In a business known for its pretentious rock stars and prima-donna musicians, it is refreshing to find a humble, unassuming, extraordinarily talented musician such as David Newbould. Long Way Home Live, Newbould's latest release, is a richly woven audio tapestry that flows seamlessly from one track to the next and really showcases his talent as a singer, songwriter and musician. Newbould took a few minutes to speak with me about Long Way Home and what we can expect from him in the upcoming year.
What can music fans expect when they pick up a copy of Long Way Home Live? David: A good time. Someone who has spent many years obsessing over songs... some of the best musicians around... and an overall and a thank you to a musical community I embraced for seven years. Somebody they probably haven’t heard (me), whose music might feel familiar on some levels, but unique enough to stand on its own. This collection contains some of my older songs, updated and improved upon, “Put The Brakes On Us,” “Something To Lose” and new songs that reflect my life more recently, “It Can Always Be Worse,” “Come What May.”
When playing together and ultimately recording Long Way Home Live did you find that you could express yourself creatively enough? David: Well yes, though I discovered more afterward when I listened to the tapes and saw everybody playing. During the rehearsals and performance, there was a lot of thinking going on, due in part to the size of the ensemble being co-coordinated (twelve musicians in total – a lot for folk and rock and roll!). I was pleased afterward to hear how focused it actually was. The musicians had no problem getting lost in the moment, which is what you expect from a caliber people who’ve worked for – among others - Bob Dylan, Merle Haggard and Leonard Cohen.
Every band has its musical influences. What are some of the other bands and artists that have greatly influenced you guys and your music? David: I’m influenced by passionate music that speaks the truth, that is both of the moment and timeless. I can say the same for all the musicians involved. Performance is a moment, a search, and you put yourself into making the most of it. This night to me felt a little bit like my own version of The Band’s The Last Waltz, in that it was a farewell, it had all my favorite musicians, and almost each song is something completely different. Am I comparing it – no. But you might be able to say it was influenced by it. My biggest influences are Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Miles Davis, Tom Waits, Neil Young, Townes Van Zandt, The Clash, The Rolling Stones, John Lennon, Marvin Gaye, Prince, The Who – people who took what came before and created entirely new languages that defined my life.
What songs do you get the best audience response to? David: Different nights, different songs, usually whatever you yourself are feeling the most on any given night. Though the more upbeat ones, or ones with all the solos, always seem to be starting with a bit of an advantage (in total contradiction to many of us songwriters’ instincts!). But more specifically... Goldmines, Put The Brakes On Us, Big Red Sun, Nobody Loves Me Like You Do... those are usually good.
If you could jam with any famous musician, dead or alive, from any century, who would it be and why? David: My god – John Coltrane, Jimi Hendrix, John Lennon, Elvin Jones. That’d be a good band! Neil Young – I understand his language well. Tom Waits, Springsteen, Sam And Dave – just to be on their end of the electricity. Man. Leonard Cohen because he’s so humble and confident at the same time. And The Band – I always watch them and say they just don’t make musicians like that anymore. One person – maybe Levon Helm, the quintessential musician. And we would sing 3 part backing up Bob Dylan. So I guess I want to be Robbie Roberstson... or Cindy Cashdollar.
What is the hardest part about being in a touring band and what is the biggest obstacle your band faces? David: I do most of my touring alone. The hardest part – making it to the gig on time. The biggest obstacle – a lovely combination of endlessly long drives and bad time management.
What is the toughest lesson you ever learned in the studio and on the stage? David: Accepting that each experience is a plateau, and part of a bigger picture. Meaning – how good or bad something is comes from a combination of how well you prepared, how much you did or didn’t seize the moment, and how well the variables out of your control bent, or didn’t bend, your way.
How is the current economic slump affecting your band? David: Hard to say. I’ve always struggled to have money, so now is no different. Maybe venues are having a bit more trouble paying, but live music is one thing that keeps people optimistic, so people will always make room to create an opportunity. As far as one-on-one business - managers, labels, radio, are in less of a position now to take on projects than they once might have been, and even the TV/movie network area (which has been the sole funder of my career outside of touring), is tightening its pockets. But like I said, I’ve never had much money to begin with, so essentially now is no different for me.
What kind of music are you listening to? Do you keep abreast of new music? David: Bob Dylan’s music keeps getting richer and richer, it’s an endless well. Tell Tale Signs is breathtaking; I have it on all the time. And I haven’t been able to turn off Time Out Of Mind for 12 years. Lucinda Williams. I just got some new Miles Davis recordings from 1964 that I can’t get enough of - Sam Rivers on tenor – in between George Coleman and Wayne Shorter. Miles’ groups – talk about music in the moment! Townes Van Zandt Live From The Old Quarter in 1973 is for me like going to The Metropolitan Museum of Art – purity and excellence bleeding into the soul, cleansing it, letting you start anew. Richness, a learnedness that can only come from years and years of sacrifice to your muse. Neil Young’s, “Heart of Gold DVD” almost brings me to tears. Jeff Beck’s, “Blow By Blow” keeps coming back – every brushstroke is perfect, and full of passion. Anything Prince puts out – that guy is just on another planet in terms of talent and vision. I also rarely stray far from Bruce Springsteen – these days his more rustic stuff like “Tom Joad,” “Darkness” and the “Seeger Sessions”. Marvin Gaye and The Stones in their heyday are timeless. Joe Strummer always bled for his fans. And of course there’s Ashlee Simpson’s latest record. New music – Ryan Adams, The Walkmen, Midlake, Cameron McGill, Justin Rutledge, Wilco is always breaking new ground.
How much roadwork do you expect to be doing this 2010? David: Tons! I’m going on the road with Natalie Stovall as her opening act, as well as her guitar player. I will be all across the (mostly) eastern half of the US for the better part of 2010 – lots of colleges and clubs. In the breaks I’m going to be going out with my great new Nashville band – Adlai Waxman, Beth Garner, Justin Ward, Monty Bethel, Zach Morse.
What is next for David Newbould And Friends? David: Well all that touring, as well as some recording when I can clear out space. Then the backbone of the whole thing – writing songs - painting the pictures I need to paint. So ultimately a touring-writing-recording circular motion that continues to make me feel I have some worth. [ END ]