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Friday, December 11, 2009

The Process: Featuring Joe Iadanza

by Peter Hammarberg

Joe Iadanza has been cutting a swathe through the Folk Music scene. His music is is honest, great, and honestly great. Give him a listen, he'll not only get you grooving, he'll charm you out of your pants.

I'm writing this in my boxer-briefs, BTW...


Influences… Wow. The first music I remember is an Elvis 8-track that we had in the house. It was a live show from the chubby-druggy-Elvis days. But, I still loved the drama of it all; the horn section and the crowd. I’ve always loved a performer who can put on a good show. That goes for any musician regardless of the style or genre they fit in. If someone does a good show, they’ll get my attention. The second record was the Saturday Night Fever Soundtrack. I’m sure there were more in the early years, but those two really stuck with me.

As for straight musical influences… I’m weird. I don’t listen to a lot of music. I find an album I like and will listen to it for months and months at a time. I tend not to listen to much indie or unsigned music – simply because I don’t take the time to filter it. If it lands in my lap, and I’m compelled, then I listen. It’s rare that an album “gets me” though.

Growing up I went through some weird music phases. The first band I ever was introduced to was STYX. My uncle gave me their album “Cornerstone” and I’d go on to collect all of their records until Mr. Roboto killed their vibe.

I moved on to Bryan Adams and collected everything of his that I could find. Back then, imports were a big deal to me and I loved finding them in the record shop. They’d have cuts on them that didn’t make the record.

I moved pretty quickly into the 80’s hair-metal scene. Bon Jovi, Dokken, Ratt, Def Leppard, Tesla, Whitesnake, David Lee Roth, Van Halen, even bands like Journey… Big hopes, big dreams and big hair. I saw all of those shows. My depth of psyche was pretty shallow back then. I was perfectly content to listen and imagine being on the road with those guys.

The hard part was evolving out of that to find that music happened in places other than stadiums and arenas.

Later I got into Sting and then backward to the Police. In college I went back to all of the classic rock: Zeppelin, Stones, Doors… I’d move from album to album. Pearl Jam’s “Ten”, Pat Metheny’s “Secret Story”; Coltrane, There was no rhyme or reason. Something would just hit me and I’d pull it apart over and over again.

What made you decide to pursue being a Musician?

I’ve always wanted to play for people. The decision to be a musician was made for me when my DNA was written. I spent most of my younger years dreaming about it and even playing at it a little. Then I spent my middle young-adult years pretending to grow up – ignoring it. That was disaster. I was miserable. You can’t fight what you’re born to do. Even if what you’re born to do is banal and not exciting.

For some reason, I have an unceasing desire to write and play music for people. I had to grow to accept that. Now I’m doing my best to transition into making a living at it while balancing my family life and other responsibilities. It’s not easy at all. It can be downright frustrating. But, it’s the road I’m traveling.

What drives you?

“Why not me?” That drives me. My dad is an immigrant who lived and succeeded in finding and fulfilling his American dream. Why not me too? right? There’s an inner drive that cannot be explained. It’s just there. I’m trying to channel it and listen to it, so that it can guide me – rather than overwhelm me.

But other things drive me too. I love when I see a great artist nail it. Springsteen is a huge inspiration lately and just hearing him play makes me want to write better and do a better job.

When I hear a great song or see a great show – I want do that too! The first thing I do after a great show is pull out my guitar. I always feel like a kid again when that happens. The excitement moves me to play.

I’m not gonna lie though; sometimes it’s freaking hard to motivate. Especially when the last show was empty of folks, or if I wasn’t selected for a showcase, or when I’m spending more and more money out of my pocket, and not making it back.

I know how many people are out there. There are so many talented artists that no one will ever hear. Why is that? There are lots of reasons, of course. But I do think that some of that is the artist’s ability to make enough good noise and draw attention to them. I’m very inspired and driven by folks who can master the business aspect of music along with their writing and performing. I’ve got a lot to learn in that regard.

Have you been compared to anyone? If so, how does it sit with you?

Sure! I’ve been compared to lots of folks. Most guys with guitars get the same things even if they’re not really on point. James Taylor, Cat Stevens, John Prine, Jim Croce, John Mellencamp, many more… I don’t know if I agree with all of them.

Some comparisons are way out (Neil Diamond – for example – I love that one). But that’s OK too! If someone is thinking about me and a multi-million-album-selling-artist at the same time – that’s nothing to complain about. We all like to put new things into old boxes. It helps us feel safe. I do it all the time too.

I’m grateful that there are folks out there who take the time to think about it rather than dismiss it.

Walk me through your creative process.

It starts with green M&M’s and ends with me shaving my back with a blunt razor while tiny angels throw marshmallows at me.

(just kidding)

Creative process…

I don’t write all the time. I tend to write in batches and spurts over time. Actually, I don’t really feel like I’m writing at all. Rather, I sit and listen when the spirit moves me. I put my hands on the guitar and something starts coming together musically. Simultaneous to that, I start hearing melodies and rhymes and syllables. The song is out there, but I’m kind of reeling it in. If I listen well, then the song is usually written quickly and it also usually sticks around longer. If I labor over it, either I’m trying to hard, or my life-experience hasn’t given me the tools I need to properly bring it in.

When it’s time to write, I feel a push. Once, recently – I even got downright angry. It was like having a baby. I had to write at that moment and “POW!” the song just popped out in like 10 minutes. I love when that happens.

Life gets in the way in the space between the songs. I don’t sit around doing nothing when I’m not writing. There are shows to get ready for, practices, marketing, designing, tons of stuff that goes on behind the scenes. If anything, I’m probably missing a lot of songs that are looking for me right now. I’m trying to rectify that and look forward to some quiet time between now and Christmas to finish up the music for the upcoming album recording sessions.

OK, so you are preparing to write a new song. Nothing happens. What do you do?

It’s rare that I sit down without a drive. But, it does happen. More often, I feel a song coming, but I can’t seem to get it right. That can be frustrating. As musicians, songwriters, sometimes we think that the last song we got was the LAST song we’ll get.

That’s just not true. I used to believe it, but thankfully I’ve developed some faith. If the song is not there, or it’s not coming. Then I’ll play a little while, rehearse some older material, or just put down the guitar and walk away.

Any new projects?

I’ve sent about 20 songs to my producer, Evan Brubaker, for the next record. We’re recording it over the first two weeks of January 2010 and it should be released in late March. I’m also grateful to have a booking and PR/Management team in place to help me grow my reach a little. This should hopefully give me more time to focus on writing and performing.

Any advice you could give to someone starting out?

Listen more than you talk or play. There’s guidance out there and you’ll miss it if you’re babbling on or thinking you know everything. You don’t know shit. Neither do I. I’m just trying my best to go with the flow – rather than fight the current.

Always follow your heart. Write better songs. Love and connect with the people you play for. You’re gonna make tons of mistakes and wrong turns. And you’re gonna want to give up a lot. Don’t give up. But, do forgive yourself often.

Battle Time!!!

Jim Morrison or Iggy Pop?

Jim Morrison – absolutely.

Tom Waits or Nick Cave (minus the Bad Seeds)

Tom Waits – I never really listened to Nick Cave or the Bad Seeds.

Godzilla or “Clover” the monster from Cloverfield?

Come on… Godzilla is real. Clover is a figment of movie imagination. Godzilla’s got class. Clover couldn’t pick up Godzilla’s poop without a stand in and a CGI animator.

Shameless Plug Time:

Come along for the journey. Everyone is welcome!






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