Hiya folks, thanks for joining us in the virtual RGM lounge today, grab a brew and take a seat.
What made you decide to start the band?
ReLoVe has been my creative outlet ever since I ran away to New York City in my early 20’s with friends from Buffalo, NY. As a drummer, I went there to find that illusive ‘record deal’ gig but discovered that I preferred writing lyrics and exercising my primitive musical skills in the studio with friends. I recorded a bunch of songs, and then life took its many turns. Years later in Los Angeles, I recorded an EP called ‘Music on a Mission!’ released on AWAL in 2019 and was determined to finally bring the band to the stage!
Introduce us to you and your musical history?
I’m a simple man, a meat & potatoes drummer, nothing fancy, I play for the song, which is why songwriting took my interests instead blazing for drum chops. When I moved to New York City, I got a job working with 13x Grammy Award legend Bob Ludwig at Masterdisk Studios cleaning his copper masters and listening to the highest quality pro audio on the planet. This really sensitized and spoiled my ears! Surrounded by world-class music producers, I developed an eclectic appreciation for different songwriting styles. I recorded an album called ReLoVe, made 100 cassettes which did NOT get me that illusive ‘record deal’, but was awarded in 4th Annual Billboard Song contest.
Then what happened?
I left NYC and started playing drums again full-time, joined a touring rock band in Florida that played 6-7 nights straight for months in a row, rambled across America, came to Los Angeles in the 90’s with a beat-up pickup truck, sleeping bag, and big dreams. Met my wife the first days in town, and magically, to this day I wake up every day and thank GOD for her. It’s hard and unsettling for people closest to you to understand how musical paths constantly lead to the great unknown requiring leaps of faith, but she got it! We had 2 boys, I worked selling everything from MUZAK, to duct tape, to apartment buildings. Changed many diapers, kept writing, playing drums, and never stopped dreaming…
What kinds of music were you playing at that time?
Well, I performed with a lot of original bands in Hollywood, played at the Playboy Jazz Festival, did a USAF tour of Greenland, was a lounge drummer on Alley McBeal Fox TV, joined Cowboy-Western band that contributed track for ‘Cowboy Christmas’ (Scotti Bros./WEA), performed live with the original Broadway hit DreamGirls. Also, recorded 3 albums with Laura Hall from the TV comedy ‘Whose Line is it Anyway?’ and performed with Improv All-stars backing comedic vocals of the late actor Robin Williams. In 2008 I got into booking shows, performing, and managing 3 national touring acts with David Victor (formally of Boston) bringing to life Bostyx, Platinum Rockstars, and our theatrical show concept Rock Stars & Stripes, which we sold rights to Carnival Cruise lines. Playing big theater shows was great, but I needed to return to my creative ReLoVe outlet again.
What’s the ReLoVe formula in the studio?
My dear Colombian friend, multi-instrumentalist producer Victor Bender and I started experimenting in high-fidelity at his studio in North Hollywood. We can listen and tweak for hours over the most minuscule audio details! So fun to hear everything because we both love all kinds of music, samples, EQ’s, plug-ins, Protools, and the art of a great song! I organically track my drums and acoustic guitar, and then bring in my amazing Sri Lankan friend Hussain Jiffry (Herb Alpert) who lays down his serious bass guitar grooves, while Vic produces and fills in all the keyboards and electric guitars.
I love recruiting many friends from all walks of life to add their distinctive artistic beauty to my songs. The more ethnically diverse the better! In recent sessions, we’ve added violin virtuoso and opera singer Leah Zeger (Hans Zimmer), who elevates the music to a foot-stompin’ yet sophisticated place, merging all the elements of country funk, reggae soul, and bubblegum retro-pop effortlessly as one. Also, the soulful personality of Sonia Harley’s voice added so much joy and dimension to the EP, that we continue to add her on other tracks.
How did you get the band to the ‘Stage’?
We released the ‘Music on a Mission!’ EP which featured horns and tons of layered vocals arranged in many musical styles including reggae, soul, and retro-pop. It’s a challenge for a lead singing drummer to connect with the people, so I had the brilliant idea to play the drums standing up! We tried our best to reproduce the tracks live, and added other similar uplifting covers from Bob Marley, Peter Gabriel, Cat Stevens, Aretha Franklin, Todd Rundgren, etc. I booked shows throughout Southern California, with the intention of bringing awareness to the homeless crisis in Los Angeles.
Wow, how’d that work out?
Not good. I blew out my lower back and then COVID-19 came in to shut down all live entertainment… So, I went back into the studio with Vic to record the next batch of 7 songs including ‘Disposable World’, ‘Lonesome’, ‘Voices’, and ‘The Vegetable Song’ which featured the super-talented Jamaican reggae rap artist G-Terra. What a blast (and a blessing) to work with him! He’s a deep thinker.
Do you sign up to any conspiracy theories?
Of yeah, all of them! What’s the agenda of the algorithms? It seems as if everyone is a singular, screaming, egotistical, microcosm trying to post their passions online for the world see. Unfortunately, when manipulative ideas are bundled together with money in a business model or social cause, it can metastasize like cancer throughout the media and the world. We all must pay in some form to get our attention and ego ‘needs’ met. It may be a monetary exchange, or perhaps your personal data sold to exploit and control you. But people have always taken control and advantage of other people, no conspiracy, just POWER!
The world is numb with noise, oversaturated with opinions, and in the last couple years a new fear has set in. Not necessarily COVID, but fear of oppression leading to depression throughout the entire human race. It breaks my heart to see anxiety in the kids (our future) and the elderly (our parents and grandparents). I’m cynical enough to keep fighting on, but it’s exhausting. That’s why I seek to channel happy, uplifting songs! At least for now…
Did you buy anything you didn’t need in the pandemic?
Yeah, a face mask.
What’s one question you’re sick of being asked when interviewed?
I don’t get interviewed much but some say that “Your music is hard to pinpoint…, and are you some kind of Christian on a soapbox?” Well, my songs range in styles merging many elements together. But there is a common thread of optimism and positivity, centered on discovering our highest self within. Some say God, Christ, Creator, Allah, etc., but it’s sad to be labeled for simply sharing a message of LOVE. I tell ya, it doesn’t seem like human nature desires to do what is right, so I believe goodness comes from a creative force infinitely greater than ourselves… Some people don’t believe and don’t want to hear about faith, but that’s ok. If you can’t love it right the first time, you can always ReLoVe!
Tell us something about your latest single ‘Looking for a Reason’?
Well, this is the very first song that I wrote in those New York City sessions with a bass guitar, drum machine, and a pencil. The demo lived on a cassette for decades until re-recorded in 2021 with the lyrics, melody, and arrangement remaining the same. I’ve always been ‘Looking for a Reason’, for purpose, for meaning in life, which I think all humans can relate to in their own way. It’s very special to bring this song back to life to a world where common sense and reason seem void.
What’s happening with it?
We released the single and video “Looking for A Reason” and embarked on a National U.S. radio campaign which spans to Top40, Hot AC, and College radio stations. Last week it entered #81 on HOT100 Chart, which is a Compilation of Top40, AC and Hot AC radio station paylists including Major and Independently released singles in the US. The accompanying video available to stream has already reached over 51K views on YouTube features a fun, creative sketch animation and pure positivity. Some tell me this is the best one yet! I’m very thankful for the inspiration and all the friends that keep ‘showing up’ in my life to help spread the message.
What are your plans for the years ahead?
Stay honest, keep reading, writing, and recording, play more guitar, maybe reform the band where I can deliver the songs properly. God only knows the future…
Is there anything else you would like to share with the world?
Yeah, DON’T LOOSE FAITH! Trust what is truth and not what is false, and do your very best every day to find happiness within and with those around you!