors for me and exposed my music to a much larger audience than I could have ever done myself. It was a huge honor to be part of it and just to be in the same company as The Gossip and Sara Bettens and Ivri Lider, from Israel, and I got to know Levi Kreis, so I'm really grateful to have that experience.
Dylan Rice - The Lie (2004)
Again, the name of the new CD is "Electric Grids & Concrete Towers," and let's get back to it and the song "Abide by Love."
DR: "Abide By Love" is probably my most earnest love song. It is a conversation with an imaginary lover. It's basically about two people who think they're in love with each other but they don't know for certain and they're afraid of it. But the good news is that, you may not know what's going to happen in the future but at least you know that love is true and love is the only law we should abide by. So it's sort of a snapshot of we hooked up, getting drunk one night and were confused by this, and we don't know what we are or where we are, are we in love or just lonely, desperate I was trying think of a fresher way and maybe more folksy way of saying follow your heart, and you'll be led to the right place.
Dylan Rice - Abide by Love (2009)
I want to step back a bit. Chuck Panozzo sort of took you under his wing, and that's a nice place to be could you talk about, how you came in contact with him.
DR: Yeah, I met Chuck in sort of an interesting, sort of back door way. I was helping out a friend who was an editor at Poz Magazine. I think it was in 2001, 2002, I was basically doing some rock journalism, cause I had done a little bit of that in college, and she needed someone to do a piece on Chuck Panozzo, who had just come out as both gay and positive, and how he was being honored by HRC that same year. And he was currently based at that time he was based in Chicago, which is where I live. So I just decided to take the gig and interview him, not knowing much about Styx. In case you don't know, he is one of the founding members of Styx, and he's the only original member that still plays with them live, to this day.
DR: So I interviewed him and we just clicked. We got along and we had this very friendly rapport and I had mentioned I think somewhere in the interview that I was a musician too, and he was like "oh, great, I'd love to hear your demo some time." I was like, wow! He wants to hear my demo. And so I interviewed him and the interview came out, and we stayed in contact and a major turning point in our friendship was when I was invited to perform at one of Scott Free's folk festivals, called "Queer Is Folk" (June 7, 2003), and they wanted me to perform my own material, and I had the idea of, why don't we invite Chuck to play with us, and why don't we do a Styx song, and we had a blast. We did "Come Sail Away" at the festival and Chuck played bass on that, and I got to compete with Styx' lead singer, which is not easy, because that song is really high.
DR: And then, that was such a success, creatively and as far as our friendship, that when the Gay Games came to Chicago I wanted to write a stadium rock anthem, sort of a "We Are the Champions," but for the gay set, cause we need one. And I thought, well, who better to play on it than Chuck his whole career has been based on writing these anthemic rock numbers. And so we got together. I wrote the song. He contributed the bass part and we did a recording and we ended up performing it at the closing ceremonies of the Gay Games (July 2006), at Wrigley Field, which was a truly out-of-body experience 20,000 people, truly unbelievable.
Talk about the song itself.
DR: The song itself is called "The Faces of Victory" and I was trying to strike a balance between sort of pop anthem, joyous and fun, and some sort of solemnity, some sort of level of pride and seriousness, in that, it was 2006, half a million GLBT people were descending upon the city of Chicago. It was a historical event that the mayor was endorsing. And I wanted to basically say in the song, we've worked so hard to get to this point, and the fact that there are so many of us together in one spot, that is almost a victory in of itself.
This is JD Doyle for Queer Music Heritage, and again I thank Brett Every and Dylan Rice for the interviews and you for listening to Part 2 of my show this month, and be sure to check out Part 3. You can find out more about Dylan at his site www.DylanRice.com and of course I'm going to close out the show with the song "Faces of Victory."
Dylan Rice, featuring Chuck Panozzo - Faces of Victory (2006)
This is JD Doyle and welcome to Part 3 of Queer Music Heritage, and I thank you for joining me for this segment. This part includes interviews with Jeff Heiskell, who talks about his solo music and his time with the band The Judybats. But the show opens with the music of Richard Cortez. I first met Richard at an open mic in New York City in June of 2004, and I could immediately see his appeal. His lyrics have a quirkiness about them, but that quirkiness somehow makes you pay attention and they come across with a real honesty. Richard has just released his second full-length studio album, so I figured it was time to visit with him and find about the new CD.
Richard Cortez: My latest CD "Sleeping With Strangers" shows a darker side of my music and my writing. The record is lined with distorted cellos, electric guitars, violas, pianos, but mostly in the writing I talk a lot about dealing with promiscuity, and it really is all about discovering who I am as a sexual being living in the gay nightlife.
Is there an overall message to your music?
RC: I think that for me my music is more about me than people realize. You know, I think people personalize a lot of songs. I know when I listen to some of my favorite artists I think, God, they must be writing exactly about my life. I don't think there's a direct message to my music, although a lot of my projects echo specific themes and stories. For me it's mostly about dealing with my problems and music has always been a really easy go-to for me. So when I was younger I picked up a guitar and it all kind of happened from there, but mostly it's just about my life and what I'm dealing with, so I'm glad people identify with it more than anything.
I'm going to ask that a different way, what do you think your job is as a singer?
RC: Well, mostly just to sing and entertain, but I definitely think that there is an underlying position that I've taken on, especially as being an openly gay singer/songwriter. I think that my job is to be to stand proud and to speak as loud as I can about the issues that are going on in our community and things that we struggle with, as we grow to be accepted, just like everyone else.
One thing that attracts me to your music is that the lyrics are so, so out of the closet. Have you experienced up and down sides of that?
RC: Absolutely, from an early, early standpoint in my career, and that was really never an issue for me. I never consciously thought, okay, I'm going to write about boys. It was just writing about my life, and me the songs are coming from me, so that's what they're about, and I've never been an indirect person so being as blunt and outspoken as I am I guess the songs just kind of reflect that. You know, you have to realize that these songs started out as, you know, my journals in my room, when I was a kid, in my teens. And now that I've taken this to the next level and I've begun to play professionally, you know, yeah, I've had to alter a couple of shows, I've had to not play a couple of songs at certain venues, but that's all a part of the trade. It's really about identifying with your audience and making sure that you can entertain then without making them feel uncomfortable. So, yes, I've had venues ask me to not play certain songs or not use profanity, but I've never once played a venue that has not known from the get-go that I'm an openly gay musician, and that's what most of my original material is about.
In 2005 Richard released a beautiful album, and that applies in several ways, the CD's title and my favorite track is called "Craving Something Beautiful," and the CD packaging has one of the sexiest photos I've seen on an album. It is tasteful and still sets a mood in a way even tells its own story.
Tell me about the song "Craving Something Beautiful"
RC: Ah, man, everybody always asks this question and it's such a great question. This song really takes me back. I was 19 years old. I had just moved back from New York City, at a failed attempt at going to college and trying to be an actor, and I moved back into my mom's house. And I was very disgruntled at the time and sort of emaciated and under-weight, and had a shaved head and a lip ring, and was dealing with a lot of teenage angst at the time. And I met a boy. He gave me a sense of hope and a sense of a new beginning, and unfortunately things between us didn't work out, and at the time it seemed like this travesty that he had left me high and dry, you know, as young gay boys I'm sure know a lot of us tend to be a lot more melodramatic and blow things all out of proportion. He asked me to go to a Dashboard Confessional concert, and of course I willingly agreed and come the night of the show I smuggled out a bottle of wine from my mom's house, and I'm standing out in the middle of the road, and about an hour passes by and he never shows up. And then I sort of cried a little, or a lot, and then I wrote that song. It's kind of what that song is about, which is why the lyric says "why I'm still standing here, your car's already driven out of sight" the song is specifically about that situation.
Richard Cortez - Craving Something Beautiful (2005)
You started your own label in 2004, Wollenberg Records, what's been the advantage of that?
RC: I've just always felt extremely free. I never felt held back, or in my writing or in my recording or in production. Especially in this last project, "Sleeping With Strangers," I was able to orchestrate gorgeous songs and work with no limitations, with minute-long upright bass solos and cellos and all kinds of things, and writing concertos and things like that, that are throughout the project and I never once felt like, oh, this song will be too long and no one will like it, cause the only person that I've ever had to answer to, is me.
Talk about the song "Body of Water"
RC: Ah, "Body of Water" I wish you could see the smile on my face. That song is about a boat captain that I came to know, and we became lovers. It was nothing serious. It was very casual, and I just remember coming home one day, and I sat on the piano, and everyone had already gone to work. And I just remember the sun was just like beaming down on me that day, in an amazing way, and the whole world was just so beautiful, cause I was radiating that joy that sex and love kind of brings into your life, when it's a good thing. So I just remember thinking, you know, I just wanted to write, and I love that feeling. So I sat down, and I wrote "Body of Water" I one sitting, and it's just all about my love for him and my love for our relations, in a way of it being like the ocean.
Richard Cortez - Body of Water (2010)
What song of yours gets the most audience reaction?
RC: At live shows it really just depends on the set list. A lot of times "Sleeping With Strangers" gets a really great response from people, and even in the most crowded of bars I play in a lot of bars people get really quiet, because I think that even the three words put together are very taboo, so they kind of get very quiet and interested in what I'm about to say.
Tell me more about that song.
RC: That song was a really hard song for me to write, and for the record it's the spine of the album, it's the core. I had the phrase in my mind, "Sleeping With Strangers," for a really long time, but I just couldn't sit down to write it, because I just wasn't ready to face the fact that that's what my life had become. I spent so much time wasted in the last few years, frivolously, giving myself away to people. I guess I had very little respect for myself and my self-esteem was really low. So that song to me represents a lot of personal struggle, and coming to in a sense, and realizing it. I was going to a lot of seedy sexual places, doing a lot of cruising, going to the back rooms of porn stores and stuff like that. And when I sat down to write it, I faced myself for the first time in what seemed like forever that's what came out.
Richard Cortez - Sleeping With Strangers (2010)
One of the things I like about your writing, the lyrics and the writing style come across as being quirky, but that quirkiness I thinks works with you, cause it comes across as more honest.
RC: I definitely think that's a really good way to describe my writing. I think that my quirkiness is also a way that I get away with a lot of things that I want to say that are sort of outlandish or inappropriate or, you know, you shouldn't say that kind of stuff, so I kind of smile and put on a little grin, and I'm like, oops, you know, I shouldn't have said that, but I did.
Tell me about the song "Ode to Johns"
RC: That song is really interesting because I wrote it in pieces and that's normally not how I write. This song actually took years to write, believe it or not. I wrote it when I was living in New York City, which is why the song talks a lot about meeting someone in Soho. And I wrote a lot of that, the first couple verses and the chorus, when I lived in New York, in 2003. And then the song kind of got shelved for a while in the back of my mind but I always kept it because I liked it, and I thought it was catchy and I thought it was fun. That's such a hard thing for me to do, is fun, because my music is so much oftentimes serious and heartbreaking and heart wrenching. So for me I wanted to keep this song and I wanted to finish it someday. And then I just sat down and the rest of it kind of came out of me.
Richard Cortez - Ode to Johns (2010)
Talk about the song "Mourning After"
RC: Ah, this is a great song, and a very important song for the project. You know, as you'll notice, once you listen to "Sleeping With Strangers" the whole way through, it's almost a story in a way. The first song "Be Alright" is kind of a party song, but when you come to "The Mourning After" it's from the opposite perspective it's from the person inside of me that has hurt people before, and so many times in my music and in my personal life I love to play the victim. I mean, I think that's one of the easiest things for a writer to do. And when I wrote "The Mourning After" I wrote it because I thought, well, with this project specifically talking about promiscuity and talking about the nightlife and talking about the gay community in a raw, uninhibited sexual sense, everybody has that predator inside of them that sleeps with someone knowing good and well that they never plan on talking to them again.
People not reading the title should know that this is not "mourning after" as in the time of day.
RC: No, it's spelled m-o-u-r-n-i-n-g, as in, the mourning after, the loss, the feeling of regret. I think that it stings a little, every time at least for me, it always stung a little every time I left someone that way.
Richard Cortez - The Mourning After (2010)
Talk about "Crazy Fool"
RC: This is the response to "The Mourning After." This is that person with the glimmer in their eye. The phrase "crazy fool" is actually the person referring to themselves, you know, maybe I'm a crazy fool to think that you could love me, because we just used one another for sex.
Richard Cortez - Crazy Fool (2010)
And you've been hearing music from the latest CD by Richard Cortez, called "Sleeping With Strangers." Find out more about his music at www.wollenbergrecords.com.
My second interview for this segment is with Jeff Heiskell. He's got quite a career and in the 90s was front man of the popular band The Judybats. He's recently gone solo and since 2007 has released two albums on his own, just under the name Heiskell. His lyrics have gotten much more gay, and we'll talk about that, the two releases and The Judybats. His latest album has the humorous title of "Clip-On Nose Ring," and we'll start with that one.
Jeff Heiskell: "Clip-On Nose Ring" is me, Jeff Heiskell, writing my own songs for the first time, using some tentative relationships between men, some of them broken relationships, some joyous, some of them with men that are very well-fed, and there is also one song on there that is about a girl from my past.
How did you come up with the title for the album?
JH: Tim (Lee) and I, we were recording one day and we went out to get something to eat, and we were having a conversation about something, and I don't know who we were talking about somebody I said "clip-on nose ring." We just got the giggles and I said, that's what we're going to call the record, absolutely. And in a way, that whole cover and everything, and even that smirk on my face, I'm kind of the fact that it's not a rock record, despite that, I'm a little bit poking fun at these people who have the piercings and tattoos and all the black leather and all that stuff who think they're somehow cutting edge. And you know that's all just an outward projection of something that's not really true. [just costume]. Yeah, it is, it's like Halloween every day, so I'm a little bit poking fun at everybody.
Is there an overall message to this album?
JH: You know, I don't know. I did not plan to write this record, the way it is. I did not sit down and say, I'm going to write a bunch of songs about relationships with men, and choose to use "he" that was not planned. The first song I wrote it just happened, and I had to think about it for several days, cause I thought if I write this one song like this, I'm opening up a can of worms and they're all going to be kind of like this. I don't know if there's a message. "I Want the World To Change" is pretty it's a little bit political for me. It's a little unusual, but I had that one line that's in the break I don't know, I came up with that entire chorus a cappela in my truck. It's a good think that I had my little hand recorder with me.
Heiskell - I Want the World To Change (2009)
Is this the first time you've done lyrically gay songs?
JH: No, not if you listened closely. It's the first time I've done an entire record and decided to say, you know, I'm a gay man doing a gay record. I've never did that before. The record I put out under The Judybats name in 2000, there's a song called "Hiding From the Face of God" that is about some latent guilt about being involved with a man, that anybody should know that if they listened to it, but I think some people just didn't even notice it.
Judybats - Hiding From the Face of God (2000)
How would you compare the sound of Heiskell to The Judybats?
JH: Oh, a little bit more somber, not really worrying about pop hits on the radio so much, which was very much something that Warner Brothers expected, which was kind of my falling out with all of that real music business. Yeah, I think it's got some grittier guitars in it. It's moodier, it's dreamier, but with no real thought as to we're going to write six 3 ½ minute pop songs with a certain beat per minute that you could take to radio. That's what it was all about. We have our own studio. It's not rushed, the way those other records were you're in a studio, it's costing a lot of money. We just wrote these songs when we had time, when we were in the mood, and when we were drinking. So it's a much freer environment in which to write.
Were you out of the closet during The Judybats?
JH: No, it came out all over the place in the lyrics and stuff. I just figured a lot of people knew that I was gay, which I was wrong about that. I found out about that when I put this record out and I put some stuff on the website. I had all these people emailing me...a lot of them were guys, like, I never knew that. I just figured everybody knew that and it was not something that I had to talk about. I wasn't ready for that, for that to be the focus of my art, and what I do. Back then I just wasn't comfortable enough to do that. I mean, do you understand that?
Yeah, kind of you said elements of that came out in The Judybats anyhow. What would be the queerest Judybats song?
JH: Um, there's a song called "Our Story," in which I use the line "boy oh boy" that's something that is a little bit more of a Yankee thing than a Southern thing, but that just phrase you'll hear, and there's a line numerous times that says "boy oh boy, you bring me joy, but then you make me blue." And a lot of people got that, that that was a reference to a man. I would say that's the main one.
Judybats - Our Story (1992)
Story" was from their 1992 album "Down in the Shacks Where
the Satellite Dishes Grow," and gee, that seems pretty out of the
closet to me. "You're a roomful of sorrow, a spoonful of joy, another
infidelity, another pain, another golden glitter boy
.I want you,
boy oh boy, you bring me joy." I guess people hear what they want
JH: Oh, gosh, I know this one was kind of the hit, that everyone remembered the most "Native Son" was really written about me going through a period when, you know, do I surrender to my passions, which is music, and I was in my late 20s then, or do I go to law school and do something practical. And that song is kind of exploring me not wanting to go in that direction. It was a real decision I had to make. I could not go to law school and try to become a successful attorney, and be a musician at the same time.
Judybats - Native Son (1991)
That was the title track from their album "Native Son," from 1991.
How many releases did The Judybats have?
JH: We did four releases, on Warner Brothers, and in 2000 we did kind of an independent record that came out under the name Judybats, actually a pretty good record, but as far as a major label career thing it was those four. The first one came out in '91 I think, the last one came out in maybe '95, something like that.
I want to jump to the new releases now, and get Jeff to talk about the 2007 album, "Soundtrack for an Aneurism."
JH: This is my first soloish effort since being in The Judybats, some people might remember the songs on this record: love on the dissolve, little boys growing up to be drag queens, red neck gas huffers and a song about my dying mother, that's what you'll hear.
Tell me about the title, "Soundtrack for an Aneurism"
JH: Well, you know, "Soundtrack for an Aneurism" I was sitting with a buddy of mine and it just kind of came to me and I started giggling, and I said, "I know what I want to call the record now." He's a musician too. And I said, "Soundtrack for an Aneurism" and he busted out laughing. It really sums up a lot of my humor maybe it's a little bit dark, it's cryptic, also some of the songs are very short on there I think they're just short bursts of something perhaps a little bit painful.
When I talked with Jeff about this album of course I could not pass up the chance to mention that I really liked the song called "The Death of Knoxville Cool." I'll let you hear the song first and then Jeff's comment.
Heiskell - The Death of Knoxville Cool (2007)
JH: Yeah, I actually had someone who I kind of had in mind, as far as the drag queen that that little boy grows up to be. The oddest thing, I was in there about two weeks ago. He actually owns a gay bar here in town now, and it turns out he had bought the record and listened to that and he was in full drag and he goes "and that sounds like me...cause you know I lived in Buckhead for a while." And I said, "well, Rance, actually the adult part is based on you." He was just completely shocked [and I hope flattered] oh yeah, he was.
I've played "Gasoline" on my show before, tell me about that one.
JH: Well, my dad owned several trailer parks when I was a kid, and there was this guy who drove a Camaro, who was a paint huffer. All he did, he lived in a little trailer in the back of one of the parks, and he worked on cars, and his brain was just kind of gone, and he always had paint on his clothes. It was just the oddest thing. I kind of put the song together. I do the arranging, and I had no lyrics for it, and Mike the drummer said "this song has to be about a gas huffer and it has to be called 'gasoline.'" And I said, "okay, done, I'll do home and write lyrics for it." So I wrote that on assignment.
JH: You never huffed gas when you were a kid? [huh uh] Good Lord, people who sit around and like, you know, huff gas and get stoned [No] It's a very it's a very interesting buzz. I thought all kids had tried that at least once or twice.
Heiskell - Gasoline (2007)
Time to get back where we started, with the new album, "Clip-On Nose Ring." Tell me about "The Chubby Guy Song"
JH: Well, I just came up with that chord progression and I just came up with that first line it's like Brad Pitt versus the Shoney's Big Boy, and I just kind of went from there, and I was giggling the whole time I was writing it like, I cannot write this, this is so over the top. Yeah, I get jazz from people. You probably won't ever see me in the company of anyone that's kind of a skinny guy like me. I tend to be attracted to people that are, you know, kind of bigger fellas. What's the polite term, big-boned? I just decided to take that whole idea and just completely blow it out of proportion, as a lot of fun. But I've had a lot of people talk about that song.
Heiskell - The Chubby Guy Song (2009)
There was one I really liked, but it has fuck in the middle, "Best Broken Dream"
JH: "Best Broken Dream," yeah, I think it's one of the best songs on there. It's actually the second song I ever wrote, wore me out writing it. As far as me sitting down and writing a song all by myself that's the second song I've ever written, all these years.
It's a pretty good song, but of course I couldn't play it, couldn't include it on my show for broadcast radio.
JH: Yeah, I understand.
Well, as it turns out I'm not using this interview for broadcast radio, so here's the song "Best Broken Dream."
Heiskell - Best Broken Dream (2008)
"Best Broken Dream," from the CD "Clip-On Nose Ring," by Heiskell, and you can find out more at www.heiskellmusic.com.
This is JD Doyle for Queer Music Heritage, and again I thank Richard Cortez and Jeff Heiskell for the interviews and you for listening to Part 3 of the show. We're down to the last song and it's a very fun cover version of a Dolly Parton song.
How did you decide to do "Jolene"?
JH: Basically I have wanted to do "Jolene" for four years and when I would bring it up the twins I was working with just got kind of weird about it. They just couldn't envision it when I said I want to do a really creepy, baritone version of "Jolene." And they just couldn't handle it. They come from this whole rock ethos, and I don't think that they could really understand that, whereas right before I started recording I mentioned the idea to anyone else and they were like, "shit, that sound awesome," and really, the "Jolene," you do a cover I've gotten really a lot of nice emails from people about that version.
Heiskell - Jolene (2008)